Saturday, September 04, 2010

Facts, Family and Distortions

Parts of my far flung family have been reconnected via several social networks and while keeping up with the relatives adds some flavor and spice to life, there is the matter of conflicting politics. In particular, what passes for truth. Now there have got to be several hundred quotes about truth and politics repelling each other like opposite poled magnets. Just turn on any news talk show (Fox, CNN, MSNBC, LSMFT), the plot goes like this. The anchor names a topic. A question is asked to the talking head from one side. They respond not to the question but with a talking point, which attacks the other side. Anchor steps in asks for a response from the other "guest", who then does their own talking point counter attack. To this point nothing has been said about the actual topic. The gritty anchor then offers up another question that can only be addressed with a fact, which let's the audience know we have now moved into phase two which means we are about to hear a huge distortion of reality, not fiction but distortion. But let me clarify a bit for those not used to logical, empirical debate.

Fact: The sun rises in the east.

Actually "sun" is a label by which we mean the large yellow star around which the solar system we inhabit more or less revolves. "Rises" is also inaccurate since the sun itself is stationary with regards this planet we ride upon. So, in fact, the rotation of the planet and the orbit around the "sun" causes what appears to be a "rising" of the "sun" each morning. Of course, it is the "sun" causing the morning and not the morning heralding the "rising." Finally, "east" is another construct we have created to mean "over there" or "that way." What is "true" is that if you stand facing the arbitrary direction we call west, you won't see the illusion of sun coming up. So as qualified as it is, there is at least some discernible truth in the statement: The sun rises in the east.

On the other hand, what politicians, talking heads and unfortunately many citizens, including my relatives state as "truth" is in fact opinion generally based on "distortions" of the truth. For instance:

Distortion: They want to build a mosque at ground zero.

"They" want to exercise their property rights to build within all the local codes. Fact

It isn't a "mosque", it is a community center. Distortion

"Ground Zero" is near Alamogordo, New Mexico where the first nuclear explosion in history took place. Japan also has a fairly strong claim to not one but two "ground zeroes." In New York City, the former site of the World Trade Center is several city blocks from the proposed community center. You need a map to find it and once you did, you would have no idea you were anywhere near the current construction site. Distortion.

When I as in Oklahoma City, we visited the memorial to the domestic terrorist bombing. My reaction was not meant to be cynical but honest. I thought that if they built a memorial to every attack in Israel the entire country would be one big memorial and since you can't allow people to live on such hallowed ground, the Middle East problem would be solved. Israel would be one big memorial to human hatred. Guess I am not an advocate of memorials to terrorism, doesn't it just encourage them to commit more acts of violence so they can be memorialized?

Now there are some other WTC/mosque distortions as well. Not all of those opposing the building are bigots. Fact. Some of them are. Fact. But generalizations are generally soft facts. You know like there actually were some African Americans who voted for John McCain, which proves nothing other then human beings have free will. But let's look at some hard facts that don't seem to be useful to either side of this false debate.

The World Trade Center terrorists were all males. Well we can't really condemn 49.4% of the planet's population, even thought they do start all the wars and commit 93% of the murders, 99.9% of the rapes and cause 99.4% of the urine splatters in public restrooms.

The World Trade Center terrorists were all citizens of Saudi Arabia. Now there' s a nice big fact that no one really wants to look at. There are 1.5 Billion muslims in the world but only 25 Million Saudis. So why the focus on the religion and not the country of origin? Best estimate of the number of members of Al -Qaeda, you know the group that actually admitted to being behind the WTC attack - best guess at the high end is perhaps 150 Thousand members. Seems like a better investigatory or military strategy to focus on 150,000 instead of 1,500,000,000. But that's a number thing and you know how numbers tend to be all factual & focused.

Today's conclusion. Think for yourself, whether you are on the right, left or middle. Stop quoting politicians to me, it simply cannot be true that "your guys" are truthful and honest and the "other guys" are liars, socialists or fascists. It can't be true because I have friends and relatives on the "other side" who send me internet propaganda that says exactly the opposite of what you send me. Its called free and open debate but I am really only interested in what you have to say, not what some paid talking head as vomited up in a sound byte.

Pass the chocolate and don't forget to take your meds before the family reunion.

1 comment:

mira amiras said...

Apropos of males and warfare — what if we readjusted the tax structure to reflect the cost of those murders and wars and spatters — tax the males, and give us a break... Would such disincentive change anything? Or is it just way too much fun to mark territory?