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Fried Chicken Initiatives, Internet Laws, Cognitive Dissonance, and Self-Justification

February 28, 2011


We shall here by invoke “The fried chicken initiative” which means the minute someone casts doubt on someone’s intelligence because they are from the south-they immediately lose the argument.–courtesy of Kathleen

Did you notice this new law Kathleen coined up above the mommy-blog banner? I’ve got, in case you didn’t know it, another blog at Science 2.0, which from sheer numbers of readers is my primary blog. My science or autism related pieces go over there, usually with some slight modification  for a wider audience, and the facilitated communication pieces and the vaccine pieces get the most comments because folks who won’t comment here will there. Recently one of the pieces on facilitated communication has continued to get attention from someone who really, really, really wants FC to be real, and after a weekend of an absurd tug-of-war where the poster decided to write that since I was in Texas, “she probably thinks the south won the war…or that there were two wars…the civil war and the war between the states…she might even believe the earth was created 4000 BC…or that it’s flat.” 

You can see how the fried chicken initiative came about, can’t you? Yes, appeal to ridicule is such a profound way to argue that I must be wrong on facilitated communication since Texans are renowned for their intellectual prowess. Actually, it’s the Texas Board of Education that can’t get its collective head out of its collective arse, not necessarily individual Texans who have the problem. 

So another internet law, mirroring Godwin’s Law, is created.

I won’t belabor the point here that facilitated communication is a fraud; I’ve made that case repeatedly and backed up the contention with scientific evidence. I will note that even safe-havens of science like MIT, can fall for the woo (thanks Jim Todd, for sharing the link). 

Why does facilitated communication and its watered-down stepchild rapid prompting method  continue to draw such staunch (and often oddly worded) support? Just like the vaccines-stole-my-baby crowd, what’s going on is people who are, to borrow, my insistent critic over at Science 2.0, “true believers.” I think, that when you can reach people before they’ve been exposed, give them the science, show them how the ideomotor effect works, that you can keep those folks from being conned or buying into the belief system. Just like education about homoepathy and other woo works well before the fact, so to does demonstrating how easily it is to manipulate a relatively passive individual into being able to type whatever the facilitator wants.

But the need to justify a belief system after the fact is going to get in the way of reaching individuals. They’ve seen it with their own eyes, after all, finally had their child tell them the all important, longed for “I love you.” It’s powerful. I suspect, the longer they use FC or RPM, the more cognitive dissonance, the greater the need for self-justification, the less likely they’ll alter their positions. Anyone who argues against their beloved position is the enemy.

In other words, it’s no different than the anti-vaccine community. The need to be right outweighs the need to have accurate information, and anyone who throws a wrench in the works is to be vilified.

Watch the below video, where the Belgian coma patient is being clearly facilitated; although the media was initially completely gullible and bought into this too-good-to-be-true story, it was later debunked.

Science bloggers who wrote out about this case:

PZ Myers:

James Randi:


David Gorski:


Lee McPherson:


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