PZ Myers has something to say which is kind of like something I keep saying. He warms up with a lot of context and stuff but here's the essential point:
"Best to evaluate each thing on its merits…look into the pros and cons and form an opinion of your own."
That’s a familiar mantra of the disingenuous internet skeptic, and it could also be the motto of the conservative pundit, from Ben Shapiro to Jesse Watters — you know, the same crowd that says “Facts, not feelings” while simultaneously telling you to trust the authority of unqualified jackasses. I might even have used similar words at times, telling people who are waffling over an idea to go look up the sources. It’s an appealing sentiment that assumes the listener has an open mind, the tools to examine an idea closely, and honestly wants to arrive at the truth.
It’s also a dangerous sentiment.
That’s not how you teach or learn. Smart people — the experts, you know — spent years of careful, disciplined study to build up a body of ideas that are supported by evidence and experiments. They distill their work down into short, intellectually demanding papers that yes, you can criticize, but only if you put as much work into it as the investigators did. It takes hard work to be an expert or authority. Yet somehow we also try to believe that someone should be able to reach a conclusion because we heard a short summary on the television by a talking airhead. “Evaluate” does not mean feed a casual statement into the grinding mass of prior opinions whirring away in your head so you can process the words into justifications for your biases, that is, “form an opinion”.
It takes years of study to become an epidemiologist (or climatologist, or biologist, or whatever complex field of study finds itself in the forefront of the latest crisis), and yet we’re supposed to believe everyone can resolve the conflicting chaos of superficialities they get from their TV into a deep and serious understanding of an issue? People don’t work that way.
Exactly, Tucker Carlson doesn't have a "viewpoint" or opinions that should be evaluated in the marketplace of ideas. He's a bullshit artist who spews lies and is completely ignorant of the subjects he spews about. The truth is not determined by your political allegiance or your policy preferences: it is what it is. Conservatives reject the science of anthropogenic climate change because accepting the truth means acknowledging that the Free Market™ doesn't maximize human welfare. (Actually it doesn't exist and can't exist, even in principle, but that's for another day.) People who somehow see it as an infringement on their "liberty" to be required to wear a mask, socially distance, and get vaccinated, find that it produces a lot less cognitive dissonance if they pretend the scientific truths about Covid-19 are actually a hoax.
Of course their concept of liberty is warped anyway. They aren't complaining about speed limits, or driver's licenses, or even the many requirements for vaccination that already exist for schoolchildren. If you hit me with your car or make it unsafe for me to be in a public place because you are selfish and irresponsible your issue obviously isn't about liberty, because you are more than happy to infringe mine. Your issue is that you want to be an irresponsible idiot.
And BTW, the existence of insane death cults in other countries doesn't somehow make it okay that we have one here.