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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Acceptance Finally

Uncategorized

Image

Does reality really matter anymore? I may have covered this somewhat already. Well, I’ll go over it again.

There’s been a long battle for centuries about the foundation of all knowledge. There are rationalists who believe we learn everything through reason. Then there are the empiricists who think every byte of brain power is by experience. It’s like the epic philosophical rivalry. Think Yankees v. Red Sox, Soviets v. Americans, Archie v. Reggie.

In the rationalist corner: Kant and Descarte, etc. In the empiricist corner: Locke and Hobbes, etc. Many philosophers who never had a dog in the hunt are often classified as one or the other.

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. I’m not really sure where I fall though I’ve always leaned more towards the rationalists. In my mind, the idea of all knowledge based on my senses makes me feel more like a hybrid ape than a human being. (Who knows, maybe at the end of the day that’s all we really are)

Empiricists argue that we all learn first from touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing. Then at some point reason comes along and processes those sensations. Seems reasonable to me. How can you define a pure idea without any kind of empirical knowledge to back it up?

But then rationalists argue that all sensations are first processed by the reason filter. Which I take to mean, reason is there first. Your senses can deceive you. You can see a watery-looking image on the horizon on a hot day. But your reasoning capabilities helps you understand it’s a mirage.

Yeah, I’m going with the rationalist camp here. There really is no such thing as reality anymore is there? Maybe it was never really there. At the end of the day, we can’t really prove anything about what we perceive. Because it’s all perception, that pretty much belies empiricism doesn’t it?

A schizophrenic has all kinds of perceptions. What’s real to them? Is reality to a schizophrenic patient the reality we tell them after they take medication?

And if that’s the case, what’s real to us? This quickly devolves into that childish notion that we are all really living in our own play, with everyone around us merely being characters.

The true test for any reality is a result, I think. We can choose to believe perceptions that global warming isn’t real. But that’s not really going to stop global warming is it? It’s very much a tree-falling-in-the-forest-without-a-sound kind of thing.

Well, if that tree falls on your head and kills you, then the whole reality vs. perception thing doesn’t really matter anymore does it? The dead don’t perceive.

I say reality doesn’t matter anymore because it seems that people have given up trying to discover the truth of things, whether it’s politics, religion, science, etc. Every day we can log onto Web pages and read the things we like read. We can watch TV and listen only to the voices we agree with. It seems to me we have all withdrawn inside ourselves and in that case, perception is all we really know.

There is no such thing as reality.

And I think I hear the sound of a tree falling.