While I’m sure that there’s a lot of anti-vaxers chomping at the bit to read what I have to say, I thought that I’d start with the Treasurer:
That’s right! He’s used “it’s” when he should have used “its”. But that’s not what I’m writing about today. As I said when Donald Trump wrote “there” instead of “their”, these are busy men and in the rush to tweet, you can’t expect them to ask someone to proofread every little thought bubble for grammar, spelling and factual accuracy.
I’m more concerned about logic.
Now, I’ve never been one who’s joined the choir in the Church of Logic. There are times when logic is useful; other times it’s appropriate to just accept the fact that one is an emotional animal who won’t be swayed by facts and figures and go ahead and do what you intend to anyway without trying to find a consistent, rational basis for one’s actions. I mean, this philosophy seems to work for the Coalition…
For example, I infer from Scottie’s tweet that Moody’s confirming Australia’s AAA credit rating, that this is because of the Turnbull government “living within it’s (sic) means”. However, this conveniently ignores that under Labor during the GFC we never lost our AAA credit rating. It also conveniently ignores that Moody’s gave rock solid credit guarantees to a number of firms that went belly up in 2008.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Australia is about to go into liquidation, but it does seem strange that we should be getting all excited about a rating that a) hasn’t changed in years and b) doesn’t mean much anyway.
Ok, it does mean we could borrow money more cheaply but the Australian government doesn’t borrow money, does it? I mean, weren’t we told for years about Labor’s debt spiralling out of control. So clearly, the Turnbull government wouldn’t be borrowing, would it?
What’s that, you tell me? That government debt is double what it was when these guys came into office. Well, that’s ok, because I’m sure it would have been even more under Labor. You know, like when we were told that interest rates would always be lower under a Coalition government. Until they were lower under Labor. Then, it was a case of low interest rates being a result of a sluggish economy.
Logic is a very intesting thing, because we adopt certain positions emotionally, then use our rational brain to argue that we’re right. The logic of Barnaby Joyce arguing that exclusion zones around abortion clinics shouldn’t be allowed, but one photographer creates the need for an exclusion zone around anyone he thinks should have one, does seem a little strange. After all, he’d just given an interview to request that people show no interest in him or his new family. And the ratings seemed to suggest that he’d been successful. Behaviour like this only makes sense when you work on the theory that people will change their position quite easily when it comes to how they feel, and then attempt to apply their brain power to justifying that there’s a coherent basis for their positon.
I’m reading a book called “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling, which is an interesting read that I thorougly recommend. I was trying to explain some of the basic premises to a friend where I put forward the idea that – in spite of all the bad news stories – if you looked at the progress of things like health, life expectancy, girls’ education and so on, the long term data shows that it’s all generally improving. Sure, there are setbacks, but the data is much better than most people in countries like Australia expect. Now my expectation from someone who’d identify more with the left side of politics was that he may have questioned the data, or argued that it still wasn’t good enough. Instead he told me that the trouble was that the world couldn’t sustain more people.
Now, I’m not going to try and be an expert here. I don’t know how many people the earth can sustain. But I found it interesting that someone would hold on to the pessimistic view, when confronted with optimistic data. I wondered what it would take to make him go: That’s fantastic, so things are really much better than Fox News is telling us.
Of course, few of us hold our beliefs lightly. But they rarely stem from logic. Logic is just our way of getting the wagons in a circle when challenged. It’s inconvenient if what we are saying contradicts what we said yesterday, or last year, but we can trot out some rational argument about why Obama meeting with Kim Jong-Un would have been a sign of weakness, but Trump is demonstating how effective he is at getting things done… Likewise, we can suggest that the meeting was a failure because Trump is too stupid to achieve anything… Although this overlooks the fact that pencilin was discovered due to poor housekeeping!
I’m as guilty as anyone. Every time I hear about some supposed problem with vaccines, I just presume that it’s as fraudulent as the autism scare. However, this does prevent me from reading anything about a link to vaccines and climate change dispassionately. Of course, for some the very fact that I’ve linked the two will be enough for them to repeat it as logical evidence. Just as it will be used by Andrew Bolt to suggest that the absurdity of such a link is further proof that climate change is a hoax created by scientists in order to get funding because they’d rather research something that they’d made up then any legitimate problem. Thankfully, all those philanthopists in the fossil fuel industry have exposed the hoax and we can go on burning coal because they practically give it away for free.
(When is Adani starting, by the way? Is it still October 2016, or will we have another anouncement about it being next month any day now?)
Nah, it’s probably best just to ignore logic and admit that we’re all creatures of emotion. After all, figures can be made to suggest anything. For example, nearly all heroin uses started on breast milk.
I think I’ll go back to my book…