Day 310 – Scientific Method

56 – 100 Greatest Discoveries

Science is hard.

And I don’t just mean as a discipline, but communicating about science is possibly even harder and a task scientists are sadly rarely well-equipped for. It is great having the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye available as standard-bearers, because we need all the clear communicators we can get.

What is particularly insidious is the way modern politics and the media interact with each other, and the resulting “fair-and-balanced” rhetoric that requires that for every argument on one side, someone has to be given an opportunity to speak for the other side.

Some things are just not balanced.
Sometimes when you put the sum-total of all the facts on the scales, one side tips further. Much further.
Continue reading Day 310 – Scientific Method

Day 301 – Debatable

65 – TOP 100 DEBATES

So, apparently to achieve greatness I have to read things I do not agree with. Today I made a start with a “wonderful” article at Virginia Right. I forget how I came across it, but it was so delightfully hypocritical that I couldn’t resist.

It purports to analyse how liberals (in the US-sense; so we are talking left-wing here) hold their “non rational” arguments.

Just for fun I swapped around the terminology; liberal and conservative, left and right, names of channels and pundits. The argument made just as much sense the other way around as it did in its original form, which is to say, none at all. Baseless value-judgements from start to finish.

Apparently the way this blogger suggests you win an argument with a liberal is to make a single post refuting their statements with whatever facts/scrap metal/biases/neuroses you might have to hand, and if the liberal comes back with anything but agreement, you just finish the conversation there and declare victory. I wish I could laugh at it, if I hadn’t actually seen clips of pundits using exactly this strategy.

I was also fascinated to learn that although MSNBC is clearly a left-wing source, Fox is undeniably an unbiased source. I’m not going to argue that MSNBC doesn’t lean left, but to deny any lean at all in the case of Fox is more than a little ridiculous. And this is exactly why a debate should never be over in a single response; the process of debate is supposed to lead more often than not to a better shared understanding, and FSM-forbid, a compromise that both sides are somewhat equally unhappy with.

That’s how representative democracy works.

The majority doesn’t impose its will on the minority; we reach a compromise in the understanding that halfway between left-and-right lies a better representation of what a 50/50 split of the population might be able to come to an agreement on.

It is how decisions that endure are made.

As this author (Tom White) got closer to the end of his piece, he was getting ever more divorced from a sense of irony. After calling liberals not-rational at the start of the article, point 4 calls out liberals for using “The Personal Attack” as a debating strategy, closely followed by point 5, “Name Calling”.

And on the last point he was just not even trying any more. Point 6 calls out liberals for calling in posses of adherents to self-reinforce their victories with mutual congratulation… only to close the self-same point with a call to arms for conservatives to follow suit.

I doubt he can be convinced of the deep internal conflict he seems to be carrying with him; we all know after all that conservatives are just not rational… (note: tongue-in-cheek, in case mockery is also a foreign concept).

On the whole I might be a libertarian leaning left-winger, but I also believe that (regulated) capitalism on the whole does more good than harm. And I’d love to live in any country where it is possible to have a reasonable adult discussion with those we disagree with. I’m just not holding my breath on finding one of those in a hurry.