What I would say to creationists if I was more of a dick

Remember… You may not be able to “fix” stupid, but you sure can hit it with a bat until you feel better.

The title says it all, really. This is what I would say to creationists if I were more of a dick. I would say it to their faces, email it to them, drop it on every comment on every blog. Yet, alas, my confidence wanes and I simply cannot bring myself to be this impolite in person. I have a particular standard to uphold; one that avoids pointless personal attacks, egregious insults, or foul-mouthed idiocy of my own. I want to avoid being that snooty asshole who shouts and screams and makes witty but unfortunately content-free remarks, even if it gets me the adoration of the “evolutionists” and “atheistists” around me. Okay, so I’m occasionally snide-as-all-fuck, but I try to at least keep it on topic.

But… a constant barrage of insults, bad arguments, accusations of endorsing racism and outright absurd remarks that cease to even begin to understand the simplest basic fundamentals of science itself, all takes its toll. One can snap. I apologise if any of this sounds exceptionally snooty to non-creationists, but frankly that’s the effect I’m after. Here, I have a safe space to vent. So, I am putting my “dick cap” on; a whopping great big 12 inch dildo is being strapped on to my head and it’s ready to fuck. If you’re easily offended, please don’t read this and then complain. Don’t be that much of an idiot, I beg of you. You have been warned.

(As this is still ticking over with quite a lot of Facebook/Google+ views, I want to drop a memo that there’s a follow up post that answers most points that have been raised and save you the trouble of looking like an idiot in a comments section somewhere)

Here it is.


Dear Creationists,

You are stupid.

Genuinely stupid.

By every conceivable metric that we can assess intelligence, intellect, mental ability, reasoning and sense, you’re stupid. Even the very ability to string words together in coherent ways, you’re stupid. You fail at all of this. You are fucking stupid. There is no way of getting out of this accusation; it is as close to an absolute, proven fact, that an honest assessment of the situation can get.

Not ignorant; no, that’s something else. Ignorance is merely the lack of knowledge. That’s fine. I cannot blame someone for merely not knowing some random piece of shit, or not being exposed to information. You don’t get a choice in ignorance and merely not knowing. For a start, you’re born ignorant of everything in the entire world. New born babies don’t even know what things in the world are part of their own fucking bodies and what things aren’t – they really do have to learn this for themselves. So, no, you’re not just ignorant because if you were, I wouldn’t be here writing this.

No, this is something fucking different, far fucking worse. What you stand not only accused of, but proven guilty of, shits and pisses all over the innocence of simple ignorance and goes into the dark territory of deceit and fucking lies. This is wilful ignorance. This is prideful ignorance. You take your fucking ignorance and wave it around at every opportunity to say “hey, look at me, I’m so fucking stupid” and expect people to give you some kind of shit-hot respect for it.

Do I want to blame you for it? When your elders, and priests, and preachers, and the unqualified crank pseudo-scientific quasi-philosophers they get to back them up, have all conspired to brainwash you into thinking this is a good thing? Yes, I fucking do. You have made a choice to stay ignorant, and be happy with it. You’re a fucking idiot, and you damn well know it.  You’re probably a right-wing homophobic little shit as well, so probably think being gay is a choice. So here’s one for you; being a fucking fruit-loop imbecile is a choice, a choice you made when you decided that thinking was too much fucking effort and just let some cockend from Answers in Genesis do it for you.

"We don't see ants coming out of peanut butter, therefore evolution is wrong." - you're a bunch of fucking idiots.

“I tried opening this peanut butter jar, and I accidentally got my penis trapped in a lettuce instead.”

You know it. You know it, and you Just. Don’t. Fucking. Care.

Why do I bother with you? Just why? Why do I drag myself down to that sort of level? I continually drag myself down to the level of creationist cock-ends but just can’t figure out why.

Let’s look at some clear facts here.

I have a fucking masters degree. I took four years out of my life learning quantum mechanics; management; nuclear physics; organic, inorganic, analytical, green, environmental, atmospheric chemistry; mathematics; and a fuck-ton of life skills and problem solving skills possessed by a tiny fraction of people. Oh yes, now that’s some fucking catharsis right there.

I can write, I can draw, I can play and compose music, and I can program a computer to do a little fucking jig.  Importantly, I know the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re” – and fuck knows that’s a rare skill. I can do most of that without getting my cock trapped in a blender, too. I’m even nice on occasion and, if I try, even likeable. I’m just going to blow a trumpet and say I have most talents bar singing (le sigh).

I wrote a whopping four-hundred-fucking-page book to get a doctorate. It’s sat there on a table right now, all bound and shiny with gold letters and my name on it, looking thick enough to bludgeon someone to death with. To get that far, I was locked in a room with two experts who read it and who spent nearly three hours ripping it to shreds and finding any excuse they could not to give the final award to me. At the end of it all, half a dozen people with the same level of qualification and beyond have all conspired to say “you’re good enough to be one of us”. I fucking starved. I fucking wrote ’til I dropped. I stayed up late and got up early. All to get that. And as blasé and modest as I try to come across in public, I wouldn’t have done any of that if I didn’t think it was all worth it.

And I’ve taught students. People even better than me, who have fought their way through the same shit and more, have said I’m good enough to be their proxy or their replacement to teach the next generation. I’m actively passing on knowledge, whether established or cutting edge, to students who one day will grow up to be the next me. Some days I hate those little shits, but to be fair to them, one day a good chunk of them will also be locked in that room with a pair of experts, shitting themselves and wanting to all go away. They will come out of it alive, as One Of Us, and they will fucking well deserve every bit of it. I am a cog in that academic and scientific machine, and damn well proud of it.

In short, I’m smart. I’m intelligent. I’m rational. I’m reasonable. I’m “brainy” as fuck as some might want to put it and have the paper to prove it. By every conceivable metric, I am at the top of the grey matter tree. In pleasant company, of course, but it’s still spacious at the top. If I believed in the absoluteness of the IQ test, I’d be bragging my ass off about being in the 98th percentile (I dunno, actually, last time I took one I was, like, 15 – who gives  a shit?).

That’s me.

"There are no transitional forms. There are no transitional forms. There are no transitional forms." - This is the face of stupidity, the kind of stupidity there is no excuse for outside of having your brain removed.

“There are no transitional forms. There are no transitional forms. There are no transitional forms.” – This is the face of stupidity, the kind of stupidity there is no excuse for outside of having your brain removed.

You, however, as someone who thinks the planet magically poofed into existence 6,000 fucking years ago, you’re at the bottom of that tree. Right down there in the grim dark bottom amongst the detritus, the worms and things that couldn’t even pull on a fucking pair of trousers without falling arse-over-tit to the floor. I may well be in the 98th percentile or wherever, but you, you dumb fuck, wouldn’t even know what “percentile” means without Google – which, by the way, has been built by the kind of people who know what “percentile” means without using Google. Because they had to have some way of knowing what it meant before they fucking built the thing – since you, you dumbfuck imbecile, need every little fucking thing explained to you in small words that don’t tax your brain too hard. Got that one? Need it dumbed down further? Fuck off.

You, because you manage to be mentally retarded in such a way that it’s actually offensive to those with genuine learning difficulties, couldn’t fucking understand the mere basics of anything I could possibly teach you about anything. Chemistry, biology or physics; it’d be all like fucking magic to you, and all the research and understanding would be like something that just happens to other people. Even the fucking basics of logic, or language, or how to frame an argument, or what evidence is, or why it’s important, or how science even works would be something beyond your tiny brain to fathom for even a second. Hell, the hurdles I would have to leap just to get you people to the point of discussing actual evolutionary biology, or actual geology, or actual radiometric dating would require me to type thousands of words, spend months of my life and back-up to the basics of how if you have two beans and then two more beans you have “some beans”. We’re talking some seriously fucking basic shit, here, that I’d have to cover first.

"The Grand Canyon could have formed in about five minutes" - in your fantasy world were physics doesn't exist.

“The Grand Canyon could have formed in about five minutes” – in your fantasy world were physics doesn’t exist.

And after all that effort and time and even sincere attempts to get your fucking brain to learn something, it still wouldn’t be worth it. You would ignore it anyway. You’d just let it go in one ear and out of the fucking other as if the squishy shit between them that others take for granted was just a gloopy transparent mess for you. You wouldn’t even address the fucking basics of what I could tell you. I could try to exemplify every nuance, meaning and deconstruction of, say, the phrase “evolution is a religion”, and you’d zone out as soon as I broke into fucking polysyllabic words and then, just as a little bit of drool came out, you’d say “but evolution is just a religion”. It’s all just fucking voodoo shit to you, something you’re actively scared of and don’t want to understand. You’ve rendered yourself physically incapable of understanding and basic comprehension and so I find myself almost constantly, every time I see one of you dumb shits opening your fucking mouths, struggling not to outright scream from the rooftops shouting “Fuck. This. Shit!”. Every single word in this extensive rant has been compressed in my head into a single thought; a thought that fires in my brain every time I see you slack-jawed fuck-tards speak, or type, or even making a motion to open your mouths or put fingers to a keyboard.

You sit and worship people like Kent Hovind, whose entire thesis wouldn’t even count as a winning entry in NaNoWriMo (which requires 50,000 words in a month) and has a Flesch reading age of a pre-teen (by contrast, the Flesch-Kincade reading complexity for my own thesis goes to the part of the scale where “reading age” stops being a meaningful concept, and a single chapter is larger than Kent Hovind’s entire derp-fest, and there’s fucking diagrams to boot – fucking suck it). Or you shout “amen” after every little tiny piece of faeces that oozes out of the mouth of Ray Comfort – a man, lest we forget, who thinks the word “bibliophile” is a fucking insult derived from “paedophile”. These aren’t just people amongst your ranks, these are your fucking experts. Your fucking experts can’t even wrap their heads around the simple shit understood by even the amateurish of Internet Atheists or pop-science enthusiasts. Hell, I know people who would faint at the sight of an integral, but hey, that shit ain’t for everyone and they’re still fucking smarter than you, since they’re not so stupid as to think evolution requires goldfish giving birth to zebras.

"Hello, my name is Kent Hovind." - Opening sentence of Kent Hovind's "doctoral" dissertation. "The C-H and H-H bonds are two of the most neglected structures in classical chemistry, despite the fact that the C--H bond is ubiquitous in organic compounds and dihydrogen is one of the most common substances in the universe" - the opening sentence of mine.

“Hello, my name is Kent Hovind.” – Opening sentence of Kent Hovind’s doctoral dissertation.
“The C-H and H-H bonds are two of the most neglected structures in classical chemistry, despite the fact that the C-H bond is ubiquitous in organic compounds and dihydrogen is one of the most common substances in the universe” – the opening sentence of mine.

You repeat mantras that have been refuted countless times. “Evolution is a religion!” “How do you know? Were you there?” “If we evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” What the fuck do these things even mean? Really, it proves nothing. I means nothing. It’s bollocks, the lot of it.

Even if you ever get around to addressing any of the countless refutations to this simplistic fucking bullshit, all you can ever come up with is restating the point again, or whining about some other pathetic and irrelevant detail, or – and with fucking depressing regularity – spouting some bullshit about how people like me are suppressing your freedom. You know what? Go fucking jump off a bridge, and test your freedom to not believe in gravity. Literally, go do that now. I’ll wait.

I’m not even going to bother with refuting any examples here or going into specifics about evolution myself. I’m breaking plenty of my usual rules about dealing with you stupid-as-fuck individuals already, so I’m going to break another and tell you to do your own simple cursory fucking research on this. Not that you’d manage that, as anything you ever cite must always come from an approved source like “CreationWiki” – a site, may I add, that actively makes a point, and a proud point at that, of stifling any potential disagreement by not allowing any edit that is “pro” evolution. Do you see that bullshit on skeptic or “evolutionist” websites?

Target demographic; white Christian males, somewhere between the ages of 35 and 42.

Target demographic; white Christian males, somewhere between the ages of 35 and 42.

No. You fucking don’t.

You want to know why? Because we want the world to see the best you dumb-fucktarded intellectual rejects have come up with, in all their mundanely pathetic glory, just so everyone can see how fucking terrible each and every one of your so-called “arguments” are. Sometimes, we don’t even bother responding, we just quote you verbatim (that means “unaltered” (which means “we didn’t change it” (ooh, look, nested parentheses (that means “brackets”) I bet that’s blown your tiny fucking mind))) because even casual scrutiny makes your points look terrible; and frankly, a full refutation just isn’t worth the fucking effort. Not because we can’t, but because – as I said above – I’d practically have to teach you the English Fucking Language from scratch to point out the flaws.

You, who thinks a fucking single man and rib-clone woman and their two sons populated the entire earth without any freaking-frakking-fucking incest occurring because “hey, don’t ask awkward questions”, hold in high regard people who aren’t even worthy of pissing in the academic shadow of people like me. So where does that place you in that pecking order? You intentionally refuse to understand simple things; like how irrelevant evolution by natural selection is to abiogenesis; like the fact that “macro” and “micro” evolution are just things you made up (at least in the way you morons use those terms); or like how natural selection has nothing at all to do with eugenics. It’s all OH-YOUR-FUCKING-GOD-IT’S-HITLER all the fucking time. I mean, seriously, you intentionally avoid learning. You avoid understanding. You actively train yourself to not understand and you fucking revel in all this. You memorise your silly little one-sentence replies that mean sweet fuck all, and, by some magic, expect educated people like me to bow down to your right of free expression; well this here is my “free expression” in response you fucking lunatic, you’ve damn well driven me to it over the years.

You have no intellectual rights to this “debate” at all because you cannot even speak the language it requires. Even worse, you seem to think this actually qualifies you more.

How the fuck does that logic work?

"Have you ever told a lie?" - evidently selectively editing your interviews, re-recording questions to replace the context of the answers, or pretending that your most embarrassing moment had "always" been satire really, doesn't count.

“Have you ever told a lie?” – selectively editing your interviews, re-recording questions to replace the context of the answers, or pretending that your most embarrassing moment had “always” been satire really, doesn’t count.

Hint; it fucking doesn’t. It never will.

Get with the fucking programme already; if you cannot comprehend basic facts, you cannot expect to be invited to the debating table as an equal. It’s like you’re coming into a boardroom, full of people with projections and presentations and graphs and calculations, and then you start smearing the table in bullshit (actual shit, actual bull’s shit) and rolling around in it, flinging it at people, painting the window with it, flailing your arms up and down to make a little bullshit angel in the faeces-strewn floor, and then standing up to shout “Ta-da! Give me a Nobel Prize”.  You’re not my academic equal. In terms of intelligence and knowledge you’re fucking scum rotting at the bottom of a dark and forgotten barrel while I’m basking in the sun. I would love, genuinely love, to help raise you up to being on my level. I would love it. But you wouldn’t listen. That’s not really a prediction, it’s experience. I’ve seen you fucks talk under a Ray Comfort Facebook update. You just don’t listen. It’s a fact. I would tell you to read X, Y and Z. Hell, I’d even write my own summary of X, Y and Z, but you wouldn’t listen or even care. It would fall on intentionally deaf ears. As I said earlier, you’re not merely ignorant, you’re fucking wilfully ignorant.

Le sigh

But you know what the worst thing is?

The worst part is that some creationist out there, probably you because it’s being addressed to you, is probably going to find this rant and say “oh look at the little evolutionist, running out of points and resorting to insults”. Well fuck off.  Fuck the fuck off. Fucking fuck the fucking fuck off. Lube up some vegetables in your own bullshit and cram it. You think this is my attempt to prove you wrong?

No. Not at all.

It's funny because it's true.

It’s funny because it’s true.

This is my attempt to insult you.

This is my attempt to degrade and belittle you, your beliefs and your reasons all in one. They’ve already been shown to be wrong. I don’t need to add to that. It’s done, it’s dusted – there is no fucking debate you morons. The world ain’t 6,000 years old, women weren’t made from ribs, dinosaurs didn’t go onto a big boat to escape a flood, and natural selection doesn’t mean bacteria turning into chickens in a Petri dish overnight so that Hitler could kill Jews. You lost this good and hard the day science started digging through the geological column. If you want to complain that I’ve ran out of legitimate responses by writing this, then that just proves every single point that I’m making in this profanity ridden rant; that you don’t fucking listen, and are even proud of the fact that you’ve left yourself bereft of the ability to do so.

You’re not stupid because you believe the world appeared out of nowhere sometime more recently than the domestication of the dog – and no, I’m not going to tentatively say something like “evidence suggests that” it’s more recent than the domestication of the dog. No, it’s a Fucking Fact that the dog became domesticated in the tens of thousands of years ago. I don’t really give much of a shit that you believe it, that doesn’t concern me. You’re a fucking shit-faced idiot because of why you believe it. If you haven’t got the gist of this already; you’re proud of being stupid, you actively refuse to learn, you don’t examine anything critically, you fall for any piece-of-shit “evidence” your masters tell you. You don’t question them. You don’t realise they’re just out there wanting to keep you stupid, to keep you ignorant and to keep you not wanting to learn about the universe from sources that actually took the time to look at the universe. They want to keep you that way because you buy into their shit, with money. Your actual hard-earned money. You actually value these people with your working time. You go out, slog away in some backwater burger-flipping hell hole and actually give part of your monetary reward to people who want to keep you stupid. That’s galling to the rest of us who have a working and fully functioning brain that we deign to actually use.

You pay them. You donate to them. You buy their books and DVDs that they produce for fuck-all money and sell at a premium. Seriously, how much money does it cost Ray Comfort to show up to a college campus with a cheap camcorder to make one of his derp fests? Fuck all. Yet you’ll pay him $15 plus postage for the privilege of sucking his cock and reassuring yourselves over it – meanwhile he practically fucking swims in cash. Your cash. And it’ll keep going because he wants you to be stupid. Follow the fucking money, right? It’s in their best interests to trick and con you’ wake the fuck up to it.

You show this crap to your kids so they grow up stupid and buy more DVDs and books by the Comforts and the Hovinds and the Hams and the Gishes of this world. You show them Jesus riding a fucking dinosaur and pictures of Noah mucking out a boat that’s chock-full of animals that somehow managed to survive and reproduce to form every living thing we see on the planet in a geological blink of an eye (breathe…) and you think this is right? You don’t think this is the most ridiculous idea in the world? If it wasn’t for the coincidental fact that you’re backed by a non-falsifiable belief shared by a significant proportion of the population, you would actually be declared clinically insane. No fucking joke here, there are actually people with more coherent and rational beliefs in their head being secured in mental health wards.

Despite being as embedded as you possibly can in the evidence for it, you don’t realise that there’s an entire industry that makes a fortune from retarding your ability to think. You accept this, and refuse to actually exercise your innate abilities to think, question and explore so long as you say the magic words “but I am thinking, questioning and exploring”. No you’re fucking not. If you were, you’d be in my position. You, too, would find yourself locked in a room, actively battling and fighting with people tearing your ideas apart and demanding that you defend them and stand by them and justify every single thing you say. But you’re not. You never will be. Though, let’s be fair to the non-doctorate holding, non-creationists reading this for a brief moment; you don’t even have to be in that position of getting an academic qualification, you just want to be in the position where you’re willing to explore, and learn, and discuss and adapt. You don’t have to have any pieces of paper to be my equal; you just have to have the curiosity and a bit of genuine passion for learning. That alone more than qualifies you.

"The Tyrannosaurus Rex was created to eat plants" - the only reason AiG employs Paul Taylor is because his vaguely English accent makes him sound sophisticated next to Eric Hovind. It can't possibly because he has a functioning cortext.

“The Tyrannosaurus Rex was created to eat plants” – the only reason Creation Today employs Paul Taylor is because his vaguely English accent makes him sound sophisticated next to Eric Hovind. It can’t possibly because he has a functioning cortex.

Creationists, on the other hand, they refuse even that… and worse they think it’s a good thing.

There are a lot of people I think are stupid. Really fucking stupid. I mean, you might think it’s a long way down to the shops, but that’s peanuts compared to this stupid. There are people who think the World Trade Centre wasn’t hit by planes, but by holograms. There are people who think the skies are filled with mind-altering chemicals that can be dispersed – from miles away, no less – by spraying vinegar in the air. There are people who think we’re not being faced with a potential disaster of epic proportions because of how our society has polluted the planet. There are people who think vaccines cause autism and will find any old piece-of-shit evidence to prove it no matter how many times even the mere correlation is disproved. There is serious fucking stupid out there in the wide, dark and idiotic world.

But creationism is something else. It has that industry supporting it and perpetuating it, and it has people who buy into it so willingly. And you, because you think that everything came from nothing in a fucking click of a magic man’s fingers, are part of this. You’re out there derping on daily about something that we, using the entire knowledge collectively gathered by the human race, know is a lie. Honestly, though, you probably think it’s a lie too – but you’re both too damn proud of yourself and too damn proud of your stupidity to admit it. That’s your problem. It’s not about fossils, or genetics, or radiometric dating, it’s about your unwillingness to learn and better yourself. And it always will be.

In conclusion. Fuck you. Go fuck yourself. And may the god you believe in have mercy on your pathetic, idiotic, morally and intellectually bankrupt soul.

Advertisements

Fact vs opinion

Suppose I was to say to you “Hey, I’ve got a secret! Want to hear it?”

Oh, Christing hellfuck, he’s about to make a bloody point again… you’d probably think. You roll your eyes and wait for it. So I lean in close to tell you, and say: “I have a dragon in my garage.”

“Yeah, sure.” some of you might think. “This is just one of those silly little word play things where it’s a Komodo dragon or the make of a car that’s called a ‘dragon’ or some shitty cop-out like that.” But I assure you, that’s not the case. Not at all. This is a real live beast of myth, legend, and that cool bit of Sucker Punch. It’s a fire-breathing, badass motherfucker. With bizarrely mammalian features for a flying reptile.

Others might say “look, I’ve read my Carl Sagan, too. Stop stealing his bit. Ass.” But just bear with me for this. The garage-dwelling dragon is a powerful point to make. It’s one of those analogies that’s really worth grasping by the balls. Hard.

The more observant may remark that, in fact, I live in a tiny flat and don’t drive, so don’t even have a garage to store a dragon in, so I’m obviously bullshitting you. This is true, good spot. Here’s the interesting twist on that bit, though: I’m not going to ask you to assume, for the sake of argument, that I do own a garage. Know full-well that I do not, nor have I ever, owned, rented, exchanged money or favours (sexual or otherwise) for, a room that could be conceivably called a “garage” by the majority of the English-speaking population, in which one could potentially store a vehicle powered by the principles of the internal combustion engine. Yes, I’m being that specific to ward off any suggestions of fancy wordplay. Allow me to even clarify with a pretty picture:

Boris_1

So, the challenge is this: evaluate the accuracy and truth value of the statement “I own a dragon, and I keep it in my garage.”

Now, you’d probably say I was wrong. Or that I was mistaken in some way. Or, frankly, that this statement is as close to Zero in truth value as it’s possible to get without trying to breed Bayesian statistics with Knuth’s up-arrow notation. Things that are more likely to be true – indeed, statements that probably must be true in order for me to own a dragon – include the possibility that your senses are deceiving you and you’re actually in an elaborate computer simulated hoax of my design, and that in the real reality you’re a womble.

In short, you would think I was crazy to assert ownership of such a creature.

But what if I preceded it with “I think that…” or “in my opinion…”? Suppose instead of being so up-front about it, I hedge my bets on factual accuracy instead suggest “I think that I have a dragon in my garage and that’s my opinion”. What then?

You clearly still wouldn’t think I was right. You wouldn’t think my “opinion” or “thought” was valid. Perhaps (well, probably) you would tut, nod, and know inside that I was wrong and just be too damn polite about it. But you definitely wouldn’t concede the truth value of the statement. That would still be close to Zero. After all, you know fine well that I don’t even own a fucking garage to keep the damn thing in. You know for a fact that this isn’t even a debate worth having.

If you didn’t think that, then you’d have to almost certainly evaluate your views on mental health. Not just with respect to those institutionalised because they’re under the impression that they’re dead, but whether it’s right to treat people with extreme depression. As, wouldn’t you agree, they also posses the perfectly valid opinion is that they’re worthless, and that they should kill themselves right now as the world would be better off without them. You’d almost certainly want to reconsider your respect for the opinion (Godwin Alert!) Adolf Hitler and Company had of Jews and disabled people, and their opinion that the world would be better off without them.

The reason you’d still assume I was mad to say that I thought I owned a garage-dwelling dragon, and not immediately bow down in reverence to my opinion on the matter, is that you’d recognise that simply adding “I think” didn’t really change what I was saying. What I’m asserting is true about the world is no different thanks to the words “I think that” stuck in front.

Simply stating “I own a dragon” already makes the presumption that I think I own one, and that I hold the belief in my head that I do. Otherwise I simply wouldn’t say it in the first place.

It’s my opinion that the sky is blue in the day time (although tending towards a reddish-orange at sunset/sunrise), and it’s certainly my belief that the sky is blue. I act according to that belief, and expect the world to also function accordingly; for example, in having photographs of a clear daytime sky in which it is clearly a light shade of blue. Should the sky appear green and stripy, or develop pink polka dots one day, I will act in a most surprised fashion at the sudden clash of belief and reality. No one points out that this sort of thing is their belief, thought or opinion, however, simply because such a thing is hardly controversial. It doesn’t need stating that you posses this as a “belief”, even though you do posses a belief. A “belief”, in this case, being any at-least-vaguely-coherent set of thoughts in your head.

Yet so often you might see someone state an opinion, and have it respected even though it’s clearly as disprovable as it was as if it were simply “stated” as fact. Prefixing it with “I think that” treats this fragment as something akin to a magic word. It’s magic because somehow it changes everything, even though it really doesn’t change anything.

It’s as if I could say “all blacks are homophobes” and people would rush to attack me as speaking false – but if I say “abracadabra, all blacks are homophobes” and then see people respond with a resounding chorus of how entitled I was to hold such an opinion. In reality, the central claim itself hasn’t changed. Or perhaps it’s like picking something up in a shop, running outside and setting off the security alarms, and then turning and saying “lol, j/k, I didn’t really steal this!!!1”. Or – and this is something that really fucking irks me – pirating some music or film, putting it up on PooTube, and putting “no copyright intended.” in the description. That’s not even fucking wrong! In reality, those acts haven’t changed, even though someone declares them to have been.

Actual thoughts and actual actions don’t change thanks to magic words.

Now, you might just think that any educated person can spot the difference between fact and opinion in this sort of way and so the above is just unnecessary. It gets drummed into you at school if you’ve ever done History or English or Media Studies; the way people can spin an opinion of theirs into a fact is taught quite rigorously. It all leaves us with a healthy cynicism towards certain types of claims people make. “This man is evil!” says one source. “No, this man is good!” says the other source. Both are opinions being stated as facts, and so the fallacy is easy to spot. This is a Good Thing. I won’t decry the fact that people take such assertions of truth bullshit with a pinch or seven of salt.

But it does mean we don’t as easily recognise this happening the other way around; people hiding facts – more specifically, things that can be tested as if they were facts – as opinions. Mostly because we want to avoid the spin that school has taught us to have a healthy cynicism for, we mistake people adding magic words to their blind and bold drivelling assertions as a sign of legitimacy.

“Did they say ‘I think that’ before they said it? Oh, that’s fine then”.

Nothing has changed about the assertion. The only thing that has changed is that we think opinions don’t need to be amenable and answerable to evidence. We should respect opinions. We can agree to disagree over an opinion. Or, let’s be more precise, we should respect things labelled as opinions. And this simple labelling of something as “opinion” is why adding a magic word doesn’t change anything. Adding the label “religion” to Jedi isn’t going to change the fact that it started as a bunch of Star Wars fans taking the piss. Adding the label “opinion” doesn’t exempt it from scrutiny or outright and frank accusations of bullshitting and being emphatically wrong.

Boris_2

The factual accuracy of a statement doesn’t change upon addition of a label; and so the respect that a statement should get, or the free ride it gets when we compare it to evidence, shouldn’t change either. If I make a statement about reality, that statement should be validated, or not, on the basis of reality. Magic words don’t create that exemption that bullshit merchants crave. Even if those magic words are “in my opinion”.

In its most acceptable form, “in my opinion” could mean “to the best of my current knowledge”. But then the same thing still applies; failure to update your views on the basis of evidence and demonstrable fact constitutes wilful ignorance. I have no problem with the ignorant, just with the people who actively want to stay that way. Fuck those people, and fuck their not-opinions.

This isn’t limited to silly little spats where someone says something wrong but sticks by it no matter what. The widespread resistance to evidence-based policy within government is entirely due to this fallacy being ramped up to eleven. The line of thinking is “If I’m presenting an opinion, I’m not making a statement about reality, so I don’t need evidence” – except this is bullshit. Policy is all about the evidence. You’re making decisions that will have an effect on the world. You need to be able to match up the actual effect of a decision with the intended effect of a decision. That’s the very definition of evidence, and it’s central to policy making. If assessing your policy or “opinion” has nothing to do with this approach in the slightest, then what fucking good is it?

If you’re going say “this action will improve the economy”, that’s testable (providing you define “improve” sufficiently). If you say “this alternative medicine will cure cancer”, that’s testable (because if 50 people receiving the treatment don’t do better than 50 people not receiving it, it just doesn’t work). If you say “the global climate isn’t really being affected by anthropogenic activity”, that’s testable (we have trends, data and statistics to play with). How many more examples are there? If you say “allowing same-sex marriage will destroy the sanctity of traditional marriage”… again, testable! Just allow it and see what happens. It’s easy.

So, in future, my response to most things masquerading as “opinion” isn’t going to be “well, I respect that”, it’s going to be “Go on. Prove it. Put your money where your mouth is. I fucking dare you.”

Boris_3