Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Democracy = the Ostrich Bill of Rights

Well, an incredible election has just taken place in this country, and the Ostriches have scored a substantial victory.  The Ostrich Party has a cover name, but is the tribe that does not want to know uncomfortable things.

Ostriches don't want to know the truth, that they are being fleeced economically every day.  Few of them are in the top 1%, but they support Big Ostriches' riches by buying the latters' use of fear and emotional arguments about side issues.

Ostriches with heads in sand; Wikipedia

Ostriches don't want to know the truth about our existence, that is, that we are the product of an evolutionary history that is remorseless and promises no end after the end.

The Ostriches don't want to look at thermometers, because somehow they don't believe what they are telling them about the living room that is being overheated.

Ostriches gather collectively together, and use a variety of strategies to prevent other sorts of birds (of a different feather, one might say) from joining the club.  As a result, a minority of Ostriches control a majority of Others.

Well, this is a democracy of sorts that we live in, and Ostriches have a right to their views and their votes.  If non-Ostriches let them get away with it, one can't blame the Ostriches.  If one says that this all shows how a democracy is a failed system, then that means that one trusts the ability of some other way, some other minority rule system, to do a better job, and it's hard to see where the evidence for that is.

This suggests that in a democracy, we must accept that hearts rule over heads, emotions over evidence, and that even then a few can take power away from the many.  It means that if we believe in democracy, we must acquiesce to the right to be an Ostrich and to implement the Ostrich policy agenda.

It's a real problem, for those who would choose not to live as Ostriches.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure 'they' are the ostriches? I do not see any differences between the fans of two parties.


Ken Weiss said...

In the sense of denial of the realities of science, one side is far worse than the other. In the sense of doing what politicians are supposed to do, for the good of the general interest rather than the special interest, and for the long rather than just the short haul, and for the people rather than for themselves, probably they are about the same.

So I think that from a science point of view, even with all the human failings of science and scientists, we've voted with the Ostrich party.

Anonymous said...

You are being pretentious.

One side distrusts science and the other side sells every kind of snake oil as science, the biggest of which is mainstream economics (but maybe 'personalized genetics' will soon take over). In 2005, I published an article explaining why Western countries would go into deflation due to too much debt.

I was among the handful of people (may be three), who predicted deflation whereas all Nobelists and would be Nobelists were not only in inflation camp, but laughed at anyone predicting otherwise. Krugman was the leader of the pack.

As I see today, the same group of clowns are being worshiped even though their vaunted theory failed. What kind of science will hitch its wagon behind a theory that failed?

Ken Weiss said...

Well, we try not to be pretentious, but you have a very good point and right after we posted that one I felt we should have put in more.

Yes, both sides of these debates pick and choose the facts, theories and 'science' that suits their purpose.

We read Krugman and others who point out the accuracy of the economists' prognostic record (of course, Krugman has his own perspective).

The problem is not that science is incomplete, but that people do polarize. Scientists are people and behave like people.

When it comes to evolution and climate however, there is a different level of intentional ignorance. We write all the time, and have done for years, about the excess claims and even self-sterotyping of evolutionary biology vis-a-vis creationists, where we hesitate to own up to what we don't know and we facilely fabricate adaptive just-so stories.

Climate change is also very dicey in terms of many details (I am a former meteorologist so I know at least a little bit about it). The human agency question is one area. Again, the sales pitches from science are colored by their views. But climate deniers are simply deniers as a rule, in my view, because the overwhelming evidence is that climate is warming (whatever the cause), and we know the horrors that result from the kinds of fights for resources etc. that unchecked climate change can unloose.

Of course, life as a phenomenon will go on in whatever climate there is, and even humans will survive climate change (tho' we might need to experience cataclysmic disasters in the process).

Anyway, it's correct to challenge any side of a science debate. But in this case, the deniers used ignorance as a weapon for demogoguic seizing of power to protect priviege etc--and the leaders know very well that they were doing that. Which isn't to say that Democrats don't play their own games when opportunities arise.