Friday, March 21, 2008

Maybe they're just stupid

A lot of skeptics have written about how intelligent people can be tricked into believing incredibly stupid things. But I think that sometimes, we get so caught up in listing the human fallacies in thinking that lead to such conclusions that we fail Occam's Razor: Maybe these people are just stupid.

Bringing this to mind is the recent event you've all surely heard of by now: PZ Myers was expelled from Expelled, while Richard Dawkins wasn't. There's no way around that one. It was simply a stupid move.

However, a few other examples you probably haven't heard of, coming from my dealing with homeopaths over at Wikipedia:

First, there are my interactions with Dana Ullman, prominent homeopath. There are many things I can point to, but I'll limit it to one instance completely divorced from homeopathy. In this portion of a conversation, I try to explain to him how to link to a specific edit made on Wikipedia, and he's completely unable to see how this is different from linking to a section of a page. The conversation on Wikipedia is a bit disjointed, but you can see it here and here. Piecing together the relevant portions of the conversation (with some formatting changes):

...For future reference, when discussing particular actions, what's most useful to others here is pointing them to the record of the specific edit which was made (the "diff"). In this case, it's at I generally get these by going to either the modification history of the article or the user's contributions, and then clicking on "last" of the line of the applicable edit and copy that address. The advantage to this method is that it goes directly to the relevant message and you also don't have to worry about forgeries, deletions, or archiving. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 00:39, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

I got your response. Thanx...but didn't I do just what you have suggested in the original posting that I made at Randy's user-page to which I linked in my Incident report. I am relatively new to wiki and am trying to be as collaborative as possible. Even though you and I don't usually agree, I hope that we can move beyond our own POV to create good NPOV stuff. DanaUllmanTalk 00:44, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

The difference is that you're linking to the sections in which the comment is made. When these are large, it can be harder to find the relevant comment. Try comparing the link you used with the link I showed you above. You see how the one I used shows his comment directly?

Also, be careful about exaggerating. On the admin's noticeboard, you claimed that Randy was wishing death, though I see none of this here. Though if he did do this someplace else, I (and some admins as well) would be interested in seeing it. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 00:50, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

(I posted this at my user-page, but to make your life easier, here it is) I assume that you somehow didn't read what Randy wrote: "You are a monster who sells nonsense to the sick, and the sooner you die the sooner the world will be a better place. Randy Blackamoor (talk) 00:23, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Is being called a "monster" and wishing me to die soon any type of civility? Do you still think that this is civil and that it warrants a simple week's penalty, while many anti-homeopathy editors are seeking to ban Whig primarily because he has a good backbone for defending a minority viewpoint. DanaUllmanTalk 01:10, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Witness how in his last comment, Dana doesn't make any further reference to how to use Diffs, and demonstrates that he still doesn't get it by failing to use one where it would be appropriate. Maybe he's just stupid.

And for a final example, I present to you a homeopath who doesn't understand what it means to be banned: Dr. Jhingadé. There's just no way to sum up the distilled stupid of this "doctor." I'd recommend you simply read the following sections of the talk pages: "Placebo? Quackery!!", "Read this Dr. Jhingadé", and finally, proving that even Dana Ullman thinks he's an idiot: "Hmm..."

If there's a lesson to take here, it's that not all woos are simply deluded by fallacies. Some are simply idiots.


Don said...

I once managed to talk someone out of believing in homeopathy and still came away with this feeling. I tried explaining to him dilution and secession (is that how you spell it), and went to a homeopathy website to back it up.

He stopped using homeopathic remedies, all right, but because "They put deadly nightshade in it!"

"That's not the point! It's in such a tiny amount that it's really not even there! It's familiar magic and hand-waving!"

"Yeah, but...There's deadly nightshade in there! Thanks! I'm not taking homeopathic remedies anymore!"

Don said...

Sorry for the double post, but I just now noticed that you're in Illinois at the moment and not Canada. So where the hell were you when we had our Randi-seeing skeptical meetup a couple weeks ago?

Infophile said...

Heh, no, I'm still in Canada. I just forgot about that little part, so I'll go and change it now (I'll probably be here year-round for grad school now).