Sunday, June 28, 2015

Explaining the Epidemic of Non-Fact-Based Argument

The left frequently complains that the right's incapable of fact-driven argument; they go on their guts, ignoring rational evidence and rejecting expert consensus. It's true, but, of course, the left does this, too. Vaxxers, gluten hysterics,and the taboo on gender and racial genetic differences are just a few of the more recent examples.

Needless to say, irrationality is nothing new. If it seems like the past was more rational,that's just because the voices which ring most loudly come from people like Voltaire and Hobbes, rather than bygone versions of our bloggers, petty politicians, and everyday shlubs.

But a new specific sort of irrationality is snowballing, characterized by disrespect for science (and experts of all stripes) and impatience with facts. Everyone in my family, for example, assumes, with great confidence, that they know more about medical science than any doctor. The knowledge of doctors is no match for their inner wisdom. It's not that they've made a deep study of some non-traditional medicine; it's just coming from an innate sense that they Always Know Better (AKB), period.

Again, irrationality is not new; spurning of established fact isn't new. But AKB as a worldview is, I think, unique to our time. And I have a theory about its origins.

If you travel most anywhere outside America, and someone in a shop or a restaurant makes an error of some sort, or treats you ungently, and you express exasperation with the poor service, you may very well find yourself - explicitly or not - told to go to hell. To the shock of any American, the exchange of money for goods or services does not place you in a position of unquestionable superiority. You can't speak to retail workers as if they're subservient. They don't need to make you happy. They're no more interested in coddling you than any other random stranger they might meet on the street.

This often sends American tourists into a sort of shock; an indignant sinkhole of pique. Observing this, it's hard not to conclude that American-style capitalism has extravagantly flattered the American consumer. And we've drunk the lemonade, coming to assume, with no evidence whatsoever, that we truly are that powerful, that superior, that awesome.

If you're continuously flattered with the unearned assumption that you Always Know Better, then, naturally, it sticks.

It's the ultimate "rich people problem". And this one's truly a problem.


Muscle_Burst said...

I've never traveled to France, but from what I've heard a cook and waiter is a respected job. Not so much here in America. As for coddling the customer, look at Amazon Prime. Amazon gave their patrons so much power that it hurt everyone due to unrealistic expectations. Free shipping all the time? It just doesn't make sense on heavy items.

Interesting conclusion that this flattering leads to AKB attitude. Never really thought about it before.

Muscle_Burst said...

Rich American tourist are bullies. In the TV series Faulty Towers one of the episode shows the Americans as bullies who think they can push everyone around with their money. Yet, I've been around upper middle class families. From what I've seen is they have a kiss up, kick down mentality. Meaning they will kiss up to those they feel are powerful, and kick down or be dismissive of those they deem less than them.

A good example is the treatment of small time sellers versus Walmart. In this case the upper middle class person will mistreat the small time seller, at the same time be submissive to Walmart. Simply giving away their personal information like zip code, telephone number, etc when asked by a big corporation. Yet, at the same time fighting amongst their family and friends and mistreating them.

How does this relate to Vaxxers, gluten hysterics, and gender/racial differences? I know vaxxers the best so I'll type about what I know. I found when trying to convince such people that vaccines might not be a good idea they take the establishment route. At first they are dismissive.

Sample dialogue:
Me: What do you think of vaccines?
friend: Do we have to go there?
me: Yes, I want to know what you think?
friend: no, just no.

After much persuasion I get them to back up their stance

friend: do you know you are in the minority.
me: yes, I realize I'm in the minority as an anti-vaxxer

long pause

me:is that your entire rebuttal that I'm in the minority?
friend: Yes.

I guess what I'm saying as being an anti-vaxxer its extremely frustrating the lack of substance the pro-vaxxers arguments have. I feel its similar or is the AKB always know better sense. It feels like a cop out to always take the establishment or the main stream point of view.

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