A thing I keep banging on about is that a crucial stage in an argument occurs when the burden of proof gets reversed.
Crackpot Theorists devise a Crackpot Theory. It unites them. It excites them. It excuses their shared belief that The Free Market Is Not Good Enough. They demand action from each other. They capture small parts of government departments that most people don’t give a damn about. They write small laws and get them passed.
A few Critics notice, and start explaining that the Crackpot Theory is, maybe, a crackpot theory. The Crackpot Theorists say: No it isn’t! The Critics say: But you are making bad decisions! The Crackpot Theorists say: No we aren’t! As this phase of the argument gets seriously going, the Critics become ever more convinced that the Crackpot Theorists are indeed Crackpot Theorists, and because the Crackpot Theorists are behaving like the maniacal Crackpot Theorists that they are, the Critics grow in number, and in their certainty that the Crackpot Theorists are totally crackpot.
The small bits of the government departments grow into big bits, and infect other bits. The laws they introduce get bigger and more intrusive.
But sadly, nobody else cares, or not enough to stop all this. The money and inconvenience involved is still trivial, by the usual standards of government-imposed expense and inconvenience. Let the Crackpot Theorists have their fun! And besides: Maybe, just maybe, the Crackpot Theorists are onto something. Better safe than sorry! Anyway, what can you do?
As the Crackpot Theory grows in power, powerless people start to notice and to cry out: Your Crackpot Theory is just an excuse for us to be taxed more! Alas, for many people this is a feature, not a bug.
Throughout this phase of the history of the Crackpot Theory, the Critics of the Crackpot Theory are in the impossible position of having only one way of stopping the rise to prominence of the Crackpot Theory, which is to convince the Crackpot Theorists that they are wrong.
Some Crackpot Theorists are convinced. Quite a few of them creep away in ashamed silence. A tiny few even say in public that they were wrong. But others of them are now so wholly dependent for their livelihoods upon the Crackpot Theory being true that they stick with it anyway, despite now suspecting or even knowing what total crackpottery it is. What can they do?
Until, one day, the Crackpot Theorists pick a fight with a group of people powerful enough for their anger to actually matter, to the entire world.
At which point, the burden of proof, hitherto weighing down only upon the shoulders of the Critics, now descends upon the shoulders of the Crackpot Theorists themselves. Suddenly, they have to convince the world that they are right and that their Critics are wrong. They have to convince their Critics that their Critics are wrong, just to shut their Critics up from saying what the world now wants to be told, namely that the fight with those powerful and angry people is a fight that is not worth having.
But our Crackpot Theory says that we must have this fight! No matter what! The world must be saved, even if it is ruined in the process!
China will take swift counter-measures that could include impounding European aircraft if the EU punishes Chinese airlines for not complying with its scheme to curb carbon emissions, the China Air Transport Association said on Tuesday.
Wei Zhenzhong, secretary general of the China Air Transport Association, said:
“We would try to avoid any trade war.”
If that’s not a powerful and angry person threatening a trade war, I don’t know what is. If the trade war duly happens, next up:
trade war. (What was that about the EU putting an end to conflict between Great Powers?)
So, Crackpot Theorists, is your Crackpot Theory true enough to be worth stuff like this? Go ahead. Convince us.