Wise Words for Whitewater from Steak-umm | FREE WHITEWATER
FREE WHITEWATER

Wise Words for Whitewater from Steak-umm

There’s a thread on Twitter from Steak-umm (an American brand of thin-sliced frozen steaks) that does a better job (truly) discussing the role of science and skepticism about the pandemic than much of what’s published online. The full thread is available at Twitter, and excerpts are imediately below.

It’s spot-on for Whitewater.

(Note: the thread intentionally uses homophones related to food, e.g. steak for stake and meat for meet.)

ok it’s time to talk about societal distrust in experts and institutions, the rise of misinformation, cultural polarization, and how to work toward some semblance of mutually agreed upon information before we splinter into irreconcilable realities

….

science the *term* has been politicized—not the *process* of it. as that process has evolved on issues, both public and private institutions have taken inspiration from it, but those decisions are still driven by economic and political interests which muddy how the term is used

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distrust in institutions is complex. it’s accelerated by people’s access to infinite information, credible sources being paywalled, corruption, honest misteaks, or propaganda, but underneath it all is a cultural polarization dating back decades that won’t be solved overnight

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experts need to earn trust back by acknowledging misteaks and being transparent about their processes, what’s known, and what’s still being learned. they need to address valid concerns. they need to meat people where they are and deliver tangible benefits to improve their lives

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laypeople need to hold both their skepticism and trust of experts in an open hand. they need to acknowledge their limitations in accessing or interpreting fields or resources outside their expertise. they need to keep learning media literacy and grappling with empirical evidence

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the shortcomings within experts and institutions don’t make fringe sources equally credible or trustworthy. if a doctor gets something wrong, you try another doctor, not a plumber. if a study gets something wrong, you don’t rely on anecdotes for truth, you rely on better studies

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the usefulness of skepticism in experts and institutions is strongest within competing experts and institutions, not outsiders. an outsider may have certain insights worth engaging, but they can’t be weighed as equally credentialed as a relevant expert or institutional consensus

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an institution may have structural biases that need to be acknowledged, but alternative sources in media are littered with their own biases and have little to no accountability, so no matter where you get information from you’re still extending a degree of trust in something

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you can maintain healthy levels of skepticism while also extending trust where it’s earned by empirical evidence and expertise. use critical thinking. work toward solutions with one another. and remember, this whole thread was an ad so please buy our frozen meat

steak-umm bless

See also Whitewater’s Local Politics 2021 — COVID-19: Skepticism and Rhetoric.

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