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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.