Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friends Crossing the Line

Where does one draw the line in the sand, as it were, with friends (and maybe relatives) who believe in woo? That question has come up with me and I suspect with others. It is a tough question. There are several ways to look at it. 1. The person is a friend and let them believe what ever they want. 2. It depends on the circumstance and if it doesn't harm anyone, its ok. 3. Show them the error in their thinking no matter what. 4. Show them the error in their thinking if affects others. And 5. Attempt at compromise. The question may arise in relation to school, work, politics etc. Some may mean nothing and some may mean the difference between life and death of your friend or others affected by your friend. What is the ethics involved? And should you really care? Some woo is harmless as "don't step on a crack or you'll break your mothers back." Others are as serious as letting mythology into science classroom and alternative medicine. The first example we all, or most of us, should recognize from childhood as harmless nonsense and it doesn't affect anyone, including the practitioner except for a very minor inconvenience. We may recognize those individuals as eccentric or a little odd, but nothing to worry about. In fact we may enjoy them because of the eccentricities. The first type well just accept and go on. I will go to the last option next, because it sometimes is an option, though I will suspect will never work. Can one compromise with nonsense. Again circumstances come into play. Beliefs are extremely hard to change, it is possible, but darn near improbable. This is especially so when ones belief system or world view is threatened. When that happens one feels that ones self is also threatened. The natural response is to resist. This often takes the form of trying to find any hole in the others arguement, to taking facts and twisting or manipulating them to fit your own belief system. This is what I suspect is going on with creationist and ID proponents. It is for this reason that I think and "believe" compromise is impossible. If you try to compromise they use that as some sort of ok for their beliefs to be taken seriously, and the next thing is the pushing for more. In that words of that old saying: "give em an inch they'll take a mile."

So what is the criteria for taking a stand. In the class room or in an educational environment letting in falsehoods, half truths gives them false veracity to the learners. They then will over time have difficulty being able to differentiate facts from bull. Then if they take this into their careers, then science, history etc. is compromised. In medicine this may mean lives as alternative will be tried before science based diagnosis and treatments and deaths will result. This has happened. To let it go is in my opinion irresponsible and a crime. In science class rooms to let it in will have the same result. How will people when they go into their careers know the difference and be able to apply critical thinking. They will not, because in the name of fairness all things are equal, it is only fair. Right? Wrong! The consequences is the actual survival of our country and us as a species in the long run. Some say I am exaggeratting. Am I. Carry out the thought experiment to its logical conclusion for yourself. I am talking about letting theocracy control government and science labs. Case in point Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. No meaningful science has come out muslin nations in any quantity since the 13th century, and they are willing to push the button for Allah and paradise. Ignoring climite change because it would mean a perceived hit in their pocket books, that is what is driving those in that camps ideaology, not science. Over 2000 climite scientists agree that it is happening, but the other group say they have scientists who say it is not. Only 10% of their people saying climite change is not happening are true scientists, most are weather men and women who give forcasts on tv. Our military is already making plans for what it will mean for security for the U.S. when the climite change occurs and causes droughts, wars etc. Think about it.

The last point is one that gets at one's own integrety as a human being. If one lets that kind of stuff in, is one being honest with oneself as a human being concerned about others? Or are you interested in ones own selfish motives? It is for all of us to decide. As much as it may hurt me or my friend or relative, the worst position is to hurt the truth and my own integrety, I know where I draw the line, and stand.
Skeptical DoDo

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