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The Plough and Potato have had a football team since Roman times, so they must be better at it than modern teams!
November 29, 2012 5:53 PM   Subscribe

A primer in the rhetorical tactics of pseudoscience advocates in the form of an inane pub argument about football.
posted by acb (60 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
PERSON 2: The Plough and Potato have had a football team since Roman times, so they must be better at it than modern teams!

PERSON 1: Well that's definitely nonsense.

PERSON 2: Why is that nonsense?

PERSON 1: Because Roman times were thousands of years ago. That predates football. In this country, that predates potatoes.

PERSON 2: Oh, I see now. You're a shill.

PERSON 1: A what now?

PERSON 2: A shill. A pawn of Big Football. They're paying you to spread lies and disinformation about other football teams, so people keep supporting the big ones and spending money on them.


I need to keep that in my pocket next time I go on an anti-Big Four (or Five) rant.
posted by kendrak at 6:00 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're just shilling for big rhetoric!!!! Arguments is made BY SHOUTING LOUDER!!!!!
posted by Jakey at 6:01 PM on November 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm totally convinced that ale in English pubs is stronger than beer in American bars.
posted by Mblue at 6:07 PM on November 29, 2012


The problem with many in the anti-science crowd is that they have been trained to "know" something by believing in it more. None dare call it a mental illness.
posted by Brian B. at 6:17 PM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm totally convinced that ale in English pubs is stronger than beer in American bars.

Yeah, well, being totally convinced doesn't exactly prove anything, now, does it?
posted by The World Famous at 6:18 PM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


SHUT UP YOU'RE A SHILL OF BIG BEER!
posted by lumpenprole at 6:20 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


About a third of the way in I realized that I was reading Person 2 in the voice of Lister from Red Dwarf. It made the rest of the article a much more enjoyable read.
posted by flyingfox at 6:20 PM on November 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


It wasn't offered as proof TWF, just an aside comment.
posted by Mblue at 6:22 PM on November 29, 2012


Is this a series of five minute arguments or a full half hour?
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:23 PM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


In this example, Man City is Scientology.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:26 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


It wasn't offered as proof TWF, just an aside comment.

Sure, backpedal.
posted by The World Famous at 6:26 PM on November 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem with debating imaginary people is that you are writing their dialogue, so no matter how stupid their lines are, you sound like George Costanza.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:33 PM on November 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sure, backpedal.

Thanks, my beer is cold again.
posted by Mblue at 6:41 PM on November 29, 2012


robocop is bleeding: "In this example, Man City is Scientology"

My God, it all makes sense now. Free Tevez!
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Comment thread in the Guardian goes right into vaccination. Ouch like a needle in my skin.
posted by ovvl at 6:59 PM on November 29, 2012


> I'm totally convinced that ale in English pubs is stronger than beer in American bars.

Yeah, well, being totally convinced doesn't exactly prove anything, now, does it?


You're right. The only way to resolve this is experiments. Lots and lots of experiments.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:49 PM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


PERSON 1: I'm not saying they're not run by unscrupulous bastards; they probably are. But they actually have to provide examples of decent football; they have to provide valid results at some point. They can't just go around telling the general public that they're the best team and expect them to cough up loads of money to support them.

Have you heard of the Boston Red Sox?
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on November 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


PERSON 2: Well sure, MU will look better if you judge them by the elitist standards of "games won."
posted by brundlefly at 7:58 PM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Comment thread in the Guardian goes right into vaccination. Ouch like a needle in my skin.

A buddy of mine has made himself a scourge of the anti-vax assholes on Facebook, to the point where I think there's people who think he's a paid shill working for Merck or whoever. Every so often my feed includes "_____ posted in a thread from [anti-vax assholes group]" and it's always a stitch.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:09 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The anti-vaxx thing is really big in the news here right now, so this is perfectly timed.
posted by Mezentian at 8:20 PM on November 29, 2012


Is this really necessary? :(
posted by grobstein at 8:26 PM on November 29, 2012


Is this really necessary? :(
Is this about the anti-vaxx thing or the FREE TEVEZ thing? (Really, I'm more concerned with Dzeko, but he's doing well for himself.)

Reading through the article again, I feel shamed to admit that I have made ludicrous arguments like Person 2 to wind people up and show my displeasure at the current state of professional football. In the future I will either be more insane or work harder to make my arguments more coherent. "Sir Dave Richards is the root of all evil" doesn't seem to work with most people in the States.
posted by kendrak at 8:37 PM on November 29, 2012


DISCLAIMER: As far as I know, there is no pub called the Plough and Potato in Manchester, or anywhere for that matter, I merely made it up [...]

You should have called it The Straw Man. Even if you are approached by cranks; even if they are wrong; you've still created an argument just so you can triumphantly defeat it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:37 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Related
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on November 29, 2012


My problem with this argument is that it's discrediting everything that falls outside of the "we know this" box. Guess what -- there are lots of things we don't know. Yeah, people make arguments that they can't back up. But, lack of current research doesn't mean that they're automatically wrong -- it often just means research just hasn't been done on that specific area. It's the person who researches something new who makes the new discoveries.

Also, why are we getting on religion here? You can argue that any religion is just people enthusiastic about a belief without supporting evidence.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:15 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this really necessary? :(

As long as ignorant morons try to dominate public policy with their wrongheaded nonsense, it will necessary to dispute, refute and, yes, mock them. Although the last one is pretty much just for fun.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:22 PM on November 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


You should have called it The Straw Man. Even if you are approached by cranks; even if they are wrong; you've still created an argument just so you can triumphantly defeat it.

Not quite. This is an analogy, not an argument. It takes the various science "controversies" and puts them into another context to show how absurd they are when they are about a subject many people do know something about.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:38 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


My problem with this argument is that it's discrediting everything that falls outside of the "we know this" box. Guess what -- there are lots of things we don't know. Yeah, people make arguments that they can't back up. But, lack of current research doesn't mean that they're automatically wrong -- it often just means research just hasn't been done on that specific area. It's the person who researches something new who makes the new discoveries.

The problem isn't people talking about things we don't know yet. See: dark matter, quantum gravity, the proteinome, consciousness, Riemann hypothesis, etc. The problem is making positive claims to know things that we, in fact, do not know, or to know that something is true when we have confirmed that it is false or that we have no evidence is true. Again, the problem isn't that someone is claiming "you don't know X". The problem is someone claiming "you don't know X, therefore it must be Y", where Y is whatever bullshit belief they've pulled out of a hat (which, by sheer chance, could turn out to be true, but isn't in 99.999% of cases).

Also, Skeptoid is great for more stuff like this. I especially like their "Letters from the listeners" episodes because Brian Dunning is not always very polite in them.
posted by cthuljew at 10:47 PM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Except in this scenario, Machester United killed the inhabitants of two Japanese cities with its brilliant offense and used to advocate the sterilization of so-called inferiors, and widespread study of their tactics on the field led to ecological disasters Man U never thought of when they gave football coaching workshops, but you still need to know they're doing their best and how dare you be reluctant to follow their coaching because most of the time it'll really improve the sport with no unforeseen consequences ever.
posted by mobunited at 11:15 PM on November 29, 2012


Is this really necessary? :(

Yes. It will stop you getting measles.

*jabby jab jab*
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:16 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


mobunited: The way to solve problems caused by science isn't less science.
posted by cthuljew at 11:23 PM on November 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


The problem with debating imaginary people is that you are writing their dialogue, so no matter how stupid their lines are, you sound like George Costanza.

You don't have to go very far to see the exact same arguments used by the PP supporter - debates about evolution, vaccination and climate change for example.

The 'paper on the wall that says the PP team is the best' is a clear nod to Biblical arguments against evolution, or any argument that relies on 'ancient knowledge handed down that 'they' don't want you know to know about' - see Mayan planet X stuff, for example. The 'so where will the ball be on the pitch at 53 minutes' is straight from climate change deniers - "you can't even predict the weather for next week, so how can you predict what the climate will be in 100 years?".

The failure to grasp probability and distrust of 'big football' is straight from anti-vaxxers, and the alternative medicine camp in general - though he missed a trick on that one, the PP supporter should have said 'well, how can you know ManU will win? They haven't even played the games yet, so you've no way to know'.

In short, these are all arguments I've seen used with a straight face by people flogging their particular brand of anti-science.

I'm sick of the oppression of people like you. You know what I'm going to do, I'm going to go to the media! I'm going to go on all the football programmes and insist that whenever they say who's at the top of the league they have to give me an equivalent amount of time to say why the league stats are wrong and the PPs should be at the top.

This, alas, is actually what happens. Slightly controversial topic? We'll have one guy make a soundbite argument from the pro-science side with 99% of scientists and mountains of evidence, and then we'll slap up some wingnut for 'balance' with some pithy statements about how it's all big government/climate science/pharm trying to fool people, and lots of people disagree, and it's all unproven. They'll probably even cherry pick one or two disproven studies to make it sound more scientific.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:46 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mobunited: I think they were managers
wearing Manchester Jerseys
posted by Sparx at 11:53 PM on November 29, 2012


Machester United killed the inhabitants of two Japanese cities with its brilliant offense and used to advocate the sterilization of so-called inferiors, and widespread study of their tactics on the field led to ecological disasters Man U never thought of when they gave football coaching workshops

They also gave us the various bits that make up the computer you typed that on, and the intra-networked system that allowed you to post it, along with a billion other things you rely on every day like the electricity to power it, advanced healthcare so you didn't die at 2 years old from a communicable disease, mostly clean drinking water and sanitation so you didn't die of cholera or the black death.

Nuclear weapons were researched to provide really big bombs. They succeeded. Sterilization of inferiors was never a mainstream scientific viewpoint as far as I'm aware, except for the Nazis, and I think that had a bit more to do with their ideaology...

Sure, scientists make mistakes. It's part of the scientific method. You look at evidence available, come up with an explanation that might cover it, then look for more evidence and do tests that will support or weaken that theory. If you get faulty evidence, or you're looking at something which you'd need a much longer timeframe to work with than we got you have to use simulations, if you're dealing with something that happened a long time ago or a long way away, your evidence will be hard to collect. Scientists are human, and don't always get it right. But the point is, the more evidence we get, the more science we do, the closer the theories get to reality.
We might not fully understand the overlap between relativity and quantum mechanics yet, but if you drop something I can successfully predict it's going to hit the ground.

But more often, the problem is 'we're doing A, which you've proven is causing B. We're not going to stop doing A, so give us an answer that can mitigate B'.

The correct answer is 'stop doing A', but that's not acceptable. So you try and come up with something that mitigates B. You succeed, but end up causing C instead. Now someone says,

'OK, you're shown us A causes B. Fixing B causes C. This is all your fault. Now give us something that mitigates C. But we're not still going to stop doing A.'

Your argument is that because causing C sometimes happens, the correct answer is not to bother researching the link between A and B? That instead of making public policy based upon the best evidence and research available, we should just stick our thumb in the wind and go with gut feeling?
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:05 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


PERSON 2: ... I've got PP running through my veins!

PERSON 1: Seriously, how can you not realise how ridiculous you sound when you say that?


I see what he did there...

Ok, sorry, sorry, I'm being immature. Sometimes I can't help it.
posted by Arandia at 12:18 AM on November 30, 2012


About a third of the way in I realized that I was reading Person 2 in the voice of Lister from Red Dwarf. It made the rest of the article a much more enjoyable read.

I know; I literally couldn't read Person 2 in the voice of anyone other than Mark from Peep Show.
posted by primer_dimer at 12:41 AM on November 30, 2012


This argument also works wonderfully for Big Pharma.

Ben Goldacre and Marcia Angell are now playing for the Pub Eleven.

Note: In the DSM V it is suspected that 'over thinking a plate of beans' is a mental disorder that can be rectified by 4Chanitol.
posted by sien at 1:31 AM on November 30, 2012


The way I read it, it seemed obvious that Person 2 was taking the piss, in a very recognisable British mode, with considerable brio and success.
posted by Segundus at 2:05 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sterilization of inferiors was never a mainstream scientific viewpoint as far as I'm aware, except for the Nazis, and I think that had a bit more to do with their ideaology...

It was mainstream to the extent that scientists published papers, had conferences, received research grants, and lobbied successfully for legislation implementing it. So yes, it was a part of "science".

The problem is conflating science with morality and policy. Science tells us what is true. It doesn't tell us what to do. Science says that global warming is heating the planet. It doesn't tell us what to do about it. It tells us what the likely outcome of each alternative is. It doesn't tell us which outcome we should prefer. That's morality.

In fact, you could argue science tells us quite clearly what we will prefer, in the example of global warming. Science tells us that humans are poor at long-term planning, prefer local and related people to distant and unrelated people, are good at cognitive dissonance when necessary, and prefer actions that protect established gains to actions to actions that have a larger chance of success but are more variable.

So science tells us quite clearly that it is very unlikely that we will do anything about global warming. Yet scientists still lobby for political action. Why? That's very unscientific of them.

Science is awesome. But it doesn't work well with policy and morality, as science itself shows, because these are not scientific.
posted by alasdair at 2:29 AM on November 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Machester United killed the inhabitants of two Japanese cities with its brilliant offense and used to advocate the sterilization of so-called inferiors

Just because the science is used for poor purposes, that doesn't make the science not real or factually correct. Which is what this whole 'debate' is about.

Cars can be used to commit crimes. But irrespective of their uses, cars exist, and they work. The homeopathic car cannot be detected by any means, and you stay in the same place no matter what happens. Plus you get wet.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:51 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


What a terrible article.

It's not enough that the PP enthusiast is such an awful hackneyed mary-sue parody of "bad arguing", it's that even as an analogy, there's probably no situations which would tick all the errors highlighted. More importantly, it opens the facility to categorise valid arguments within the framework of the PP supporter.

In my opinion, this is just another example of how a certain kind of rhetoric can be used to win an argument.

The most frustrating thing is that anyone who is going to take this in fully and implement it into there own rhetorical toolbox will either misinterpret arguments made against them as being in one of the PP categories (and therefore the whole of the argument is worthless), and they'll blindly ignore when they're doing it themselves.

This is an article by a person who thinks that they're always right about everything, and who thinks that anyone who disagrees with them is stupid. It's not useful, it's not helpful and just because anti-vaccination and global-warming-denier people are hideously wrong doesn't mean we should start using this as a template for categorising other people's arguments.

You try pinning this sort of thinking on something a little more complicated (Israel / Palestine), and you'll find how useless it is.

If you want an analogy, I can make a frigging duck detector that will identify every single thing in the world as a duck. This will correctly identify ducks 100% of the time. And it will incorrectly identify horses as ducks the other 100% of the time.

Utterly useless.
posted by zoo at 3:54 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not quite. This is an analogy, not an argument. It takes the various science "controversies" and puts them into another context to show how absurd they are when they are about a subject many people do know something about.

Uh oh, it's working. A side that existed in mediocrity until a third party put the best he could find there, radically changing their fortunes. Am I talking about Man City or an eclectic mix of the young earth and chariots of the gods beliefs?

Can you be sure I'm not in the pocket of Big Chariot?
posted by ersatz at 3:59 AM on November 30, 2012


Except in this scenario, Machester United killed the inhabitants of two Japanese cities with its brilliant offense and used to advocate the sterilization of so-called inferiors, and widespread study of their tactics on the field led to ecological disasters Man U never thought of when they gave football coaching workshops, but you still need to know they're doing their best and how dare you be reluctant to follow their coaching because most of the time it'll really improve the sport with no unforeseen consequences ever.

RANT: And the Plough and Potato gave us millions upon millions of preventable deaths and held people in poverty for centuries because they had tradition and the wisdom of the ages on their side, which is far better than the scientific method of striving for truth through experimentation and investigation of evidence.

Other commenters, like His thoughts were red thoughts, get into the whole "use of science/policy ain't science" bit, which is more apt. I just hadda rant. If you're against scientific arrogance, why the fucking fuck aren't you against the arrogance of "traditional [whatever]?" "I don't need to run double-blind trials to know that vaccination causes autism. I've got something better: my gut!"

Hey fuckers: for those who deny climate change as "just a theory," germ theory is also just a fucking theory. Therefore, why not disregard modern medicine and hygienic practices? Clearly, it's a theory pushed by Big Soap, and the precipitous decline in deaths from infection over the last half-century is merely a natural variation brought about by the decrease in mephitic vapors, amirite?
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 4:00 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I don't need to run double-blind trials to know that vaccination causes autism. I've got something better: my gut!"

Is this a Wakefield gag, because it made me laugh?
posted by marienbad at 4:27 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I followed the Plough and Potato before they sold out.
posted by Segundus at 4:36 AM on November 30, 2012


On the note of climate change, I've always been really confused who Big Climate was supposed to be. Like, is this Pinko commie environmentalists just wanting to stick it to the greedy Capitalist pigs out of spite? Or is it actually Big Green going for that sweet, sweet wind farm subsidy dollar? Who benefits by corporations and governments spending lots of money on fighting global warming? The Us vs. Them narrative that climate change deniers like doesn't seem to really have a Them in it. Maybe I'm just missing something.

zoo: You caught the part where he said that he was trying to show off the "predictable patterns" that such arguments take, right? As for whether or not "we should start using this as a template for categorising other people's arguments", well, sorry to break it to you, but we already do.
posted by cthuljew at 5:05 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this a Wakefield gag, because it made me laugh?

I think it's a Colbert White House Correspondents Dinner reference.
posted by Molesome at 5:06 AM on November 30, 2012


On the note of climate change, I've always been really confused who Big Climate was supposed to be. Like, is this Pinko commie environmentalists just wanting to stick it to the greedy Capitalist pigs out of spite? Or is it actually Big Green going for that sweet, sweet wind farm subsidy dollar? Who benefits by corporations and governments spending lots of money on fighting global warming?

It could be something like the “communist bankers” so beloved of Birchers and anti-Semitic dogwhistlers in decades past.
posted by acb at 5:18 AM on November 30, 2012


You try pinning this sort of thinking on something a little more complicated (Israel / Palestine), and you'll find how useless it is.

It's not that it's necessarily more complicated, it's more that we're talking about a different order of things. Political arguments tends to be driven by competing value systems, and the core values that underpin them tend to be non-negotiable by the respective sides.

With scientific arguments, there's at least supposed to be a pretence that both sides have shared values or common objectives. ie, the eradication of smallpox is a good thing, and vaccines either accomplish this goal or they don't.

Also, I'm pretty sure that the article isn't intended to be a tool box demonstration of how to demolish the arguments of the scientifically illiterate --- rather, it's intended to illustrate the rhetorical devices that those people use ad nauseum. If you don't recognize the traits on display, I'm guessing you don't spend much time on the internet outside of Metafilter.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:18 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


why the fucking fuck aren't you against the arrogance of "traditional [whatever]?"

Ignoring the f-bombs, who says that people like that aren't against that sort of arrogance? I think most thinking people are against both kinds of arrogance, and wary of anyone claiming to have a clear hold on moral rightness. Only principles can help us determine how to apply the understandings of science. Only principles can help us determine when to refer to tradition and accumulated wisdom, and when not to.

I think it's symptomatic of general contempt to just assume that people who oppose the assertion that science can reveal inherent value - as opposed to factuality - don't also oppose similar claims from other entities. Science is a process, not an ideal or a value. We need to bring ideals and values into play in our discussions of the applications and purposes and questions of science, but they don't usually emerge from within science.
posted by Miko at 7:09 AM on November 30, 2012


In the DSM V it is suspected that 'over thinking a plate of beans' is a mental disorder that can be rectified by 4Chanitol.

The side effects are brutal, though.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:26 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe I have seen photographs off the side effects of taking too much 4-chanitol. I have no idea why the website was named after the number of women featured and the type of crockery used, though.
posted by ambrosen at 7:30 AM on November 30, 2012


What I find interesting about this is that the analogy is more consistent with quasi-postmodernist or Foucauldian or even Kuhnian claims that science is a social practice that has earned a special discursive power by virtue of the fact that a lot of people are committed to it, as a practice, and a lot of resources have been devoted to developing the practice so that it is done in a highly sophisticated and evolved way. Science as the Glass Bead Game of Western societies. For, after all, why are Man U good? They are good because they have the best players, and they have the best players because people go to see them and buy their merchandise, and people go to see them and buy their merchandise because they are good. What you have here is a virtuous cycle, a contingent historical process which is productive of good football, just as, one might argue, science is productive of truth. I would like to salute the author of this article for putting forward such a nuanced view of the science/antiscience debate, one which is clearly informed by modern post-epistemology and developments in the history and philosophy of science.

I mean, I'd like to. But I suspect it's just a crappy analogy.
posted by Acheman at 8:58 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Great comment, Acheman. The neat trick is that even if it's a crappy analogy, it's still an argument for that view of science than an argument for the positivist view.
posted by Miko at 9:46 AM on November 30, 2012


cthuljew: "On the note of climate change, I've always been really confused who Big Climate was supposed to be. Like, is this Pinko commie environmentalists just wanting to stick it to the greedy Capitalist pigs out of spite? Or is it actually Big Green going for that sweet, sweet wind farm subsidy dollar?"

"If climate scientists are in it for the money, they're doing it wrong."

Although I think the term is used more broadly sometimes to refer to the enemy. Like the Evil Socialists who want to impose their hideous, big government ideology on the world by making up a crisis to respond to.

Which always seemed like an implicit acknowledgement that, were climate change real, the free market would be incapable of responding to it.
posted by brundlefly at 10:18 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


RANT: And the Plough and Potato gave us millions upon millions of preventable deaths and held people in poverty for centuries because they had tradition and the wisdom of the ages on their side, which is far better than the scientific method of striving for truth through experimentation and investigation of evidence.

In this increasingly strained analogy, the Plough and Potato paid for Man U, because modern scientific thought is a clerical invention and not peasants with wooden beakers fighting the Pope. You want secularism to have a better moral record, but it doesn't. Not better, not worse. Your perception that there was a secular struggle against faith to bring progress lacks proof and historical legitimacy.

You want your brief cultural convulsion to be a grand revelation, but it isn't. Anti-vaccination ultimately pisses you off not because it comes from the religious feeling you'd like to denigrate, but because it comes from an abuse of scientific authority. It comes from deception masquerading as science having a a real cultural effect, which destroys the pretense that science is a neutral method, delinked from social power, but a cultural praxis that demands moral thinking from practitioners.

Because hey folks, I don't owe this fucking computer to science. I owe it to labour. Mining. Factories. Chinese people working in horrific conditions under suicide nets. Science owes me the utmost effort to make that labour and their own efficient and moral within practitioners abilities to do so. It's is an academic field, a form of public service. To think otherwise is to ape clerical tradition, not defy it, by inventing excuses for alienated labour on the altar of convenience instead of the one used to annoying kings. Fuck all that noise.
posted by mobunited at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the note of climate change, I've always been really confused who Big Climate was supposed to be.

It's not a financial interest as much as people seeing climate change as the reason why people should Stop Living The Way They Live and Start Living The Way I Think They Should Live. For example, people should stop eating meat, or flying, or driving cars, or having children, or essentially living a modern Western consumerist lifestyle. Money is one reason to push for something: knowing you're both right and morally superior is another.

(Just for clarity: there is climate change, it is caused by humans, millions may die. I'm not saying that the above proposals are wrong: I'm just saying that many people see climate change as a powerful justification for their often pre-existing beliefs about how the worlds should be ordered.)
posted by alasdair at 2:59 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Science owes me the utmost effort to make that labour and their own efficient and moral within practitioners abilities to do so. It's is an academic field, a form of public service.

I must disagree, I'm afraid. Science is a way to determine the truth. If I expand human knowledge in the fields of biological warfare or torture or propaganda, using the scientific method, I'm still a scientist. But I'm not performing a public service. It doesn't owe me anything. It's a tool. It's not moral.

But I'm probably just not quite following you, so apologies!
posted by alasdair at 3:08 PM on November 30, 2012


It's a tool. It's not moral.

I that was the point. At least some of the point.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on November 30, 2012


None dare call it a mental illness.

This. Echoing down through the years. Still.
posted by carping demon at 9:19 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


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