What’s with all the beefs?

Everyone has a beef. Everyone has a problem with something or someone. Some beefs are normal, or rational, like being annoyed when someone tests your resolve to situations evolving near the border of acceptable social behaviour (the common “I – eat – a – smelly – tuna – sandwich – in – your – face – while – packed – like – sardines – in – the – morning – rush – hour – tube” situation for example).

These beefs might stem from having a different culture, a different set of standards, or a different (social) educational background than the target of a beef (be it a person, a situation or an idea). But in all cases the beef is, at least partially, justified (possible reactions are a different thing altogether and might not be justified at all but let’s not go there yet).

But some other beefs are baseless, or as I call them, “irrational” beefs. These might stem from having a different belief system or a different point of view, which however, does not agree with common sense or well established facts. Common sense is a very blurry term though so I will not try to define it or indeed discuss about it here. And, by elimination, what remains to discuss here is beefs against well established facts. And what exactly is a well established fact? I say it is either an objective observational truth, or something derived through the only effective way humans have devised to reach the truth: science.

We typically see two classes of people with beefs in this category: those that have a beef out of ignorance or very strong blind beliefs (which is pretty much the same thing) and those that have a (possibly fake) beef because of purpose and/or to promote personal or group ambitions. I call the latter “malicious beefers“. I am not sure which class is worse.

  • Characteristics of an ignorant beefer: usually such a beefer will have been through a long process of (deliberate or not) brainwashing. The result in both cases is the same: the beefer cannot tell facts from fiction, confuses or lacks knowledge of fundamental scientific ideas, does not understand statistics and maths, is blind to any voice of reason that opposes his beef, and resorts to various logical fallacies and personal attacks when engaged in beef-proving/disputing conversations. Ad hominem, straw men, the use of the “close-minded” characterization etc.

  • Characteristics of the malicious beefer: a malicious beefer exhibits pretty much the same behaviour as the ignorant but this originates from fundamentally different reasons: to misdirect, misinform, and ultimately promote his own irrational ideas. Some times such beefers can do the maths and read the science but they choose to either cherry pick whatever suits their woo ideas, misinterpret it, or resort to the typical (and fallacious) “this idea cannot be evaluated by science” argument.

A few typical beef examples follow.

Humans and Oranges are Cousins?

We all know very well the beef Organized Religion has against Evolution. This is an unsubstantiated beef and totally irrational. Evolution is a scientific theory so strong that it is considered a fact now. You cannot have a beef with it because it represents a truth about the way Nature operates. And in any case you cannot have a beef until you provide a viable and plausible alternative.

A typical hierarchy in this beef structure is an oligarchy of malicious beefers brainwashing and exploiting people in order to further promote and impose their religious beliefs. Their tools consist of a complete misinterpretation of the science behind Evolution, and numerous, organized attempts to infiltrate the educational system. The battle for reason continuous…

Snake Oils and Miraculous Water

Another popular beef is the one against modern medicine and how the Big Pharmas are controlling everything, they only want to make money, they hide the truth and the facts, they distribute dangerous poison and murderous vaccinations, they want to do experiments in people, and many more similar unsubstantiated objections. This can also go under the “conspiracy theory” umbrella, subscribers to which see an organized conspiracy behind everything that goes against their irrational beliefs.

This beef is mainly promoted from proponents of Alternative methods of treatments, ones that are not compatible with science and thus not adopted or recognized by the scientific community. This is a very problematic beef and it is typically based on both classes of beefers: ignorant and malicious.

Both of the aforementioned beefs are able to cause harm and slow down scientific progress. Especially as more and more people subscribe to these beefs, things become worse. One very recent and typical example is the outbreak of measles in England.

But there are also irrational beefs that can be very amusing.

Newton Proved Telekinesis?

I recently discovered a brand new beef: one with Newton. I am not sure if this is gaining momentum but I sure find it amusing, to say the least. I was inclined to believe that this beefer was simply ignorant. Among other things he states that Newton’s gravitational theory “proves” that telekinesis is possible (despite Newtonian Theories having been modified as well as partially replaced by Relativity Theory). “Newtonian Gravity is instantaneous action-at-a-distance = telekinesis“.

However, after reading his response to one of the comments, I discovered hints of basic physics educational background (or what could be random ramblings that make no sense whatsoever -I admit I didn’t spend much time on his response). So I am now totally clueless as to why this beef exists.

One theory (my own of course) is that he simply doesn’t like attributing to Newton so many things. Perhaps he thinks Newton is just an over-hyped overestimated peasant. I do not know. The reality remains that this is one more beef against science. And there are probably many more that I am not aware of (please feel free to contribute). This beef seems harmless at the moment. It presents an interesting way to amuse yourself with the peculiarities of the human brain: sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. What matters is what sort of things you will say or do while it doesn’t work