Why Donald Trump might be the next president

We’re almost to the end of the primaries, and Donald Trump has a commanding lead on the republican side of the aisle, while it looks all but certain that Clinton will be the nominee on the democratic side. But surely, everyone is saying, Donald can’t become president. He either won’t get the nomination, or he isn’t electable in the general election. And even though I hate Donald Trump, I have to admit that he has a legitimate chance of ending up in the white house. There are lots of factors that could lead to us seeing Donald moving into the oval office, like…

  1. The Cruz/Kasich alliance is bound to backfire. It looks great if you’re a strategy wonk to try have the other candidates acquiesce to each other in states where they hold an advantage to steal votes from Trump. But at the end of the day it simply won’t work. Trump is running as an outsider, and two establishment candidates coming together to try to hijack the election just plays right into Trump’s narrative that the whole system is rigged. It makes him look MORE like the outsider. And most Americans already agree with Donald that the system is rigged.
  2. The only person people hate more than Trump is Hillary. Both of these people have high unfavorability ratings. I mean, really bad. Almost two thirds of voters have an unfavorable view of Trump, and a little more than half feel the same way about Clinton. Such unfavorable candidates could mean low voter turn out, and low voter turnout almost always favors republican candidates. And speaking of voters…
  3. Trump could build a nice coalition of voters. If republican voters are anything, they’re loyal to the party. It’s very unlikely that republicans would vote for Hillary just because they don’t like Donald. So he’s probably got the conservative vote. But independents make or break an election, and I see this going one of two ways. The first way is that at least some of the independents who are angry at establishment politics and would have voted for Bernie will switch to Trump. The second is that the #bernieorbust people will simply not vote. And any vote that isn’t for a democratic candidate is one more advantage to the republican candidate. And like him or not, Donald has indeed done a good job of getting more republicans and independents to come out and vote.
  4. If the GOP tries to nominate Cruz or Kasich, all hell will break loose. And I mean that literally. Trump is only 249 delegates short of winning the nomination. He could very well hit that naturally all by himself. A new poll shows he has support of 50% of conservative voters. With 10 states left, it’s very possible for him to win before the convention. But even if he doesn’t, he’ll get very close. Close enough that if the party tried to nominate Cruz or Kasich over him, A LOT of people would be upset. It would solidify and cement Trump’s message that the system is rigged, that the party’s will is greater than the will of the people. The GOP would probably fracture into two parties. The establishment would be foolish to try and “play the game” at the convention.
  5. Trump is a stronger candidate than Hillary. I know that sounds absurd, but let me explain. Clinton has a record, Trump doesn’t. In a general election, she’s going to be constantly on the defensive, trying to defend her record, her choices, and her gaffes. You can bet that Trump will drag all of the Clinton’s skeletons out of the closet. She’s going to have to defend her email scandal. She’s going to have to relive Benghazi. She’s going to have to try and explain and validate every foreign policy choice she ever made.  And let me tell you, constantly having to defend your record on the campaign trail isn’t how you win; it’s how you end up looking like the weaker candidate.

And if that isn’t enough, the latest polls show Clinton with just a 3 point lead over Trump. Here, see for yourself. Donald and Hillary are essentially tied in the polls once you take the margin of error into account. Canada is looking nicer and nicer every day.

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Batman v Superman: A Review

SPOILERS AHEAD!!

Well, I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when it opened a few weeks ago, and I’m finally getting around to writing my review. Awhile back, I wrote a piece about why Marvel was going to do so much better than DC when it came to their cinematic universes. It appears that I was correct. So, here’s my review of the film and it’s implications for future DC movies.

I thought the movie opened strongly. The scenes of Bruce Wayne running through Metropolis while Superman and Zod fought during MoS was a nice touch, and a great way to tie the two heroes together and set up why the hell it is that Batman hates Superman so much. From there the movie devolved into a bunch of extraneous crap and pointless subplots. Eventually, after a lot of weird dreams and flashbacks by Batman (did they honestly have someone from the future come back to him? groan) and some less-than-stellar dialogue, Batman gets some of Lex Luthor’s (more on him later) kryptonite and fights with Superman. Eventually they become friends and team up with Wonder Woman to fight some big bad genetically engineered CGI creature for another half hour. Superman dies (yeah right) in the battle and the Justice League is set up. Ta da.

This movie was horrible. And that’s coming from someone who had low expectations to begin with. Let’s go for a point-by-point examination of where the movie stood out and where it faltered.

PROS

  1. Ben Affleck. I actually thought he was a really good Batman. He was angry and gritty and I thought that overall he did a fine job.
  2. Wonder Woman. She was under utilized, but was a welcome addition to the movie. I thought she kicked a lot of ass, and strong female superhero characters are sorely lacking in film.
  3. The fight between Batman and Superman. Synder can’t direct his way out of paper bag and the dialogue was horrible, but he can definitely do action scenes.

CONS

  1. Way too much. What the hell is going on in half this movie? Lois Lane serves no purpose. They go into Batman’s origin..AGAIN. The Daily Planet is pointless. Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch is also pointless. The dream sequences pulled me out of the story way too much. And so on and so on…
  2.  Lex Luthor. Jessie Eisenberg sucks. His manic, helium-voiced performance just did not fit with the tone of the whole movie and the character of Lex Luthor. More often than not it felt like Batman and Superman were fighting John Depp’s Willy Wonka than an arch-villain.
  3. The CGI. The animation for the entire fight with Doomsday looked and felt really bad. It didn’t seem very high quality.
  4. Too many endings. The movie SHOULD have just ended once Batman and Superman stopped fighting. Instead, there was another 40 minutes of cramming another villain in for everyone to fight. Why? What’s the point? At that point in the story, they were already on the same team. It would have made more sense to end the movie there, hinting at a big bad guy for the next film’s set up.
  5. The mothers. I saved this one for last because it’s the most ridiculous of them all. So Batman hates all that Superman stands for during the whole movie, and then because their moms are both named Martha they’re suddenly best friends. Gag me with a spoon.

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Personally, I would give the movie 6.5/10.

Other critics haven’t been so kind. And the box office return reflects all of this. The movie will be lucky to make over $350 million in the US, which is less than what Deadpool made. It’ll probably come close or just barely hit $1 billion worldwide, which means it won’t turn much of a profit. Rumor even has it that it’s failure forced re-shoots on Suicide Squad to made it less bleak and depressing.

Suffice it to say, I don’t think that the DC movie universe is going anywhere anytime soon. The Wonder Woman movie is already filming, so we’ll at least get that, but I doubt it will be successful if it’s in the same vein as BvS. If people wouldn’t even turn out to see Batman fight Superman, they certainly aren’t going to come out to watch a solo Flash or Aquaman movie. And if they won’t do that, then there really is no DC extended universe.

“If you don’t like it, then get out.”

I’m sure we’ve all seen some form of this line uttered during a political argument of some kind. Inevitably, someone will say something like, “Well if you don’t like that America is a Christian country you can just get out of my country.” Or maybe something like, “Well if you think capitalism is so evil, there’s the door, now get out of my country.” You know, this kind of bullshit:

Is this supposed to be an insult? Are my feelings supposed to be hurt by this? Am I suposed to feel badly or demeaned? Because if so, then I’m afraid all of these people uttering these lines are going to be sorely disappointed.

Because the reality is that I would LOVE to leave America.

What? You mean I have to leave a dysfunctional republic where the government doesn’t work and the majority of the population is unhealthy and doesn’t understand basic science, where a majority of people think that the bible supersedes the constitution? Oh heavens, whatever will I do?

Except move to ANY one of these other countries:

  • Australia
  • UK
  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • New Zealand
  • You all get the point by now

There are dozens of other countries where I could move to and lead a perfectly happy, healthy, and prosperous life. Where I could enjoy the same freedoms that I enjoy here. And I’m not the only one who feels that way. One third of Americans have no qualms about moving to another country. Buried within that number are a few nuggets: only 14% of Americans are ready to move abroad within the next 5 years, and 55% of Millennials are fine with leaving the country and re-establishing elsewhere. And a whopping 84% of respondents to the survey said that the US could be “made more appealing” as a place to live.

Of course, part of the problem is that it’s hard logistically, economically, and legally to just up and move to another country. It’s expensive and time consuming, so those of us inclined to “just leave” can’t pack up and head out the next day. But the entire “if you don’t like it, leave” mentality is so starkly and falsely superior.

It all rests on “American Exceptionalism.” Because America is the greatest place ever on the face of the planet, living somewhere else is supposed to suck in comparison. “Once they get a taste of how those dumb Europeans do it, they’ll be begging to come back to America!”

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Ooh, sick burn, bro. /eyeroll

The problem with the whole premise of “get out of my country” is that it isn’t true–America isn’t an exceptional place. At least not in any good ways. We’re certainly exceptional in that we’re fatter than everyone else and you’re more likely to be discriminated against here. But the rest? Please.

For starters, many other places around the world are much happier than we are. You know where the US ranks in terms of happiness? 15th.

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You want another metric? How about income distribution and economic equality? There’s the GINI index:

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Wow! Look at where all the green countries are! And then look at which country isn’t green! Shocking.

And now for math and science!

STEM_pisa

We’re waaaaay down on the bottom of the list. Here’s a bit about healthcare spending…

TCFchart

And here’s a little bit about health in general, via Bloomberg:

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America was #44! U-S-A! U-S-A!

So let’s recap. We’re not the happiest. We’re not the healthiest. We aren’t the smartest. Remind me again why it’s such a privilege to live here? Because sometimes I really have to wonder. We have states passing laws that allow them to openly discriminate against others. We have congressmen who bring snowballs onto the floor of Congress to “prove” that climate change isn’t real. Donald Trump is a legitimate political candidate. Our infrastructure is falling apart, poisoning people in some cases like Flint Michigan. We have a law that essentially allows people and corporations to buy our government and legislation.

A lot of us would definitely take a hard pass on all of that.

Money > God

I haven’t posted anything about religion in awhile, so here goes nothing.

A lot of “religious freedom” bills have been in the news lately. I’ve posted about these before, but the general theme of all of these pieces of legislation is something along the lines of, “My religion doesn’t like certain groups of people, therefore I should be legally allowed to discriminate against them.” This argument usually pops up when it comes to employing/providing goods and services to LGTBQ people or employers having to providing birth control to women.

The bible says gays are sinful and the church says birth control is bad, so people feel that they should be legally protected under the guise of the first amendment when they deny goods or services (or basic social and economics freedoms and rights) to these people. To do otherwise would create an “undue burden” on the religious person. Basically, by allowing women to have birth control or by baking wedding cakes for gay people, someone’s right to practice their religion is being impeded. Or so the argument goes.

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I totally remember this from Sunday school

Several states have passed bills like this, to the dismay of logic, reason, compassion, and empathy enthusiasts everywhere. I guess when God said to “love thy neighbor” there was a little footnote at the bottom of the page that clarified this didn’t apply to people who weren’t Christians. But I digress.

If you follow the news, you may know that Georgia recently introduced its own Religious Freedom Bill. And you may also know that the governor there ended up vetoing it after it passed through the legislature. Why did he end up vetoing it?

Well, if you listen to the governor, you’d think it was because he’s a nice guy who thinks the bill is unnecessarily mean. Which it is. But in reality, he refused to sign it because of money.

You see, once word got out about this, the secular business world had a few problems with it. Coca-cola spoke out against it. Disney said it would never film another movie in the state. The NFL said there would never be another Superbowl in the state. In other words, if the bill passed, Georgia was set to lose a shit-ton of revenue.

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Say goodbye to our $$$, assholes.

Apparently, it never occurred to the people who wrote and passed this bill that just because it passed didn’t mean that everyone had to support it. If people have the right to refuse service to people who don’t conform to their ideology, that goes both ways: businesses don’t have to support communities that don’t conform to their ideology. The irony here is delicious.

But I think it also serves to highlight something important. Apparently, being a good Christian isn’t as important as maintaining lucrative revenue streams. Moral and religious conviction pales in comparison to the almighty dollar. “My faith is everything to me, and my convictions are so strong they need to be legally protected under the constitution! Wait, what? You’re taking away the money? Well, let’s not be hasty. My morals and convictions aren’t thaaaat strong. We can reach some kind of deal can’t we?”

Suddenly, once money enters the picture, moral absolutes and religious faith are a lot more malleable. Which, to me at least, says some pretty profound things about the religious people in this country. At the very least, it speaks to the notion that maybe, just maybe, it’s a good idea to treat EVERYONE in this country with kindness and fairness.

A novel political experiment

If there is one thing that this current election season is teaching us, it’s that the American people are fed up. That much is painfully obvious. Just witness the rise of Donald Trump. People are pissed off at the system. Congress has an approval rating that hovers somewhere in the low teens. You have an entire political party that’s either bent on obstructing everything the other party does without compromise or wants to just shut the whole thing down, implode it from the inside.

So of course Americans are upset–a lot people people are either reaching a boiling point at the gridlock in Washington or are just starting to realize how badly that kind of nonsense screws everyone over. But I have a solution. It’s rather…different. Unique, if you will. But I truly believe that it would solve all of our political problems. Just hear me out on this one.

Replace congressional elections with random selections by a computer, kind of like when you’re called for jury duty.

Now, naturally, such a system would need rules, so here they are:

  1. Everyone over the ages set forth in the constitution for service (30 for the senate, 25 for the house of representatives) gets assigned a random number and fed into the aforementioned computer system.
  2. No more six year terms for senators. Everyone gets two years.
  3. At the beginning of every two year cycle, the computer will randomly select people by state to fill out the senate and the house.
  4. If for some reason a person chosen is unable to serve (illness, advanced age, etc) another person will be randomly selected to take their place.
  5. Repeat every two years.

This probably sounds insane. How could we give the keys to the congress to a group of random people? Isn’t that kind of a big deal? Well, we already select juries in a matter similar to this, and think of how serious a duty it is to serve on a jury–lives literally hang in the balance sometimes. If we can thrust people into a complicated and convoluted legal system and trust them to make a fair decision, I say they’re ready for the damned congress.

Now let’s address how this would benefit the system and the country as a whole:

  1. No more campaigning. The entire damn thing lasts entirely too long. Why the hell does it take an entire year (or more) to have an election? More than that, whoever gets selected to serve wouldn’t have to spend so much of their time stumping and begging for money. They could, you know, do their jobs instead of running never-ending campaigns.
  2. No more career politicians. Under this new random system, if you get a crappy congress you only have to deal with it for two years, then everyone is out and a new group of people and new group of ideas and convictions is in. It’s pretty simple and it’s pretty fair. You wouldn’t get the same assholes and idiots re-elected over and over again by people who have no clue how the system works or who are idiots and assholes themselves.
  3. Screw you, lobbies and special interests. If the members of congress no longer have to run for office, then they won’t be beholden to lobbies and other big groups who donate big money to their re-election efforts. Sure, lobbyists would still be there, trying to influence elections, but without those purse strings to hold over the heads of politicians, they lose a lot of their bite.
  4. A congress that actually looks like the America is serves. Most of congress is rich, white, Christian men. In case you haven’t noticed, the amount of people in this country who are rich is a minority, white people will soon be the minority, and the number of religious folks in this country is on the decline. Under the random system, we might actually get people serving who actually understand the plights of all the different groups in this country. Can you imagine a congress where Latinos, Asians, gay people, atheists, young people, women, etc were all members? Diversity is a good thing! Diversity is where our best ideas come from. And if you want a fair government, it has to accurately represent EVERYONE. Politicians talk all the time on the campaign trail about how diversity is America’s greatest strength–then they head home to a lily-white congress.
  5. No more assholes. Politics has a way of attracting douche bags. Turns out that egocentric, power-hungry people are more likely to run for positions of power. Randomizing assignments to congress would probably eliminate that. Imagine a congress full of people with decency, humility, conscience.
  6. Bye-bye partisan politics. Strange how there are so many diverse viewpoints in this country, yet only two major political parties. Strange how most of the people in this country identify as independents, yet most of congress is full of people from the two major parties. Randomly assigning people would eliminate all of this hyper-partisan bullshit and power struggle drama between the two parties. Statistically, you’d most likely end up with a good balance of liberals, conservatives, moderates, etc.
  7. People who know what the fuck they’re doing. Enough businessmen and lawyers. We tried that and they fucked it up royally. Contrary to popular belief, other people beside businessmen and lawyers have things to contribute to the decision making process. Can you imagine scientists in congress? Or, heaven forbid, accountants? If you had scientists and accountants in congress you’d probably get the budget fucking balanced.

I can already hear people screaming, “BUT WHAT ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY?! Construction workers and burger flippers who might get picked have no clue about the world!”

Maybe they do. But even if they didn’t, so? We have ambassadors, diplomats, and a president for a reason. Beyond that, though, how much foreign policy experience does any politician have when they first run for office? Do you think any of the assholes currently sitting in congress had a clue about any of that stuff before they got there? Fuck no, get the hell out of here.

Look, I get that this is a radical idea. And it’ll never happen. It’s a pipe dream. But I think it has merit, and I think it could deliver results. At the very least, a group of random people couldn’t possibly fuck things up anymore than the current cadre of clowns and morons sitting in the capitol already have. Given the current and complete ineptitude of the congress, we literally have nothing to lose giving this a try.

A lesson from Gary

Television gets a lot of flack for mostly being full of shallow garbage. And to be sure, most of the television landscape certainly is full of superficial humor and entertainment, mere popcorn fair. But every once in awhile, there’s a show or an episode of a program that comes along and really hits it out of the park. Every once in awhile, a show comes along with great acting and quality writing and a creative team that really wants to connect with the viewer. It’s the rare show that comes along and really hits a chord with the human condition, really makes us reflect with just the right blend of humor and pathos.

Taxi is one such show. Taxi  was a sitcom from the late 70’s/early 80’s that starred Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, and Christopher Llyod, Andy Kaufman, and Marilu Henner as taxi drivers in New York. I recently started watching the show on Hulu, and I highly recommend it for anyone out there who’s looking for a great show to binge watch. Today, though, I watched a particular episode that really resonated within me. It sounds odd saying something so profound about an episode of television, but this particular episode really created an epiphany in me, helped me coalesce a lot of thoughts and feelings I’ve been kicking around.

The episode is called “Jim gets a pet.” In it, Jim (Lloyd), the aging, drugged out hippie, wins a long-shot bet on the racetrack and collects a cool $10,000. Being the hippie that he is, Jim uses the money to purchase the race horse with the intention of setting him free so he can live a more dignified life. He even names the horse Gary. Partway through the episode, though, Gary dies, and it really affects Jim, who had become quite attached to the horse. Everyone notices that Jim is really depressed about the whole thing, so Alex (Hirsch) suggests that Jim give Gary a eulogy right there in the garage for everyone to hear. What follows is probably one of the best pieces of television I’ve ever seen:

Part of the humor in this scene is that Jim, who is more often than not a completely absent-minded and scatterbrained eccentric, has these absolutely shocking moments of clarity every now and then. It’s a testament to Lloyd’s acting that he pulls this off so well. But more than that, what he’s saying is something that everyone watching that show can connect to at some point in their lives. He’s talking about a fundamental truth about being human: youth doesn’t last forever.

It’s a simple message, but the delivery here is very eloquent and laden with emotion. Youth is literally here today and gone tomorrow, and at the end of the day it’s best that we surround ourselves with people who truly know and love who we are as human beings, people who can appreciate and support us when the physical strength and resilience of our youth begins to fade. It’s a humbling message and a humbling scene.

For me, it really it home. In one month I’ll be 30 years old. And while I’m far from being old, just like Gary I’m starting to notice some things. The hair is a little thinner. My hands are a little more worn, the veins easier to see. I’m starting to notice that what once was easy for me now requires a little more effort. In short, I don’t look like I did 12 years ago, I don’t perform the same way. On an intellectual level I understand this–you get older and your body changes. But what I wasn’t prepared for, and what this speech from Taxi drives home, is that you don’t feel that way on the inside. You don’t feel like you’re older, like you’ve changed. You can look in a mirror every day of your life and see the wrinkles start to form and the gray creeping in at your temples, but you still feel like a kid, you don’t feel like you’ve changed.

I see that in my dog, too. I’ve had her for almost seven years. At the end of this year she’ll be 8. If she runs too much or jumps too high she’ll limp for a day or two afterward. She’s a little stiff when she gets up in the mornings now. But she still has that puppy spirit, she still wants to run and leap and play even though her body can’t do so the same way it used to. It’s just like Gary in that episode, and it’s a rather sobering reminder.

I mentioned that upon seeing that episode of Taxi, I had an epiphany of sorts. Lately I’ve been feeling restless. I couldn’t quite define what I was feeling, I just knew that something somewhere within me wasn’t sitting right. And now I know what it is: I haven’t been living for the present. I’ve been living everywhere else–the past and the future–but I haven’t been living for the moment that I have right now.

When I was young, people gave me that age old axiom when I was trying to decide what to do with my life: “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

Well, I love writing, so I decided to go to school for that. Only when I graduated, the money didn’t follow. So then I decided to go back to school and do something where the money WOULD follow. So I became a nurse. And indeed money has followed. I make an okay middle class income. I make more than double what the best paying job I ever had before I was nurse brought in. And you know what? It doesn’t mean anything. Not a damn thing to me.

The money hasn’t changed my life. You’d think it would–more than doubling the amount of money you’ve ever made? But really it hasn’t. I don’t have any more freedom or peace of mind than when I made less money. My life isn’t qualitatively different at all.

“Okay, Ryan,” I hear you saying, “But it must be pretty rewarding being a nurse in other ways, right? Intellectually and emotionally, helping people?”

Well, yes and no. It can be those things, for sure. But a lot of times it isn’t. A lot of times my job is 90% office politics and bureaucratic bullshit, 10% actually helping people. Sometimes it’s intellectually satisfying, but most of the time it’s very repetitive. And I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that this isn’t just because of the place I work at–it’s the nature of healthcare in general.

And so I found myself living the past. I was thinking about all of the things that I could have done, all of the things that I should have done. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? I should have done something else with my life. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

And then my thoughts started drifting toward the future. What if I never really know what my true potential is? What if I never really live up to the full extent of my natural creativity and intellect? Is it too late? Can I start all over again–again?

But today after watching that episode of Taxi, I realized that I’m thinking about this all wrong. Because it’s the present that matters. Life will always change, that’s the way of the world and it’s something that I can’t stop. But I can’t measure the success of my life based on what I have done or what I will do. I can only measure the quality of my life by how well I live it in the present. I can’t let my intelligence be defined by what a piece of paper hanging on the wall says. I can’t let my success as a human being hinge on what I tell people I do for a living at dinner parties.

Because look at what that has gotten me so far: I spend so much time working that I have no time for anything else. Income and socioeconomic status be damned, that’s a wasted life. That isn’t what I want for my life. When I think about all the things that are truly important to me–my health, relationships, friends–a career is almost antithetical to all of those ideas.

We slave away most of our lives at careers and jobs that are horrible for our health and rob of us time we could spend with loved ones, time we could spend experiencing what the world has to offer. And for what? For things? For a bigger house? Well, not me. I won’t play that game anymore. From now on, I live for the present. I live for a work/life balance that fits MY goddamned needs, not the needs of the company. I live for me, and I live for now. Because now is all I have.

Whoever said, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” had it half-right.

Just do what you love. It’s as simple as that. Enjoy the time you have, because it won’t last, and tomorrow isn’t a promise.

Do your own research

The other day I was on a Facebook page dedicated to vaccines reading an article about HPV rates and vaccine usage. Naturally, there were the usual anti-vax trolls there to sow the seeds of conspiracy. One woman, though, said something that really makes my blood boil, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard or seen this phrase uttered.

“Do your own research.”

This is what the “two sides to every theory” argument, as fallacious as it is, really boils down to. “Well you know, there are two sides to every issue, and not everyone agrees, so do your own research and come to your own conclusions.” That’s what a lot of these discussions or debates boil down to.

And it isn’t just vaccines. You can find this argument in a variety of areas–climate change, GMOs, evolution, the BBT, etc. And it isn’t just science. You can find discussions on politics and philosophy where someone eventually implores someone to “do their own research.”

In my experience, asking someone to “do their own research” really is just code for, “Here, read this thing that I’m totally biased toward.” And that’s what ultimately really upsets me most about this phrase or this tactic–it conflates reading with research, being well-read with being well-informed. In reality, all of those things are mutually exclusive. You can do a lot of reading and still be grossly misinformed, especially if you’re reading drivel or you don’t understand what you’re reading.

And similarly, simply reading something isn’t research. We’re talking about science, not buying a used car.

When you get down to it, what people like this anti-vaccine woman are doing isn’t research–no matter how they fancy Googling and watching YouTube to be research. Simply reading contradictory information isn’t the same thing as performing a scientific experiment to confirm or deny something. “Doing your own research” would entail actual scientific work–doing an epidemiological survey in this specific instance. In general, starting your own lab and using the scientific method to test an assertion yourself would actually be “doing your own research.”

Of course, in real life, that’s never what’s implied or recommended. It’s always links to websites, books, videos–none of which are scientific in the least. And if by chance someone DOES happen to cite something from an actual scientific source, it usually has absolutely nothing to do with the claim that they’re making; they’ve tangentially used other research to make a claim that lies outside of the original research, but which confirms a bias or a fear.

In reality, if all the anti-vax/GMO/Climate change/etc people out there really DID do actual scientific research, they’d abandon their conspiracy theories and other beliefs, because they’d see the empirical data for themselves. Of course that isn’t to say they can’t already see the data for themselves–thousands and thousands of researchers and scientists all over the world have already performed countless experiments showing the data.

But for whatever reason, these anti-(insert here) people don’t like data that’s consistent and predictable that contradicts their values or fears. And thus we have “Do your own research.” Which is a polite way of asking people to basically ignore quantitative and empirical data and evidence in favor of biased pseudosciecne, quackery, or denialism.

If I could sum all of this up, it would look like this:

This is NOT what research looks like

She orchestrates her mornings to the tune of coffee
This is “research”

THIS is what actual research looks like:

labtest_01.jpg
Pictured: actual goddamned science