You can view the page at http://metabunk.org/content.php?122-Why-Debunk
You can view the page at http://metabunk.org/content.php?122-Why-Debunk
I'm not sure the anti-science/reason thing is distinctly American. It's certainly alive and well here, but I've met many Europeans who laugh at American crazies while stocking up on homeopathic remedies for there unvaccinated children.
Oh I'm sure there's plenty of it in Europe as well. It's just that there's a little more here, and of a particular flavor. It's a cultural thing, the political background of which was famously described by Richard Hofstader in 1964. http://karws.gso.uri.edu/jfk/conspir...oid_style.htmlThere's also a degree of anti-science that naturally arises when there's a strong based of fundamentalist religion which necessarily introduces a supernatural component to things, creating an unbridgeable conflict with science.http://www.dangerousminds.net/commen...n_electricity/American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wind. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics., In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.
Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.
For me it is about rejecting a slander - I got into it because of chemtrails......and being an aviation professional and in a position* to know a great deal about the stuff that a/c would have to have if they were actually producing chemtrails, I resent the implication that I am part of an evil plot do do....whatever. So I'm often not quite as dispassionate as, say, Mick is!
* - airline mechanic, maintenance planner & quality assurance inspector, and analyst for a national aviation regulator
Clock (January 18th, 2013)
That site you mentioned http://whatstheharm.net/ is interesting.
Although I do believe there is a portion of the population where "non-harm" has been done, where either spiritual beliefs or new moral attitudes have reversed the harm they were previously committing on themselves and/or others.
For example, spiritual awakenings have served as "cures" to many criminals and who previously had destructive tendencies.
Another example would be programs like AA (rooted in a belief of a "higher power"), have helped many from creating more harm to themselves and others...(note, the "success rate" for AA is quite low, but at least it is a path to improvement, even if just temporary for many).
The topic of whether religion has hurt more than it has helped is up for debate (wars, borders, tyranny, etc...). But I thought it needed mentioning.
"You've been Blaylocked !!"
Still not convinced America has more psuedoscience and irrational beliefs than other countries. I'm familiar with the Paranoid Style quote, but it's only describing the form of American crazy not establishing that irrational thinking is somehow uniquely American or more common in the USA. And again, fundamentalist religious beliefs might color the irrational beliefs of a sub-population of Americans.
Dr. Steven Novella, of Princeton (I think) and the Science-Based Medicine blog, did a lecture series for the Teaching Company about Medical Myths and ended the series with a n international round-up of irrational, non science or evidence based medical beliefs/treatments, to show how they take different forms around the world but results form the same muddled thinking and failure to reason.
To hit the topic, I'm interested in debunking mostly because I've been confronted with so many ideas that I find absurd (vaccine denial, vitamins, homeopathy, 9-11 conspiracies) and argued so vigorously against I was compelled to research them to calm my doubts that I might be wrong. So, far, on those points mentioned, I have not been wrong, rather I'm amazed at how ridiculous these claims become, even more so than at first blush, when researched. I believe that conspiracies have and do exist and that improbable or unlikely treatments can benefit people. Unfortunately, 9-11 conspiracy theories waste time; i'm sure there are less involved, yet no less conspiratorial and wrong things occuring in Washington DC, and in many governments around the world except they are likely much less sexy and evil and more greedy and uninspired than your career conspiracy theorist would bother with. And the drift of quackery into the mainstream I find deplorable and dangerous (vaccines just one example), while miracle cures are not only ridiculous but waste research dollars and time (how many studies need to show that homeopathy, which is patently absurd in principle, doesn't work in practice?) and are insulting and demeaning to real researchers and doctors working with limited options in life and death situations.
I advise everyone to read up on the Gerson Protocol studied by the NIH where a respected medical institution enrolled terminally ill patients into a study which consisted of conventional treatment versus a torturious regime of vitamins (100s of pills a day) topped off with multiple daily coffee enemas. I don't think pseudo-science or quackery are uniquely American nor do I believe they will ever be eradicated but they can and should be marginalized so they cause the least amount of harm.
It's certainly not unique to America, but I do think there's a particular flavor here. I also think it is a bit more common than in other countries. The surveys of things like belief in UFOs or angels seem to bear that out.
Of course each country has it's own particular pseuododillos. Fan death for example is much more popular in Korea than in the US.
I'll never forget when I managed some apartments a tenant showed up at my door one morning with severe cuts and bruises. The fan had not killed him, but when it fell off the ceiling onto his bed during the night, it dealt him a severe beating.
"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ...Mark Twain
Has anyone thought about how Google, Yahoo, Facebook, YouTube contribute to the pseudoscientists by subsidizing their web pages with advertsing revenue and how to at least make these professional misleaders or snake oil salesmen and women have to pay their own way?
Google, etc, just stick to the letter of the law. They would probably have first amendment issues if they started to ban people who they do not like.
The best thing to do would be to get the FDA to enforce the laws regarding false claims. Unfortunately it's pretty toothless.
Like my colleagues, Messrs. MikeC and Reynolds (both of whom I have read and admired), I take exception to having my former profession (I'm a retired aerospace engineering person at a large aircraft manufacturer) denigrated. As someone whose hobbies include scuba diving, archaeology, and geology, I am also astounded by the complete ignorance of such by the ignorami, which results in fantastic tales of buried undersea civilizations, 6000-year-old East Indian jet aircraft, and million-year-old spark-plugs.
I am new here, and I will soon be posting a debunk of a set of related conspiracy theories.
I was raised to be a skeptic. My dad was a pharmacist, and I heard a lot about Dr Hoxsey and his 'miracle cure for cancer' from my Dad (he had had lung cancer in 1937). I was interested in science from a young age--I bought myself a chemistry set when I five.
Later I remember a neighbor upset over the plans to put fluoride in our water. I talked to my dad about it.
I was in the sixth grade when Pres Kennedy was assassinated here in Dallas. Many of the locations were known to me---I went to see movies in the Texas theater where he was captured. The bus he fled from the schoolbook depository on, is the one my mom and I would take to go down town or to her doctor--there was a bus stop for it at the end of my street.
When all the conspiracy theories started coming out, there were some that I knew right away were just stories, because they got things Wrong, that I knew from living here.
That added to me becoming a skeptic.
My college background is geology/physics, but I took almost every science course that I could. I was never able to take a meteorology course because they were always either at the same time as a required subject or hours after I had went home for the day.
One of my hobbies is medieval re enacting and I learned a lot there about sources and how to evaluate them.
Great read. I hope I fit in here. I've always wanted a true community to debate theories over so that I may have a better understanding of the world.
Clock (February 19th, 2013)
This my first post. I found this site while reading about the Boston bombing and some of the crazy conspiracy theories about the naked man thought to be Tamerlan. I immediately noticed the lack of hair on the naked mans chest. Great job of debunking the naked man theory, Mick.
I think conspiracy theorists are [misled] and after reading some of their posts on chem trails on this site, I'm a little worried that not only are they [misled], they are dangerous. Thank you for going to the trouble of sorting out their misinformation and logically debunking them. Although I know it doesn't change the die hards minds.
I probably won't have much to add to the conversations, Mick.but, I will certainly be reading a lot of the debates.
Last edited by Mick; April 26th, 2013 at 11:03 AM. Reason: [politeness]
lotek (April 26th, 2013)