Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Friday, May 31, 2019

Truth or Consequences

One of the trickiest things to navigate is the gap between what is true to say and what is useful to say. I don't mean this in the juvenile "I'm not a jerk, I'm just a truth-teller!" way. I am specifically thinking of a recent study (which I haven't read and probably won't) that was reported as concluding that when people are educated about actions they can take to reduce climate change, they become less likely to support political efforts to address climate change.

This could generate some very awkward conversations if it is true.

"Hey do you think I should take a plane to Boston or a train? Or maybe even a bus?"

"Uhhhhh... do whatever you think is best!"

"You don't think it's irresponsible to take a plane for such a short trip?"

[nervous, sweating] "No, why would I think that?"

This is a general problem, I think. It is a much bigger problem for public figures than for private ones, of course, and the ability to "speak your mind" is a major reason to remain a private figure if you have the choice. But even for regular people, it's hard to know when to tell the truth and when to say things that are useful. Mayor de Blasio takes a lot of grief for driving to his old gym in Park Slope every day—maybe it would be better not to mock him for it so that he might be more inclined to support progressive policies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think mocking BdB is useful and, climate change aside, his car focused world view is literally killing people. NYC traffic deaths are up significantly this year.

I would not recommend stopping useful action based on a single study that has yet to be replicated where you haven't at least skimmed the methodology section and looked at the stats section for red flags.

The sad state of the world is that a lot of psych studies are under-powered, P hacked, and poorly designed from methodology standpoint but the journals are still publishing them and haven't stepped up standards, so the poor end user is left not being able to trust published summaries without doing their own legwork.

8:01 AM  

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