Of Tinfoil and Ostrich Feathers

It’s pretty much always been “the move”: If someone is telling you something that frightens you, something you don’t WANT to believe (whether it’s true/real or not), the least witty among us will go for the cliche.

Let’s call it THS – Tinfoil Hat Syndrome. And let’s be clear, it’s not about discourse, or argument, or disagreement of any kind. When someone tells you to put on your tinfoil hat, or suggests you’re already wearing one, this is their equivalent of holding up a cross to ward off vampires. Because a vampire is “bringing them bad news” too. Not that they’ll actually consider the possible existence of vampires, which I will neither confirm nor deny here.

I call these reflexively fearful types ostriches. I even make up memes for them.

Perhaps this seems harsh, but the truth is that they can’t handle the truth. (No movie cliche intended here, I still haven’t watched that flick.) But that is no excuse to allow them to try to disparage and ridicule those who bring them the truth. So…”ostriches”.

I’m hoping the term will catch on.

Of course, calling people weasels and rats (and yes, ostriches too) has always made me feel a little off the mark: After all, weasels and rats and ostriches are hardly “dishonorable”, by and large, as I understand it. But the animal analogies are part of our world cultural dialogue, so ostrich it is. Do they actually hide their heads in holes in the ground out of fear? Not even sure of that. But it’s the cliche, and the world “gets” it when you post this…

So You're Sure.jpg

The thing is, it’s unfortunate that it must come down to “My Meme vs. Your Meme” at all. I for one like open-minded, scientifically based discourse with as little emotional content as possible. Emotion precludes what little notion of objectivity we might ever put into social context. So if I say, “I saw a flying atomic fireball encased in the shape of a perfect sphere, about the size of a bus, cruise silently through the night sky at about five hundred to a thousand feet overhead, catching meteors along the way”, though I am telling the truth there are many who would immediately go for the tinfoil hat comment, image, GIF, meme, etc. They immediately want to reduce the discussion to the lowest common denominator.

So I play along.

I have GIMP 2, a wonderful Photoshop-for-free thing that lets me make memes all night long. It’s fun. It’s great practice for the book covers I’m getting paid to do these days. And the funny thing is, with most of them, once you’ve gone as “dumbed down” with your responses as they have, they’ve got nothing else. They can’t do the highbrow argument, and you matched them on the lowbrow one.

You have to attack fear from every possible angle. It’s our greatest nemesis, so it’s the hardest to beat.

Here’s hoping you remember the ostrich memes next time someone is throwing foil hats at you.

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