A pathetic screed on thinking.
There is a problem with hilarity in that it disrupts rational conversation. Perhaps it is for this reason that politicians, and public speakers tend toward soberness, and simple thoughts except when telling a canned joke or other set piece styled humor. The problem arises for me quite frequently, because I like to talk about new ideas, or old ideas in new ways, and that frequently makes people uneasy. Often it makes them break into a new idea with the silliest of non-sequiturs, and non jokes, if that doesn’t work they will start talking about their latest health problem, and if that isn’t enough to avoid a new thought they will just go do something else, anything else.
The problem of the media’s reportage.
There is a similar problem with new science in that whenever a new idea is presented to the media, some place other than an official science journal where anything other than pedestrian thought is forbidden, there seems to be a law, and with the media it is a law, that any new thought must be mixed with a full helping of nonsense. A serious revelation about astronomy must be accompanied by a serious discussion, with equal time of course, by a man who spoke to space aliens last month. This is to be made important because the space aliens just dropped in from Orion’s belt, Earth duplicate planet, to converse with him about US governmental food stamp policy. None of his conversations with Sp*ku~ can be checked or proven, of course, because these aliens avoid people. They avoid sane people because they smell bad, and have infrared vibrations, and they always visit him when he is out in some well ventilated remote place of their choosing where they seek him out by means known only to them.
The media’s problem is based on the universal law of thinking.
If the media happens to talk seriously to a geologist about potential earthquakes they give equal time to the next guy who talks about Los Angeles slipping past San Francisco, and is given equal credibility with the real geologist. When the geologist shows strata lines the wing nut talks about spirits being revealed by the lines which are trying to communicate with the government in Washington, or was it Moscow this time? When there is a presentation about the possibility of an atomic war everyone starts laughing about the duck and cover stories of their childhood schools. And, how obviously absurd that was because obviously the war didn’t happen. Therefore, the politicians in Washington were making vast sums of money somehow by that supposedly absurd requirement. Perhaps those evil people were selling shoe polish in excess quantities, because the children’s shoes were being scuffed, and needed re-polishing. It seems that no matter what facts one can bring up in a responsible way, anywhere near the media, there will soon be a case for stupidity to rear its hilarious head. It seems to be some sort of universal law. Thinking people attract crazy people, and to others appear crazy themselves. Perhaps, this is because crazy people are thinking unique, and new thoughts, but their problem is that their thoughts don’t link up to reality very well. The sane thinking person’s thoughts do link up to reality, probably much better than the average person’s, but this judgmental average person hasn’t understood some new relationship, and therefore the sane people appear to be in the same category as the crazy ones. There is an old saying that there is a fine line between genius, and insanity. But it isn’t true. The confusion lies in the poor understanding by the common person of linkage of thoughts to empirical reality.
What to say to the crazies.
I could go on with this, but the point is not to go on with it. The point is to find ways of preventing the unprovable stupid crazy stuff from automatically gaining equal footing with the provable reasonable stuff. Everyone is to be given a fair opportunity to speak, but when their ideas are proven to have no link to testable reality, and thus to validity they are to shut up, and stay shut up. Ask them the simple questions, such as, how can we test your results right now, where is your proof, your data, your theory, and its supports? If they have none, and in fact don’t want to have any, then ask them to sit down, and listen to a restating of their proposition in such a way that it is testable, and provable. If they protest, tell them they are welcome to come back when they can present some factual evidence that we all can see. Things that we can verify. If a person has material which is new, and potentially valid then we should listen long, and hard, and try to make sense of the facts, and work them up into reasonable relationships based on those facts and observations.
How to spot and avoid false information.
Apply the Trustworthiness of Information scale to speakers’ ideas, and if their statements are all very low on the TST scale then move on to other people who have information, and questions based on ideas, and assumptions that are high on the TST scale, and which can be verified. Don’t waste time with junk thinking, and if junk thinking permeates a person’s whole being then don’t expose yourself to their contamination. Mental disease is communicable just like physical disease, and probably similar its contagion rate to eating with big people which will make you fatter because you will tend to eat larger portions.
A typical example on global warming
When dealing with global warming there are now a lot of facts which are proven beyond any reasonable doubt. CO2 is rising and has been for 150 years. CO2 is closely linked with global warming as shown in the historical records. Four new coal fired power plants are coming on line every week, each of which generates huge amounts of CO2. Global warming is melting the various reservoirs of ice, and raising the sea level. It takes many decades for CO2 to clear out of the atmosphere. If humans stopped emitting every last bit of CO2 the atmosphere would remain abnormally hot for another hundred years. The glaciers are melting even now with the CO2 we presently have, and will continue to melt because the CO2 isn’t going away. However, there is even more CO2 coming into the atmosphere, and at an increasing rate because of the ever greater rate of burning fossil fuels. The obvious response of the glaciers will be to melt even faster the sea level to rise even faster. It is a positive feed back cycle with the warmer water remaining causing the ice to melt even faster. It is all worsened by the presence of CO2 and the quantity of CO2 is growing rapidly. All of that argument was based on observed facts and obvious deductions which can be derived from those facts. To give equal time to someone whose tomatoes froze last night is what the media does to give a fair and balanced complexion to the idea and make them, the media, seem responsible. It is in fact very irresponsible, because it leads to improper behavior by the public. That stupid reportage sells newspapers, and advertising, and so for the media it is considered good policy to highlight the wing nuts. They are not in business to spread truth they are in business to make money. And, to make money they must have advertisers and to get them they must have an audience, and to get that they need something which will catch the public’s attention, and thus they need hysterical reporting, and hysterical interviews featuring crazies. This is another example of positive feedback cycles leading to a pit of stupidity.
Sinking back into the morass.
How do intelligent people cut through to the important information, and discuss it with their companions? Many of them simply refuse to pay any attention to the media or even their friends. Some only read books, and pretend that they are forming their own independent opinion, because they got it from a book. However, I suspect that most people don’t do any thinking at all; they just go along with their crowd, and believe what their group believes. They toss in their two cents worth of personal observation, which corroborates the group bias, and assume that that is thinking, and being responsible. They act like it isn’t necessary to go out of one’s way to gather reliable information. It’s easier just to go along with one’s companions. In any case it seems to be paramount to avoid gathering facts for oneself, and analyzing them with one’s own mind because that associates you with thinking, and that means you are crazy. Isn’t that funny? Isn’t it hilarious!