william.scherk Posted October 9, 2014 Share Posted October 9, 2014 [...] I think understand Jerry's pov.Not me, not yet at any rate.All I can know so far is that Jerry believes something about Ebola is a hoax. His general POV about government dishonesty is not a useful heuristic in re Ebola -- it doesn't allow differentiation between truth or untruth in particulars. A useful heuristic would help us to informally classify particulars. It would give criteria for accepting or rejecting a particular. It would show the steps necessary to carry out a reasoned analysis.So, for me, the POV is cognitively crippled -- it is restricted to a narrow view, and it is darkened by bias and bigotry. The information we get is a mix of outright lies motivated by politics, 'cover your ass' by bureaucrats, or journalistic overstatement.This is an epistemological puzzle for me. "The information" market writ large will be a combination of reasoned/logical/tested informaton ... and extrapolations, distortions, misapprehensions, rumour, and cant. "The Information" would also include truth ... though you have left that out of the mix(!).If I can reduce the focus to Ebola, of course "The information" we get (and how we get it) is prone to the very same mix of truth, rumour and bullshit.For me, the information generally available about viruses ranges wide.On one side we have the most rigorous applications of science -- the side that 'discovered' viruses and how they operate and how they differentiate and how they replicate and how they mutate -- and the mechanisms of a given virus's virulence and vectors of infection. At the other pole, we have outright denial of the reality of viruses. At this pole collect the nonsense accrued. Here we find those opinions that combine ignorance and error and false statements (eg, Bill Maher's nonsense on the subject).Here I find a welter of "the information" that is not credible, not the result of hard slogging rational inquiry.For me, advances in biology have opened the amazing macroscopic world of our bodies -- opened to our understanding the world of the immune system, its parts, its mechanisms, its failures, its amazing complex structures.There really is compelling detailed knowledge of Ebola -- discernible under the crust of cant and blather and news/entertainment simplifications. It is so sad to me that Jerry does not understand that the only thing that stands between us and crushing ignorance is reason. That he cavalierly disposes of reason ... and shows no insight into his cognitive errors -- this suggests to me that he actually rejects reason, rejects the very idea of well-warranted knowledge (in this instance the operation of the Ebola virus in primates, humans).So, in this sense, I feel Jerry insults all our intelligence, assigns us to the column Rubes and Fools. Because he knows better. Because we are all fooled by the FDA and the CDC, fooled by the 'hoax.'You may find, Mike, that passing insults based on Jerry's peculiar modes of thinking are the most significant. I disagree strongly -- I hold that Jerry insults the spirit of reason. I hold that his specious claims are deeply insulting in the abstract (fools who believe that Ebola is a dangerous virus) and in the particular (William, you are a fool and a dupe of the CDC/Government/FDA).I find it more generally insulting that pernicious nonsense is peddled here. We mostly don't know the underlying facts.I will agree that Jerry doesn't know (accept as true) the underlying facts. And I would argue Jerry doesn't care about the underlying facts. I would argue, moreover, that Jerry doesn't actually believe facts can reliably be had -- he mistrusts or anathematizes the very 'fact'-based regimes of knowledge accrual that expose facts to our view ...So a bland and general statement that "mostly" we are ignorant of the facts -- this rubs me entirely the wrong way. I infer that attempts on grasping 'underlying facts' are so prone to error or bias or deception that they are without value ...I will state that I do mostly know the underlying facts, and that you also have a reasonable approximation of the facts that are in play. I would say you accept (or believe or understand or know) that the reality of hemorrhagic virus is such and so, that such and so can be and has been empirically validated. That the virus and its genetic material has been accurately typed. That the means of transmission are understood. That prophylactic measures can be successful. That the virulence of the virus is accurately described and understood. That the Ebola virus can be reliably differentiated from the other hemorrhagic viruses in the world. That the epidemiology of Ebola is understood with reasonable certainty. I believe you accept all these things as relatively 'factual' -- within the constraints and uncertainties of scientific reasoning.So, reading words of approbation for Jerry's loosey-goosey epistemology is surprising. It strikes me as passive, incurious, evidence of a kind of 'relativity of truth.' It places doubt not as a tool of inquiry, but a tool of obfuscation. It elevates a curious kind of skepticism (Oh, we can never know, can we?) in which knowledge is not just conditional (on truth) but is unapproachable. In the context of Ebola, this is far too skeptical for me. An over-broad skeptical "we cannot know" seems to me a kind of "I give up on attempting to know." It devalues reason, and suggests we should be comfortable in our ignorance. No doubt I have read too much into your interjection, Mike. But I believe there is such a thing as reliable knowledge, validated by experiment and empirical observations (of the Ebola virus and its current epidemic in Africa). So, I use your interjection to make a case for reason, not to denigrate you or Jerry as a human being.I can't leave Jerry's lack of reason unchallenged. My motivation in challenging Jerry (and in similar context, Dean) is to put beliefs to a rational test. It is significant to me that Jerry cannot mount a defense of his original Ebola claims. He can't or won't lay out his reasoning on Ebola. It disturbs me that Jerry cannot establish a common cause with the other Realist Reasoners here.Ebola I understand can only be transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, like aids. I would guess a 'massive' ebola outbreak in the United States might result in the deaths of a few hundred people, mostly medical workers who come in contact with an infected person and the families of these people.The microbiology of Ebola (and other hemorrhagic viruses) is a work in progress, but at present "the information" from that work is the best available (by the measure of reason).-- If one is only concerned with the United States or Canada, our main tasks in medical response will be containment. Canada and the United States will be vigilant to accurately identify those who bear the virus, to medically quarantine the infected, and latterly to treat the infected with what means we have. If one thinks of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea ... well the "hoax" speaks for itself. This is the most serious outbreak since Ebola was identified back in the seventies. It is a scourge, a menace, a killing disease above all ... If we (US/Canada/Europe) in the West want to ignore Ebola in Africa, hoping that by ignoring it it will go away ... I would suggest this is myopic and extremely dangerous. Of course, the public health bodies of the USA/Europe/Canada are helping the African nations to contain the spread. In the scenario suggested by Jerry's 'I don't care' -- where there are no facts, no worries since it is all hoaxed -- I can see the dangerous implications of that shrug. Luckily, Jerry's head in the sand approach is opposite to the actual measures taken. His arguments are irrelevant and have no impact to the actual measures being taken and being contemplated.It is unknown, as far as I know, the percentage of population susceptible to the disease though people who get it generally die from it. Not pleasant but won't kill but a tiny fraction of the people who die on our highways yearly. All of this is perhaps related to the topic but peripherally, and inserting it the way Jerry did amounts to trolling for insults. Mission accomplished.I don't understand this. I cannot know Jerry's motivations, only speculate on the reason he posts nonsense. If I am in the group who has insulted Jerry in this thread, I do not consider my mission accomplished. My missions are related to reason, how we know what we know, how knowledge claims are examined ... how dangerous is Ebola."Not pleasant but won't kill ..." Hmmm. This doesn't leave much room to discuss the actual measures taken, whether you support them or understand them or not. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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