Saturday, March 18, 2006

Entitled to your own opinion, but...

[Posted to Slashdot today]

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, nobody is entitled to their own facts. (I need an atribution for that; it isn't original.)

Muddling the population's grasp of the facts is not hard, as there is too much going on for us all to be an expert on everything. It nevertheless is cheating. There is much organized cheating going on, intended to confuse the population. The effects of this cheating are visible in any online conversation where science impinges on policy, and slashdot is hardly immune.

Whether or not human activity is substantially changing climate, for instance, is not a speculative matter. Its truth or falsehood is established science. Nevertheless there is organized activity to convince you of the plausibility of impossible propositions.

Splitting the difference is not as reasonable as it might appear, as the side which is lying is totally unconstrained by facts.

Any debate on whether humanity is substantially changing climate constitutes a failure of the society to use the information it has, of the scientific community to convey it, and of the special interests to restrain vicious antisocial activity on the part of some of its key members.

I do not specify which side is lying on this matter. It won't be hard for you to track down my opinion, but that's beside the point I'm making here. The point is that we are debating facts and not values or policies, which means that democracy is not functioning effectively.

This is occurring in the context of a number of similar failures to come to grips with reality in the absurd noise that passes for public discourse in America, and the irresponsible power games that pass for politics. Climate change probably isn't the most harmful case, yet, though it's competitive...

1 comment:

mt said...

The quote is from Senator D P Moynihan