Thursday, 5 November 2015

Arguing Against Yourself

It's no secret I have my pet topics and issues. It's no secret I sometimes foolishly get into arguments on them. It's also no secret that I find myself sometimes feeling frustrated by those who argue, but aren't arguing against me, they are actually arguing against themselves.


No really.

Take evolution, for example. This really isn't something that you can choose to believe in or not at whim. It's a proven theory. A fact. Nevertheless, there are still people who deny it, and the reason is that they don't understand it. What they have in their heads as the details of evolution are all wrong. And they deny that. It's actually got to a point where I have lost interest in arguing it (yes!) because we're just not on the same page.

It's not just everyday idiots arguing the wrong idea either. In the US they've actually had "science advisers" (Republican, obviously) who say something completely inane about evolution, and then scoff at it. How a large and important nation like the US can allow this to happen completely baffles me - it's no wonder the world is in the mess it's in - but there it is. 21st century and you have people at that level failing to understand a scientific principle, and then arguing against their OWN misunderstanding of it.

It's usually a religious thing. Some religious strands have decided that the Bible is a better source of information than science, despite everything we know about how, when, and why it was written, and one of the main reasons they deny evolution is that they think the Earth is very young. So there hasn't been time for evolution. That at least is a logical consistency within their own belief system. Credit where it's due. But the Earth isn't young, and there has been time, so all the stupid remarks about things "suddenly" evolving are based on that nonsense.

These religious people tell me to read the Bible. I have. More thoroughly than many of them. I found all the scientific absurdities in it that they missed. But if I am required to read their book, could they not take the time to read a book I recommend? I have so far been unable to convince any of the evolution deniers to read Jerry Coyne's very well-written explanation of evolution ( I haven't yet read Bill Nye's book on the topic, but I'm told is also very good. These are not heavy, dry, academic tomes, but books suitable for anyone to read. I think they are afraid of understanding it. Probably for good reason.

Evolution is math. It's actually very simple math. Once you understand it, you have to be a special kind of stupid to deny it. But as I said, what they are denying isn't the actual theory of evolution, but some cocked up version of it that they've acquired, which is not the same thing at all.

Then there's feminism. This is a big issue for me because, well, duh, I'm a woman. And I'm a feisty woman. And I don't like the way women are treated in this world. I don't like that we have reached this point in our history and we are still seeing the most appalling oppression of women in many parts of the world, and we still don't have complete equality in the enlightened west. And the reason we don't is that so many people just don't understand what feminism is.

Oh, they think they do. They openly say it. They say things like "I support equal rights, but I don't like this man-hating stuff." Well, the man-hating stuff isn't feminism. Never was. There's nothing feminists can do about weird militant elements, anymore than any ideology can reign in its extremists. Every movement there ever has been has had it's lunatic fringe. You cannot blame the mainstream part of the movement for them.

No, those who argue against feminism are arguing against a concept of feminism that exists only in their own heads. Plenty of people do understand it. And, yes, plenty of them are men. Feminism benefits men. Well, most men. It doesn't benefit bad men, obviously, and nor should it. They are the reason we need it. And, yes, we do.

Being a woman, and being a feminist, helps me understand racial issues. It's not the same, but there is enough of a similarity that it makes actually no sense for me to be racist. It I were to discriminate on the basis of race, it would be ludicrous. I've experienced actual hate based on my gender, and I know how it feels. I also know what the very subtle sexism feels like, which is why I oppose the very subtle forms of racism. You can be racist without lynch mobs.

Because I understand that feminism is not, actually, anti-man, or anti anything - other than injustice, I understand that Black Lives Matter is not anti-white, or anti anything - other than injustice. When one group of people is being targeted, then any movement to change that has to focus on that group. You can focus on multiple groups. But focusing on humanity as a whole, as wonderful as that is, is not enough. Human rights are certainly part of the equation, but despite a long history of human rights, we still have injustice aimed at certain groups of humans, so we have to make more effort there.

Because I understand that the crazies that some people associate with feminism do not represent it, I also understand that the crazies that people associate with Muslims do not represent them. The great irony of all this, is that those who oppose feminism are the first to say "Not All Men Are Bad". And I've heard plenty of Muslim-hating Christians get extremely upset about Westboro Baptist Church or whatever...insisting "not all Christians are like that". So, they DO understand that an aberrant sub-set is not the whole deal. But they conveniently forget it.

Meanwhile, they fight a concept in their heads which is not reality.

The anti-feminists fight a concept of feminism, which is not representative of feminism.
The lunatic fringe of feminism fight a concept of men, which is not representative of men.
The anti-Muslims fight a concept of Muslims, which is not representative of Muslims.
The lunatic fringe of Muslims fight a concept of the west, which is not representative of the west.

And so on. They are all arguing against their own warped, weird ideas which were never the thing itself. This applies to so much.

Misunderstandings of the group or thing you oppose. Why do you oppose it? Because you don't understand it.

You are free to oppose anything you please, but if you do so based on misunderstanding, it becomes ridiculous.

And so it is with the topic of climate change also. Rabid climate change deniers have all sorts of "reasons" why they deny it, but all of them are caused by not actually understand the science behind it. "The models are wrong". Well, they were models. "Not all scientists agree." That's called science. "Natural cycles." Notwithstanding. "Ice is increasing in Antarctica." Investigate why. "LOOK I HAVE A SNOWBALL!" You're a fucking idiot.

And the same applies to much of the nonsense that we read everyday that we've lately categorized as pseudo-science, and of course all the conspiracy theories.

A few months ago I had to write a blog explaining how microwaves work because I had university educated friends afraid of microwaves, and their effect on food. Because these intelligent people had conflated radiation with radioactivity. Because they didn't understand, and this misunderstanding led to fear and opposition.

What did we used to call it when we didn't understand something, became afraid of it as a result, and then opposed it or avoided it? Maybe created elaborate systems to oppose or avoid it?

We called it superstition. Most religion is based on superstition, which shows you how pervasive it has been in human history. Superstition causes tremendous problems. We don't talk about it much these days, but it's still with us. Much of our prejudice and oppression amounts to superstition. Fear. Fear of things we don't understand. And especially fear of things we THINK we understand, but really don't.

It's no surprise to me that it's often the same people who oppose feminism, deny evolution, deny climate change, fear Muslims, and believe in a slew of other nonsense, because it's a personality type, or possibly a learning disability. It seems to be a requirement if you are a US Republican, especially if you are a presidential candidate. Fear, fear, and more fear. That's why they love their guns. They fear everything.

Maybe if they took the time to learn.........


  1. Two words: Cognitive Dissonance.
    That's about the best explanation to offer. ("We're Number One!") :/ ~ Blessings! :)

  2. Although, for reasons you know already, I despise Richard Dawkins as a person, he wrote the single best book on evolution I know of: The Greatest Show On Earth. Get a second hand copy so Dawkins doesn't get his hands on your money though :)