Posts Tagged ‘rationality’
Through these experiences, I found out how religious people “know” what they know. There could be no doubt, because the words came directly to me while I was experiencing the ecstasy. There was no induction needed, because through those experiences I had the Truth.
All utterances are questionable. All communications are subject to measurement against a standard that one can easily justify even though one has merely pulled it out of one orifice or another. There is a place where this kind of communication is favored, revered, honed and practiced, and imposed by force of will and repetition on those who do not come to the table armed with snark and oppositional in affect.
That place is known…as the blogosphere.
For many topics of interest to the average person, there seem to be two utterly different and diametrically opposed worlds of information. These worlds are so different that one might be called “Normal World” and the other might be called “Bizarro World.” It is possible, in fact likely, that each of these worlds works the way it does in large part because the other world exists. Not just good and evil, right and wrong, obverse and reverse, but in true yin and yang fashion, one world is shaped by the shape of the other, and this can be said of both.
Over the weekend, I authored a guest post on a peer-reviewed publication. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, but it was an opportunity to apply some of my thoughts regarding my upcoming session on Trust and Critical Thinking for ScienceOnline, which seeks ideas on how to report science in a way that teaches readers to interact with information skeptically.
You’ve met them. “Oh, those scientists. They get their funding from the government/industry/political think tanks. They’re just producing the results needed to keep their money flowing. They’ll say anything it takes. Besides, it’s not like they don’t make mistakes. Even Newton and Einstein had it wrong.”
Discovering that our fears are irrational should provide us the ideal solution for that security trade-off: diminished fear at no cost to us. But what happens in real life? I got to find out this week.
I am saying that it’s a very big, irrational world out there, and that we should be wary of choosing our targets based on the fact that they will listen to the arguments we make. In many ways, our allies are the easiest people to argue with, just because they care about the same things we do. They are not, however, where the biggest gains in rationality are to be made.
Scientists can talk forever. They can do it eloquently. They can express their passion and the wonder they find in discovery. They can be funny and clever and humble. But a listener who isn’t prepared to engage with the material will, at best, walk away with a slightly better view of scientists and about two and a half facts with which they can impress those of their friends who are impressed by that sort of thing.
Eventually in my moving on, I got to Facebook, where I discovered that two celebrity deaths is not enough. One friend was “weirded out by the three celebrity icons that have passed away recently… Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson.” Then there was ” Wow….I know these things seem to happen in threes, but wow.” and “Hopefully Ed McMahon was recent enough to fulfill the law of threes…” and “It happens in threes. It happens in threes.”