Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The survival of U.S. democracy is at stake

I participate quite a bit in discussions of climate change.  It's because the deniers are holding  back the implementation of a new and better energy strategy for the country, which includes more nuclear power.  (It has to.)  I used to do it elsewhere, but the participants there started to get too incensed when I continually showed they were incorrect.  At least they were taking it seriously.  Nowadays, I do most of my discussing on Twitter, which is mercifully limited in how much information and invective can be exchanged.  I got A+ class jerk SteveSGoddard aka Tony Heller so mad that he blocked me.  Couldn't take the heat, ha ha.

One of the problems with the deniers, climate change and otherwise, is their dismissal of the practice of science as a way to establish a basis of evidence for making decisions.  Note that I did not say "truth".  Science doesn't ever establish or prove truth, it mainly lends support to that which is mostly likely to be true.  Now, one could argue that on some subjects, the support is so overwhelming that what is being supported could be considered as true, but even then, further adjustments might be necessary.  For a long time, the world pretty much felt that Isaac Newton had closed the book on gravity ... and then Einstein came along.

In any case, there needs to be an accepted and rigorous process that determines that which is more likely to be true and that which is less likely so.  (It's called science.)  But deniers have tossed this out the window.  Deniers think along the lines of whatever lends support to what they believe is useful to be true must be correct.  And they'll argue to the death for their belief -- even if facts and evidence that are undoubtedly accurate demonstrate their position to have little actual evidential support.

That's where this article comes in.  I've only excerpted one paragraph, but it's the paragraph I want to show.

When the facts don't matter, how can democracy survive?

Here's the paragraph:
"But this anti-intellectual, ignore-the-data attitude mostly owes its growth to a careless, conspiracy-theorizing league of (mostly) conservative politicians and pundits. They elevated themselves by sowing distrust in traditional institutions and sources of authority, from the media to civil servants to scientists. They presented themselves as the sole truth-tellers, system de-riggers and messianic statistics unskewers, while maintaining that everyone else was feeding the public lies."
So there is no standard of truth for them, no standard by which even approximations of the truth can be ascertained.  And that's why this climate change discussion is so difficult, because the deniers roll out so many ill-reasoned and unsupported arguments and downright fallacies, and hew to them as their version of reality, that the preponderance of data and the systematic edifice that is built from the data means nothing to them.  And that negates a decision-making process based on consideration of the evidence, dispassionate analysis of the evidence and the connections between the pieces of the evidence, and the reasoned conclusions that are drawn from that analysis.  So if we can't establish for everyone's benefit what is likely to be the correct conclusion, how can we ever decide to do anything?

Especially, how can we elect leaders who know how to make good decisions?

It's easy to despair.

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