It’s a rainy day in the Northland, so, putting some thoughts together.
A a couple of good friends of mine visited recently. They have both been on the right side of history all their lives, getting arrested for issues they believe and doing non-profit work. When they arrived, they had just listened to a presentation by Joanna Macy. I’m not going to link anything. She is a translator of Buddhism, and has some biology training, but I wouldn’t call her a scientist.
In this thing they listened to, a brief list of ways the planet is endangered was presented. The first one was the worst, the possibility of a release of methane gas that could, within 20 years, kill off the human race and most other animals. They were kinda of upset by this.
I didn’t want to ruin the visit with my questions, but I’d never heard of this, and that made me want to find out about it. I had no opinion, other than the curiosity of why I hadn’t heard of it before. Turns out, the prediction was made by one person, who managed to get an article in the New Yorker. It was quickly countered with all the reasons why it was unlikely to really happen and the minimal science that it was based on. The things needed to be done to prevent it are the same things we need to do to prevent AGW. To me, it was irresponsible of her to present this as if it was science and to leave out so many details in the presentation.
All that aside, what it’s left me wondering is, what does it take? I use this environmentalist example to show it is not a politically based question, but it is the same as people hearing something, like Dominion voting machine rigging or fake ballots being shipped in the middle of the night, of faked moon landings or whatever.
Once a premise has been accepted, information can be piled on to support it. I don’t want to call that info “facts” since they aren’t, but they look very much like other facts, if you accept the premise. Psychologically, statements of fact that counter the alternative facts just drive the person deeper into their belief. For me, it’s as simple as “I never heard of that, I’d like to know more.” I don’t how to foster that simple curiosity.