You want to hear about the most terrifying moment of my life? In 2003, when 9/11 was still fresh in people’s minds, I was on a plane. Just as we were getting ready to take off, engines roaring and everyone strapped in, this guy pops his seat belt buckle, leaps up and darts down the aisle. He started banging on the cockpit door, screaming, “Let me in! I can pilot this thing!”
Some big dude who I assume was an undercover flight marshal tackled him. Everyone was shouting until the pilot cut the engines and stepped out of the cockpit. The marshal had this guy pinned down. “I can fly this plane better than you!” the guy kept yelling at the pilot. “I know I can!”
Insane right? A crazy story, but not as wild as this next one.
An old friend was getting bypass surgery. The doctor was leaning over him with the scalpel when my friend reached up and took the blade right out the doctor’s hand. “I got this, doc,” he said, and he stuck the scalpel in his own chest and starting cutting away. “Step back,” my friend said, “I know how to do this better than you.”
An old friend was getting bypass surgery. The doctor was leaning over him with the scalpel when my friend took the blade out the doctor’s hand. “I got this, doc,” he said.
What’s going on here? Who are these lunatics?
Okay well, both of those stories are total B.S. I made them up. I had to, because it’s difficult to find a story of craziness that shows by analogy just how crazy climate change deniers are.
I don’t enjoy saying that. Over the past several years of my life, I’ve been working hard on tolerating other’s viewpoints, but I can’t allow absurdity this grand, and I am always disturbed by misguided independent thought masquerading as useful critical thought.
On one subject and one subject only, deniers claim they are more expert than scientists who have studied the subject their whole lives. Yet the deniers have no expertise at all. They have spent exactly zero seconds studying anything. Their only qualification for having an opinion is that they are capable of forming an opinion.
Best of all, while crying “conspiracy!” they don’t notice anything suspicious that the one issue where they are violently opposed to scientific consensus by magical coincidence happens to be the precise same stance that big oil takes. Wow, what a lucky break for big oil. That’s all it was, luck, right? It wasn’t propaganda at all, because they are independent thinkers. They sure are. The same way the ancient drunk guy thinks he’s a real catch for the pre-teen girls walking by.
The truth is climate change deniers just believe what someone told them, there wasn’t much thought involved. “Ah ha!” They say, “But so do you! You just believe the scientists.” Yes, that’s right. That’s the difference. I admit I haven’t studied the subject for years. We both have minimal (or no) education on the subject, but you’re the one going against the scientists.
I was afraid the same thing might happen regarding sexual assault, when ex-Congressman Todd Akin, questioned about rapes and abortion, said it wasn’t anything to worry about because, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” (Link.) It was independent thought for sure, meaning it was totally false.
The thing that made me most nervous about the exchange were the comments of the conservative media troll patrol. I could sense that they were collectively wondering if they could pull a “climate change” propaganda offensive on the same subject. Hey team, can we do the same with abortion that we did with climate change? Can we make facts a matter of opinion? Then they could have people consider a rape as a matter of opinion: well, she did get pregnant, which means she wasn’t raped (the sex was consensual) which means it’s criminal to want an abortion. Fortunately, in this case, facts won the day behind the support of science articles published explaining the facts of insemination. (Link.)
I bring this all up because I want to expose this propaganda trick of making facts a matter of opinion and note how people’s desire to be robust thinkers sometimes makes them fail to think critically.
What is more likely?
- Filling an enclosed and heated space with gas makes the space heat up faster.
- A world-wide cabal of scientists all come together in a massive world-wide conspiracy to secure funding, but the only ones who blow the whistle on this conspiracy are the same people whose historically cruel and corrupt industry (big oil) would benefit if the scientists were all proven wrong.
It’s entirely possible scientists are wrong, but they’ll be the first to find that out and the first to admit it. Sure, in the past the experts have been wrong and a lone rebel has been correct. But that lone rebel has been a genius, slaving away with maniacal obsession in their field. They didn’t listen to a single talk radio show episode before arriving at their anti-majority conclusions. There’s more to being a critical thinker than that.