My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

How do we combat flawed thinking?



The Swiss Know How to Beat Wingnuts

Flavia Kleiner and Operation Libero handed the anti-immigrant right a major defeat last spring. Now they’re building their ‘rebellion of the decent.’

Nadette De Visser


11.02.16 6:00 AM ET

In Europe as well as the United States the political arena has shifted to the fringes. Measured, moderate stands on issues of national and international importance are zapped by high-voltage soundbites, obliterated by incendiary one-liners.

Anger is the coveted political currency of the moment—anger fueled by fear of foreigners, by fears for the future—anger fueled by populist politicians at home and abroad. And even little Switzerland, the Continent’s hoary paradigm of democracy, has not been immune.

For the full text click here

Very interesting article- and interesting movement. I think society really has to find a way to respond to and contain the wingnuttery. Their exceedingly distorted vision of the world is heavily dependent on profoundly flawed thinking. The Brexit mantra was evidence and experts don’t matter. Silly things like the alleged EU banana curvature “legislation” are still being banded about as if true. Trump is proposing the construction of a wall when net migration from Mexico is around 0%. Marine Le Pen says France is being Islamised even though only 1/3rd of French Muslims say they practice the religion at all. And even then only 20% say they go to mosque regularly. That makes the number of mosque attendees (between 600,000 and 1 million) spectacularly insignificant in a country with a population of over 65 million people. In fact we could even say the opposite of Le Pen. The one thing living in France does to Muslims is make them drop the religion they were born to. 

All that means these aren’t actually ideological battles, these are battles between people with evidence and those without. And somehow both sides are being treated as if their positions are equally valid. 

21 comments on “How do we combat flawed thinking?

  1. foolsmusings
    November 2, 2016

    From either side, how did we allow lying to become an acceptable political tool?

    Liked by 2 people

    • In large part I think it’s because of the false equivalency syndrome.
      The news will put on someone who’s against vaccination and then someone who’s for it as if both positions were equal. That legitimises lying and misinformation.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. tildeb
    November 2, 2016

    When what is objectively true (and knowable) – like facts – is considered merely a subjective topic (as in “Well, that may be the case but that’s not MY truth and you have to respect that if you are to show me respect me as a person of______.”) and of some trivial and tertiary/tangent concern to some factual topic, then we lose the very foundation necessary for an honest discussion: common ground.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What concerns me most is it seems we’re going backwards. The media had better standards.


      • tildeb
        November 2, 2016

        They had better standards because they went to school to learn how to differentiate opinions from facts and could write the former based on the latter. This was informative. Now we seem deluged by the opposite.

        Today, we have many talking heads and writers who don’t seem to understand why differentiating opinion from fact matters – or should matter. What’s worse, the audience doesn’t particularly care, either. What’s wanted, what sells, is entertainment rather than comprehension. If it can’t be ‘fully’ understood in 130 characters, then it the consensus seems to be that it either doesn’t matter or deserves the TLTR tag. Lying is fast and effective; exposing them as such requires an attention span far too few people seem to have. Hence the oft-repeated claim of surprise that voting for Brexit might actually yield leaving the EU. Imagine that: cause and effect might actually be connected in spite of feelings. Who knew?

        Liked by 3 people

      • kjennings952
        November 3, 2016

        As a trained journalist I no longer watch, read or listen to mainstream media. It’s a ridiculous variety show intended to entertain vs inform. When we lost neutral news, we lost a lot more than objectivity. People can no longer differentiate fact from fiction and can find any “fact” that supports their own version of reality. With campaign years bringing out the worst.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I believe it was Reagan who set aside the neutrality standard for the news.


      • kjennings952
        November 3, 2016

        There was a time when news “men” were above it all. I’m surprised you remember Reagan, were you like 3??

        Liked by 1 person

      • He was president until I was 12- but nevermind that, I’ll take the compliment 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Godless Cranium
    November 2, 2016

    Good read. I think you’re on to something about how the press is at least partially to blame. They create a false equivalence in order to pretend they’re being fair. Global warming comes immediately to mind.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cara
    November 2, 2016

    They’ll put on someone who’s against vaccination and then someone who’s for it as though those two opinions are equal…and if neither of those talking heads is a medical doctor, the two options kind of ARE equal (because opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one). If they put on an anti-vaccination wing nut and a pro-vaccination doctor, I’m sorry but the medical doctor will be more credible than the crackpot. But they don’t do that. They’ll have a concerned parent who is pro-vaccine and a doctor who somehow believes vaccinations are evil because he’s got his own agenda to push, so we don’t know what to believe. The media LOVE controversy of this kind, because it sells papers & drives up ratings for news programs.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. acflory
    November 3, 2016

    The disdain for facts and science has been going on for a very long time. ‘Intelligent Design’ ring any bells? We are simply seeing the inevitable end of this particular swing of the pendulum. ‘We worshipped science as a god but it didn’t make us happy. Let’s try the opposite and see if that works.’ Strangely the people who ignore facts the most are the ones least likely to give up their plasma TVs or frozen food or microwave ovens – all of which are domestic spin-offs of applied science. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  6. davidprosser
    November 3, 2016

    OK, I accept the banana curvature legislation didn’t come into being. But, that doesn’t men that a group of EU MP’s didn’t propose it under uniform standardization parameters. That they should try to have such legislation shows how silly things can be. There are a number of odd pieces of legislation that did make it like Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a a long colored paper tongue when sounded – have now been classified as unsafe for all children under 14. Seriously? Children at the age of 14 are having sex already, but they are not allowed to use whistle blowers?
    What pains me more is the implication that Brexiteers are linked with people like Trump or Le Pen on the right. I am not racist, have not been, not likely to become so. I did object to the UK being made to pay a lot of money towards the rescue of Greece when we are not part of the Euro, but that is not because I dislike the Greeks, quite the opposite. I do believe that rescue was the responsibility of the Eurozone Countries who helped Greece into their crisis. ( my opinion).
    Like most other Brexiteers it isn’t racism that makes me want to leave the EU but merely the fact I want my country to be self-governing again and that I get a say in it.
    I’m truly sorry if people living in France or elsewhere take this personally and feel my given reasons are suspect. No doubt all who are suggesting the doom that we will suffer are wishing it on us to be proved right but, whether it happens or not, it will have been our choice and the effect on our ex-partners in the EU will be negligible. France took it’s own future in it’s hand during The Troubles and decided to rid itself of the Monarchy and it’s Government. Surely you wouldn’t deny us similar rights except that our Monarchy stays of course. Having said that I’d much prefer not to be linked to any of the far right groups in Europe today for doing what I think is right for my country now, it’s not as though there will ever be a ban on immigration from countries across the World.


    • Hi, David
      The problem with the arguments you present is they are verifiably untrue. The banana issue wasn’t about standardization, it was about classification. The same way we classify different qualities of all sorts of products. The EU simply borrowed the international commercial standard to define what’s Class A quality versus Class B or C. Gold and silver are also classified, in their case, by purity.

      The whistle toy “legislation” you mention dates from 1988. It states “that balloons made of latex must carry a warning to parents that children under eight years should be supervised. Stronger plastic balloons do not need to carry this warning.
      They also state that all toys aimed at children under three should be large enough to prevent them being swallowed.”
      The Daily Mail & the Daily Telegraph took that and transformed it into a story about Draconian laws being imposed on the UK- even though there were never any prohibitions of any kind.

      In regards to Greece the UK was neither asked nor did it contribute a cent to the Greek bailout loan. The money Greece received was from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism- and the UK was never on the hook for any payments. In fact the UK government had already negotiated protections from ever having to contribute to any EU bailouts.

      So the obvious issue is that Brexit proposes a solution to a problem that didn’t really exist. It does so by playing to myths and racism. That doesn’t mean I think you’re personally racist. I don’t. I do think lots of people accepted a whole lot of myths without proper scrutiny. Myths based on xenophobia. And defined “we” in the narrowest of ways.


  7. Sirius Bizinus
    November 3, 2016

    Actually, it seems like something is being done about Brexit in the British courts. I heard a report on NPR this morning that the whole issue is being forced into Parliament. There might even need to be another vote. From what I understood, someone sued and won on the grounds that there wasn’t an actual debate on the issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. theoccasionalman
    November 9, 2016

    “Rebellion of the decent.” Decency, mutual respect, is such a rare concept that it requires a rebellion? A thought that troubles and saddens me, but that rings true all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. belasbrightideas
    November 11, 2016

    Don’t you think social media has large sway in this? People have a six second attention span, if that – and grab whatever looks enticing (kid/candy store comes to mind) and post it, completely oblivious to fact checking (which of course makes easy, if nothing else). Even when I’ve commented on someone’s post with a link to the snopes info, they keep it up. Reminds me of Trump, spewing outright lies just to provoke. Or so it seems with some of these people.

    Beyond social media lies the sad excuse we have for journalism, these days. Everything is sound bites, get it out there FIRST, nevermind having checked the facts.

    Conclusion/s? None. Crazy times, and no relief in sight, at least from where I sit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goodness, yes. Social media has created a world of false equivalencies. Remember the *outrage* over Michelle Obama’s campaign for children to eat healthy food? The cartoons?

      Liked by 1 person

      • belasbrightideas
        November 12, 2016

        Groan, yes. Right now I feel like the Witch of the West in Oz, having had that bucket of water tossed over her head. “What a world! What a world!”


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