Beauty is only skin deep essay

This story has many variants, religious and secular, scientific, economic and mystic. It is the story of human centrality, of a species destined to be lord of all it surveys, unconfined by the limits that apply to other, lesser creatures. What makes this story so dangerous is that, for the most part, we have forgotten that it is a story. Humans have always lived by stories, and those with skill in telling them have been treated with respect and, often, a certain wariness.

Beauty is only skin deep essay

Tim Harford writes The Problem With Factswhich uses Brexit and Trump as jumping-off points to argue that people are mostly impervious to facts and resistant to logic: Facts, it seems, are toothless. Trying to refute a bold, memorable lie with a fiddly set of facts can often serve to reinforce the myth.

Important truths are often stale and dull, and it is easy to manufacture new, more engaging claims. And giving people more facts can backfire, as those facts provoke a defensive reaction in someone who badly wants to stick to their existing world view.

I think this is generally a good article and makes important points, but there are three issues I want to highlight as possibly pointing to a deeper pattern.

Harford expects us to be impressed by this study. But how is this different from all of those social science facts to which he believes humans are mostly impervious? But given that the entire field is now in serious doubt, I feel like it would have been judicious to mention some of this in the article.

This is especially true given that the article itself is about the way that false ideas spread by people never double-checking their beliefs. Yet Harford writes an entire article about a worldwide plague of false beliefs without mustering enough vigilance to see if the relevant studies are true or not.

His key example is tobacco companies sowing doubt about the negative health effects of smoking — for example, he talks about tobacco companies sponsoring accurate research into all of the non-smoking-related causes of disease so that everyone focused on those instead.

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But his solution — telling engaging stories, adding a human interest element, enjoyable documentaries in the style of Carl Sagan — seems unusually unsuited to the problem. The National Institute of Health can make an engaging human interest documentary about a smoker who got lung cancer.

And the tobacco companies can make an engaging human interest documentary about a guy who got cancer because of asbestos, then was saved by tobacco-sponsored research.

Beauty is only skin deep essay

Opponents of Brexit can make an engaging documentary about all the reasons Brexit would be bad, and then proponents of Brexit can make an engaging documentary about all the reasons Brexit would be good. If you get good documentary-makers, I assume both will be equally convincing regardless of what the true facts are.

All three of these points are slightly unfair. But I worry that taken together, they suggest an unspoken premise of the piece. The fundamental problem is one of transmission: Medical researchers have lots of useful facts about vaccines.

Statisticians know some great facts about the link between tobacco and cancer shame about Ronald Fisherthough.The Death of the Moth. Moths that fly by day are not properly to be called moths; they do not excite that pleasant sense of dark autumn nights and ivy-blossom which the commonest yellow-underwing asleep in the shadow of the .

Beauty is only skin deep essay

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