Saturday, June 20, 2009

False Bravado

It's sometimes hard to explain how I can tell the difference between false bravado and real bravado. Well, maybe not. Most of the people with false bravado don't have the science on their side. Thanks be to statistical mathematics for being able to explicitly quantify confidence.

Creationists always come across as the most desperate to me. Unfortunately, most don't even understand the issue, so they think their random theory of randomness actually has an edge over the reliability of evolution. If they weren't so wantonly repetitive it'd be merely sad instead of frustrating.

I suspect many anti-vaxxers are aware how poor their position is, since they have to change hypotheses every couple of weeks. They were certain it was thimerosal over here, and now I'm hearing it's Children's Tylenol + vaccines, the third most common element in the Earth's crust (after oxygen and silicon), a handful of antigens out of a child's daily dose of thousands "overloading" the system, and some weird Yin and Yang crap I rolled my eyes past that I think Happeh said a while back. They can't be all that confident if they have to change stories on a continuous basis.

Homeopaths are generally clueless in my experience. They aren't even aware of what we're complaining about: Coming up with new magical mechanisms doesn't help if you don't have a cure to explain.

Most conspiracy nuts I know seem to have a bit of double-think: They're absolutely confident in their theories, but when confronted with a skeptic, they usually have to flail around and change topics.

So, experiences to share?

1 comment:

MWchase said...

I thought "false bravado" was an example of that rhetorical thing where you put in redundant words to intensify the meaning.

All bravado is false. That said...

After my somewhat embarrassing stint of not being sure whether I subscribed to conspiracy theories about 9/11... Think about the conspirational mindset as one where you're trying to convince someone of something, so you go through any likely avenue. The arguments are a means to an end, in essence. If someone disputes an argument, that one won't convince them, so you should switch to another.

In short: conspiracy theorists don't believe because of their arguments; they argue because they believe.