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  1.    #1  
    Don't confuse them with facts

    To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth.

    Syndicated columnist

    I got an e-mail the other day that depressed me.

    It concerned a piece I recently did that mentioned Henry Johnson, who was awarded the French Croix de Guerre in World War I for single-handedly fighting off a company of Germans (some accounts say there were 14, some say almost 30, the ones I find most authoritative say there were about two dozen) who threatened to overrun his post.

    Johnson managed this despite the fact that he was only 5-foot-4 and 130 pounds, despite the fact that his gun had jammed, despite the fact that he was wounded 21 times.

    My mention of Johnson's heroics drew a rebuke from a fellow named Ken Thompson, which I quote verbatim and in its entirety:

    "Hate to tell you that blacks were not allowed into combat intell (sic) 1947, that fact. World War II ended in 1945. So all that feel good, one black man killing two dozen ****, is just that, PC bull."

    In response, my assistant, Judi Smith, sent Mr. Thompson proof of Johnson's heroics: a link to his page on the Web site of Arlington National Cemetery. She thought this settled the matter.

    Thompson's reply? "There is no race on headstones and they didn't come up with the story in tell (sic) 2002."

    Judi: "I guess you can choose to believe Arlington National Cemetery or not."

    Thompson: "It is what it is, you don't believe either ... "

    At this point, Judi forwarded me their correspondence, along with a despairing note. She is probably somewhere drinking right now.

    You see, like me, she can remember a time when facts settled arguments. This is back before everything became a partisan shouting match, back before it was permissible to ignore or deride as "biased" anything that didn't support your worldview.

    If you and I had an argument and I produced facts from an authoritative source to back me up, you couldn't just blow that off. You might try to undermine my facts, might counter with facts of your own, but you couldn't just pretend my facts had no weight or meaning.

    But that's the intellectual state of the union these days, as evidenced by all the people who still don't believe the president was born in Hawaii or that the planet is warming. And by Mr. Thompson, who doesn't believe Henry Johnson did what he did.

    I could send him more proof, I suppose. Johnson is lauded in history books ("Before the Mayflower" by Lerone Bennett Jr., "The Dictionary of American Negro Biography" by Rayford Logan and Michael Winston) and in contemporaneous accounts (The Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times). I could also point out that blacks have fought in every war in American history, though before Harry Truman desegregated the military in 1948, they did so in Jim Crow units. Also, there were no ****s in World War I.

    But those are "facts," and the whole point here is that facts no longer mean what they once did. I suppose I could also ignore him. But you see, Ken Thompson is not just some isolated eccentric. No, he is the Zeitgeist personified.

    To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe.

    I submit that any people thus handicapped sow the seeds of their own decline; they respond to the world as they wish it were rather to the world as it is. That's the story of the Iraq war.

    But objective reality does not change because you refuse to accept it. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge a wall does not change the fact that it's a wall.

    And you shouldn't have to hit it to find that out.
    When I read this I immediately thought of our little OT community.
  2. groovy's Avatar
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    #2  
    Speaking of being estranged from critical thinking. Why would this one incident be representative, either to the writer or to you, of our larger culture? And what does it have to do with talk radio, TV pundits or even internet OT forums? I was waiting for the link but none came. Sure, we've all seen the Ken Thompsons of the world but do you really think he represents the culture? Or even this forum? As a member of the forum I can't help but be a little put off by the comparison.
  3.    #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by groovy View Post
    Speaking of being estranged from critical thinking. Why would this one incident be representative, either to the writer or to you, of our larger culture? And what does it have to do with talk radio, TV pundits or even internet OT forums? I was waiting for the link but none came. Sure, we've all seen the Ken Thompsons of the world but do you really think he represents the culture? Or even this forum? As a member of the forum I can't help but be a little put off by the comparison.
    I think the culture of winning in our political/cultural realm has expanded to an extent that reality has become a backseat issue. Repeating falsehoods over and over again until the reality is so clouded purpose and problem solving are lost.

    And note, I'm not pointing to one side or the other here.
  4. #4  
    I take umbridge with the last point, why not hit the wall to find out.

    human history is littered with facts, which fall. like strict newtonian physics, they are realtive.

    I have had the pleasure of living my life, growing up around scientists and others who would callange anyone, including colleagues in there fields, about what is taken as dogma.

    and that is a problem, dogma is often confused with facts. facts are rare things. even the global warming, i would say evidence points to it happening, but there is a probability our methods are incorrect.

    Obviously this example with teh (sic) tone, and historical facts, is meant to evoke a sense of fools and there beliefs, but it is a dangerous place to begin thinking your facts today, wont be folly tommorow.

    I haven't been around long, but i am willing to bet that dogma and truth have been battling it out in the same proportion as they do today, perhaps even less rationally, since before the earth was round.

    in the end, I'd be more concerned if we just took facts as facts, and never tried to hit them, no matter how concrete that wall might seem.
    There are four lights.
  5. groovy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daThomas View Post
    I think the culture of winning in our political/cultural realm has expanded to an extent that reality has become a backseat issue. Repeating falsehoods over and over again until the reality is so clouded purpose and problem solving are lost.

    And note, I'm not pointing to one side or the other here.
    Thanks for clarifying your position. Ironically, I will concede to your point about the culture of winning (at least in internet forums). However, I do think you came to a different conclusion than the writer of that article.

  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by daThomas View Post
    I think the culture of winning in our political/cultural realm has expanded to an extent that reality has become a backseat issue. Repeating falsehoods over and over again until the reality is so clouded purpose and problem solving are lost.

    And note, I'm not pointing to one side or the other here.
    Ah, i was arguing a slightly (though thuroughly related) point.

    I would agree that in politics facts are cloudy, but I don't know if they are any cloudier than in the past. OTOH, there is (arguably) more discussion, and certainly way more access to the voting booth than there was in the past (i'm thinking past like prior to property ownership restrictions, womens suffrage or repealing Jim Crow type laws with the generational progress these social movements have made)

    I think an interesting place to look at that is local politics, where the facts tend to be more immediate (the bridge down the street from my wifes parents is still out!, that is a fact!) and the polititions less spun. In my old home town historicaly politics and facts were set by the mill owners back, that has changed, and arguably the facts are just as truthy, but gooder at the same time.

    all in all, I fall into the camp that believes people, on the whole, are good, and have managed to increase in population, education, lifespan and mobility pretty consistently over history. I also believe that people taken as a whole can filter information and that facts settle out.

    unfortunately that is a very unpredictable process, if you can call it that.

    on a related note, I don't fully grasp what and why and how our current economy works. I don't mean i expect to understand it on the level of a Nobel economist, more I don't understand what the theory we are riding on is, and what equation represents it, IE the basics.

    there are lots of "facts" flying in that discussion, I think lots of fellow Americans would agree, and, don't like it. I think politicians on both sides have mistaken this as some simple anger placed on a specific issue, and fail to understand that people want actual useful information, and not bravado. its a problem, and, my hope is, we can settle it with votes.

    I don't think i could help myself from voting for the next person to stand up, and refuse obfuscation of issues, but consistently and concisely lays things out truthfully.

    but thats probably just me, I like people who have a theory, state it, and defend it, they don't get too word smithy. perhaps thats why I once wrote in Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader for president.
    There are four lights.
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by windzilla View Post
    perhaps thats why I once wrote in Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader for president.
    During separate elections, or together? That'd be one interesting ticket!!
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  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by Bujin View Post
    During separate elections, or together? That'd be one interesting ticket!!
    together. It was as much to spark discussion with friends as anything. Though I do like them both in some ways.
  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by daThomas View Post
    I think the culture of winning in our political/cultural realm has expanded to an extent that reality has become a backseat issue. Repeating falsehoods over and over again until the reality is so clouded purpose and problem solving are lost.

    And note, I'm not pointing to one side or the other here.
    Yup... tell a lie enough and it becomes truth.

    Obama is going to take our guns!!!!

    <<loud rush to buy guns>>

    Crickits when obama signs a bill to allow cc in parks. WOW... not a thank-you or anything... lol...

    Reality and truth has went out the window...

    Palin's grand child was reported (by a real reporter) to be on state healthcare. So much for death panels.

    Crazy stuff... Land of OZ.... Silly Season....

    Lots of fun though.... lol
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  10. groovy's Avatar
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    #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by theog View Post
    Yup... tell a lie enough and it becomes truth.

    Obama is going to take our guns!!!!

    <<loud rush to buy guns>>

    Crickits when obama signs a bill to allow cc in parks. WOW... not a thank-you or anything... lol...

    Reality and truth has went out the window...

    Palin's grand child was reported (by a real reporter) to be on state healthcare. So much for death panels.

    Crazy stuff... Land of OZ.... Silly Season....

    Lots of fun though.... lol
    Speaking of the truth, the administration opposed lifting the ban but it was a compromise as part of passing the CCARDA. Regarding Palin's daughter I can only say, so what? Don't even care enough to research that one. She won't be a major player in 2012... and shouldn't be.
  11. RPFTW's Avatar
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    #11  
    A lot of the concern over the Obama admin & gun ownership came when AG Holder came into play.

    This video shows a few reasons why.

  12. RPFTW's Avatar
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    @ OP

    You might find this concept enlightening if you spend the time needed to fully understand it and the implications involved.

    Cognitive dissonance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  13.    #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by RPFTW View Post
    @ OP

    You might find this concept enlightening if you spend the time needed to fully understand it and the implications involved.

    Cognitive dissonance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I'm fully aware of cognitive dissonance. I studied Social Psych. However, I'm having a difficult time making the association with the column I originally posted.

    Do elaborate.
  14. Micael's Avatar
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    This thread nails feelings that I've experienced in other OT threads. It feels like no matter what you say, or how clearly you lay out what you feel are the facts, it's ignored. Completely and utterly. No middle ground will ever be reached if that's all there is to it.
    The Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
  15.    #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by micael View Post
    this thread nails feelings that i've experienced in other ot threads. It feels like no matter what you say, or how clearly you lay out what you feel are the facts, it's ignored. Completely and utterly. No middle ground will ever be reached if that's all there is to it.
    exactly!
  16. #16  
    Maybe it's because it's hard to determine whose facts are correct and whose facts are not? Take the quote I credit to General Patton (see below). Some folks have told me it is just not a correct quote....fact....and even sent me links saying it wasn't a Patton quote. Other links credit it to him. However, I happen to know General Patton's grandson (I really do, nice guy, good Republican!) and when I asked him about the quote, he put me in touch with the family member who handles such things. She assures me it is a correct quote. So which one is fact? The internet links that say it was incorrect, or the comments from the family?

    My point, it is getting harder to know who is right a who is wrong. I noticed a link some one posted in here had statements related to Glen Beck. Well, some were labeled flat out false, but some were called "partially true" or "half true". ***? Anyway, again, sometimes just hard to know what is a fact and what is not.
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  17. #17  
    The difficult part is who to believe. Is it a book you read written by a reputable author citing verifiable documented "second hand" sources or one of Patton's relatives to confirm what their grandfather may have actually said? Unfortunately, only Patton and those around him when(if ) he made the statement know for sure and can call it fact (obviously unless it's an original written statement). Everyone else, including the author and Patton's relatives are simply part of the grapevine and their understanding of the truth loses value by virtue of shear distance from the origination of the fact. To take it further, even the statements first hand accounts of facts may not be an absolute truth. Just ask anyone who has been to a magic show to make a statement of what the saw. The s would be based on facts, but are they truth?

    Perceived truth boils down to your trust in the source.
  18. #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by Nomadic View Post
    The difficult part is who to believe. Is it a book you read written by a reputable author citing verifiable documented "second hand" sources or one of Patton's relatives to confirm what their grandfather may have actually said? Unfortunately, only Patton and those around him when(if ) he made the statement know for sure and can call it fact (obviously unless it's an original written statement). Everyone else, including the author and Patton's relatives are simply part of the grapevine and their understanding of the truth loses value by virtue of shear distance from the origination of the fact. To take it further, even the statements first hand accounts of facts may not be an absolute truth. Just ask anyone who has been to a magic show to make a statement of what the saw. The s would be based on facts, but are they truth?

    Perceived truth boils down to your trust in the source.
    Well exactly my point....and therefore why when I hear some one like daThomas (no offense, just using a left wing liberal as an example) say my fact is wrong and then post a link to his fact, well, why would I believe his fact? Or why would he accept my link as a fact?
    PalmPilot, PalmIIIc, Treo 650, Pre, Pre 3, Nokia 1020, Lumia 950

    "It's good to be the King" - Mel Brooks, History of the World, Part 1

    "I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." General George S. Patton
  19. SDash's Avatar
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    #19  
    isn't the point to continue until you find the answer you can both believe? If it goes on and on, you might as well be a politician or a researcher.
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by RPFTW View Post
    A lot of the concern over the Obama admin & gun ownership came when AG Holder came into play.

    This video shows a few reasons why.

    No, he did not. Day after the election, people were lining up at gun shops.

    I know... I was in NC... my favorite gun store sold out of some guns (did not have a 357)... the owner was smiling like he had won the lottery.
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