A thing I wrote today, about Trump and Brexit and “post-truth” and “alternative facts” and helplessness, because I’ve had this conversation separately three times today.
this is the thing. We all sorta thought (and by “we” I mean everyone from us here right back to, I dunno, Newton and Boyle) that if we provided inductive or deductive proof of a thing, that everyone else would say “oh yeah, I’m convinced now!” and that’d be it. But people who don’t want that to happen have learned that attacking the evidence doesn’t work — it took them a few hundred years to learn that, but they did — but dismissing the whole idea as illegitimate does work. And we don’t know how to argue against that. I say two and two are four; you disagree; I say “no look here’s the proof”; you say “your methods of proof are wrong and biased”; and then I’m all, er, I don’t know what to say now, you were meant to be convinced by the proof.
more importantly: a third party, looking at that conversation, goes away thinking “well, is 2+2 equal to 4? Don’t know; there seem to be two sides to that argument”, or worse, “man, I just don’t care what 2+2 is because every time I try to find out there’s just loads of shouting, so I’ll stop asking”.
and thus, modern politics. Gaslighting and obfuscation, designed to make people believe that facts are disputable and that engagement is confusing and annoying.
(Of course, part of the problem here is that our side have a habit of declaring things to be an actual fact when they’re really “what we want to believe”, and once one’s cried wolf that way a few times, one’s credibility is gone and it’s really hard to get back. It’s not all the other side’s fault.)
Normally I wouldn’t re-post such a thing, but of course this conversation happened on Slack, which means that six months from now I won’t be able to link to this because it’ll be over 10,000 messages ago and Slack will be holding it to ransom until we pay money, and five years from now I won’t be able to link to it because Slack will have gone bust or have been sold to someone and shut down.