Shot of Reason

Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized

Injection

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.

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Right Correction

Politics

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As I’ve said before, white anger is no longer enough for conservatives.

In the ongoing autopsy of the November defeat, the GOP has been going over the demographics that defeated them and they are considering alternative views to reach out to those demographics, mainly Hispanics.

Yes, when you try to ship off a people’s relatives to Mexico, they tend not to vote for you.

The GOP is also discovering that young people are tired of the morality legislation, banning gay marriage, requiring ultrasounds for abortions, etc. etc. In short, conservatives are seen as stodgy, anti-everything zealots.

This week’s CPAC was a circus of freaks, a showcase of a flailing party that has no head. Some say their presidential candidates are too milquetoast and not conservative enough. Others say white people are a dying breed and they need to get a piece of the Hispanic pie.

The real question will be, are they going to change the message or are they going to color their current platform in a different coat of paint? Maybe they think the elephant will look better in purple.

Are they going to change course on immigration? Are they going to push for gay marriage? Are they going to stop their efforts to curb women’s reproductive rights? Are they going to stop fusing religion with every piece of rhetoric they spew?

OR are they just going to stop focusing on the aforementioned issues and talk only about fiscal responsibility, small government and personal liberties? It’s no secret that the burgeoning electorate are fiscally conservative and socially progressive.  By shifting focus purely to the economy, conservatives will try to put a blanket on those pesky social views.

It might work because at the end of the day, no matter what anyone thinks about gay marriage, the economy is paramount. Socially progressive or not, young people, like old people, still don’t want to pay their taxes.

But conservatives will have to walk a careful line. As they learned in November those social issues may sometimes eclipse fiscal issues. Sometimes personal freedom is a bit more important than a tax loophole.

The conundrum is, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it can’t be a dove. Conservatives have long been a philosophy motivated by fear and anger. That can only last so long. Eventually, they will have to come to terms with the fact that the country is beginning to veer left socially and there may be no turning back.