Friday, December 30, 2016

Intellectual Parity

There's a certain concept that I've decided to define in my dealings with people when it comes to having a discussion regarding various topics, most notably, climate change and that is the idea of intellectual parity. For me, I use debate to challenge my own opinions and those of others in order to get as close to truth as possible. Lately however, I've found myself in the position of having to argue facts vs those who simply deny them. It's one thing where everyone is on equal footing intellectually but once a conversation moves towards fabrications vs reality, the only participant that stands to truly benefit is the one in denial.

For example with climate change, the majority of our efforts are going towards the discussion between those who accept the facts that have been presented vs those who don't. Those who don't have unfortunately filtered into positions of government that stand to make policies. In this system we don't have intellectual parity and, as a result, decisions made will either have disastrous consequences or potentially viable solutions. Compare this to a system that both parties readily accepted facts and were now in a position to debate those solutions. One might decide to strongly support carbon taxation & the other financial incentives for companies transitioning to clean energy. In this scenario, both parties are moving forward to solve the problem and, because they're at intellectual parity, are challenging each other to make improvements to reach a desired goal. Instead of completely dismissing the idea of taking action, they're criticizing a plan's specifics which will ultimately lead to helping to iron out flaws.

We use intellectual parity in various other practices for very good reason. Doctors are required to have a certain level of understanding of the human anatomy before they can even attempt cutting into someone even with supervision. We go to these painstaking lengths because a person's life is at stake and we want the best possible outcome for a patient. Say we were to do away with all that and simply have someone in an office armed with WebMD and a scalpel. This would be absolutely absurd to any rational individual and yet we're allowing similar scenarios to occur on the political landscape. A more appropriate equivalent would be someone in an office telling patients that there's nothing wrong with them only to have them drop dead a few days later.

Society needs to start demanding a certain level of intellectual parity in government in order to have any hope for progress. We can't afford having a debate on facts anymore at a political level. People entertaining caustic uninformed opinions fueled by fabricated untruths should be removed from influential positions and replaced with individuals who can provide results for those they are representing. Otherwise everyone loses.

Friday, December 23, 2016

You're not a skeptic

Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson. If I asked you what these people have in common, one would likely say that they generally move towards social libertarian politics & heavily criticize the left for its authoritarian ideals when it comes to enforcing social justice. How many of you would peg them for climate change denialists? Because they all are and this is a pattern that has gone unnoticed by a lot of people within the skeptic community. So called rational, intellectually honest, critical thinkers seem to have glanced over this enormous flaw when it comes to individuals on the right even when they've completely abandoned those qualities,

As a skeptic, my ultimate goal is to get as close to the truth as possible. In the realm of the quantifiable however, this task becomes much easier due to scientific endeavors and the peer review process. This ensures that all work and data collected is scrutinized by individuals who also have expertise in the required field. Once enough of these studies are performed supporting a consensus, the proposed conclusions become facts. Scientists don't fuck around. Yet, you'll still have a parade of imbeciles deciding to wave the time necessary to go to school, specialize and author a paper. They'll chime in and tell individuals that the scientists somehow got it wrong. Do they review the collective published works to point out the scientists errors? No. They simply repeat from one of many flawed fabrications and avoid putting in the same amount of work scientists have in the first place.

Those claiming the title of liberal, skeptic and intellectually honest are surprisingly silent when it comes to criticizing the right with the same diligence. I mean here we have a phenomenon that has been verified by the scientific community which has the 6th mass extinction event as a worst case scenario. This is not hyperbole. You'd think, given the weight of verified evidence presented, this would be something to call people out on however there's not even a whisper from these individuals.

We're at a point now where these untruths have become mainstream. Keep in mind this is the House Science Committee for the 2nd largest producer of Co2 which is the US. That tweet was met with myriad responses by climate scientists providing factual data debunking the claims made and setting the record straight. Did Breitbart & the Daily Mail retract their articles or provide corrections for their readers? Of course not. So now anyone who missed that exchange is now armed with this little nugget of complete shit that they'll gladly share at a table whenever the conversation strays in the direction of climate change or how scientists "don't know nothing".

As a skeptic, I can't put stock in what these people and publications have to say anymore. I have neither the time or the patience to deal with those who reach towards fabrications and have the inability to evolve their opinions. It takes far more effort debunking their claims than it does for them to manufacture them. Having a failure of critical thinking on this scale can only lead to repeat offences in all maters. These individuals have no place speaking at any learning institutions as a result. This isn't a free speech thing, this is a motion to have an intellectual standard. We expect students to have a certain level of academic accomplishment, it's only fair to ask the same of those invited to speak there. They certainly have no business in office informing the public.

I mentioned how, as a skeptic my ultimate goal is to get as close to the truth as possible. This happens to be the default position of every scientist. Everything needs to be verified before proven so that collectively, humanity can make informed decisions. Science should be treated as the immovable object unless met with the unstoppable force of discovery.

This era of feel good bipartisan "everyone is entitled to an opinion" mentality needs to end. A reality TV star who believes that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese will be the President of the United States. If you happen to be a citizen there, have the idea that your country has become a world laughing stock sink in. As for the so called skeptics who have let this happen on their watch unchallenged, you don't get to call yourself that anymore. "Right wing shill for batshit insania" would be far more fitting and appropriate.