So one of my New Year's resolutions was to get a better handle on why so
many people so vehemently think global warming is a hoax perpetrated by a
conspiracy of unscrupulous scientists. I'm still a long way from that, but
we recently discovered Netflix delivered through Wii and I just had to share
a few comments on two movies we recently watched.
"Dinosaurs or Dragons" The thesis of this documentary is essentially that
because 'every' culture on earth has legends about dragons then they must
have existed, but ancient peoples werent that bright and they actually saw
dinosaurs, not dragons, which of course proves that dinosaurs and people
co-existed and that the earth must only be 6000 years old, give or take.
I'm oversimplifying here a bit, but what this suggests to me is that people
will believe anything they think good for them, and use whatever means or
logic they feel appropriate to justify it. But given how whacky so many
people are and that they are more or less built just like me, should I
really trust that I follow the scientific method because this is the only
honorable way to support an argument, or do I do it because someone I
respected did it that way, or because at least someone pats me on the back
once in a while, or because it's a fun game, or because it's something that
sets me apart from wingnuts of other flavors, or because it's an easy ladder
to climb, or because my paycheck depends on it, or because the chicks dig
it, etc. That is, are my reasons for choosing my end goal (nominally
pursuit of the truth, practically what makes me feel like I'm fighting on
the right side) than other people's reasons for acting as irrationally as
they seem to me (nominally pursuit of the truth, practically what makes them
feel like they're fighting on the right side)? That is, do my actions
follow my philosophy, or does my philosophy follow my actions? And, if the
former, did I really follow my own philosophy when choosing my philosophy?
It seems to me that I'm doing it for rational reasons, but can I really
disprove the alternatives?
"9 Songs" This BAS recruiting film was brilliant in the way it spiced up a
plotless porn video with somewhat authentic antarctic glaciology*. What I
found brilliant about it was that it became clear to me that if you can mix
porn and glaciology successfully, then what cant you mix glaciology with?
That is, while the true documentary style has its place, we probably
shouldnt be limiting ourselves to just that format because it simply cant
compete for attention compared to nipples available elsewhere. Or in other
words, to transmit a message successfully requires that someone hears it, so
why not mix it with as many messages as possible, or at least with as many
of our natural attractions as possible? The best example I know of an
individual scientist tailoring his message to a highly competitive market is
Kenji's Tunnel Man series (search 'tunnelman' in YouTube), something which
in my mind defines off-the-hook outreach. The idea is to find common ground
first, then slip in some differences (or new information) once some trust is
built rather than to charge in head down and thereby limit our audience to
the choir. I guess I'm just wondering, given the most recent Gallup polls
on the public belief in global warming, what can we do to reach more
audiences, whether they're into pokeman or porn, dinosaurs or dragons?
If anyone has suggestions for good Netflix movies along the lines of 'why do
people believe such whacky things' or examples of glaciology targeting
subcultures, please dont hesitate to pass me some links, Netflix via Wii and
dark winters are a perfect match.
* OK, OK, I have no idea if BAS was behind this film or not. But I do
think it would make a great recruiting film. Though how they would convince
people to leave home for the field might be problematic... In any case,
when you search 'glaciologist' in Neflix, this all that comes up, so someone
deserves credit for that.
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