In my series on promoting science using "demand-side reform", Steelman commented:
I usually try to understand others' points of view, especially when they seem rather misguided. That way I may be able to assess the roots of their false beliefs, and have some hope of convincing them to change their views. My wife, however, usually goes straight for name calling. She'll be delighted to know there's an ethical system that employs her preferred method of operation.
Nothing in this blog will condone the behavior of Steelman's wife, as described here.
In fact, the person who goes straight for name-calling is doing exactly that which I condemn in these posts, not that which I commend.
The moral crime is that of jumping straight to conclusions and disregarding evidence - of failing to take the effort to actually understand what one is talking about.
The person who "tries to understand other points of view" is the person engaging in evidence-based thinking (I hope - that this is a vital aspect of how he acquires understanding), and is the person who is to be praised. The person who "goes straight to name-calling" is the arrogant person who presumes a perfect understanding of a topic without actually studying it, and is the person to be criticized and condemned.
Furthermore, nothing that I have written recently shall be taken to contradict my earlier posts the accused deserve a presumption of innocence - the benefit of any reasonable doubt. It is up to the accuser to demonstrate that the evidence supports the conclusion that the accused is guilty - never the duty of the accuser to prove her innocence. And his method of proof of guilt shall be evidence-based.
So, while I advocate that it is legitimate to use criticism, condemnation, and ridicule against those who advocate evidence-free decision making (particularly on matters of public policy), the person who does the condemning must still show that the evidence supports the guilt of the accused.
In fact, the moral requirements that the accused is to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty, and that the proof of guilt is to be based on the evidence, are corollaries to the proposition that people have an obligation to base their decisions on evidence-based thinking. They are applications of that principle.
Ultimately, Steelman actually repeated the main point I have given in these articles.
I'm concerned that the supply side, the side that can educate the public on the differences between science and pseudoscience, is dwindling in response to low demand.
This is why we need demand-side reform. However, demand-side reform does not come from reason. It comes from the manipulation of desires through social tools such as praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment.
Stiffle and suppress demand-side reform - insist that the advocates of evidence-free thinking may not be criticized - those who demand evidence-free policy making . . . and we create an environment in which evidence-free policy making can grow and thrive.
That would be (and has been) a mistake.