To what extent do we play along with people acting on the basis of false information? That is a very good question but raises a number of other issues. I’ve been struggling with this increasingly as willful ignorance has become a political and public health issue.
We all learn sometime after our teenage years that it doesn’t gain us much when we call people idiots even if it is true. Small falsehoods are the lubricant for primate social relationships. Sometimes, of course, it requires a whole bucket of grease so there is a volume factor to the extent of ‘harmless’ acceptance.
This is a social standard. We were probably all taught as children that ‘if you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all’. I think that is still valid. It’s better to smile and say nothing leaving it a bit of a mystery than start one of those hopeless debates with a true believer. If you go to far in suggesting a positive you may be inundated with propaganda. A silence may be a bit awkward but, I think, that is a necessary awkwardness.
On your specific point of honoring (a better word than humoring) transgender or gender different individuals this is significantly different from pretending to agree with a flat earthier or antivax idiot. Personal space and personal presentation is, after all, personal. They are not telling you a lie about the planet we live on or on shared public knowledge. They are saying I prefer to be considered as [insert gender, religion, ethnicity, or Dodger Fan]. Ok, now that I know I will keep that in mind.
No harm to the planet, society or the universe. The other examples are insulting decades of work and knowledge if not centuries if not millennia. Those statements are a public affront and I would say an defamation of not one person but of thousand if not millions. That is a civil rights abuse.
The only statement that can be given to them is, “that’s your problem”. If they insist on attempting to force lies and misinformation in public on public decisions they need to be ignored and, I’m afraid now, dealt with as a public threat.
I think we are a point that we now must take this as a critical point of public safety and human survival. Up to now, in the US and most industrialized and postindustrial states, this has been left to society to work out under generally handled social etiquette. But population pressure, urbanization, and dangerous political manipulation now requires that this be formalized legally and subsumed under civil and individual rights.
The precedent is shouting “Fire” in a theater with no fire. This would require a very different standard that would enshrine broadly agreed scientific information without destroying open debate.
Again, I think it is easy to protect the rights of individuals to be considered and addressed at their preference as the object of that is themselves while denying the right to publicly and knowingly state provably false assumptions.
The scientific method is the best system that we have ever developed. You must prove what you posit and anyone can challenge that with empirical data that is then verified by anyone who wants to do so. If there is resultant doubt the issue, no matter how previously settled, becomes open for debate.
The laws of classical physics have stood with refinements for several hundred years. Vaccinations have stood for a couple of hundred roughly. An empirical challenge is always allowed. Everything that we know, scientifically is now based on things that have stood the test of being open to permanent and continuous challenge. Many people don’t understand that.
That is an educational issue.