Shot of Reason

Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized


We all know how I feel about vaccines. Vaccines do not cause autism and there is no reputable study that proves this.

A recent study released shows that campaigns intended to lure anti-vaccination parents back to the dark side of reason have backfired, turning parents who were lukewarm to the idea into total crusaders against the needle.

What bothered me about the story was not the argument of vaccination vs. anti-vaccination. It’s the core issue of people being turned off when they’re confronted with an opposing view. There was another study done in 2006 when people who considered themselves conservative were shown a fake report arguing the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were then given a report that factually refuted false report’s claims. Did the test subjects shift their thinking? Nope. Apparently being accosted with facts only strengthened their resolve.

That’s a problem with people that has always bothered me. And this isn’t about conservative vs. progressive, science vs. God, global warming vs. Big Oil. It’s about basic logic and how our biases can so easily overpower our abilities to think straight.

I’ve touched on this before, about thinking. We become quite entrenched in our beliefs and once we reach that state, we can’t be convinced otherwise, facts be damned. We’ll result to all different types of faulty arguments to hang on to our cause, strawman logic, anecdotal evidence, sometimes just outright denial.

But why? Why do we latch on to our personal ideas and refuse to let go? The problem really boils down to one thing: laziness. That’s a dangerous combination. Considering two sides to a debate takes work. Keeping an open mind actually requires intellectual energy that we are either too lazy or too obstinate to maintain.

A closed mind requires no energy. It requires no thought process. It requires no ability to comprehend. It makes life simple because we don’t have to waste time trying to understand a different point of view.

The other danger non-thinking laziness presents is that it propagates pseudo-debates. Thanks to petroleum-funded “research” about global warming, they have managed to create a “debate” about the issue that does not exist. More than 95 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and that it’s our fault. But those who stand to lose billions and possibly trillions to CO2 emissions caps and other regulations have created an image of a two-sided issue. You don’t really need to have a debate, just the appearance of one, to confuse those who haven’t yet made up their mind. Once the undecided people find out which side they’re on politically, they gravitate in that direction and there you go, a contentious issue where there previously was none.

The anti-vaccination folk have now done the same thing and they don’t even have well-funded, contrarian research on their side. The numbers of those without vaccines are going up, as are the number of cases of preventable diseases like whooping cough.

How exactly do you solve this problem? How do you get people to stop blindly going in the direction they’ve always traveled?

It starts with one thing: thinking. But that can’t happen with a closed mind.


Fundamental Rebel


The Right is rising and it’s exactly the way they planned it. Conservatives have mounted campaigns against medical care, global warming and just about anything or anyone who disagrees with their views. They’ll even eat their own, those conservatives who have the nerve to go moderate.

Global warming isn’t real. Why isn’t it real? Well, because combating global warming would require a shift in how we use fossil fuels. Government medical care is evil. Why? Because it might provide an alternative to the broken, ineffective private insurance system that we suffer from now.

Any deviation requires a swift response from action groups funded by covert donors. Americans For Prosperity, the Koch bros, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Donors Trust et al will start filing information requests, issuing lawsuits and funding political opponents of those going off message.

They enlist starving, angry mobs like the Tea Party bullies and make these top-down organizations appear to be driven by volunteers. Ironically the Right uses the exact methods they warn everyone about. They derive black funding from corporations. They craft a seemingly unified, coherent message and install it through “grassroots organizations.” They try to coin phrases with honorable terminology although they mean to do the opposite. See “No Child Left Behind.” They call minority leaders “racist” because those leaders have the gall to defend the rights of their people. All bullshit.

You know, there’s a term that encapsulates all of this organized rancor, rabble rousing and denying science because it interferes with the economy. It’s called fundamentalism. I’ve never heard of anything productive coming from a case of flaming fundamentalism.

What exactly is the end game? I know the capitalists simply want to restore Laissez-faire. The unemployed simply want a job. The upper-middle class wants to stop paying taxes altogether. The religious? I don’t know exactly what their total aim is. Maybe they all want us to start going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, wear slacks with our shirts tucked in and reverse the First Amendment so they can have Nativity scenes on courthouse steps.

Sorry, you toss all of that into a blender, no good can come of it.

Science War


For whatever reason, everyone these days up and down the political spectrum, are denying science. There is no regard for how much research scientists do in certain fields. Global warming, evolution, DNA, vaccines.

Evolution is just a theory. Global warming isn’t real. Vaccines cause autism. Voluminous amounts of pages are produced about these subjects but the public will eyeball the entirety of the discipline and deny it.

I think the problem is, as it always is in cases of misunderstanding, human nature. Anything that tells us something we don’t want to hear, we don’t want to believe. Take global warming, neutralized lately by deniers as “climate change,” 99 percent of climatologists have pretty much agreed that our spinning rock is getting hotter. They also agree that human activity is to blame. We use too much fossil fuels. We create too much emissions. It traps heat on the planet. Ice cores. Data modeling. It’s all there.

But, unfortunately, global warming is a commentary on our lifestyle. We are mobile animals but it comes at a cost to our surroundings. We don’t really want to believe it’s true. Fixing it requires us to change a fundamental part of our mobile structure. What are we going to do? Ride bikes? Build miles and miles of electric rail? Walk? Electric cars?

Not in this life. So what do we do? Pretend it isn’t happening? Nope. Worse. We attack the very research which proves consistently that there’s a problem.

That is the tragedy of science today. It is a whole ideology based on empirical facts and an ethic that the basis of a theory can change with discovery. It’s all about what can be perceived by senses.

But people process science like they process religion. It’s all about belief. Because people don’t understand the science behind theories, they turn to faith instead. That creates a tendency. Much like religion, people believe in something that brings them some kind of positive feeling. Saying that our driving a car is destroying our comfy world is not warm fuzzy.

I have discovered that people’s “belief” in science is often proportionate with how much they benefit by it.

Nobody questions medicine, homogenized milk or the combustible engine. But when you say the sky is getting warmer and pollution levels are high, people get defensive.

More on this.