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Prevalent Intolerance

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Favoring one's beliefs naturally leads to disagreement when people trust different information. Even when presented with the same information this confirmation bias can lead to polarization between those with differing views because we persevere in our beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately this intolerance is prevalent in the wine industry for particular issues as well as the world at large.

Climate Change means mankind is the cause of average temperatures on our planet increasing. Many wine grape growers will confirm that temperatures in their vineyards are increasing and the allowance of seven new varieties in Bordeaux is evidence that growers are taking steps to address it. Politicians the world over are endeavoring to agree to unenforced protocols and raise taxes on those they decide they have grievances against.

Others question whether mankind is the cause of temperature increases and whether this is an existential threat at all. The "climate alarmists" point to computer models showing the world is doomed without immediate action while the "climate deniers" trust the evidence that supports their view. My view is that people impacted by the weather in their region will take action to address their situation, just as the Bordelais have recently done and others have done during cooler and warmer periods of our history.

Sadly, discourse about climate change has regressed into doublespeak, where adversaries project their own faults onto others and intolerance masquerades as tolerance. The term has connotations of deliberate pollution, assertions of extreme weather, and portrayal of carbon dioxide as an invisible enemy rather than a life-giving force. Few would argue that pollution has virtue or that regions should take no action to impactful changes. However, nuance is key to distinguish issues of merit from political advance. The scientific method is inherently opposed to notions that "the science is settled". It's time we moved on from political commitment and obfuscation (indoctrination) to solving problems that matter.

The World of Fine Wine provides examples of both intolerance and moderation in the discussion. Reputable wine writers like Margaret Rand have inveighed on skeptics as "tinfoil-hat-wearing deniers" (issue 53) before detailing how some regions in Germany have benefited enormously from warmer temperatures. Writer and sommelier Joel B Payne also notes the beneficial impacts of warmer temperatures in Germany (issue 24). Writer James Halliday lays out the arguments well (issue 22) and highlights practical solutions. Anthony Barton, owner of Chateau Leoville-Barton, remains a practical skeptic (issue 6) and clearly disentangles the issue of global warming from air and water pollution.

Solving problems intelligently requires that we define them clearly, discuss the merits of alternative solutions in the context of cost and benefit., share in the responsibility of implementing an agreed course of action. and make course corrections as we observe the results of our actions. Without respect for the beliefs of others and embracing scientific observations as fact rather than embracing dogmatic models, we cannot progress. It's hard enough to implement a solution we all agree on, it's impossible when everyone has their own truth. It's time to stop the prevalent culture of intolerance toward reasonable people that hold views different than our own and work on real solutions to real problems.

Reasonable Discourse

The most disturbing aspect of life in our times is the lack of respect for views that do not coincide with our own. Blatant manifestations come as arrogant dismissals while more subtle forms add unrelated references to an otherwise sensical discourse in an attempt to portray their bias as unquestioned fact.

Some beliefs are disregarded as lunacy (such as Sasquatch exist or evolution is a flawed theory) because they disrupt our world view. Other beliefs are simply deigned deplorable because they do not conform to our activist agenda (such as the belief that climate change is caused by human activies and unquestioned confidence in those with authority). Evidence supporting lunacy or deplorable views is dismissed as unscientific while our own views are of course correct because they are "fact checked" so as not to result in cognitive dissonance.

Too often, those that do not hold sanctioned beliefs are forced to quietly tiptoe lest they be ostracized. Even more disturbing are systems of ubiquitous intimidation (such as social credit systems) forcing compliance to acceptable beavior and groupthink. Unfortuately most people do succumb to or actively support the seductive justification of "the common good" for denying individual rights, blind to the consequent ravishes of such tyranny.

The wine world is not exempt from such contempt for other views which destroys what could be enjoyable if not caring and enduring personal relationships. Most of us are guilty of parroting narratives that coincide with our beliefs like climate change and racial bigotry.

We rely on others to form our firm opinions rather than considering historical context, separating entangled issues, accepting observations that invalidate our hypothesis, and thinking clearly. If you think others hold insane beliefs try testing your own. Truth can handle scrutiny.

The next time you hear or read pontifications that human activity is the major cause of climate change realize that such beliefs are based on groupthink, not science. When you hear or read that our country is driven by racial bigotry realize that such beliefs are based on political advantage, not reality. I do not dismiss individual circumstance but I will not hold them as universal truths.

Reasonable and intelligent people can and often do disagree with each other. Listening and seriously considering the merit of alternative views as to the causes of our observations is how society progresses.

We can't avoid our bias but we can avoid our condemnation. Most of my enduring friends hold quite different views than myself yet we value our friendship more, sometimes out of conflict avoidance but usually because we learn from and appreciate each other.

On a lighter note, I hope you enjoy watching comedian George Carlin's The Planet is Fine.

I raise a glass to reasonable discourse!

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