Wednesday, December 29, 2004

My 3 cents worth (inflation, doncha know!)

Hey, as I was typing that title, a thought occurred to me: Why is it that when someone asks what you're thinking, your thoughts are worth only a penny...but when you want to offer your thoughts without being asked, they're worth 2 cents? Hm. Have to think on that.

ANYWAY. Those of you who really know me, know that I'm not really all that political. I don't lean toward any particular discipline...I have my own opinions which are sort of a conglomeration of different things from each 'party' (tho' why they're called "parties" I'll never know...I can't think of anything less jolly and fun than politics!). And while 'blogsurfing' I run across so very many political blogs...leftwingrightwingdemocratconservativeliberalrepublicanindepentents are everywhere you look, ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. And some of them are...well, the word rabid springs to their views. And O WOE be to the unlucky soul who dares give voice to a dissenting opinion! They are publicly flogged, flayed, clapped in irons, set into the stocks, and frequently even drawn and quartered. Frightening, really.
In my opinion, they've all got strong points and weak (sometimes ridiculous and nonsensical) points. I take what I like from each of 'em & move right along. :)
So when I came across this article whilst reading the newspaper this morning, it made good sense to me. I thought I'd share parts of it with those who might be open-minded enough to care.

(not to worry, boys & girls, this will most likely be my first & last political-type post. It's a little long, so sit back, freshen yer drink, and smoke 'em if you got 'em.)

FROM THE DAILY OKLAHOMAN, article by Leonard Pitts Jr:

A question for my Republican friends: Would you still love George W. if he were Bill Clinton? If it were Clinton who had invaded Iraq based on erroneous intelligence, Clinton whose decisions had lead to the deaths of so many troops, would you be foursquare behind him the way you are Bush?
And for my Democratic friends: Would you have felt the same about Clinton had he been Bush? Had it been Bush who had an affair, Bush who looked the nation in the eye & lied about it, would you have been so willing to forgive?
In other words, are you guilty of double standards and outright bias?
I'll save you the trouble: Yes. For most of us, we are perfectly willing to ignore any fact that contradicts what we believe.
Maybe you already knew this intuitively. Now you can know it to a scientific certainty.
Drew Westen (professor of psychology at Emory University) is the author of a new & still-unpublished study testing whether people make decisions based on fact or bias. Bias won hands down.
In a key scenario, respondents were led to believe a soldier was accused of torturing people at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The fictional soldier claimed to have been following orders from superiors who told him the Geneva Convention had been suspended. He supposedly wanted to subpoena Bush and Rumsfeld to prove his case. Respondents were asked if he should have that right.
Some were presented with strong "evidence" corroborating the soldier's story. Others had only the soldier's word to go on.
But the strenght or weakness of the evidence turned out to be immaterial. Researchers were able to predict people's opinion over 80% of the time based simply on their opinions of the Bush administration, the GOP, the military & human rights groups. Those who had less affection for the president sided with the 'soldier' even when the evidence was weak. And fans of the president tended to side with him even when the evidence was overwhelming.
We believe what we want, facts be damned.
"The scary thing," says Westen, "is the extent to which you can imagine this influencing jury decisions, boardroom decisions, political decisions..."
I'm reminded of a colleague of mine who says we Americans increasingly seem to embrace separate "truths," reflecting NOT objective reality, but political orientation. Some of us even get our news EXCLUSIVELY from those sources that affirm our 'truths'. He calls it living in alternate realities.
It's because of that separateness that there often seems to be no moral center or intellectual coherence to much of what passes for public discourse these days. OUr principles are situational, our willingness to marshal critical thought goes off & on like a light switch. We'll believe--or NOT believe--whatever it takes to win the argument. Winning it is all that matters.
And never mind that it's perfectly possible to win the argument and still be wrong.
I SAY: Forget what you WANT to believe. Seek the truth and have the courage to believe that.

I have to agree with this guy. Get your rabies shots & start taking a good hard look for the truth. It's out there, somewhere.
Now, let the flogging begin!
**NOTE: Any typos & misspellings are solely the responsibility of aka_monty, as she didn't want to take the time to spellcheck. As per usual.

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