Reasoning your way out of moral panic

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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" [Broken]”.

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
turbo
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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" [Broken]”.

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
CRGreathouse
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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
Ivan Seeking
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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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LowlyPion
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At least there has been no moral panic in the AGW discussion.
 
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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.

"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
Evo
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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
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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
Ivan Seeking
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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
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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
Evo
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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
lisab
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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
LowlyPion
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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
Evo
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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
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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
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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
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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
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...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" [Broken].

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

Heh, that scientist surely didn't.
 
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  • #20
lisab
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So does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with someone who is emotionally attached to their point of view?
 
  • #21
LowlyPion
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Humor them.
 
  • #22
turbo
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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.
 
  • #24
Gokul43201
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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
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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.
 

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