Don’t make an ass out of U and umption….

People often make assumptions about what I do believe based on what they have heard me say I don’t believe. The assumption is usually a bit wrong.

The assumption:
Because I defend GMO’s I must be pro Monsanto or pro all GMOs.

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My reality (as best as I can phrase it at the moment):
The fact of the matter is, I hate Monsanto. I find their business practices irresponsible. I still see the possibility for positive effects from GMOs. I also think there are more and less responsible ways of genetically modifying foods. For me the conversations worth having are what is responsible and how to fix the problems with Monsanto while allowing for responsible and potentially beneficial GMOs. Is it government regulation? Is it a more responsible company competing? I’m not sure, let’s talk about it…

The assumption:
Because I am skeptical of many (most) alternative medicines I must be pro western medicine and our medical system.

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I found this image here, first perusal the post seems fairly balanced, though I must take a closer look at the site before I vouch for it.

My reality (as best as I can phrase it at the moment):
I believe our system is jacked. I am still pro science based medicine (where science means clinical trials and evidence based decisions). There is too much money pressure in the whole system (why do drug companies advertise straight to consumers on TV? The consumers have no medical degree.). There needs to be more focus on preventative medicine (including diet, exercise and vaccines). I like to quote Michael Specter’s TED talk (though I usually paraphrase it):
“we hate Big Pharma. We hate Big Government. We don’t trust the Man. And we shouldn’t: Our health care system sucks. It’s cruel to millions of people. It’s absolutely astonishingly cold and soul-bending to those of us who can even afford it. So we run away from it, and where do we run? We leap into the arms of Big Placebo.”

I said once that I am an equal opportunity ranter. I am also an equal opportunity skeptic. I am skeptical of politicians, of large corporations, of any new scientific miracle cure (stem cell therapy, especially for dogs), of any miracle cure diet (super foods I’m lookin’ at you) and much more. I want evidence for everything from sources I trust.

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This meme seems to have taken drawings from ‘Hyperbole and a Half‘ and text from a protest sign. I am sure permission was not gotten to use them, but I like it…

Also, have I mentioned how much I love comments (respectful comments ideally)? I want different opinions that help me rethink my opinions and beliefs, thinking and rethinking is awesome. The occasional ‘go you’ comment is also lovely and self affirming. I should now do unto others and go make some comments…

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Everything is complicated…

I am fascinated by the ways our brains work, and how it can lead us astray. This week I have been into the Wikipedia lists of cognitive biases and of fallacies. One of my favorites is the idea of false dichotomies (because I see them *all* the time).

A google search gave me this good definition:
A false dichotomy or false dilemma occurs when an argument presents two options and ignores, either purposefully or out of ignorance, other alternatives.

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This is the terrible graphic I made to illustrate false dichotomies on my free ipad drawing app…

I almost always want to bring the other options to the table. I fear this often makes me sound argumentative. That does not stop me when say, a friend posts an awesome video on Facebook with the caption ‘this is why you buy kids Legos and blocks and not play stations..’. Why can’t we do both? One or the other are not the only options, and I do think there are good things and bad things about both. Or when I am told ‘you like GMOs’ (as opposed to being anti GMO). Ideally at this point I say ‘whoa whoa, hold the phone. I see the potential for good and bad in GMOs, and I do not want to rid the world of the potential good in the process of making sure the bad does not come to pass’. I am rarely this articulate or quick in person. Point being, it is complicated, not black and white.

Our society particularly loves putting things into little defined boxes. We are raised seeing things in black and white. Good vs bad, hero vs villain, you are with us or against us. I have a heartfelt belief that nothing is this simple, though our conversations are often framed in this simple way. I am aiming for more nuance.

I am also aiming to learn to recognize more things on the Wikipedia lists in an effort to not fall into/for them. Though I think I will start with what is in this little book because it is a bit more fun with illustrations…

Respect

I had an experience the other night that reminded me of how I wanted to write about the importance of how we speak to each other. I am trying to collect my thoughts enough so as to actually make sense, as opposed to sounding like a rambling crazy person (which I know can happen easily with me).

I suppose I should start with what brought this to mind. I was conversing with a friend whose views differ greatly from mine. I have known for a couple of years that she wants to go to school for acupuncture and have therefor avoided volunteering my views (which are that it is not a thing). She asked me straight out what I thought the other night, so I answered. I was then laughed at for not believing in acupuncture or in qi energy. I have no problems with people I know believing things that differ from my beliefs. I hope to not be so derisive as to laugh at someone, no matter how ridiculous I consider the particular opinion. I think treating people with respect is important.

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Now, to explore why….

Hmmm….Obviously treating people poorly will drive them away. Most folks do not enjoy being laughed at/condescended to/yelled at or any of the other disrespectful ways we treat people when we argue and debate. Driving away people that do not agree with you on a wide variety of topics would severely limit one’s social life. Pick the deal breakers. Though I would argue that even then being respectful is more productive.

Another big reason for me is that I am perfectly agreeable to the possibility of changing my mind. I almost always do research and check things out on my own after a conversation where someone disagrees with my information and I love it when that leads to my mind being changed, or at least to learning something new. Once someone is mean about it though, I stop listening. I want information! Pease do not give me an off topic reason to not be receptive to said information.

I guess these two are the biggest immediate thoughts in regards to personal discussions. Am I missing a big obvious thing? Or even, do you think positive results can come of negative conversations?

I have all sorts of other opinions about public discussions and debates, but I will save that for another time. At this time I am simply reminding myself to be kind in my personal connections.