Thursday, August 9, 2007

Knee-jerk anger at "radical" ideas

I noticed, and so did my friend Joey, that people immediately reject any opinion that is contrary to the "mainstream", instead of giving the new idea or opinion thoughtful consideration, or research, before making conclusions.

Joey for example, recently discovered a non-invasive cure for gallstones:

He sent me the link, and I found it pretty incredible, but he convinced me to try it anyway. He's found that people automatically reject what he's saying, in some cases getting angry.

I will quote myself, with a post I made on a forum:
--- [quote]---
The father of my wife visited with us for a few months a year ago when I decided to try the gallstone flush. I asked if he wanted to try it too and he said yes. He said afterwards that a dull ache he had in his back went away.

Fast forward a year, he got an ache again, and he went to the doctor, who gave him an ultrasound. Gallstones. Doctor said if the pain gets worse, he'd need an operation.

He went home and repeated the flush procedure a few more times. He went back for another ultrasound. Gallstones gone!!!

Amazing....... a week of apple cider vinegar and half a day of fasting.... vs. they cut you open and throw away an organ.
-- [ end quote]

This experience makes me question doctors' "mainstream thought".

Joey has told a lot of people about the gallbladder flush, and they usually immediately reject what he is saying, and in some cases they get angry. He asks "why are you reacting that way?", and they reply "I don't know".

I frequent an automotive forum, and technical discussions are common. Whenever I post something controversial, but based on my observations, I often get attacked, simply because it went against "accepted wisdom". I have seen this happen to other, very thoughtful people, who had posted something controversial, but correct; what they originally proposed later became the "accepted wisdom".

I think people are trained to instantly and vehemently to reject any opinion that is contrary to the "mainstream".

Let's see how these statements make you feel:
  • sunlight prevents cancer
  • if you have gallstones you can easily get rid of them and you don't need an operation
  • Expensive statin drugs (Lipitor, et al), don't prevent heart disease, proper nutrition does
  • the FDA has supressed nutrition as a preventive for disease, and promotes expensive drugs to cure disease that could have been prevented
  • the FDA has promoted Aspartame and Splenda, synthetic chemicals, which cause migraines (me included), and suppressed Stevia, a sweetener made from a shrub, popular in Japan, that tastes much better, and appears to be safe.
  • the AMA is a monopoly on healing; nurses should be allowed to diagnose and prescribe medicine for simple, common ailments
  • the AMA restricts the number of doctors that graduate every year, ensuring their pay stays high
  • lowering speed limits does not reduce crash rates
  • raising speed limits does not increase crash rates
  • speed is not implicated in most crashes; inattention is
  • .08% BAC is too dangerously intoxicated for driving
  • SUVs are less safe than small cars
  • you don't need to add aerobic exercise to your weightlifting routine to get cardiovascular benefits
  • cats can be trained
  • welfare isn't good for poor people
  • Lincoln, Hoover, FDR, and LBJ were terrible presidents
  • Bill Clinton created the precursor of the Iraq invasion and the 9/11 attacks
  • deficits DO matter
  • the Federal Reserve is a corrupt cartel that subsidizes the finance industry, and ensures never-ending personal and national debt
  • the educational system is a government monopoly run by a rigid union resulting in very poor schools
  • realtors have a monopoly on selling homes, and lobby for laws to protect their trade; that is anti-trust activity; they run an information campaign making it appear that selling or buying homes is complicated and needs their expensive services
  • the "war on poverty" has wasted trillions of dollars, with no effect on the number of poor people
  • illegal drug trade is so lucrative, that even prison guards partake. So even if the whole country is turned into a prison, illegal drugs would still be here
  • The Federal Reserve is unconstitutional and is a scam
See what I mean? How did those statements make you feel?

Because people are trained to instantly and vehemently reject any opinion that is contrary to the "mainstream", the "Strawman Fallacy" is often used to discredit a person and his other arguments. Because of this, a person fears attack by others using the Strawman Fallacy, and it becomes a form of self-censorship. For example, let's pretend I believed the earth is flat. Knowing that it's an unpopular view, I don't even write about it because I'm afraid I'll be attacked. I censor myself. FSK wrote about this:

When the flat earth theory was popular, the round earth people were attacked.

I am an engineer, and I am proud to say I went to a university where we were taught how to think and how to ask the right questions. I always question my own assumptions. I sometimes backtrack and re-question my own conclusions. It is crucial for my work.

I realized also that most people are very poor at Critical Thinking. Most of them aren't used to thinking logically, and make logical fallacies. And a lot of people argue with emotion. As I was thinking about this the other day, I realized I had very little formal training in university - we weren't taught it per se, other than in Philosophy I, and I just got used to thinking logically by exposure and out of necessity.

So I decided to go and buy a few books on logic to brush up. At the very least, if I hear a bad argument, I can pinpoint the logical fallacy, and know its name. I just got them, but I haven't started reading them yet. I browsed through them and they looked good. Here they are:

book: Critical Thinking
book: Crimes Against Logic

1 comment:

Matt said...

best post ever!

Funny sidenote. I bought a brethalyzer for fun and after a few drinks (feeling buzzed/drunk) I test myself. I get numbers like .03 or .04 and am in shock. I have yet to blow over .08 on it but maybe I was too drunk to care at that point.