Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Credible? Only Sometimes

This article is quite disturbing for all kinds of reasons--a guy who helped give solace to some of the kids who escaped the gunfire at Newtown now faces attacks because he is providing evidence that conspiracy theorists do not like. Yes, there are folks who argue that nothing happened at Sandy Hook or that it was the creation of the gun-hating government.

I just want to highlight one thing--that among the conspiracy nuts (I hate the word truther since it suggests that truth might somehow be involved) is at least one professor trying to lend legitimacy to the claims.

To be absolutely clear, while profs are supposed to be experts in the areas they study (something we have addressed before), just because any single prof or a small collection of profs says something means not too much.  You can always find a crazy, stupid, mis-directed, or evil professor spewing lies/false information/utter b.s. because profs are ... people.  Yes, hard to believe, but true.  And in any group of people, there will be a few who do not see reality but see the world in a very different way, such as seeing the Sandy Hook massacres as anything but a mass killing by a disturbed person.

There are more than a few profs who are 9/11 conspiracy theorists--does not make that movement any more credible.  So, while we profs like to be seen as credible and want to have whatever expertise we got to come into play when it is relevant, be warned--not all profs are reliable.  The people that understand this best, of course, are professors  as we have all had to work with the reality averse.  I have had colleagues that see conspiracies everywhere, and others that admired North Korea as a political/economic system. 

Anyhow, be wary of professors making absurd claims and beware of newspaper articles and the like dropping the fact that a prof supports a particular claim. We are not all reliable.  Indeed, some of us are quite unreliable.

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