Episode 855 Flat-Earthers: Trying to Stay Informed
Hello podcast listeners. This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.
I’ve entitled this episode “Flat Earthers: Trying to Stay Informed”.
What seems like just a few years ago I heard that the US The House of Representatives committee that regulated the Environmental Protection Agency attempted to ban anyone from speaking in front of their committee on any issue in which they might be considered an expert witness: like a scientist who has studied climate change to actually talk about it. Or a biologist has actually studied plants to talk about them. Of course I thought this was an example of standing the truth on its head. I really hope that I misunderstood this or that my source was ill informed.
I guess I hoped we had learned something over time. But I was obviously wrong. Years ago some people 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? It Used to be that people believed that the world was flat. Then Someone sailed to see. Came back; 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 black is white and white is back. Who are we supposed to believe?
Staying informed isn't easy. Our forefathers had to rely on word of mouth 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?
I often wonder why it is that I ended up on this end of the political spectrum rather than the other. What shaped or made me have this political inclination rather than something else?
Certainly attending college 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.
Professors demanded that sources of information be documented for reliability. I have vivid memories of Dr. Fox in my freshman Western Civilization class ripping our minds out by the roots. When you claimed something to be true you needed to be able to support it with evidence. The scientific method and historical or social research was acceptable. if you claimed something as true and had no way of n its validity public humiliation followed quickly. It wasn’t a comfortable position in which to be placed but it certainly gave us standards to understanding the world.
This seems to be the main problem today. There is 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. A flat-earther has a right to his opinion. And that opinion is considered as worthy of any other idea. We are not to confront them. 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. 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.
I recently read of issues in the USA that appear as "no brainers" to people in other industrial countries as understood by Ann Jones in The Huffington Post.
*How could you set up a concentration camp(Guantanamo Bay) in Cuba?
*How can you pretend to be a Christian country and still carry out the death penalty?
* Why can’t you Americans stop interfering with women’s health care?
* Why can’t you understand science?
* How can you still be so blind to the reality of climate change?
* Why do you Americans like guns so much? Why do you kill each other at such a rate?
These questions were gleaned from an article that Ann posted after having lived in various countries across the world. She said they were frequently and commonly asked.
Of course people have different life experiences and thus different ways of viewing the world. But it seems like some ways of viewing the world are better than others?
As to the question: How do we rectify the problem? I don't know. That's the question. I've lived my life thinking education was the answer. I was a teacher. Evidently I didn't do a very good job. One thing about retirement is that it gives us time to collect a lifetime of experiences and mull them over.
This is Retirement Talk.
If you have questions, comments or suggestions contact del@retirementtalk.