Wednesday, 7 April 2010

"I'm not filling out this form." What?

"This is crazy," Erickson said last week on WMAC's In the Morning with Erick Erickson of the census. "What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I'm not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They're not going on my property. They can't do that. They don't have the legal right, and yet they're trying."

From the Huffington Post's "Erick Erickson Threatens To 'Pull Out Shotgun' At Census Worker"

Whatever Mr. Erickson meant by this, at the heart, there is a bizarre but common reaction that I simply don't understand. Too many people seem to have an extreme reaction to simple information seeking that in all likelihood is meant to help everyone. What is it with the distaste for the CENSUS, with incredibly simple and basic information gathering? This is not invasion of privacy, this is not invasion of anonymity, this is not even information that can be possibly used against anyone from a individual or systematic standpoint. And yet, any request to fill out a form, from entirely too many people, elicits a response of fear and wild arm-swinging.

I think this is based on a lack of understanding (and therefore fear) of science (or reason or rationality or critical thinking or something like that). Not understanding any of this results in not understanding the usefulness and motivation for information gathering. If you think that these kinds of efforts are either impossible or meaningless, why would you feel like participating? And why wouldn't you think that anyone trying to do something you don't understand and don't appreciate isn't trying to "get" you somehow?

I think the answer is two-fold: education and promotion of reason. Actually, I think they go hand in hand. Education is needed so more people understand more and have more experience with a wider variety of areas of knowledge. The more you know the more you understand that you need to know more. Along with this is the need to impress more people with the importance of the truth and properly determining the truth. Too many people seem to either think that there is no truth and who cares what you think (or act on) or that truth comes to people magically without any effort (either by supernatural means or oversimple natural means). The more important rationality is to you, the more you will participate in it yourself.

How to do either of these? Dunno. What do you think?

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