Gedankenexperiment November 20, 2015

A reader writes:

I thought you might appreciate this fun little intellectual exercise I’m having with the cognitive dissonance of being pro-vaccine yet anti-refugee– _______

Anti: I’m concerned _____ will cause harm.

Pro: That’s not really a rational fear because the likelihood of anything bad happening is vanishingly small, we take far greater risks all the time and should use consistent risk analysis, and you risk far more to yourself and others by not _______.

Anti: How dare you dismiss my concerns?!

Pro: I’m not; I’m just arguing that they aren’t reasonable reasons not to ______.

Anti: You know, it’s really terrible that you think I’m a bad person for having concerns. I’m not stupid or irrational or callous for having them.

Pro: I don’t. But if you’ve set up impossible conditions before you would ____ or refuse to look at the evidence that would allay your concerns, people will be harmed.

Anti: Well, I’m not willing to accept _____ unless I have absolute certainty it’ll be safe. At the very least, it should be delayed or spread out.

Pro: Look at this evidence. Accepting a vanishingly small personal risk will save lives and is better for your safety in the long-run, too. There isn’t any reason to believe anyone will be safer if it’s delayed or spaced out. Not _____ carries risks, too.

Anti: Well, here’s a blog/opinion/cherry-picked quote to counter your evidence.

Pro: That blog/opinion/cherry-picked quote is deeply flawed and not relevant to the topic of ____.

Anti: See you’re being dismissive! I guess we’re all just irrational assholes who don’t think EXACTLY like you, right?! …

So, question time. Am I talking vaccines or refugees?

A fun thought experiment.  Of course, the main drawback is that the same people consumed with a completely irrational fear the Muslims all want to enslave and kill us all are often the same people with an irrational fear that the medical establisment want to enslave and kill us all too.  But for a sensible audience that sees the absurdity of vaccine panic, it may be possible they will recognize the notes of lunacy sounding again  in the Great Refugee Panic of 2015. So it’s worth a shot (as it were).

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