Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

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luxagraf
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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by luxagraf » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:14 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:@luxagraf: I had to google chemtrail conspiracy because I had never heard of it before. I used to think that maybe there were some people who met in Davos who were more organized than most mere mortals, but generally I am too busy having a life to care about such matters.
that's always been my go-to super weird conspiracy example. RA Wilson figured heavily in my youth so I love a good conspiracy theory, even if I don't believe it. The chemtrails theory gets major points for creativity in my book. After I wrote that i started thinking that having a handful of conspiracyish theories turn out to be true, e.g. Snowden, NSA, etc has probably done a lot to legitimize the rest in many people's eyes, especially for those that lacked the evaluating skills/techniques Jacob and others have mentioned. What I find alarming is that the spread of what I guess you could call a post factual attitude toward life seems to be looking less linear and more hockey stick like every day.
Last edited by luxagraf on Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:15 pm

jacob wrote: Hard to say where this will eventually end up ... but I'd bet that post-factualism in its current form is transitional.
So if we are now at a point where the distinction between fact or fiction is irrelevant then the transition will be to a world where those who believe the fictions are rewarded and those who believe the facts are punished. Full blown anti-intellectualism.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:31 pm

Ego wrote:
jacob wrote: Hard to say where this will eventually end up ... but I'd bet that post-factualism in its current form is transitional.
So if we are now at a point where the distinction between fact or fiction is irrelevant then the transition will be to a world where those who believe the fictions are rewarded and those who believe the facts are punished. Full blown anti-intellectualism.
It's only like this for some people though. You don't have to be like that. Facts matter. Eventually the truth comes out. People can argue from beliefs for a while but facts do matter and I think they will always matter.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:46 am

Ego wrote:So if we are now at a point where the distinction between fact or fiction is irrelevant then the transition will be to a world where those who believe the fictions are rewarded and those who believe the facts are punished.
not inherently so. humans believing they will survive a drop from the 90th floor will still die. but facts are rarely the only deciding factor in any decision.

as 7Wannabe5 observes so poignantly, certain avenues lend themselves more to facts, others more anti/post-factualism. it's hard for facts to win if they're 1)hard or technical to find for the would-be-believer, 2)difficult to understand without a complex framework, 3)long and unclear feedback loop.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:36 am

BRUTE said: as 7Wannabe5 observes so poignantly, certain avenues lend themselves more to facts, others more anti/post-factualism. it's hard for facts to win if they're 1)hard or technical to find for the would-be-believer, 2)difficult to understand without a complex framework, 3)long and unclear feedback loop.
Framework is key, and there is also the meta-framework that allows you to recognize what sort of framework you are dealing with. For instance, when Jacob in his above post described the Dreyfus model as "just a heuristic." Yesterday, I was guiding a group of 4th graders who were sorting a list of animals into "mammal" or "not mammal", and I had to pause for a moment to do some spot research to determine how a platypus is being officially classified at their level these-a-days, because "lays eggs" and "has fur" were two of the determining factors they had at hand, and also deal with objections to humans being classified as such, because for many of the children "A mammal is a type of animal. A human is not an animal. Therefore, a human can't be a mammal." is a valid argument. I could have a very different conversation on the exact same "controversies" with my DD25 who recently studied evolutionary biology at a top-notch university, or a person in my social circle who holds a PhD in Islamic studies.
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Don't forget risk of terrorism!

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Chad » Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:24 am

Yeah, the terrorist risk is a joke. You are probably more likely to die by falling in your bath tube (I would have to look up the numbers to be certain).

Plus, I love Dave Chappelle's Wu Tang comment on people claiming to be in a terrorist group (starts around 2:30):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--IS0XiNdpk

Here is a good TED talk on ignorance and why we are ignorant (misconception #4 applies to terrorists). As with all of these, it's not perfect:

http://ritholtz.com/2016/12/not-ignorant-world/

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:46 am

BRUTE wrote:
Ego wrote:So if we are now at a point where the distinction between fact or fiction is irrelevant then the transition will be to a world where those who believe the fictions are rewarded and those who believe the facts are punished.
not inherently so. humans believing they will survive a drop from the 90th floor will still die. but facts are rarely the only deciding factor in any decision.
Well, today we've got a lot of people who are jumping from the 90th floor, but in slow motion. That begs the question, what are the factors that go into decision making?

http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/article ... -outcomes-

There are several important factors that influence decision making. Significant factors include past experiences, a variety of cognitive biases, an escalation of commitment and sunk outcomes, individual differences, including age and socioeconomic status, and a belief in personal relevance.

I think they left out an important one that is slowly spreading through society today.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... ng/511295/

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by vezkor » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:47 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:I attended an art festival recently which was produced in the form of a contest between hundreds of artists in various categories. The artworks were displayed all over a city. The general public could walk around and view and vote on their favorites with their phones, but there was also a winner chosen by critical jury in each category. Maybe something like that. How much would you pay for a jury filtered internet for your own use?
you went to Art Prize in Grand Rapids, didn't you? I was there with my wife, this year :) we had a fantastic time!

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:07 pm

In terms of conspiracy theories, I think, the internet can be understood in terms of epidemiology (and memes). Search engines now act as an easy/discovery of meme-reservoirs. For example, I have heard of chemtrails before but the extent of my knowledge was that it has something to do with airplanes ... but if I google it, I learn lots more compared to going to the library and trying to figure out where or what that is.---a process that I think would be hard.

However, now that I googled chemtrails, I could bring it into a debate (social media) and make some comments that looked like "advanced beginner"-level, perhaps making a few people believe that I actually know a lot about this, and if the chemtrail idea sounds plausible enough (and every conspiracy has a hint of truth to it), it will spread to other humans in the same way. They'll google, repost.

And soon it'll be one of those things where there's some uncertainty.

So in that sense, luxagraf would be the index case or patient zero of the chemtrail "meme epidemic" (if it gets that far) of 2016. 7wb5 and myself are currently infected in that we both repeated the word which now sticks in a few more minds. Some of you may now, having seen it being discussed a few times, bother to look it up yourself. And thus the meme remains alive in the human population.

In this sense, the internet especially with the way it's hyperlinked, much like airtravel linsk the world, acts a continuous reservoir for memes.

That goes for both good ideas and bad ideas. In terms of good ideas, it also explains why "original" ideas often appear independently around the same time. The reason is that they're not actually that independent.

It also explains why stupid ideas persist even if they've been refuted many times.

In that regard, possessing a framework is akin to possessing an immune system for particular fields of ideas. Having a "healthy level of knowledge" makes it that much harder to get infected by silly ideas.

Now as for how to deal with ... should the internet be scrubbed off of silly ideas much like home owners use lysol that kills 99.999% of all germs? No, I don't think so for the same reasons that I don't think that removing almost all vira or bacteria will render the population safer from infection. You can never do just one thing and such measures also serve to make people intellectually weaker.

No, rather, people need to build their intellectual immune systems. This has not be realized yet because we're still in the early stages of internet usages (it's really only been around for mass consumption for half a generation).

Eventually, maybe we'll reach the intellectual equivalent of "herd immunity". That's the fraction of people who needs to be immune to a virus or a silly idea to make it practically impossible to spread it because nobody any longer cares to forward/propagate/discuss it.

For example, if this was the last time anyone bothered with chemtrails around here, the idea would go away again and not become epidemic. In that case, it would sit in the [permanent] reservoir of an internet webpage only to resurface at some random point at some random time in the future.

Alternatively, we could reach a level of "intellectual health" that correspond to a public health problem where people are so weak that they continuously suffer from multiple parasitic, etc. infections. This, then, would be akin to the Dark Ages (in terms of written/thought culture) or Idiocracy.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by black_son_of_gray » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:26 pm

jacob wrote:people need to build their intellectual immune systems
Which brought to my mind: what is the fastest or most effective way to do this? Is there some subset of subjects, training, or frameworks that can bootstrap the process, and what would those be?

Take language learning for example. Let's say you are a native English speaker and you want to learn a western European language (French, German, etc). Likely those will take several years to reach a medium level of fluency. Curiously, there is some evidence that by FIRST learning Esperanto (a man-made language specifically designed to be easy to learn), and THEN learning your target language, you could learn the target language faster than if you just spent the whole time learning the target language. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaedeu ... _Esperanto). In the case of Esperanto, because it is straightforward to learn ... it doesn't take a learner long to be operating at a high level within the language. It is the "operating at a high level" that in-and-of-itself is valuable, because it provides a sense of Dunning-Kruger eye opening as to what expertise means. (Learning Esperanto for communication's sake alone is a poor move, with current speakers <2M globally.)

So I wonder what is the intellectual equivalent (if there is one) to Esperanto - something that is straightforward enough to be fast to learn, or could be learned in a self-taught fashion, but deep enough to provide insights into nuanced intellectual rigor that can only come from a certain level of mastery? Bonus points if it is more useful than Esperanto.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:49 pm

black_son_of_gray wrote:
jacob wrote:people need to build their intellectual immune systems
So I wonder what is the intellectual equivalent (if there is one) to Esperanto - something that is straightforward enough to be fast to learn, or could be learned in a self-taught fashion, but deep enough to provide insights into nuanced intellectual rigor that can only come from a certain level of mastery? Bonus points if it is more useful than Esperanto.
You threw me a softball. :D

-Lots of small decisions
-Challenging to fully understand facts.
-Immediate negative consequences with failure.
-Chance to try again and learn from mistakes

Sounds a lot like traveling in a country where your native language is not spoken.

Back to that Amelia Earhart quote, "The more one does the more one can do."

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by black_son_of_gray » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:28 pm

@ Ego: I agree, but how many people can afford it (in money or time)? I've traveled internationally for a few days... I've also been to a non-native speaking country for 5 weeks. The 5 week trip was considerably more valuable in that respect than the shorter trips, but I don't see that as a widely available option for the average 9-5er.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:47 pm

Jacob has made the point in the past that it is possible for many of us to seek out these types of experiences without leaving our hometown. It is interesting that many post-factualists seem to struggle being around people who are different from themselves.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:24 am

brute would make the point, from experience, that it's very possible to live in non-english speaking countries for months to years without learning any of the local language.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by luxagraf » Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:50 am

jacob wrote:Eventually, maybe we'll reach the intellectual equivalent of "herd immunity". That's the fraction of people who needs to be immune to a virus or a silly idea to make it practically impossible to spread it because nobody any longer cares to forward/propagate/discuss it.

Alternatively, we could reach a level of "intellectual health" that correspond to a public health problem where people are so weak that they continuously suffer from multiple parasitic, etc. infections. This, then, would be akin to the Dark Ages (in terms of written/thought culture) or Idiocracy.

Or we'll just continue to oscillate between these extremes much like we've oscillated between intellectualism and anti-intellectualism for decades, maybe even centuries.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by ducknalddon » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:01 am

BRUTE wrote:brute would make the point, from experience, that it's very possible to live in non-english speaking countries for months to years without learning any of the local language.
Yes, there are nearly a million English people doing exactly that in Spain right now.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:27 am

porque es muy dificil

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:58 pm

A new study published today provides an interesting look at what's going on in the brain of those who persist in believing something even when presented with counterevidence.

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39589

Our results show that when people are confronted with challenges to their deeply held beliefs, they preferentially engage brain structures known to support stimulus-independent, internally directed cognition. Our data also support the role of emotion in belief persistence. Individual differences in persuasion were related to differences in activity within the insular cortex and the amygdala—structures crucial to emotion and feeling. The brain’s systems for emotion, which are purposed toward maintaining homeostatic integrity of the organism, appear also to be engaged when protecting the aspects of our mental lives with which we strongly identify, including our closely held beliefs.

Again, 1 in 6 Americans is taking some sort of medication to tweak their emotional response and far more than that are using other drugs to do the same. I wonder if sticky beliefs is an unintended side effect.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:50 pm

Ego - that is a good point but I think that there is more to it.

I notice that when I provide facts that prove a person's belief wrong they may not outwardly admit that they have a belief that doesn't correspond to reality however I think that their brains are probably processing the new reality. So at some point they will probably admit it to their conscious reality or they will think about it at least to the point of "maybe that fact is true". They also may have to process the little details and the story they tell themselves may change a little bit. They might lose some of the overconfidence they displayed in their belief system.

I think that incorrect thinking has been around as long as human beings have been around. I think the issue is more about each of us learning to think more logically and the question is how to do that.

I think though stating this is fairly easy however doing it is hard for some people. I think the biggest issue is really when people get into causes and having to be right but there could be a myriad of different reasons that people cannot face reality when reality conflicts with their belief system.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Sat Dec 24, 2016 9:46 am

steveo73 wrote:Ego - that is a good point but I think that there is more to it.

I notice that when I provide facts that prove a person's belief wrong they may not outwardly admit that they have a belief that doesn't correspond to reality however I think that their brains are probably processing the new reality.
Stevo73.... first this caveat about tone. I suck at communicating my 'voice' so I want to start by setting my tone. Imagine two friends having a friendly conversation over coffee. Not one iota of a raised voice or anger. Two people honestly trying to learn from one another......

When pressed to provide a peer reviewed paper to refute global warming, you linked to a paper by Christopher Monckton.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph ... _Brenchley

I do not wish to pull the GW argument into this tread. I want to understand what's going on. I think we can agree that he is not an expert.

Simple question: Why is it that Monckton's ideas are given greater credence than the scientists specializing in the field?

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:09 pm

Ego wrote:
steveo73 wrote:Ego - that is a good point but I think that there is more to it.

I notice that when I provide facts that prove a person's belief wrong they may not outwardly admit that they have a belief that doesn't correspond to reality however I think that their brains are probably processing the new reality.
Stevo73.... first this caveat about tone. I suck at communicating my 'voice' so I want to start by setting my tone. Imagine two friends having a friendly conversation over coffee. Not one iota of a raised voice or anger. Two people honestly trying to learn from one another......

When pressed to provide a peer reviewed paper to refute global warming, you linked to a paper by Christopher Monckton.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph ... _Brenchley

I do not wish to pull the GW argument into this tread. I want to understand what's going on. I think we can agree that he is not an expert.

Simple question: Why is it that Monckton's ideas are given greater credence than the scientists specializing in the field?
To be clear Monckton's ideas are not given greater credence than scientists specializing in the field. That is just an example to describe how poorly some of the "scientists" within this field have acted.

I have provided examples from Judith Curry who is an expert in that field and other experts.

In stating that we have to get over the appeal to authority type of arguments. The problem is that there has been a tonne of extremely poor "science" within this field. It has been politicised.

I think that is changing now because the facts are clearly proving that the theory was a made up piece of palava.

I do find it interesting that your quote here is related to my comments on climate change. I think that the facts are clearly stating that climate change isn't occurring. My expectation is that a lot of people who believed in AGW should now be admitting that they had an erroneous belief. They will though probably do though exactly what I stated. They will slowly process the new reality and deal with the emotional side of it prior to accepting it into their conscious reality.

I also don't really get angry and I didn't think you were angry. Calm rational discussion is what is needed.
Last edited by steveo73 on Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:30 pm

steveo73 wrote:
To be clear Monckton's ideas are not given greater credence than scientists specializing in the field. That is just an example to describe how poorly some of the "scientists" within this field have acted.

I have provided examples from Judith Curry who is an expert in that field and other experts.

In stating that we have to get over the appeal to authority type of arguments. The problem is that there has been a tonne of extremely poor "science" within this field. It has been politicised.
What is interesting is that Curry, who is a climatologist, accepts the scientific consensus on climate change. What she objects to is what she sees as the politicization of that scientific consensus. You seem to be objecting to the same thing but then (correct me if I am wrong) seem to use it as a reason to dismiss the underlying science. It appears to me that that is exactly what Monckton does in that paper as well.

In other words, pro-climate-change neophytes hype the science as a scare tactic. Opponents point out the hype and use it as an excuse to dismiss the science. But the science still remains the science.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:53 pm

Ego wrote:
steveo73 wrote:
To be clear Monckton's ideas are not given greater credence than scientists specializing in the field. That is just an example to describe how poorly some of the "scientists" within this field have acted.

I have provided examples from Judith Curry who is an expert in that field and other experts.

In stating that we have to get over the appeal to authority type of arguments. The problem is that there has been a tonne of extremely poor "science" within this field. It has been politicised.
What is interesting is that Curry, who is a climatologist, accepts the scientific consensus on climate change. What she objects to is what she sees as the politicization of that scientific consensus. You seem to be objecting to the same thing but then (correct me if I am wrong) seem to use it as a reason to dismiss the underlying science. It appears to me that that is exactly what Monckton does in that paper as well.

In other words, pro-climate-change neophytes hype the science as a scare tactic. Opponents point out the hype and use it as an excuse to dismiss the science. But the science still remains the science.
The science is the science. It needs to be the most important thing in discussing issues. To be more generic the facts are the facts and they should form the basis for someone's opinion.

You also have to state what the consensus is. I think most laypeople believe (and I think this is what you mean in your response) that the consensus for instance is that everyone agrees that AGW is actually occurring. This is actually a false belief - the consensus amongst scientists is not clear cut. Plenty of scientists believe that AGW isn't occurring or maybe better put there is no science or facts to back up the hypothesis. Curry definitely doesn't accept that AGW is occurring. I posted her response to me in relation to the palava that someone posted regarding attributing extreme weather events to AGW. She called it garbage. That is a pretty strong response but also more than fair.

There is a hypothesis in relation to AGW. It isn't a fact. Too many people have been hoodwinked into believing it is a fact. They have been hoodwinked by fraudulent behaviour. This politicising of an issue is I think something that is really poor behaviour however I still think that people should be able to logically see through this stuff. Unfortunately this is where people suffer from poor reasoning ability. I don't think that this is a new issue. I referred to the Tulip boom within this thread as well. People have problems removing their emotions from analysing issues. This has always been the case and probably always will be the case.

In relation to this thread people need to face the facts and not somehow think that their beliefs are facts when they aren't. I also think that people need to accept the facts when they are given to them. Climate change is actually a really good microcosm of the issue of poor reasoning ability. People don't investigate the issue in enough depth and buy into what some expert says. In reality they have just bought into a line that the stronger political side has declared will be factual. The good thing about science though is that you have some basis to discuss a political issue factually. So with AGW we can clearly state that the hypothesis at this point appears extremely likely to be a false hypothesis based upon the facts (the measurements of temperature). It basically ends the debate. Facts give us the ability to face issues clearly and unemotionally. If people don't want to face that it's not really our problem is it. We just state well the facts are what they are.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by ducknalddon » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:13 am

steveo73 wrote: There is a hypothesis in relation to AGW. It isn't a fact. Too many people have been hoodwinked into believing it is a fact. They have been hoodwinked by fraudulent behaviour. This politicising of an issue is I think something that is really poor behaviour however I still think that people should be able to logically see through this stuff. Unfortunately this is where people suffer from poor reasoning ability. I don't think that this is a new issue. I referred to the Tulip boom within this thread as well. People have problems removing their emotions from analysing issues. This has always been the case and probably always will be the case.
You can make exactly this same argument from the other side, in fact it is probably more justifiable from the other side because of the sums of money involved and what people stand to loose (ie the fossil fuel industry).

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:25 pm

ducknalddon wrote:
steveo73 wrote: There is a hypothesis in relation to AGW. It isn't a fact. Too many people have been hoodwinked into believing it is a fact. They have been hoodwinked by fraudulent behaviour. This politicising of an issue is I think something that is really poor behaviour however I still think that people should be able to logically see through this stuff. Unfortunately this is where people suffer from poor reasoning ability. I don't think that this is a new issue. I referred to the Tulip boom within this thread as well. People have problems removing their emotions from analysing issues. This has always been the case and probably always will be the case.
You can make exactly this same argument from the other side, in fact it is probably more justifiable from the other side because of the sums of money involved and what people stand to loose (ie the fossil fuel industry).
You could but clearly this hasn't been the case. The dominant political side has been the warmists/alarmists. The reaction has been very Tulip bubble like.

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