The “War” on anti-science

Terry, Let’s unpick this one, so we can actually “walk our talk”. You asked “What is?”

(1) Wherever possible criticism in private. Praise and support in public. Wherever possible dialogue instead of conflicting argument.

(2) You said it yourself the other night, has anyone ever changed anyone’s mind — who wasn’t already a friend or held in “good faith” — by telling them they were wrong in public? What we need is good-faith dialogue.
 Me and you.
 Us and “Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense (AAPN)”.
 Antivaxers and the rational skeptics generally.

(3) In this case the Mercury / Aluminium video was already a viral meme — amongst people who appreciate fascination with science — vary basic, elemental physical science 101. (I shared / liked it myself a couple of weeks ago.)

(4) Some (mischievous) person at Vaxxed saw a delicious opportunity to wind-up the Skeptical crowd by inventing a counter-meme that they knew would just make the “scientistic” types blood boil. And it worked. AAPN fell for it. John Richards fell for it …. all typical behaviour fully predicted by Vaxxed. No-one at Vaxxed and no-one at AAPN believed it was anything but nonsense — the clue is in the name and Snopes had already debunked it for anyone (!) who actually needed to check, without spreading it over all their would-be friends FB & Twitter feeds. No-one who subscribes to anti-vax conspiracy theories is going to check, are they? — except for their mission to debunk the debunking and stoke the conspiracy and/or have some fun on social media. No (good-faith) “friend” following AAPN’s page is going to disagree that it’s nonsense. What has been achieved? Except Vaxxed successfully winding up a certain kind of Skeptic and wasting the time of many more.

(5) This is not about “ignoring” the nonsense meme — we’re well past that — it’s about deciding the most rational action and most productive expression. Not a knee-jerk “against” response — that’s a tit-for-tat “war” — exactly what some / they want. We’re well past doing the dumbest responses too. As you said any number of Skeptic responses will not make any difference numerically. The clue again is in AAPN’s name — “against” — they’re just looking for a war too — an arms race pushing up the numbers and stakes. Just because something is wrong, a lie, is not a good reason to say so, outside a controlled scientific environment. Life is not science.

(6) The rational response is to seek good faith and continue the dialogue. Let’s walk the talk.

Originally published at Psybertron Asks.

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