Memetic Allergies and Mutations

Ruth Howard asks Is Critical Thinking a Meme to Counter Memes? (in a post which came to my attention via #CritLit2010). And then she goes on to suggest that some skeptics become inflamed and hyper-sensitive when exposed to allergenic stimuli such as conspiracy theories (or at least that’s how I interpreted her juxtaposition of so many interesting analogies and ideas). I suspect that the biological metaphors are getting mixed here, but I get (and like) the idea that, in their hyper-enthusiasm for debunking some kinds of nonsense, people such as Brian Dunning in his “Here be Dragons” video go overboard to the extent of failing to apply critical thinking to their own position.

Ruth’s comments on Dunning’s video are apt. I was dismayed on seeing it myself at the manipulative presentation, including, for example, the frequent juxtaposition (to sinister sounding music yet!) of items representing real fraud or nonsense with others on which it is only fair to say that the jury is still out.

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