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Acceptable Truths

January 10th, 2021 1 comment

link:  CNN openly trying to ban Fox News, Newsmax, OAN from airwaves with Dem stamp of approval (bizpacreview.com)

A long time ago, I attended a trading seminar with a well-known futures trader, who by training was actually a PhD level psychologist.  A rhetorical question was posed, and that was, why do kids think that 2 plus 2 equals 4.  He suggested that the obvious answer of 4 lies not so much in the cognitive ability of the young students as it does in the fact that the teacher tells them that this was so.  At the time, I thought this was just an amusing anecdote to illustrate a point, but many years later, this dynamic exists every day in our news and information consumption.

No kid wants to be seen as an idiot, so they go along with the acceptable answer because, after all, the teacher must know what they’re talking about.  Later on, they could always figure out and truly understand for themselves why the answer is 4. Young people have a much stronger social compunction to fit in rather than to consider the merits of their own independent thought.  That usually only arrives with time, self confidence and the influence of positive teachers.

The entire basis of modern science and thought rests on the ability of ‘educated’ students to become critical thinkers that can understand the consequences of certain inputs into an equation.  One would expect that with all of the advances that have been made in this half century alone, an entire nation of adroit, critical thinkers has emerged.  In fact, quite the opposite has happened.

The focus on education appears to have shifted from training critical thinkers to producing people who can regurgitate the acceptable answers.  With the emphasis on achieving high grades alone to advance, the reality of satisfying the criteria of the teacher becomes crucial for any academic success.  The hard sciences have not escaped this educational bias.  We know for example that the conclusions of the current crop of ‘climate scientists’ are predicated on expectations of certain preferred conclusions.  Actually, the current activity in the virus and vaccine business is on the same trajectory.  There is no shortage of science which conflicts with the currently acceptable ones, but for reasons which can be discussed another time, they are marginalized.

With the emergence of devices that purport to make life easier for all, the mundane excercises required to find an answer to even the most banal questions have been obviated by such resources as Google and You Tube which can provide instant answers to anything that we may want to know. The danger of course is that most assume the answers to be correct in all contexts. This is the same as the kids answering 4 to the question of what is 2 plus 2.  The answer is 4 because Google says it is.  While this example may be simple enough to corroborate with our own cognitive abilities, it may be more difficult to ascertain the veracity of a slightly more difficult statistic; such as how many votes Joe Biden apparently got. Actually, it would be interesting to see what would happen if Google gave the answer 5 to the 2 plus 2 question.  No doubt millions would accept this as gospel.

While these resources are convenient, people have relied on them for answers to questions which don’t have such a simple conclusion.  In matters of social trends and behaviors, answers may be given which have no scientific or provable basis but are presented as fact and thus, is the same as truth.  The best example of this in modern culture is Wikipedia.  For those still unaware, it is far from being on objective resource for information.  It is a platform on which people can edit and create narratives in the guise of objective fact.  It is very much the modern equivalent of “the teacher said so”.  People are oblivious to the fact that actual people direct query results. The classic notion of GIGO applies here.

In fact, the availability of all this free information has served to make people lazy in their mental processes.  The great trade-off has been made between convenience versus original discovery. Notionally rational people are embracing things wildly dissonant with observable and measurable reality. This does not create mental discord within themselves because all around them, everyone else seems to be of the same view.

This is not the dynamic that leads to a productive and forward moving society; quite the opposite. It is not hyperbole to ruminate that this a return to the dark ages when knowledge and information was controlled by a small cabal of rulers and the masses were told what truths to observe. For now, people still have the option to check and assess their facts.  If things continue the way they are however, truth will be what’s acceptable to those who present it; there will be no need to worry about why.

Choices Galore

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

link With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position – The Washington Post.

And so the farce continues.  Anxious to show that the Democratic buffet has more than just Hilary to serve, they are pushing possible contenders to be alternate menu items to the devoted faithful.  As of now, the choices are, leftover meatloaf, pemican or a pick of a duo of mixed nuts.

The only thing delicious about this tortured analogy is the irony since there is nothing on the Democratic table that is remotely fresh or new considering that the barb most often hurled at the Republican party is that they are the party of old white men.

Like most positions that emanate from the Democratic party, their presumptive candidates are hopelessly out of touch and lost in the past.  Clinton, Warren and Brown are relics of the hippie past in America, holdouts from the 60’s in their mindsets and worldviews.  Biden, if he is a contender, is a relic of Archie comics.   These people have as much in common with the sensibilities of  the present generation of voters  as cheese does to head cheese.  The fact that the party is unable to attract anyone to be their standard bearer who isn’t already collecting a seniors’ pension is very telling.  The contrast with the core values of the party of “old white men” couldn’t be more stark.

Whereas one party harps on the tired core values of entitlement and fantasy, the other party has a plethora of young capable leaders whose visions have an arm’s reach connection with reality.  Most could be the children of the aged Dem candidates.  Many have already proven their talents in actually running state governments with effective results whereas on the Dem side, most of them are professional politicos.  There is enough range in the positions of those on the Republican side that there is not just one tired monolithic message that followers are obligated to subscribe to as if in a moonie cult.

If I were looking to dine at the Democratic buffet table, I’m not sure I’d be all that excited about the addition of Jerry Brown to the offerings.  The stuff that’s on the table now has been there a long time, some of it passed over and adding more leftovers doesn’t make it more attractive.  Of course that doesn’t mean that there’s no appetite for this.  America loves buffets.  It perpetuates the myth that you can get a lot for very little.