Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 640(152) Flat-Earthers: Trying to Stay Informed

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery. 

Some thought that Gods lived on Mt Olympus. Then someone went to Mr. Olympus and looked. They didn't find any gods. What was a person to think? Use to be that the world was flat. Then someone thought the world might be round. Someone sailed to see. Came back and said it was round. Claimed it was a fact. Some said it was fiction. Who was a person to believe? How do we determine truth from fiction . We still have some people among us who are "Flat-Earthers". When it comes to politics, well, we have people telling us everything. Who are you suppose to believe?.

I have some friends that wake every morning to Amy Goodman and her one hour radio show, “Democracy Now”. I don’t know how they do it. After listening to one of her shows I am incapacitated with disappointment for hours. I never listen to it any more. When I start the day I like to think something good might occur.

“News junkies”, are plentiful among retired people. These people like to know what is happening in the world; especially the political arena. It's hard to fault someone for wanting to stay informed.

Staying informed isn't easy. Our forefathers had to rely on word of mouth, smoke signals, or the slim pamphlet that might circulate among the masses at the speed of a slow horse. Weeks and months might go by before news would get to remote parts of our country.  

Today it’s instantaneous. Electronics flash news across the screen as it is happening. Even events from the most distant backwater are available at the same speed. We are overwhelmed with information and misinformation. What is a person to do?

How do we know who to believe? How do we decide if we are getting the true story from NPR, CNN, Facebook, Fox or the New York Times? I often wonder why it is that I ended up on this end of the political spectrum rather than the other. What shaped  made me have this political inclination rather than something else?

College certainly played a major role. Of course it started long before college, but college is where acceptance of common assumptions and sources were tested. Who said what; where, and when became very important. A method of establishing validity had to be generally accepted.

I naively thought that Darwin had helped drive a stake into the heart of unfound beliefs. I thought the idea of observing nature and life and then drawing conclusions based on those practices would come to dominate man’s thinking. It seemed like it should. When I found professors or teachers shining light into dark corners I observed. I listened and considered the observations. It wasn’t hard. It was enlightening.

When I went off to college I thought I knew a lot about everything. I soon found that I knew very little about anythingAnd I found there were scholars who knew a whole lot about each particular discipline. They pride open my mind. My beliefs arrived at as a youth did not make for facts or truth. The scientific method and scholarly research were not arrived at based on belief.

This seems to be the main problem today in politics. There seems to be no common acceptance of how one should arrive at the truth or reality. Democratic belief in government  has invaded the common dialogue. Everyone’s claim or opinion is given equal weight as anyone else's. How absurd. I can’t imagine telling one of my professors of history that my opinion as to the facts of history was of equal value to his or her's. Let alone telling some of my science teachers that my opinions carried the same weight as theirs when it came to science. To believe otherwise seems so foolish and wrong headed. This same absurd thinking leads many of my fellow citizens into valuing what goes by the name of Fox News. Because they have an opinion or because they present themselves as delivering the news they are accepted as having equal value as a real news organization. How silly. Not silly. Tragic would be the more appropriate word.

People have different life experiences and thus different ways of viewing the world. Are some ways of viewing the world better than others? I think so. How do we confront the issue? I don't know. That's the question. Flat-Earthers drive me crazy. One thing for sure though; it is not the time for those with a more scientific method of reasoning to give way.


This is Retirement Talk.





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