Monday, July 18, 2022

Do your own research?

As we wove our way through the covid responses, we heard a lot of voices saying that we were being misled and that we should worry about ourselves and "do our own research"

First off, I was (and still am) amused by the notion that you shouldn't trust scientifically valid research, and instead should trust your crazy uncle who read these fringey articles about some topic that may (or may not) be relevant. You don't trust scientific research but will do your own…research? Huh. 

Second, it's the point about it being selfish. If there's one thing social media (and vapid tv shows) have taught us: selfishness is rewarded. Be that individual and you'll get clicks and make money. And be famous!

What we forget is that we live in a society, and the constitution - which "we" claim to love when it comes to things "we" like and forget about when it comes to things "we" don't - calls for the common good:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It's right there in the preamble. So rather than being selfish and saying it's your body and you'll make decisions about it, and calling attention to your unique individuality, saying things like "this is America I have freedom," perhaps we should have thought about how this was (and is) a deadly virus which propagates through people. And we should have provided for the common good. 

Didn't want a vaccine? That's your right. But why did you have to be so vocal about it? 

In any event, the problem of people being in it for themselves, and claiming to know secrets that some bigger entity (like scientists or the government) doesn't want to tell you is prevalent. 

It happens in other scientific beliefs (flat earth? Fake moon landing?) and other types of beliefs, like religion. 

But it also happens in other places. What of Bernie Madoff who was essentially stealing money? He told people he had a super secret formula for getting rich in investments and would share it, if the investments were large enough (and what he was doing was taking money from person B and giving it person A, then taking money from person C and giving it to person B; all while taking a commission)

But people believed it because they wanted to. He was wealthy and had a plan to help you get there. (How did you really think he got wealthy? Surely it had something to with taking from others). 

And then there was the big election lie. People believed it because they wanted to. They were so deceived by the cult of personality that they accepted it on face value. 

And while the sedition that happened was probably the worst of it, there were some financial shenanigans happening (and which continue to happen. See my post about the Google ads). 

The Jan 6th committee has stated:  

"that the … campaign used these false claims of election fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were told their donations were for the legal fight in the courts. But the … campaign didn't use the money for that. The 'big lie' was also a big rip-off."

They took in somewhere around $250 million dollars from suckers, er supporters, who had bought into the notion that he couldn't have lost. I know some of these people, and probably you do too. They're everyday people with not huge amounts of money laying around. They lost it. Because they wanted it to be true. That they knew more than we did. 

And where did this money go? Something like 5% of it was paid to various "legal expenses" … while the remainder essentially went to the guy and his close associates. 

Not for nothing, but that quite clearly violates the law. There are specific laws about "wire transfers" and how they may be collected and disbursed. And how the language has to be clear on how money will be used. 

So my general advice is that you look up from your phone and think about things a little. 

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