Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fair and Balanced

As you may have suspected, ideologically I'm a libertarian, though you might say by background I'm conservative. Recently I've tried to more closely examine why I believe some things and not others. As an example why am I sympathetic to the minority view on Global Warming (and Cold Fusion), but scoff at the minority view that controlled demolitions brought down the World Trade Center? The simple answer would be that I'm from the same end of the political spectrum of the Global Warming Deniers and the opposite end of the spectrum from the 9/11 Truthers. I hope that's not the reason, I hope it goes deeper than that, but how can I be sure?

So I guess the question is how do you know the difference between being a brave iconoclast, speaking truth to power, and a guy in a tin-foil hat who's needs to have his medication increased? Part of it is how the debate is framed. In spite of what I said earlier it is obviously true that people hold opinions similar to the rest of the people in their ideological camp. But I would argue that rather than merely being a case of sheep-like solidarity what this really represents is that all of the people in the camp are viewing the individual issues I mentioned through the same larger world view. That basically you've all reached the same conclusions on the fundamental rules the world operates under and as a result you reach the same conclusions (or are sympathetic to the same arguments) as the other people in the camp.

So where does that leave me? What is it about my view of the fundamental nature of the world that leads me to reject the controlled demolition theory of 9/11 but embrace theories of global warming other than the anthropogenic one? Certainly there are rogue scientists who support both, there are ommissions and mistakes in both of the core documents (the NIST document and the IPCC one), the list goes on, so why do I believe one but not the other? I think it comes down to what is a fairly low level world view decision on my part. I distrust a simple narrative (particularly, and perhaps ironically if the simple narrative requires a complex explanation). So when someone says, Bush and Cheney being evil incarnate brought down the twin towers in order to usher in the new world order that's an example. Or similarly if someone says, "The Earth is warming, and Humans, source of all evil, are the cause," I'm going to be skeptical. Of course perhaps I'm just leary of overusing the word 'evil'.

The syringe of evil

2 Comments:

Anonymous Geshin said...

And the "mental illness" rages on?
Just kidding.
There were some people on CSPAN2 last month talking about the failure of people using logic or rational thought, therefore unable to communicate their message because they end up using "magical thinking" and thus sounding irrational. The speakers were lamenting the loss of logical discourse in public dialog. I'll post links if I ever find them.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous ed said...

It's a shame classical rhetoric and logic are not taught any more as a freshman-req.

9:16 PM  

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