Birds of a Feather

So, by now you’ve all heard about the guys who brought guns, including an assault rifle, to a public event held by the President, ostensibly to exercise their right to bear arms. I could quibble about spheres of appropriateness–seems like bringing guns to a political event with the President could be curtailed quite justifiably under the law–but I don’t have to. Apparently, part of the event was staged by (surprise, surprise) some guy who supported and defended an anti-government militia in the ’90s. He’s a 9/11 conspiracist, thinks Waco was some kind of government fabrication, and designed the cuckoobananas “Ron Paul rEVOLution” logo. So, you know, an all-around nut.

Well, I managed to catch a bit of video from that event, and happened to notice a big banner in the back reading “VACCINES = POISON.” It’s interesting to see how insanity is apparently magnetic. It’s a nice reminder that irrational beliefs often tend to beget more irrational beliefs. There are many different pathways that one can take to any belief, but when the belief is unsupported by facts, evidence, or reason, it seems like the paths are much more numerous and intertwined. Most antivaxxers seem to have arrived at that point through fearmongering and arguments from ignorance and false authority, but some arrive there through acceptance of anti-science or anti-medicine positions, others arrive there through conspiracy theories and anti-government ideologies, others still arrive through religious convictions.

Following reason, science, and evidence is difficult, but it leads you on paths that converge asymptotically on stable answers. Following pseudoscience and unreason can take you absolutely anywhere, and the vast majority of the destinations are completely wrong.

But I guess at least you’ll have company there.

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