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Wrong-way Driver - seeking better understanding of the be nice rule

 
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You might have heard or read the joke:

A woman called up her husband's cell phone and said, "Be careful coming home, honey. I just saw on the news that there's a wrong-way driver on the road." Her husband replied, "A wrong-way driver?? There's hundreds of 'em!"

Behind the joke, there is, of course, a moral. That man's going against the flow males him a public menace. He needs to be stopped, even though he sincerely believes everyone else is wrong.

At what point is it appropriate and necessary to stop "being nice"? Some controversial topics, on Permies and elsewhere, can arguably be compared to the traffic situation in that joke. I hesitate even to get specific, because after all, I only recently got enough apples to post in the cider press. I will therefore use an example I have not yet seen on Permies.

There are people in this world who reject medicine's current explanation of HIV/AIDS as a sexually transmitted retrovirus. Some have claimed that AIDS is caused by illicit drugs such as poppers, malnutrition, or even anti-HIV drugs themselves. The case of Christine Maggiore is a well documented one. She was HIV-positive. She wrote a book, What If Everything You Knew About AIDS was Wrong?, in which she basically revisited all of the early hypotheses that were being tested back in the 80s when AIDS was new and not yet understood; all the scientific papers she cited were from that era. AIDS research had long since rejected those hypotheses and moved on, but Maggiore and others like her tried to revive them. When her baby died of AIDS-opportunistic pneumonia, Maggiore put out an alternate theory, that it was a bad reaction to amoxicillin (used in treating the pneumonia?); when Maggiore herself died of AIDS-opportunistic pneumonia, "again the AIDS denialist community made excuses, claiming it was caused by a "detox cleanse" that left her too weak to fight off pneumonia and playing all sorts of games spinning and denying the obvious." (Quote from RationalWiki's aritcle on Christine Maggiore )

I was schooled as a scientist, see? In science, we have a principle called Occam's Razor. Basically, it means that we go with the simplest explanation that explains the data. If the denial movement is coming up with different explanations as to the cause of different HIV cases, that violates Occam's Razor; it is simpler to say that one disease has one cause, unless we have clear evidence that we are in fact dealing with two similar-looking diseases. And in this case, the denialists are as dangerous as a wrong-way driver: if they succeed in convincing people not to treat HIV, people will die who otherwise would have lived.

I am always wary when someone advocates going against mainstream medicine. Medical research has had a long time to prefect its methods and techniques, and although not perfect, it has made life-saving advances even within my own lifetime. Conspiracy theories about "Big Pharma" may appeal to deeply felt convictions, but I have yet to see the opponents of mainstream medicine approach their practices with anything like the scientific rigor I was taught to use. "Be nice" is a good principle in general; but sometimes stating known facts is taken as "not nice" by people who prefer to believe otherwise.
 
Mother Tree
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And how does any of that stop you being nice when you reply?  Other people manage it just fine...
 
master steward
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I've come to realize that most people on permies are really rather smart. They can read information that is presented, and make up their own minds about it. There's no need to be rude or not-nice, just present the facts as you know them, without demeaning other people's "facts" and most readers will be able to say, "Oh wow, Person A really doesn't seem to know what he's talking about when I see all the evidence that Person B is presenting."

One can usually state their own position without needing to demean another person, or even the other person's point of view.

We've got--tucked away somewhere here on permies--an awesome thread about how to be nice and treat other people as "perfect," even when they have what seemly like a cockamamie idea of building a roof out of cardboard. I'll see if I can find that thread for you.

In the case of the person driving the wrong way, one doesn't need to say, "Hey Dummy, can't you tell that everyone else is driving the RIGHT way on the road, and you're on the WRONG side?!?!" One could rather say, "It seems to me that if all the cars going your direction are on the other side of the road, that that might be the correct side of the road. I like to drive on that side of the road because, I read in the state code, (INSERT SOURCE HERE) that all cars are to drive one ______ side of the road."
 
master steward & author
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At what point is it appropriate and necessary to stop "being nice"?



At the point when you are not posting on permies.com

There is only one rule on permies:  Be Nice.

We agreed to it when we made an account here.

Since 'nice' is subjective, the permies staff follow the interpretation of that rule as understood by the owner of this site, Paul Wheaton.



There may be a very good reason why the person is driving the wrong way (although why they think it's okay to use a cell phone while driving is a whole 'nother kettle of fish).  Maybe they are an ambulance driver, getting to the scene of the accident that is blocking the normal flow of traffic?  The thought experiment doesn't share enough information.  In any forum communication, we only have a minimal amount of information available - as science teaches, making absolute judgements without sufficient information leads to error!  

This is why we encourage writers to leave room for other people's opinions.  It is also why we have a big, shiny, report button at the top of each post so you can draw the moderator's attention to it instead of feeling the need to retaliate.

Posts that aren't nice tend to vanish.  If you are someone who is upset by putting an hour or two into carefully composing a post only to have it disappear without anyone seeing it, then I suggest you have a look the "how permies works" link in my signature to get a better understanding of the kind of post we encourage on permies.
 
steward
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pollinator
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Jason Hernandez wrote:.... I have yet to see the opponents of mainstream medicine approach their practices with anything like the scientific rigor I was taught to use.



That's because your teaching has convinced you that something called the scientific method and scientific rigor are the end-all to determining cause and effect. It has a certain power to be sure,....just not as deep perhaps as some imagine.  Having also enjoyed/experienced/endured possibly the same Western training as yourself (and still use it daily), which in some respects can be said to have originated in the 1200s AD in Europe, I can now see where all kinds of approaches other than that can be valid towards making an assessment for the betterment of one's existence.....approaches that far pre-date the 1200s.  Science is one form of observation, cataloging, and 'deciding'.....Lots of other cultures have moved and are moving along without it.
 
master pollinator
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I learned a long time ago that, "You always have to speak the truth, but the truth does not always have to be spoken." Sound advice...

As for modern medicine: I am not even sure what to say. It has been over two years and modern medicine has yet to find out what the root cause is for my debilitating fatigue. I am as frustrated as my team of Doctor's, and in a few weeks when I see them again, plan to ask a poignant question:

Will I ever be the way I used to be?

I am scared of the answer, and perhaps more scared of my reaction to their answer.

As for "wrong way drivers", we run into this all the time on a community based team I am on that aids those with mental health issues, as well as addiction problems. We as a country (USA), value individual liberty to a high regard (as our forefathers envisioned), yet sometimes what is often best for patients would be caregiver's having the ability to "force" patients into treatments ONLY because they are not of sound mind to make those decisions for themselves. However, due to the liberties that are afforded to American's, it can only be an option for them based on their decision. It can be frustrating, but I fully understand both sides.

The mother that; through silly decision making, caused the loss of life to a child who could not make such a decision is saddening, but likewise we also put a high value on parental rights in this country.

Ideally we train up and educate people to make proper decisions on many aspects of life.

Another way we can do that as a society, is through supreme court rulings and the law which takes away the emotion of the moment so that it is based on science and morality. A case in point here might be a serial killer that has taken the life of ten people. That person must be held accountable for that crime, their abusive parents growing up not withstanding.
 
pollinator
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I think it important to mention, Occam's Razor can only be perfect if you have the whole picture. It can be an effective decision making tool, but it cuts both ways; is it perhaps that the unnecessarily long-winded and convoluted explanation seems so because the issue is more complex than the understanding of the average individual?

Or to put it in another context, if the Occam's Razor argument was always right, there wouldn't be so many people wrongly convicted of crimes. Or, to go another way, would we need much in the ways of detectives, and the crime and detective fiction would be really boring.

Being nice isn't hard. Don't post anything with the eager anticipation of an impassioned response and you'll usually be fine. This isn't the place for zingers about political and other hot-button issues, but they can be thoroughly threshed out if we're careful and courteous about how we treat each other in conversation. People aren't their arguments, so let's be clear that it's the arguments that are being refuted, and let's be absolutely positive we need to do so when we do.

If someone is advocating methods that will result in people being poisoned by reclaimed but toxic materials, it might be important to point out that, for the sake of their children, they might not want to use that method to grow food, or to tell others to do so.

If someone has a method of doing anything that produces terrific results for them, but they refuse to analyse the specific mechanics, it isn't necessary to start a flame war over. We can always glean whatever can be gleaned, design an experiment we can carry out with others in their backyards or operations, and get any relevant information ourselves if its that important.

Many see this sort of idea as censorship, when it used to be unnecessary because we were taught manners and common courtesy.

-CK
 
master pollinator
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I have a simple and somewhat lazy method of determining if something is real. If it's Medical, I search quackwatch first. And if they give it a good run through the mud, I'm satisfied. Because I've looked at a dozen other things that they've ruled on and I've agreed with that.

I also sometimes chek Lancet or the New England Journal of Medicine. If some cure all has a person's name attached, I Google them and then don't look at the material that they have placed on the internet. I look for the opposing views.

So if someone tells me that their naturaopath or chiropractor or witch doctor or some other person has told them this or that, I look for the people with opposing views. And sometimes they lay it to rest in one sentence.

There are probably dozens of ologies that I've dealt with this way. Everything from holy water, to the body having vibrations and to certain smells being able to cure all disease or the idea that all diseases are caused by one single thing. No point going to the websites that promote this stuff. Run it through quackwatch or look for those who are against it.

Good health shouldn't cost anything other than the cost of good food. If the person with a cure-all has something to sell, whether it be a book or tablets or magic juice, that's my red flag. I don't want to go into their office to listen to soft music and have warm rocks rubbed on my scrotum. And I don't give them equal time as compared to other things that are presented to me. I deal with it quickly and efficiently and according to what I find, I put the purveyor of that information into a category which may be hugely unflattering.
 
r ranson
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The point is here, on permies, we leave room for other peoples ideas.

If one wants to hash out how correct or truthful science is, there are other sites on the internet that encourage that behaviour.  

Permies is a a safe place for gentle souls to talk about homesteading and permaculture.



 
paul wheaton
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Occam's Razor is carefully qualified with "probably" and "maybe" etc.



Further, back to the wrong way driver.  As somebody keen on permaculture, I suppose that each of us is going the right way, according to our values, and thousands are going in the opposite direction.  To those people, it might appear that each of us is going the wrong way.   The mention of the joke in this thread seems to suggest that we need to stop doing permaculture and, instead, "go with the flow."  

I hope that in time, i will convince those thousands of people that they are going the wrong way and I am going the right way.


 
Jason Hernandez
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paul wheaton wrote:Occam's Razor is carefully qualified with "probably" and "maybe" etc.



Further, back to the wrong way driver.  As somebody keen on permaculture, I suppose that each of us is going the right way, according to our values, and thousands are going in the opposite direction.  To those people, it might appear that each of us is going the wrong way.   The mention of the joke in this thread seems to suggest that we need to stop doing permaculture and, instead, "go with the flow."  

I hope that in time, i will convince those thousands of people that they are going the wrong way and I am going the right way.




Okay. It is true the depending on what part of the world you are in -- the right side of the road in one country may be the wrong side of the road in another. What I see in your reply is the possibility that maybe you can get this particular country to switch which side of the road people drive on. Is that a good way to see it?

I posted this originally in the cider press -- ulcer factory to be exact. I knew that was the only place for it, and I was startled to see it had been moved to this forum. I trusted whomever moved it, but the results of that move leave me confused as to why it was moved. It appears this post has now become that wrong-way driver -- carnage is ensuing as it careens through a forum where I never meant for it to be.
 
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"Tinkering with this site" is the home on permies for threads talking about how the site is run, censorship, moderation, being nice, etc. Those sorts of topics are basically not allowed in any other forum on the site.
 
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