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 Not thick just stupid

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Jamie Clubb
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PostSubject: Not thick just stupid   Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:24 pm

Perhaps I am making up my own definitions here, but it strikes me that people who are stupid are not necessarily of low intelligence. Clever and bright people do stupid things. I am sure that geniuses have done things their peers would consider stupid. We know that very well educated and intelligent people can cling to very unreasonable, illogical and irrational beliefs. Their's the rub: belief!

Michael Shermer did a fabulous job in covering this topic in his book "Why People Believe Weird Things" under the extra chapter "Why Smart People Believe Weird Things". The truth is that there are a minority of scientists who do believe in creationism, they haven't won any great prizes, but have done great things. Likewise, I guarantee you that at least one of your friends or regular acquaintances or relations buys into one conspiracy theory, maybe even accepts it as a fact.

Today I just had a heated discussion over the MMR vaccine with an individual who claimed she knew someone who had a child who was diagnosed with autism shortly after getting the MMR vaccine. It was amazing. No matter how much evidence I supplied, no matter how illogical I made her argument appear she stuck to it. This might say something about how powerful a personal event can warp the way we look at the world. I even had others joining in the discussion explaining that autism is often diagnosed around the time the vaccine is administered and thus the reason for the association. My debating opponent offered in her argument that she had read loads of letters in newspapers and magazines from people reporting the connection. I offered scientific evidence, the fact that the single paper put forward has since been retracted by 10 of its 12 authors and that the main person making the claim has since been struck off. It didn't sway my opponent.

In the eyes of my opponent I was the one who was "determined" or "wouldn't see". This is a remarkable argument I have encountered with many con-theos. What is there not to see. They offer an outrageous claim, or at least one that goes against the norm, and offer little evidence for it. We offer huge bodies of evidence disproving this claim. Their claims are proven to rest on illogical and irrational arguments or dodgy evidence. We get accused of not being open minded or for "believing". What do they expect? That we just fall in with what we are being told? We get our evidence and information from peer reviewed cases supported by countless numbers of trained professionals that are independently testing it. They mistake fact or theory for opinion. The fact that my child is being immunized was offered as a reason for my rather heated response and an attempt by one person to pacify my opponent. I quickly dismissed it. Whether or not I am passionate about my subject has no bearing on the facts that I am presenting or what is being supported by virtually the entire medical profession (that's a speculation, but I am fairly confident having read what I read). Again, it is this issue of burden of proof. Why should the person with the most evidence and data, who has the mainstream support be the one put on the hotseat?

Getting back to the main point. I am trying not to operate on a confirmation bias here, but I am seeing more and more evidence for it is not a case of what you know, it is how you think. Please bear with me, this will be my hobby horse for a while until I have fully expressed it in an article Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Not thick just stupid   Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:15 pm

Good to see you're going ahead with the vaccine, certainly my three year old had the vaccine and my littlun will go through the same.

Do you not find it tiring debating these people all the time, It is certainly tyaking it's toll on me which is why I have cut back on my debates a lot. I find when you mention burden of proof they always have the same arguments, I saw it with my own eyes, hundreds of witnesses cannot be wrong etc etc,

Regards,

Den

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Jamie Clubb
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PostSubject: Re: Not thick just stupid   Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:09 pm

Hi Den,

Actually I find James Randi's approach to be a great starting point: "Is there anything I could say that would convince you to change your position?" or something like that. This is the great decider as to whether or not there is a debate.

Thankfully there are more people - and the majority of them are closest to me - that can be persuaded by the greater body of verifiable evidence. The MMR thing now annoys me as it just goes to show what mass hysteria and chinese whispers can do, but I cannot blame anyone who was initially persuaded as sadly it often circulates as if it is common knowledge. In a not too different situation, we heard via a person heavily involved in motoring that the legal age to obtain a driving licence was going to be raised to 18 by the beginning of 2010. This wasn't our only source either. In the end we checked with the DVLA who completely debunked the rumour. Even an age of regular access to good information, the "old wives tales" machine still turns.
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PostSubject: Re: Not thick just stupid   Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:17 pm

Common knowledge, I encounter that all the time with 'hauntings'

regards,

Den.

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