Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Please check your facts

Let’s face it, there are lots of issues facing the country that deserve to be discussed and analyzed. I don’t have a monopoly on knowing what’s right and neither does anyone else. I think an open reasonable dialogue might help to alleviate some of the tension and resolve some of the issues.

The problem is we appear to have lost the understanding of the difference between a fact and an opinion. We’re also too goddamned lazy to gather facts BEFORE forming an opinion.

This is ignorance breeding pure stupidity. You can’t carry on a reasonable conversation with someone that leaps to conclusions before getting his facts straight. Worse, and this is the real scary part, a number of studies suggest that someone that reaches an opinion based upon faulty facts, even after it is pointed out he had things wrong, will still cling to and defend that opinion, ignoring, twisting or rationalizing the facts as necessary.

Well, at least the studies suggest that many Conservatives will do that. Liberals apparently tend to accept the facts and alter their opinion.

So how do you ever convince those Conservatives they’re wrong? It appears as if you can’t and I have lots of quotes and anecdotal evidence that backs this up.

So, whether that’s the case or not, PLEASE try to reserve judgment until you’re fairly certain you have the facts right. If something sounds so outrageous as to make your blood boil, so ridiculous that it sounds like it can’t be real, IT PROBABLY ISN’T.

Understand what is known as “Confirmation Bias.” We all tend to believe and interpret information that supports our preconceived notions. We also tend to remember that information better. Your current opinions can even bias how you interpret new information or evidence.

If we don’t like Vanilla Ice Cream, we will dismiss or ignore detailed scientific studies which claim taste or health benefits for Vanilla Ice Cream but leap at and repeat an anecdotal story about someone who got sick after eating it.

Not everything is black and white.

Also, just because someone passes on information that is inaccurate doesn’t mean he’s lying. If he honestly believes what he is saying then he is simply mistaken. However, and this a HUGE however, after it is pointed out to him that he is mistaken, if he continues to pass on that information as if it were true, then he is lying and that’s a whole new ball game.

You cannot rationally reason with someone who has no qualms about being dishonest. This is why I no longer bother to have conversations with Creationists or Evangelical Christians. I have found both of them, on numerous occasions, to be flat out dishonest. They will lie to your face in the hope that you don’t realize they’re lying.

Both appear to believe that the end justifies the means. Not only do I generally reject that philosophy, I don’t find the “end” they are working toward terribly appealing.

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