Getting involved and doing stuff is hard, which is why people don’t often bother.
When taking action involves leaping multiple hurdles, even minor ones, with no immediate and obvious pay-off, it can become really tempting to shrug it off and move on, and tell yourself that it wouldn’t have made that big a difference, or that someone else would be better suited to take care of it.
Which is why I think some of the coolest work in this area is about removing or minimising those hurdles, to make it much less of a long-term brain-draining effort for people to get useful things done.
I’ve written before about politics, and the simple steps to getting involved in that, thanks to numerous handy tools that people have set up for precisely this purpose. I was unlikely to ever bother finding out who my MP is and how to contact them and typing up a letter and thinking what to say all on my own steam, but sites like TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem let me do all of that in like two minutes, without having to get up from my chair.
Do you like getting things done in just a few minutes without having to get up or do anything that’s hard?
I’ve not submitted many complaints to official regulatory bodies about alternative medicine before. There was MMS that one time, because that stuff was just horrifying and I was feeling energetic. There was the magnets for menopause thing, which was at least a partial success.
But it’s still a lot of effort navigating through the pages of the Advertising Standards Authority or Trading Standards and deciding what avenue of complaint is appropriate and finding the right forms and choosing what relevant information to include where.
Which is why FishBarrel – put together by Simon Perry off of the Leicester Skeptics in the Pub – is so nifty. It’s a plug-in for your Chrome browser so that you barely have do any of that crap yourself. You just see some dodgy website online claiming to cure sadness with the power of authentic unicorn tears (or whatever), highlight the bullshit in question, click COMPLAIN, and it’s done. I’m simplifying, but just barely.
This thing is going to make it much more likely that I’ll end up taking action about medical claims which can’t be supported in future, instead of rationalising that it probably wouldn’t make a difference anyway.