Blog: Viscerality of Offense

Viscerality of Offense
Viscerality of Offense
Date: 2018-Oct-12 15:14:07 EST

I'm not aiming to, but I feel a kind of visceral offense when I see someone believing deeply woo things. Recently I came across someone on Twitter grumbling at their local state lottery commission for "running out" of some number they liked to bet on, and I poked fun at them for not understanding statistics. Twitter's great for a certain kind of citizen go-getter-ism, as we can usually respond to adverts and poke fun at a product, or a celebrity, or whatever. I hope this leads people to be less passive than the generations that were used to TV (which allowed but ignored participation, or at least restricted its impact to others itting next to you when you're watching whatever you're watching). There are dangers to this lessened passivity in that we don't know how to handle activism well and easily let extremists win arguments because we're too annoyed to argue, or don't know how. Anyhow, I'm not so bothered by people who believe in religion - religion is a little less slam-dunk to argue against, and significantly works in areas that science hasn't given us solid understanding of yet. Plus there' a lot of other stuff in religion - non-fact-claims or things that may look like fact claims but are difficult to imagine digging at with empiricism (and there are fuzzy thinkers like Sam Harris that dive into these topics and stumble at the first hill).

I'm a little weirded out at the visceral offense I feel at it. At the end of the day it's tempered by my general attitude of "but.. it's your choice", although at other ends of the same action I might be comfortable placing limits; I don't think the state should be running gambling (nor should it permit large-stakes gambling, and perhaps it should produce structural difficulties like making it hard in contract law to enforce the exchange of properties), and for things like homeopathy I am comfortable with at least banning advertising and perhaps banning the commercial part. Meaning we don't have to make the nonsense easy but don't have to restrict the consumer.

Although with that there are still issues; I recognise that there are plenty of cases where the state can not outright ban something but they can make it really hard, where that use of state power would bother me were it something I approve of. I'm not going to entirely avoid methods because I don't like how they could be applied, but I want to make sure I don't think of this as "it's done a certain way, therefore any limitations that come out of it are not things I need to justify" - the different means may change somewhat the degree of justification I need, but it can't be carte blanche.