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Rational Politics

Thoughts by Charles E. Brown

Substituting Superficiality For True Knowledge

ByCharles E. Brown

Apr 21, 2021
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Each day I am bombarded with information of all sorts. I turn on a news broadcast and I hear a distinguished expert on a subject get about 2 minutes before the host has to move on to the next topic. Along the way we are bombarded with all sorts of statistics that we are asked to digest without any real explanation. More substantive articles on a topic rarely get read much past the first paragraph or two, if that, and are blindly posted on social media where others read only the headline while praising the unread author. Many of these same subjects are the topic of substantially sized books with extensive detail and research which go mostly unread.

Some person records a 30-second shaky and grainy video on their cell phones and that is supposed to show is everything we need to know about a crime being committed. Complex subjects are reduced to questionable and doubtful memes.

Of course, based on this most superficial of data many bloviate strongly voiced opinions resulting, in many cases, in confrontational exchanges and the severing of connections with long-standing friends.

Unfortunately, many of those voicing these opinions fail to show the background knowledge, critical thinking, logic, empathy, and life experience to voice such opinions.

This dumping of information without proper context or knowledge is the basis for the tense schism in our nation. Whether you watch Fox News or CNN, whether you read the Wall Street Journal or The NY Times, you are told what you are seeing and what to think and before you have a chance to truly understand the subject you are moved on to the next topic. And many accept being told what to think willingly.

I mentioned “life experience” above for a reason. Can you become a concert pianist by just reading a book about it? Can we understand what a police officer goes through from our easy chairs? In many cases we defer to experts. As the Left likes to say “follow science.” But there is a difference between following science and regurgitating what one or two so-called experts say. Science and wisdom requires research, questioning, debate, and examining conflicting opinions…all activities discouraged today. We latch on a particular opinion by an author whose ideology we happen to agree with and that is all we need to know. All other conclusions are automatically wrong.

The bottom-line is that while we know a lot of data, we have increasingly little wisdom. As citizens we are asked to make decisions but are ill-equipped to make those decisions. We see excessive certainty based on half-truths devoid of all context being uttered by the immature and the poorly educated.

One must ask what all of this means for the future of our country and civilization.

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