oh, the ridiculousness!

So, today I was blocked on Facebook. It happens. Especially if you’re engaging with antivax activists plague enthusiasts who don’t particularly like your message.

But, I thought the context of this particular blocking too delicious to keep to myself.

It started like this

Black took exception to this; apparently she wasn’t actually advocating that people should go and catch measles.

Well, from you, Black…This was a bridge too far, or perhaps, a question too many.

Oh, the irony! I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being a troll on an article that I wrote ever before, by someone who clearly has no idea what actual research entails. Now I’ll have to go down to Bunnings & see if they have any irony meters in stock.

2 thoughts on “oh, the ridiculousness!”

  • I think you were dealing with someone who was not being logical, had an ineffective epistemology, and is not a logical thinker. I always wonder what we are really dealing with in these cases: drugs use? psychotic illness? membership of a kind of cult or tight social group?

    Possibly it may have helped to acknowledge something positive first. I did a quick check, and I think she was right on one point according to two sources (CDC, Boston Public Health Commission). Two MMR doses are 97% effective against measles. Having had measles gives you “lifelong immunity”. I suppose that means 100%? I am not quite so sure about that.

    So starting with something positive might avoid or defer the ramparts going up and closing her off.
    Then she may not have understood the stats, so maybe ask her to compare the chances of getting measles among those who have never had it for vaccinated people cf unvaccinated. This is a new question, so avoids calling her out on the one where she has refused to admit to being wrong. But it leads in the right direction.

    That Logic of Science website April 2017 post titled Scientists aren’t stupid (I think I got it off your feed) takes a kindly educative approach to counter-intuitive scientific findings. One example – maybe you could have asked your interlocutor this question…Often during an outbreak, most of those getting infected have been vaccinated. So why is it this still does not prove vaccines are not effective?
    That is such a common misconception about stats. For non-scientists this takes a fair bit of effort to understand.

    Of course, that Logic of Science writer (a PhD student who gets a lot of vitriol too) points out I think sagely that the hubris – and I would add inflated self-esteem – of people like the one with whom you corresponded makes it difficult for them to admit any errors. So with them, and I believe also most of the population, clever ways need to be found to nudge them towards self-correction. Lowering self-esteem is nearly always an excellent idea, but it is a slow and difficult process.

    Another psychology idea I think has merit with these benighted and muddled thinkers is the money in the bank model. We have no credit with strangers. To have enough credit to safely make one direct criticism needs quite a good balance for most people. One compliment or positive message gives you a dollar credit. One criticism is a $10 withdrawal. Overdraft limits are usually very low and temporary; and best arranged in advance.

    So – I know, my advice so far gives you an overdraft of $8 and is not enough to make much difference in this situation. With some creativity that could be reduced. A question that could imply an indirect criticism might only cost $5…and taking a personal interest like, “Have you had measles?” could give you $2 – 3 credit…

    I know – this is all tedious and I have never been very good at it myself. And is it worth the effort? I don’t really know. I think this is one reason why some people become troglodytes.

    PS That blog ….
    “Before I begin, I want to clarify that if you are one of the people who uses these arguments, I do not want you to think that I am attacking or belittling you. As I have previously written about, I used to be one of you. So, if you feel like I am making fun of you, realize that I am also describing my former self. To put that another way, I don’t think that you are stupid, but you are misinformed, and you are behaving irrationally.”

  • I’ll confess that I was a tad annoyed with her due to her all-caps shoutiness on a separate sub thread – it was already clear that this was someone not open to reason. But yes, perhaps I could have been gentler.

    I agree that your suggestion of the money-in-the-bank model – where you’re interacting with the uncertain/unsure. But honestly, I doubt it would have any impact on those who are 100% committed.

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