Blah, that’s why I don’t like Maher or Realtime. It’s pretty obvious that they had all their little zingers planned out with a “global warming denier” as the butt, and then plowed right on through even though the guest was no such thing. Maher plays the same stupid “for us or against us” game that Washington loves, which drives me crazy. People like him because he takes some unpopular views, but he’s still a lame-ass.
Adams does make an interesting point about how most people have a lot of trouble slotting new information into anything but “for” or “against” what they believe. Are you pro-gun, or anti-gun? Are you pro-abortion or anti-abortion? Is Iran a good country or a bad country? Of course no reasonable opinion falls into any of these categories.
I also always see this with Supreme Court rulings, where people get up in arms about the SCOTUS ruling “against” something. No, they make rulings about the interpretation of laws — if you don’t like the laws, then blame your legislators who made them, not the SCOTUS.
Another little comment: I’ve found that people who grow up in eastern societies (China, Taiwan, Japan etc) often have far less problem with falling into false dichotomies like this. In fact I’ve found that many of them have trouble even recognizing true dichotomies when they exist, which can be frustrating when you’re an engineer trying to show that one approach works and another doesn’t (ahem).
I had a really fascinating conversation with a lady in Taiwan who couldn’t understand why America so steadfastly defends Taiwan’s right to be independent from China. I explained that America likes Taiwan because they’re a democracy, which we think is better than Communism. She thought that was strange; she understood why Democracy is good and makes sense for American people, but explained that many Taiwanese (including her) aren’t sure it makes sense for Taiwanese people because of cultural differences. So she didn’t understand why Americans would particularly care, and actually was a little taken aback that America would be angry if Taiwan were to dump their democratic government.
Not that I watch Bill Maher, but there might be another explanation for what was going on. Oftentimes, people talk in code. For example, the phrase “state’s rights” was a popular code phrase for racial segregation.
So if I heard someone claiming that “global warming might be a positive thing”, I might assume they’re a global warming denialist too.
So the real explanation might be laziness instead of cognitive dissonance.
PS We all are intellectually lazy at times, there’s just too much information to parse it all.