The Disappearance of Scientific, Rational, Commonsense Thinking


Dave Kingsley

In the Age of Show Business, Public Discourse Is Often Dangerous Nonsense

The current spread of absurd QAnon, conspiracist, white supremacist beliefs is the apotheosis of the takeover of our minds by infotainment, sound bite journalism, and the dumbing down of Western, liberal societies. Preceding the Trump presidency, a broad swath of the public was conditioned to believe about anything posted on the internet. So, a dangerous demagogue was able to capture the U.S. government by spreading hateful myths about an African American president and Hispanic immigrants.

A violent racist, anti-Semitic movement has also been intertwined with the growth of fanatical, anti-science religious groups across the U.S. In the early 2000s the “religious-right” successfully attacked and derogated science curricula in public schools. Critical thinking in science classes was significantly diminished.

There is no doubt in my mind that the failure of progressives, liberals, moderates, and principled conservatives to counter a crazy right-wing attack on science has contributed to the growth of irrational beliefs – leading to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths during the raging COVID. It was hard for us to believe that a Donald Trump and what he has wrought would really happen in this country. We thought that the moral high ground would be good enough and our emotional appeals to human decency would be a viable narrative and strategy.

Beware of Slick, Simplistic Presentations

Science is skeptical. It is also hard work. In the age of show business, the most entertaining and amusing presentations will grab attention of an audience far quicker than substance requiring some mental effort. Nevertheless, empirical evidence in support of a position is absolutely necessary.

Science is a process. Hence, it is also necessary for the audience to not only respect the credentials of presenters – if they actually have the credentials – but at the same time, the audience and colleagues must be engaged in an exchange. Do we understand each other? How do we deepen our knowledge and make better decisions in the public interest? What can we all contribute to the effort? These are questions designed to prevent audiences given to passive acceptance to whatever expert or even charlatan is disseminating.

Advocates & Activists Must Demand Scientific Analyses and the Truth: We Owe it to our Fellow Humans

Professionals and volunteers advocating and agitating for better conditions for those around us deprived of human decency and subjected to dehumanizing and abusive medical care are responsible for seeking the truth. For example, the financial-real estate-medical industrial complex is providing misleading information about the federal and state funds flowing into and out of the nursing home system.

The long-term care industry has been able to trick legislators, advocates, and the public far too long with their hardship pleas. The truth is this: the nursing home system is structured for the flow of capital through an opaque pipeline, which in the final analysis benefits ultra high net worth individuals and contributes to the maldistribution of wealth.

Commonsense, scientific, rational thinking is needed to debunk the false narratives of an industry dedicated to finance rather than humane care. That is what this blog is all about and we will advocate and agitate for a counter to the nonsense far too often swallowed by legislators, regulators, the media, and the public. We can see what’s coming. Things will not get better on their own.