Thursday, May 20, 2010

Denialism and FUD!

FUD. Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt. A term used in tech circles. Intel, for example, was purported to have used FUD tactics to intimidate competitors, and the market. They would announce a product aggressively and encourage people to WAIT instead of buying competitors products. Then mysteriously these big products would get delayed or cancelled. Who knows. Products get delayed. Also, SCO -vs- IBM exemplified another form, where SCO made a lot of claims with NO concrete details. Mathematically this equates to throwing out unproven corner cases as arguments, before they are substantiated.

I notice this behavior pattern in people a lot. They are angry, usually for no reason to do with you, and attack something lame. It's usually a good sign that you shouldn't take it personally. A few times my dad has yelled at me for swimming too much. What the hell? Oh, wait.....you're mad about something else. I look for this in myself. When I use a lame excuse to get emotional, I know I should pull back.

Global Warming. Fact Versus Fiction. THERE IS A TON ON BOTH SIDES. Clearly there are a TON of lame excuses to counter global warming details. BUT we know a lot of truths. CO2 DOES increase temperatures. Temps are going up, but this has happened before. The Urban Heat Island Effect skews these readings. And alas, correlation does NOT equal causality. I want to take care of the environment, but I don't think SCARING people into doing it is the right way.

I read article about denialism in New Scientist. They talk about how people get stuck denying things that are obvious. Including Global Warming, though again I stipulate, if you are saying "temps are going up" I agree 100%. If you say "Humans are causing temps to go up" then there is a lot of room to debate.
Whatever they are denying, denial movements have much in common with one another, not least the use of similar tactics (see "How to be a denialist"). All set themselves up as courageous underdogs fighting a corrupt elite engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the truth or foist a malicious lie on ordinary people. This conspiracy is usually claimed to be promoting a sinister agenda: the nanny state, takeover of the world economy, government power over individuals, financial gain, atheism.
I dig that quote. I always laugh when people justify conspiracy theories. They (New Scientist) also comment on the limitation of some types of arguments:
Similarly, global warming, evolution and the link between tobacco and cancer must be taken on trust, usually on the word of scientists, doctors and other technical experts who many non-scientists see as arrogant and alien.
So a call to action. For years people didn't believe cigarettes were bad because of lame excuses. We KNOW texting and using cell phones is dangerous when driving, yet I see people still doing it all the time. For years we had people who could only call Bush "stupid," like we now have people who just call Obama a "Socialist" instead of arguing policy. There's a lot of this kind of thinking out there, and many people buy in to it, ESPECIALLY in politics. In Buddhist parlance this results from Dependant thinking as opposed to Independent thinking. Let's spend our time contemplating the REAL world, not the world people want us to see.

I should confess this post was inspired by my friend Greta in Brazil, and reading this Essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, on Self-Reliance.

5/24/10:
Woah. Check this out. This guy is an awesome skeptic that Seems to embody my thoughts on this subject well:

http://www.michaelshermer.com/

He's got cool stuff about intelligent design, and other pseudoscience subjects.

1 comment:

Greta said...

My ego is loving the fact that you mentioned me in your blog. :)