I write a semi-regular blog on the Skeptoid website, as well as post regular musings and ramblings on Twitter and Facebook. In these writings, I am usually inspired by some set of data. As a scientist, data is something that removes much of the bias we carry as humans. Even if the data analysis or the conclusions drawn are manipulated, the raw data is harder to manipulate. Yes, people can outright lie, or can use poor data collection or design a poor test, but that is usually revealed by the design itself, or data from someone else. So I always use this as my core in forming my beliefs and opinions.
Over the last year, I have had people unfollow me on Facebook and Twitter over my opinions. I do come across strong in my conclusions. If you don’t know that about me – please take this as your notice. It catches people off-guard at times. It can offend them. Please just know that is in almost every case not my intent. I want to learn new things. I post things because I want them to be challenged. I also am not going to simply accept your conclusion because you say it. I am going to need convincing. It needs to be logical. It needs to have supporting data. I don’t hate you nor do I mean to offend you. Let’s talk. And if we don’t agree – then we don’t. I bet on many other things we do agree.
I often get classified politically as a bad libertarian. It fits pretty well. The ideology of being libertarian makes the society as a whole stronger. But I also believe the weakest of the society would be left far behind if we followed those ideals perfectly. So to me I always fight the liberal part of me and the libertarian part of me. The hardest part is in many cases, we don’t have good data on what would work best, only economic theories which simply cannot account for all variations of real-life. So I’m a bad libertarian. I’m ok with that.
I have changed my opinion on many things over the years. I used to think we should punish drug users and sellers more. Now, after seeing the data and understanding the idea of personal freedom – I understand that drugs, while still harmful, should be legal. What should be illegal is putting others in a potentially harmful situation because of drugs (driving while under the influence for example). So I am for stopping this insane war on drugs. That’s a huge turn-around for me. I used to think we should ban violent video games (we have plenty of data showing it doesn’t affect crime). I have a number of positions that have changed over the years – because I enjoy learning.
So yes, my mind can be changed. But it can’t be changed if you won’t talk about it. I can be swayed by good data. I can be swayed by good logic. It might take some time. If you really feel you need to unfollow me because we disagree – then that is your personal choice. I for one would love to have a reasonable conversation about our disagreement. We may not come to an agreement, but maybe we will better understand our own position. We can try again another day.
Oh – and I know I ramble sometimes. I hope you can like me for who I am.