Monday, February 13, 2017

John Oliver is a Moron: John Oliver is a Moron

John Oliver is a Moron

Tenet 1: John Oliver is a Moron
Tenet 2: John Oliver is wrong on virtually every subject.
Tenet 3: If you find yourself agreeing with John Oliver, you are probably wrong.

John Oliver is a Moron

My apologies for the uncreative title, subtitle, and section headings, but sometimes these things just write themselves. Here's a John Oliver meme I recently encountered which reminded me of my long-held belief that John Oliver is a moron. (Apologies to all morons out there of the more benign variety).

John Oliver is a Moron
John Oliver is a Moron
Here we see Oliver stumble gracelessly into the dual subjects of climate change and public opinion. First we are told that the opinions of 25% of the population are simply irrelevant. Trenchant commentary if he was talking about a country that is not a democracy. Looking at our handy list of dictators and focusing on the Americas, that would limit him to Cuba (whom he defends) and Venezuela (whom he doesn't defend yet can't bring himself to properly criticize either). In those countries, and many of the other dictatorships throughout the world, popular opinion is very unimportant. However the United States is governed by a democracy (link provided for John Oliver). Under a democracy policy decisions are ostensibly made with large input from the governed citizens. Thus 25% of the population doubting climate change does in fact matter. It matters whether you agree or not, because those people have input into policy making. Granted it might be true that the US is not in fact all that democratic and people don't actually have that much input in policy. Or it might be the case the democracy is an institution doomed to failure because people on the whole are not rational. But Oliver is not making commentary on the principles of democracy: he is just ridiculing rubes for chuckles.

John Oliver is a Moron

Second, you have to love this sentence:
You don't need people's opinions on a fact.
And this is where we really dive into the depths of his moronity, or perhaps just the shallowness of his understanding of the domain in which is he is ridiculing people for their beliefs. (Aside: I've still never had a debate with one of these climate change fanatics who could share even basic details about the climate science they're so sure of.) So why is it that Oliver can be so sure climate change is a "fact"? What they will always respond with is: the scientific consensus. Yes the consensus, or the opinions of experts, is all the proof you need. So Oliver's stance on climate change is driven by the two following premises.
  1. You don't need people's opinions on a fact.
  2. Climate change is a fact because of people's opinions.
The only thing proven here is that Oliver is highly immune to cognitive dissonance, drawn from the observation that his head has not exploded (unfortunately). Although another explanation is that he has so little intellectual curiosity that he doesn't realize that consensus is the key argument supporting his assertion that "climate change is a fact". This kind of protection from the trivial nuances of the domain should be generally true in any field of knowledge. We shall henceforth refer to it as the Oliver Effect: when one's understanding of a subject is so shallow that the fundamental contradictions of their opinions on that subject are hidden from them. But this is just what we all know colloquially as "being a moron."

He lists a number of facts to compare to. Let's see if we can prove those things.
Which number is bigger, 5 or 15?
You can't really prove this as it is practically axiomatic.
Are there owls or hats?
Pretty easy to prove by providing an example of either.

Climate change cannot be similarly proved! For reasons I previously explained, we can't actually prove anything about a theory given a single chaotic instance of the phenomenon in action. We can't prove it won't rain tomorrow. We've all seen downpours on days forecasted to have 0% chance of rain. That 15 is larger than 5 is a fact. That owls exist is a fact. That it will rain tomorrow is a model-driven probability, not a fact. "Climate change" is not a fact, or even a statement. Scientific fact requires reproducible experimentation. Blind faith in the academy is exactly what science is designed to avoid.

John Oliver is a Moron

In conclusion, with one bumbling statement Oliver has negated the fundamental bases of both democracy and scientific inquiry in his zeal to paint other people as morons so as to take some pressure off of himself. He's like the kid in class who couldn't read well so he made fun of the teacher's shirt to make everyone else laugh. Granted he is funny. So laugh at him, not with him. And for the love of god please don't be making political or scientific opinions based on the quips of a comedian so lacking in knowledge that the phrase "the Oliver Effect" was named after him. 😄

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