I’m going to point you in the direction of an awesome piece of satire today, because it made me laugh and because it’s the style that I would like to be presenting if the ideas didn’t keep getting taken first. Take a look at the daily mash’s dietopathy article here and prepare to be amazed at the it-could-be-true story.
Seriously though, there’s a lot of crazy going on all around us that we just don’t pay a lot of attention to. There’s a clinic about five minutes walk away from my house where they offer just about every bogus treatment under the sun with little explanation as to how their conflicting philosophies could all work at once.
It boggles the mind to think how many contradictions there can be in one person’s belief system and it still make sense to them. I suppose I’ve had more than my fair share of cognitive dissonance in the past and that for me makes it even more intriguing. Because as someone who now wears the skeptic badge with pride I wrestled with just about everything under the sun and almost fell the other way.
And in a world where anyone’s idea is as good as anyone else’s idea we leave ourselves open for that. When we suppress criticism of ideas because everyone’s supposed to get a fair share, when we create false balance in an argument that only has evidence on one side and when we let the market decide what’s right and wrong instead of actually testing for efficacy this breakdown of reality into a mishmash of conflicting beliefs occurs, a mishmash that is resolved in different ways by each individual mind.
And there’s no easy answer when you don’t know the arguments against the unsupported beliefs.
Without the knowledge of fallacious arguments, what constitutes evidence, what makes a hoax, how to deceive yourself and the other trip ups of the brain’s ability to reason…
Well I’m not surprised that the question doesn’t resolve itself as easily as scientific analysis should make it so, and it’s not the fault of the believer, nor is it truly the fault of the hoaxer unless they truly have no empathy, it’s more a fault with the way our brain works, and the processes it needs to go through to decide what’s real and what’s not in the world.
It’s easy to dismiss someone as crazy but we all have a little bit (sometimes a big bit) of irrationality in us.
As beings capable of complex thought however, we have a choice.
A choice of whether to let our instincts decide what’s real and what’s not, or whether to let the results of vigorous tests and systematic analyses investigate how the world works before we claim we know one way or the other.
Personally, once I realised there was a distinction, I fell into the latter camp, but it took me a long time, and I don’t pretend that I’ve completely lost my naivety.
At least not intentionally anyway.