Reasoning your way out of moral panic

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In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of "moral panic" and whether being a scientist makes one more capable of reasoning their way out of it. The Iraq war and the reaction to opposition during its ramp-up is used as an example of moral panic in American society. The conversation also touches on how scientists may be more aware of irrational behavior and whether their education and intellect plays a role in this recognition. The discussion also mentions the current economic crisis and the influence of propaganda, as well as the lack of moral panic in the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) discussion. The conversation concludes with comments on the role of hate radio and a dumbed down populace in shaping public opinion.
  • #1
lisab
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Reasoning your way out of "moral panic"

A while back, Ivan Seeking https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=255234"on how we’ve changed since 9-11. Got me thinking about how the collective American soul seemed to change overnight, and what might have been behind it.

For example, remember the ramp-up to the Iraq war? Reaction to any sort of opposition was fierce and highly emotional. It wasn’t uncommon to hear people attacked as being unpatriotic, either implied or explicit, until any opposition became completely muted. The closest term I can find for this phenomenon is “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic" ”.

Shouldn’t scientists be more aware than lay people at recognizing when we’re experiencing a moral panic? Does being trained as a scientist make you more capable of thinking your way out of a moral panic, despite the strong emotional response that accompanies it?
 
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  • #2


lisab said:
A while back, Ivan Seeking https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=255234"on how we’ve changed since 9-11. Got me thinking about how the collective American soul seemed to change overnight, and what might have been behind it.

For example, remember the ramp-up to the Iraq war? Reaction to any sort of opposition was fierce and highly emotional. It wasn’t uncommon to hear people attacked as being unpatriotic, either implied or explicit, until any opposition became completely muted. The closest term I can find for this phenomenon is “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic" ”.

Shouldn’t scientists be more aware than lay people at recognizing when we’re experiencing a moral panic? Does being trained as a scientist make you more capable of thinking your way out of a moral panic, despite the strong emotional response that accompanies it?
Opposition was shouted down. McCarthyism is alive and well in the US and we are just a heartbeat away from fascism. I'm sorry to have to say that but the right-wing of our society including radio-ranters are promoting hate.
 
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  • #3


turbo-1 said:
Opposition was shouted down. McCarthyism is alive and well in the US and we are just a heartbeat away from fascism. I'm sorry to have to say that but the right-wing of our society including radio-ranters are promoting hate.

"A heartbeat away from fascism"?

Methinks you're being overly dramatic.
 
  • #4


I think scientists would tend to be more likely to recognize irrational behavior more quickly than the average Plumber, but I think this would be true for anyone with an above average education and/or intellect. However, it depends on the circumstances. Consider the current economic crisis. I can imagine that some big-league economists [many have a background in physics or mathematics] can become attached to a particular gloom-and-doom model. Hopefully one example of this is that of the Economist, Nicholas Taleb, who works with the mathematician, Benoît Mandelbrot. In his own words, Taleb lies awake at night worrying that we are entering a period of unprecedented global financial crisis. Has he just gotten too close to chalkboard - he can only see the world through the lens of his theoretical model - or does he just know more than the rest of us?

PBS Newshour interview

The point being that he might be inclined to follow what others would view as an irrational course of action, say if he were advising the President.

But then this also distinguishes between a scientific or mathematical based paranoia, and a fear based in propaganda, as with the lead-up to the war. It is the difference between a logical concern, and a false choice. Bush gave us a false choice- you are with us, or you are against us.
 
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  • #5


At least there has been no moral panic in the AGW discussion.
 
  • #6


Fortunately during the invasion of Iraq I had access to foreign newscasts. They presented both the US side of the invasion along with the Iraqi side by interviewing civilians who had been injured or who had lost family members. The contrast to US newscasts was remarkable.

Before then I never thought I would see the American press allow themselves to be controlled by the government as to content. I also couldn't believe the prohibition on photographing soldiers' caskets was never challenged on 1st Amendment, freedom of the press grounds.

CRGreathouse said:
"A heartbeat away from fascism"?

Methinks you're being overly dramatic.

Overly dramatic? I don't think so. What comes after government control of the press - unauthorized wiretaps, spying on peace organizations, surreptitious searching of people's homes, library and bank records?
 
  • #7


LowlyPion said:
At least there has been no moral panic in the AGW discussion.
Oh, no, none at all. Discussions on AGW are the most sensible and level headed of all scientific discussions. No emotions involved at all. :tongue2:
 
  • #8


Looks more like psychological behavior. Anyone working in science related professions think more objectively than other people and thus expected to not get caught in the moral panic.

If someone thinks irrational or emotional it would be just because they aren't exposed to objective thinking so can't blame those people.

But, on the other hand I think there is a limit to how rational/objective you can be regardless of who you are.

So, I would say all that was expected/normal behavior.
 
  • #9


AGW would be another example of a logical concern. There can be no absolute certainty in the weather models, so it becomes questions of probability and risk assessment.

What I find most interesting about AGW are the number of people with little to no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but who have strong opinions about the "correct answer" nonetheless. This to me is a good example of an uninformed reaction that can cause hysteria.
 
  • #10


A scientist would be more likely to take a close look at the facts presented, but if the facts are based on lies we end up with the same conclusion.

Most local papers online have a place to post comments on articles. I am seeing some very radical hate driven comments. Admittedly most of these people appear to be brain washed morons.

Hate radio and a dumbed down populace do go well together.

Here are some comments from my local paper in regards to the stimulus bill.

http://regulus2.azstarnet.com/comments/index.php?id=280386

Rush Limbaugh does somehow manage to influence the thinking of some of my educated relatives. My Brother-in-law with a masters in history is the worst.

Here is an example from a few weeks ago of what he gets from Rush: During the Carter administration the unemployment rate was 7.6 %, that is higher than our current 7.3%

I went on line and came back with: True, but Rush didn't mention that Carter inherited an 8% unemployment rate form Ford. He rapidly changed the subject.

It isn't just hate radio spreading lies and half truths. There are millions of e-mails flying around on both sides but I have yet to see a conservative one that was the truth and the whole truth.

If directed at a particular person factcheck.org has even started calling the e-mails slime or sliming.

We have some major moral panic going on.
 
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  • #11


Ivan Seeking said:
What I find most interesting about AGW are the number of people with little to no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but who have strong opinions about the "correct answer" nonetheless. This to me is a good example of an uninformed reaction that can cause hysteria.
So which statement would you agree with?

1)The majority of the world's population has no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but believe in global warming without understanding anything about it.

2)The majority of the world's population has no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but disbelieve in global warming without understanding anything about it.

Which would fall into the category of "moral panic" as seen in the popular media?
 
  • #12


Emotion still makes its way into scientific discussions. I see it all the time, at my work. Really good, highly trained scientists fall in love with their ideas all the time...for me, that was probably the most surprising thing about becoming a working scientist.

When I hear a lot of emotion in a scientific discussion, I become highly skeptical of the motives of the speaker.
 
  • #13


Evo said:
Which would fall into the category of "moral panic" as seen in the popular media?

Which side of the media?

The Fox side?

Or the other side.

I don't know much about AGW, but I know it when I see it.
 
  • #14


LowlyPion said:
Which side of the media?

The Fox side?

Or the other side.
I don't listen to Fox, so I guess the rest of the media.

I don't know much about AGW, but I know it when I see it.
:rofl: I'm middle of the fence and I admit that I do get turned off by extreme reactions. If you're right, you shouldn't go crazy when someone challenges your belief. Both sides are guilty. You'd think that you were attacking someone's religion instead of looking at data. People that are highly intelligent and that I respect get so crazy about this subject that I just can't comprehend what gets into them.
 
  • #15


skeptic2 said:
Fortunately during the invasion of Iraq I had access to foreign newscasts. They presented both the US side of the invasion along with the Iraqi side by interviewing civilians who had been injured or who had lost family members. The contrast to US newscasts was remarkable.

Before then I never thought I would see the American press allow themselves to be controlled by the government as to content. I also couldn't believe the prohibition on photographing soldiers' caskets was never challenged on 1st Amendment, freedom of the press grounds.



Overly dramatic? I don't think so. What comes after government control of the press - unauthorized wiretaps, spying on peace organizations, surreptitious searching of people's homes, library and bank records?

A Presidential "Task Force" to fix the Big 3 and White House supervision of the Census?
 
  • #16


Evo said:
So which statement would you agree with?

1)The majority of the world's population has no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but believe in global warming without understanding anything about it.

2)The majority of the world's population has no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but disbelieve in global warming without understanding anything about it.

Which would fall into the category of "moral panic" as seen in the popular media?

Part of the problem is that everyone can see changes...more rain in the winter (except this year), hurricanes, lot's of things in Gore's movie...and let's not forget smog...nobody wants pollution.

Then, we've all been told to do our part, whatever we can...my family has been recycling and caring for a section of highway for a few years now...we have fuel efficient cars and drive under the spped limit as a rule. But let's face it...that's not enough.

The reality is this..nothing significant will happen until someone(s) makes a lot of money.

Nobody can argue that solar and wind don't make sense...nuclear, natual gas and clean coal are a more difficult sale. I want a clean electric car...but not if electric costs the same as gas...I want to do the right thing AND save money...win -win.

Somehow I don't think t will work that way though.
 
  • #17


Evo said:
So which statement would you agree with?

1)The majority of the world's population has no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but believe in global warming without understanding anything about it.

2)The majority of the world's population has no formal training in weather modeling and climate forecasting, but disbelieve in global warming without understanding anything about it.

Which would fall into the category of "moral panic" as seen in the popular media?

i love you
 
  • #18


lisab said:
...For example, remember the ramp-up to the Iraq war? Reaction to any sort of opposition was fierce and highly emotional. It wasn’t uncommon to hear people attacked as being unpatriotic, either implied or explicit, until any opposition became completely muted. The closest term I can find for this phenomenon is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic" .

Shouldn’t scientists be more aware than lay people at recognizing when we’re experiencing a moral panic? Does being trained as a scientist make you more capable of thinking your way out of a moral panic, despite the strong emotional response that accompanies it?

So would you think that scientists recognise moral panic here?

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

but the history is just repeating:

wcAy4sOcS5M[/youtube] Dr. Baliunas on Weather Cooking
 
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  • #19


Andre said:
So would you think that scientists recognise moral panic http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TwentyYearsLater_20080623.pdf" ?

Heh, that scientist surely didn't.
 
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  • #20


So does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with someone who is emotionally attached to their point of view?
 
  • #21


Humor them.
 
  • #22


lisab said:
So does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with someone who is emotionally attached to their point of view?
It's not easy, especially if their sources of information are chosen because they support their point of view. It's all too easy for someone with an entrenched point of view to find sources that reinforce their beliefs. Then, ignoring all other evidence to the contrary, they can go on their merry way, secure in the knowledge that they are "right". You can point out evidence that supports an alternate point of view, but they may get pretty emotional with you if they feel that their beliefs are being challenged.
 
  • #23


lisab said:
So does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with someone who is emotionally attached to their point of view?

Would be getting even harder with the rise of scientific authoritarianism.
 
  • #24


Andre said:
Would be getting even harder with the rise of scientific authoritarianism.
You understand that asserting a "rise in scientific authoritarianism" is claiming the existence of a widespread phenomenon, a claim that can not be anywhere near sufficiently supported by citing one example. I could similarly cite a half dozen blogs and forum posts (I'm sure you've seen more of them than I have) which purport to refute peer-reviewed work by using grossly unscientific methods, yet win the applause of hordes of lay readers, to make a case for a rebellion against scientific rigor. And my method would be just as flawed.

There is a scientific way to extract a signal out of noisy data and a naive way to do it.
 
  • #25


lisab said:
So does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with someone who is emotionally attached to their point of view?

Try to find common ground...something you can agree on and work from a starting point of mutual respect.

Keep the discussion focused on the topic...not the person.

Ask questions that will help you understand their point of view...hopefully they will do the same. If not, you'll have a better understanding of their position and you can remain cordial.
 
  • #26


well it depends on the Scientific community's willingness to consider what is presented.

If lies and propaganda pollute our media - would we be more or less willing to seek out the truth?

I couldn't believe the brash extent of McCarthyism and the rest of the world's blind acceptance to avoid false labeling.

Also there has to be a line drawn between what's shown on the media and what's actually happening. Media bias was exponential during the last 8 years. Some saw Fox news as a channel for made up hogwash and scare tactics, others believed it more than the bible. How often do we question the news?

For example
Heath Ledger overdosed on drugs
Heath Ledger abused prescription medication
Heath Ledger took a highly frowned upon combination of depression medication

So when do believe and stop believing the news? Some of us, regardless of educational background would believe what we're told. Some would actually question it. However most would take it as it is and couldn't be bothered to seek out the validity of what is being present.
 
  • #27


lisab said:
So does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with someone who is emotionally attached to their point of view?

It depends on the person. But a generalized 9 step program could be given.

1. Find a comfortable time and place for a civilized debate
2. Establish facts that both sides can agree with
3. Offer pastries and refreshments
4. Start a logical conclusion process and advance slowly (add jokes to conversation when appropriate)
5. Based on background research of the person offer chocolates or other sweets
6. Make a logical conclusion based on the facts
7. Offer your shoulder, if you are right (opponent can't argue against it)
8. If you are wrong, thank for the lovely time spent with him/her and review your own point of view.
9. The remaining chocolates are reserved for the loser.
 
  • #28


Another example http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/3/6/95445/42836/

Note how the autor focusses on the people (the http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/online/sociol318/week4.html ) rather than the science:

But seriously, who are these people and should we rely on their views?...

how is that for..
the intensity of feeling expressed by a large number of people about a specific group of people who appear to threaten the social order at a given time.

Problem of course is the way the science is going right now:

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=297387

You can't really discuss that instead.
 
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  • #29


Andre said:
Another example http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/3/6/95445/42836/

Note how the autor focusses on the people (the http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/online/sociol318/week4.html ) rather than the science:



how is that for..

Problem of course is the way the science is going right now:

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=297387

You can't really discuss that instead.

From the "folk devils" link...

Cohen argues that the exaggeration and distortion of truth by the mass media is a significant characteristic of a moral panic.

In my experience, this is true. The mass media love drama. And especially with respect to science reporting in the media, which I find to be dismal.
 
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  • #32


Would "moral panic" be more akin to "moralistic panic" or "panic over morals"?
 
  • #33
http://www.infowars.com/a-heated-exchange-al-gore-confronts-his-critics/ works for me but did I hear 3000 scientists? What was the http://www.sciencealert.com.au/opinions/20081007-17643.html again?

The numbers of scientist reviewers involved in WG I is actually less than a quarter of the whole, a little more than 600 in total. The other 1900 reviewers assessed the other working group reports. They had nothing to say about the causes of climate change or its future trajectory.
(...)
A total of 308 reviewers commented on the SOR, but only 32 reviewers commented on more than three chapters and only five reviewers commented on all 11 chapters of the report.
(...)
Compounding this is the fact that IPCC editors could, and often did, ignore reviewers’ comments. Some editor responses were banal and others showed inconsistencies with other comments.
(...)
An example of rampant misrepresentation of IPCC reports is the frequent assertion that “hundreds of IPCC scientists” are known to support the following statement, arguably the most important of the WG I report, namely “Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years”.

In total, only 62 scientists reviewed the chapter in which this statement appears, the critical chapter 9, “Understanding and Attributing Climate Change”. Of the comments received from the 62 reviewers of this critical chapter, almost 60 per cent of them were rejected by IPCC editors. And of the 62 expert reviewers of this chapter, 55 had serious vested interest, leaving only seven expert reviewers who appear impartial.
(...)
Determining the level of support expressed by reviewers’ comments is subjective but a slightly generous evaluation indicates that just five reviewers endorsed the crucial ninth chapter. Four had vested interests and the other made only a single comment for the entire 11-chapter report. The claim that 2500 independent scientist reviewers agreed with this, the most important statement of the UN climate reports released this year, or any other statement in the UN climate reports, is nonsense.
lisab said:
Cohen argues that the exaggeration and distortion of truth by the mass media is a significant characteristic of a moral panic.
 
  • #34


Ethical Panic.
 

1. How can reasoning help us out of moral panic?

Reasoning allows us to critically analyze and evaluate the situation at hand, rather than being driven solely by emotions and fear. By using logic and evidence, we can better understand the root causes of the panic and come up with effective solutions.

2. What is the role of scientific research in reasoning our way out of moral panic?

Scientific research provides us with objective data and information, which can help us make informed decisions and challenge irrational beliefs. It can also help us identify patterns and trends, and guide us towards evidence-based solutions.

3. How can we use reasoning to address the underlying issues of moral panic?

Reasoning allows us to dig deeper and identify the root causes of moral panic, such as misinformation, societal biases, or systemic problems. By addressing these underlying issues, we can prevent future panics from occurring.

4. Can reasoning be used to calm down individuals or groups caught in moral panic?

Yes, reasoning can be a powerful tool in calming down individuals or groups caught in moral panic. By providing them with factual information and helping them understand the situation rationally, we can help alleviate their fears and anxieties.

5. How can we promote critical thinking and reasoning to prevent moral panic?

We can promote critical thinking and reasoning by educating individuals on how to evaluate information and evidence, encouraging open-mindedness and skepticism, and promoting a culture of fact-checking and critical analysis. This can help prevent the spread of misinformation and reduce the likelihood of moral panic.

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