Sunday, January 09, 2011

Facts and logic do not work on the ideologues

Ha'aretz this morning has another article that twists the facts of the Abu Rahma case. This one, by Gideon Levy, blames the IDF for what he thinks is clear evidence that Jawaher Abu Rahma's death, and he calls the IDF spokespeople liars.

Now there is no doubt that the IDF has not handled this as well as they should have. But what is even more clear is that there is no way that a healthy person with no other medical condition will be killed by a weak concentration of tear gas that hovered for a few seconds from between 150 and 500 meters away, depending on the version of the story.

So I commented on the story:
Never in history has anyone been documented of dying from CS tear gas inhalation outdoors - let alone from 150 meters away from the gas source. Never. It is essentially impossible to breathe in a lethal concentration of CS gas for the amount of time necessary for a healthy person to die in a ventilated area. Levy and Haaretz, by insisting otherwise, are the liars.

I received two responses. The first one was from Darwish:
Thank you for clearing that up. Now can you please list your credentials to lend support to your stated "facts."
So Ha'aretz has scientific credentials that I lack. I didn't know that.

The second one was:
How do you know all this? Researched intensively on tear gas use over the past 50 years have you? Doctorate in the subject? Even if this poor girl did have an underlying condition, it was evidently the gas which led to her death. Whether 99.9% of the population would not have died under the same circumstances is really not the issue. THe IDF should step up and take responsibility. Their constant evasion of responsibility is totally counterproductive.
So I answered:
Sources? Sure!
Physicians for Human Rights 1989 paper on tear gas
Archives of Toxicology vol 77 number 10 (misquoted by Haaretz on Friday)
BMJ June 2009
And, finally, Prof. Dr. Uwe Heinrich in his paper on CS at Waco said "There are no reports on human death related to CS exposure" in 2000.

Haaretz apparently doesn't let me put in URLs, but the reports are out there - IF you care about the truth and not simply finding fault with Israel.
(I had first tried putting in URLs to the blog, which Ha'aretz rejected.)

The funny thing is that my fact-based response, which anyone could Google, got seven "thumbs up" and five "thumbs down." (My original post also received a healthy number of "thumbs down.")

Now, why would anyone disapprove a post that gives the real research and unbiased information?

The only conclusion you can draw is that a lot of people are emotionally invested in the idea that the IDF is filed with murderers and liars, and any fact - no matter how tangential - that disturbs that meme is viewed somehow as a threat to their cherished viewpoint. Instead of shaking them up, it strengthens their resolve to fight.

In other words, logic and facts are useless. These people are following a religion, the religion of IDF-hatred, and convincing them otherwise is as useless as using logic against a Christian fundamentalist or an Apple Macintosh fan. One someone is emotionally invested, then - game over. This is why it is so difficult to find people who who publicly give out their opinions who are willing to admit to or correct their mistakes.

From a hasbara perspective, it is useless to try to convince the ideologues that they are wrong. Practically none of them can listen to facts that contradict their worldview without getting offended, and that very offense shuts down whatever little ability they may have had to listen to logic. It is a form of primitive flight or fight.

I am convinced, however, that most people do not have any strong opinions, and sort of go with the flow - whatever they glean from the headlines. These are the people that need to be targeted with facts - and with soundbites, posters, videos, and so on. When going into battle against the frothing haters like Levy and his fans, the important thing is to remember who the audience is.

It isn't the other side. It's the lurkers.