Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Facebook/Blog Seal Broken

I put this up on FB today.  As my extended family and all my coworkers are liberal, I should expect some pushback.  Ah well.

Imagine a preventive medicine or treatment that sounds very plausible, but has been shown to be ineffective: a medicine, a screening, a supplement. Convinced that there must be something to it nonetheless, bright people try other procedures based on the same theory, but these also come up empty. Repeatedly empty, in different populations and circumstances. Suggestive anecdotes keep popping up, but when researchers try to pin this down, the variance is all easily explainable by other factors.
That's usually called an "alternative medicine," which sounds great to some people and horrible to others. It's related to believing in vague "toxins," which are sometimes real but are more usually imaginary.
Next, consider that there are side effects to this array of treatments (as there always are). Not so horrendous as the critics predicted, but real and persistent. Let us add that the side effects are inconveniently worse for a minority (or discriminated-against) population. Pick one, it doesn't matter. Worse for African-Americans, worse for women, worse for LGBTQ, whatever. Though ironically, this group is among the most persistent advocates of the useless vaccine or vitamin. Ah well, human nature.
Except the major side effect in this case is "death."
Now, pull back the curtain and reveal that all of this is also expensive. Not budget-breaking, impoverishing expensive, but wasteful of time, money, social capital, and goodwill.
Like what you see? Of course you do. That is, if you are in the population that still believes that this alternative medicine actually should work, if it were only tried thoroughly, instead of halfheartedly.
That's what you are sharing on the internet today, how great it is that President Obama has finally, finally put in place laws that will kill more black people - okay, not a lot more black people, but some. As it will have disparate impact in black and (some) Hispanic communities it will also increase incarceration,mistrust, and tension for them. But that's okay, because you can blame that on other people. And you got to kick your main electoral competitors in the balls, making fun of how evilly GUNZ they are.
More black grandmas go to funerals. Try to attend a few, okay?


Unknown said...

In the era of the debate before the Affordable Care Act was passed, I got into a scrappy discussion after work at a restaurant with some work colleagues who were vocal supporters -- I asked them what they most hoped to see as a result of the then unpublished proposals, and then offered a bet that that such features wouldn't actually occur when the law was implemented. I didn't think I was being partisan, but it turned out that some had lots of hope invested in what "could be" and didn't like to face the thought that what they were getting was considerably different from what they had perceived to be promised. This turned out to be bad for my long-term prospects there, and probably contributed to an impression that I was not collegial on the part of an influential superior.
(I would have won such bets, the features mentioned were single-payer option, portability between employers, cost transparency, and free-at-point-of-service).
I've since internalized the feeling that collegiality is really important in office politics in my field, and that part of that is being perceived as part of the "us" rather than part of the "other". People make instant judgements and it is easy to be shifted into the "other" and much more difficult to be shifted back to the "us", so I try not to even play devil's advocate against positions I agree with anymore, as there is little direct effect on me if my colleagues hold misinformed views on political issues that I happen to be more knowledgeable about.

I remembered this this morning when hearing the misrepresentations about what is the executive orders can accomplish in the news discussion program "On Point" on NPR. There is in this case a huge disconnect between what Obama has been saying we must do in his speeches, and the actual text of the executive orders. It is as if the administration has learned that it doesn't matter if what is promised is ever delivered, the important thing is to appear to be doing something, and even better if that something upsets the opposition.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Excellent point. I need to remind myself as well that the harm might mostly be some expense and irritation, and the increase in violence will likely be little or nothing.

As to the other points in your comment, I had my post on Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind just about done, but you remind me that I have neglected the part about community bonding. I think I just breezed by it in my earlier posts. I'll check.