Saturday 8 June 2019

Why do I bother?

The other day on social media, specifically Facebook, I said A. Somebody accused me of meaning B. But I said A. They disagreed with B. But I said A. Now I'm wondering if I hadn't explained myself clearly, or was this person seeing this through their own personal lens of interpretation (bias)?

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
-Unknown (misattributed to Alan Greenspan - Wikiquote)

Whatever the case, why am I wasting my time like this?

Urban Dictionary: timesuck
Something that's engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children.

"Ever since I got on Facebook I haven't been able to stay away. I'm spending hours on it each day -- it's a total time suck, but I can't stop! Grocery shopping and laundry will have to wait."

This sums up the hilarity of all this. Or should I say stupidity?

While I suppose one could make the argument that in a way, social media is the modern form of a town square, church, or coffee shop, that is a communal place where people gather and talk to exchange ideas, does it demonstrate, albeit in a faster and more global fashion, an odd characteristic of the Human species?

I've noticed how uninformed and ill-informed we all may be in our worldview. Your average person does little or no research into anything. They accept as gospel truth whatever has been passed on to them by their family, friends, and their local community (read: peer group). Two plus two equals five. One repeats it but never checks the math.

I'm sure that (just about) nobody would disagree with the idea that the Earth circles around the sun. However, at one time the Roman Catholic Church, based on their interpretation of the Bible, believed the Earth was the center of the universe. in 1633, they put Galileo under house arrest because he refused to renounce the Copernicus idea of the Sun being the center and the Earth circling around it. Imagine how freaked out the church would have been to discover the Milky Way and neither the Earth nor the Sun was the center.

We may laugh at this, chuckling at the ignorance or even stupidity of the leaders of the Catholic Church back in the 1600's, but is that same idea applicable today? And if it is applicable, would we recognize it? I'm fond of the saying, "Does a goldfish knows it's living in a fishbowl?" The idea is that we are so wrapped up in our own lives, our own culture, our own country, can we divorce ourselves of that influence and look objectively at our own beliefs, our own worldview? I'm right, and everybody else is wrong.

Pick an issue, any issue: climate change, abortion, immigration, marijuana, trade deficits, Brexit, alternative facts, fake news, etc., and there are people who know with absolute certainty what the right answer is. But are they the modern day equivalent of the church elder who stuck with the notion that the Earth was the center of the universe because they interpreted the Bible as having said so?

Am I saying any of this with the notion that I, myself, know the right answer? Not at all. I'm no closer to the so-called truth than the next person, but unlike the individual convinced of the infallibility of their "opinion", I'm going to admit right up front that I could be wrong and will continue to seek out what's right.

I'm fond of saying,

Independent scientists independently doing independent research, independently arrive at the same results.

That's not an opinion; that's a fact.

"Just the facts, ma'am."
-Sergeant Joe Friday, Dragnet*

* And to start my quest for the so-called truth, let me point out that Sgt. Friday never said this. Snopes explains how this common phrase was born out of a parody of the original Dragnet radio show then shortened through repetition. (Snopes: Dragnet's Sgt. Joe Friday character frequently implored female informants to provide "Just the facts, ma'am.". False)

I'm reminded of the children's game "Telephone" (or Chinese Whispers) where one person starts with a phrase and repeats it to their neighbour. That neighbour repeats it to next person, and so on. After a number of repetitions, one checks to see how the original phrase becomes altered. We don't realise it, but this is going on every day in our society, through the news, social media, and over a cup of coffee.

Final Word
My original point was about arguing with strangers. Why am I wasting my time? Politics have become so polarized that nobody is debating the issues anymore. I find the conservative end of the spectrum has thrown science and facts out the window. The Right is leaning so far right, they have taken to conspiracy theories. Rather than do on the ground, in-person, investigative analysis, all anybody has to do is search on the Internet from the comfort of their own basement, paste together random searches, and offer up a wild explanation for whatever is the issue in question. Alex Jones? Sean Hannity? Fox News? QAnon? Don't make me laugh. This is absurd. Don't think so? Pizzagate: Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring in the basement of a pizzeria. Are you freakin' kidding me?

Where does my worldview come from? Facts. Science. Experts. And while the so-called fake news is not 100% perfect — They make mistakes like anybody does. — it is "false equivalence" to say that a mistake by a respected source such as The New York Times or The Washington Post means anybody should start listening to Fox News, the most biased, misinforming, unscientific source of skewed information and conspiracy theories. Laura Ingraham? Tucker Carlson? Don't make me laugh.

Am I a "libtard"? Yes, and I will point out that if you label me a libtard, you've just said more about yourself than you have about me.


my blog: What the average voter doesn't do about Donald J. Trump - May 25/2019

my blog: Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - May 12/2019

my blog: Why do we believe things that aren't true? - Apr 17/2019

Full credit to xkcd by Randall Munroe for the following cartoon. (He says on his web site I can publish this without asking.)


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