Sunday, June 06, 2010

Bill Maher gets another one right!

I'm not a huge fan of comedian/pundit Bill Maher.  He has an irrational anti-medicine and anti-vaccine streak, despite being schooled on the subject multiple times, that endangers the health of those who listen to him.  But occasionally, he hits one out of the park.
A bunch of depressing new surveys reveal that people in droves are starting to believe that global warming is a hoax -- and this time, it's not just us. People are always accusing me of hating America and calling it stupid, so tonight I'd like to take a few moments to hate England and call it stupid. Because now English people don't believe in global warming either. I thought the English were smarter than that. The home of Newton and Darwin. I can't believe we let these people build our exploding oil platforms.

Even scarier is why people have stopped thinking global warming is real. One major reason pollsters say is we had a very cold, snowy winter. Which is like saying the sun might not be real because last night it got dark. And my car's not real because I can't find my keys.

That's the problem with our obsession with always seeing two sides of every issue equally -- especially when one side has a lot of money. It means we have to pretend there are always two truths, and the side that doesn't know anything has something to say. On this side of the debate: Every scientist in the world. On the other: Mr. Potato Head.

There is no debate here -- just scientists vs. non-scientists, and since the topic is science, the non-scientists don't get a vote. We shouldn't decide everything by polling the masses. Just because most people believe something doesn't make it true. This is the fallacy called argumentum ad numeram: the idea that something is true because great numbers believe it. As in: Eat shit, 20 trillion flies can't be wrong.
Way to go, Bill.  Dead on.

Now apply this same reasoning to alternative medicine and your anti-vax beliefs.

1 comment:

Marc said...

This is why I have so little faith in humanity. Basically, I think people prefer to not believe in global warming because accepting it would mean having to do something about it. And people really don't want to do anything that would disrupt their lives. That's the advantage the the current crop of conservatives have. Their philosophy is pretty much--don't change anything and things will work out. That's really what people want to hear. They don't want "change." They want things to get better without having any muss or fuss. That's what conservatives promise.

There is another factor at play here, too. People have a hard time envisioning catastrophe until it hits (unless it's in a movie). It's simply hard for most people to envision the kinds of environmental problems that a lot of global warming advocates talk about and that makes it easier to believe that it doesn't exist at all, especially when you have hucksters encouraging you not to believe. It's sort of like people texting when driving--they know it's dangerous but until they actually have an accident,they assume it won't, especially if it's more convenient to do so.