Ambigamy

Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

The Chicken and The Ostrich

Two birds; one stone cold stupid theory about calm's correlation to competence

Climate change is real.  As real as real can be.  Be scared.  Be very, very scared. 

The folks who deny the reality aren’t scared, or so they say. They’re brave enough to doubt, like the great scientists of the past who challenged conventional wisdom and proved heroically right.

It takes guts to stand up to the powers that be, and the ignorant sheep-like masses following the manipulative deluded dullards of conventional science. The deniers have guts. You can hear it in their voices when they proudly voice their brave and unconventional wisdom.  They’re realists, and they can prove it, becaues they’re not scared like the climate-panicky running around like chicken littles,  their heads cut off and with them all powers of brave rationality lobotomized too, peeping in their pitiful little voices, “The sky is falling, the seas are rising, o woe is me.”

Can we tell how rational someone is by how scared he is?  Is there a reliable rule of thumb that the fearful are unreasonable? 

“Oh, just calm down would you?” Implies that rule.  Since I’m more calm than you, I’m more realistic than you. 

So does our sense that optimism is a virtue and pessimism a vice.  In truth though there is no objective way to distinguish optimism from pessimism, at least never in the present tense. Since optimism and pessimism are predictions about the future and no one has a way to divine the future, my proud assessment that you’re pessimistic is only supported by my subjective guess that the future will turn out better than your subjective guess suggests. But for all either of us know the future could turn out better than I guess, making me the pessimist, or turn out worse than you guess making you the optimist.

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Still, we’re biased toward the optimist, who says “Oh just calm down.”

Likewise, the psychologically inclined when loved less than they would like are often quick to diagnose the objects of their desire as “afraid to love,” and by afraid, they mean unjustifiably afraid, afraid without reason.  “Fear of intimacy” implies an irrational fear of intimacy. When we want someone to love us, an accusation of “Fear of intimacy,” is the perfect diagnosis.  It sounds so clinically, rationally, scientifically proven.

“Doctor what’s the story? What have I got?”

“Well, I’ve run some rational tests on your affection for me, and I'm sorry to say I've discovered that you have a rare and terrible condition known as “Fear of intimacy.”

“Wow.  What are the symptoms?”

“Well, primarily a distinct shortness of depth of affection for me unbecoming in someone who should always be confident that doing what I, a doctor, think is best is always the optimal choice.”

“And the prognosis?”

“Not good. First, my optimism about us will be infected by your pathological pessimism. Eventually my optimism will fall off.  And then, deprived of my glorious attentions you will live a short and shriveled life unloved by anyone, I’m sure.”

“Is there anything I can do about it?”

“Fortunately there is.  It will require great bravery and wisdom but I think together we can remove your cancerous fear. We’ll know that the operation was a success when you have recovered a normal healthy capacity to give me all the loving attention I want.”

That sort of thing. A subjectively self-serving use of a fake law that fear is a symptom of irrationality.

I’m not buying it. I’ve never seen scaredy pants, panty waist, wimp-ass chickens as weak kneed and frightened as climate deniers.  They’re embarrassing themselves and will be the laughing stock of future generations, the best example in human history of the worst that humanity has to offer, people so timid and feeble-minded, so pitifully chicken that they can’t look solid reliable evidence in the eye.  The rest of us are ready to face reality and though scared and disappointed are ready to deal with it, but these whiney babies have their diapers all in knots contorting everything to avert their gaze from the real, rather than facing forward.  They’re that other other bird, the ostrich burying its wee pinhead in the sand.

Deniers suffer an unfounded fear of intimacy with the real world, our one home.

This time chicken little is right. 

Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.

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