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Another Planet

Entry 1136, on 2009-12-29 at 19:20:37 (Rating 3, Religion)

I listen to a lot of mainstream media, read several "normal" newspapers, watch the same sort of TV programs as most other people, and visit a lot of web sites which most people would consider have no substantial bias. So why is it than I am never exposed to the sort of material that the people I debate with find compelling?

What I mean is that I never see any material which would suggest in any way that creationism is real. I see almost nothing which questions the reality of anthropomorphic global warming (AGW). And I see very little to suggest that science is not credible or that scientists can't be trusted.

So where do my opponents get the idea that there is any sort of evidence for creationism, or that AGW isn't credible, or that science is fake in any way? Its simple really: they live on another planet! (metaphorically speaking, of course).

If they listened to the same sort of material as I do (general mainstream media, like New Zealand's National Radio) they would hear a constant stream of information which contradicts their beliefs. That would be really annoying to them I would have thought. Do they think the whole world is against them and that there is some sort of global conspiracy? Some do. Or maybe they just don't interact with the same media sources as the rest of us do.

I know a lot of fundamentalist religious groups have alternative information sources and they are told to keep away from the same media the rest of us use. And they must attend regular meetings so that any reality they have absorbed can be destroyed by the lies of their church (or other organisation).

But it still must be hard for these people when they notice the constant source of material which makes it seem like their ideas don't exist. In all the hundreds of hours I have heard from National Radio for example the only reference to creationism was ridiculing a creationist who made a pathetic attempt at defending his nonsensical beliefs.

And there's a continuous stream of scientists talking about AGW as if the alternative view doesn't even exist. I know the alternative view does exist but only amongst the fringe. Why should I need to visit a conservative web site to get that alternative view? If its reasonable and believed by a reasonable number of experts why doesn't it appear on the mainstream sites?

There's only one possibility really: a conspiracy. As I have said before, not all conspiracies are untrue but that's the safest assumption because most of them are. If I was a creationist, AGW denier, or anti-science believer I think I would either be really annoyed at the constant stream of material which contradicts my belief - or I would just move to another planet!

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Comment 1 (2570) by Donald Brown on 2009-12-30 at 03:59:20:

Actually, in the news, there was one thing seriously questioning the unbiased nature of how science is performed.

And are you really going to claim "well, everyone believes this, so clearly anyone who believes otherwise is a crackpot?" Because if so, then Galileo was a crackpot, Salk was a crackpot.

Do I believe in creationism? Nope, I find it quite unlikely (and also irrelevant to my faith - the Bible is about why, not how). Do I believe that AGW is false? Again, probably not (though less certain than I am about creationism).

But the WORST argument against either of these was "but all the major media pushes the other direction." Because one of the aspects of the human condition is a tendency towards groupthink - everyone believes this, so it's very hard to buck the trend for fear of being laughed at, and even if you're willing to do so, no serious publication will post it because they'll get laughed because everyone believes it. The "proof" that enforces this is just the group belief, whether it's supported by the facts is irrelevant.

And as we saw from the leaked emails - scientists are no more immune to this than anyone else. "This is what we believe, so data that points in another direction means we have to find an explanation that matches what we believe is true, we have to stonewall requests from those who don't believe what we believe and certainly can't have them in our publications."

By your standard, Darwin probably should have just moved to another planet too.

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Comment 2 (2571) by OJB on 2009-12-30 at 14:36:49:

Of course I'm not saying the conventional view is always right but what I am saying is that when a subject is under active study and a consensus has been arrived at then there is very good reason to accept that theory unless something pretty amazing comes along. That does happen but only very rarely.

So we agree creationism is basically 100% impossible and global warming is very likely to be true. I'm not sure what this "why" the Bible is about actually is. Maybe you could clarify that.

I agree that its difficult to achieve a good balance between accepting what the experts tell us and maintaining an open mind sufficient to accept new theories if they arise. Maybe I err slightly too much on the side of accepting the consensus but that's a lot better than totally rejecting it entirely for political and/or religious reasons.

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