Some people think they know more than the experts. More than people who have spent their lives studying something, collecting data, making observations, and drawing connections that are supported not only by their own evidence, but by that gathered by their peers as well. And who have spent their careers reconciling the differences between each others work, that we may collective reach a greater and more complete understanding of some phenomenon. See... that's how science WORKS. But some people don't think that the opinion of someone who's spent a career learning everything there is to know about something, and collaborating with others who do the same, is the slightest bit more
valuable than that of a talk-show host with a high-school diploma, or a bought-and-paid-for politician, or that most absurd of scientific references: the Bible, or the ideology that they have chosen to follow.
In general, these people call themselves "Conservatives."
Now I have always claimed to be a man of science - by both philosophy and by profession. I have also claimed that I never let ideology do my thinking for me. If I identify with a certain group on a given issue (or on most issues) it is because their position matches the evidence. And because it matches my own. Which must first match the evidence, regardless of the ideological implications of this. So let's be clear, here: Liberals are not right because they agree with me. Nor am I because I agree with them. (When we DO actually agree, that is.) And of infinitely more importance, Scientist and Academics are not right because they agree with Liberals, or because they agree with me.
WE are right because we agree with THEM.
And you can take almost any Scientific and/or Economic issue and see this quite clearly, if you bother to actually LOOK and actually care about BEING RIGHT, rather than being Liberal or Conservative. And, yes, to be fair, Liberals ARE guilty of pseudo-science too: witness the lawsuits brought against Dow Chemical over their perfectly harmless silicone breast implants, back in the late '80's, and early '90's, for example. But as Liberals have come to embrace science more and more over the past decade or two, Conservatives have reactively pulled away from it. One recent Conservative commenter on this blog said it best, I think: "We're Conservative because we don't want to be Liberal."
(And apparently they don't care a lick about being RIGHT, it seems.)
So anyway... I'm on Wikipedia today, just putzing around. Now I didn't used to consider Wikipedia to be a credible reference. I once told someone, "Don't quote me Wikipedia! ANYONE can edit Wikipedia! Shoot, even I'VE edited Wikipedia!" But I will say that in past year or two, I notice that they've gotten really good about requiring CITATIONS for the facual statements being made. (It's probably also helped that I've limited my own input to the one subject that I actually DO know more about than anyone else: Baseball. LOL) Anyhow, one particularly well-cited article that I read recently was the one on HOMOSEXUALITY.
Very interesting read. Here are a few of the statements I found to be particular relevant to some of the more spirited discussions we've had recently...
Scientific and medical understanding is that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather a complex interplay of biological and environmental factors.
Supported by two citations!
While some religious organizations hold the view that homosexual activity is unnatural or dysfunctional, research shows that homosexuality is an example of normal variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects.
Homosexual behavior is also widely observed in animals.
That statement was supported by no less than FIVE citations!
[Homosexual] relationships are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential psychological respects.
People with a homosexual orientation can express their sexuality in a variety of ways, and may or may not express it in their behaviors.
The longstanding consensus of research and clinical literature demonstrates that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality.
There is now a large body of research evidence that indicates that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment.
The American Psychological Association says that "most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."
No major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and virtually all of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. These include the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Australian Psychological Society. The American Psychological Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists expressed concerns that the positions espoused by NARTH are not supported by the science and create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.
FIVE Citations spread throughout that paragraph.
Scientific research has been consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents...
[And] ...According to scientific literature reviews, there is no evidence to the contrary.
Here are some particularly important ones:
Stigma, prejudice, and discrimination stemming from negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality lead to a higher prevalence of mental health disorders among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals compared to their heterosexual peers.
Evidence indicates that the liberalization of these attitudes over the past few decades is associated with a decrease in such mental health risks among younger LGBT people.
Sexual orientation does not affect the likelihood that people will abuse children.
Claims that there is scientific evidence to support an association between being gay and being a pedophile are based on misuses of those terms and misrepresentation of the actual evidence.
Now... Admittedly, some of those citations are from the same source. But, all and all, this is a ~11,000 word article, in which I didn't find a single line in that doesn't fit perfectly well into my views on the matter, and it is supported by a total of 211 different sources.
TWO. HUNDRED. and ELEVEN.
See... Being Liberal doesn't make me right.
Being RIGHT makes me right.
And they day the Conservatives decide to start being right, and the Liberals decide to abandon all reason, knowledge and wisdom? I'll happily identify as a Conservative. Until then? I don't require an ideology to do my thinking for me, nor will I labor under the delusion that I can do to do a little bit of five-minute crack research and think that somehow I know something that the world's collective, foremost experts don't. I'm content to let those with the inclination to spend their lives researching and studying something to figure it out. Because if you're capable of recognizing who is and is not a credible source, and the data supports the position you are accepting?
Well, shoot... I'll always be right.