Resolve to Reason in 2007

As we enter into a new year, some random points to consider:

– There are some people in this country – Americans – who have so much hatred for President Bush. Bumper stickers, blogs, books and talk shows are only a few of the various outlets of this rage. If these people spent a small fraction of that energy on hating terrorists and those that have vowed to kill us, perhaps the world would be a safer place. Rather than ranting that the President lied about the danger of terrorism, perhaps that energy could be redirected against those that have publicly promised to attack our cities, attack our interests wordwide — and rally against those that have said that they will not rest until they have “reduced the White House to smoking rubble”.

– Rather than trying to give captured terrorists various legal rights such as the right to sue the U.S. Government, it may do well to leave their treatment in the hands of those that do this sort of thing for a living. Rather than demanding that these prisoners get better food and shelter than their captors get, it may do well to support efforts to find even more of these terrorists. It is interesting that at the same time that American kids are being expelled for bringing a Bible to school, so much fuss is being made to ensure that there are enough prayer mats for the prisoners.

– If you are told by particular people that they are planning on killing you, it is desirable – if not vital – to find out what those plans are. Maybe you can stop them. If they use telephones to make those plans, monitoring those calls is not only good police work, it is common sense. Leave the legal arguments to the judges and lawyers that have authorized these wiretaps. It is their specialty. Regrettably, the legal knowledge that can be gained by simply watching “CSI Miami” is insufficient to establish a solid counter-argument.

-There are those who are trying vigorously to challenge so many tactics of the war on terrorism such as the interrogation of prisoners, wiretaps, the profiling of terrorists, and the treatment of the terrorists that are in fact captured. These challenges come in the form of lawsuits, demonstrations, threats of impeachment, news stories, and political rhetoric. It often seems that these very same people, while trying to defend the rights of the terrorists, are complaining that “nothing is being done” in the war on terror. When asked what their plan is for fighting terrorism, their answer is “Impeach Bush”.

– If there is a string of bank robberies committed by people described as “tall white males”, you can be forewarned that you are considered more likely a suspect if you are a tall white male. Short black females driving in the area of a just-robbed bank should be considered less-likely suspects. No, it isn’t fair. In a related story, it is so common to hear little kids say “No fair!” when something doesn’t go their way. Overlooking the interesting grammatical structure of that phrase, just who has been telling these kids that things are fair? And why? Even organized sporting events are not fair because there is often someone who is simply a better player than someone else. Things often are not fair. Learn this early. Move on.

– There are those that think “The Government” is all powerful and can do anything – and that it can and should solve every problem. Thousands of years ago, people thought that bad weather was caused by angry gods. Later, it was found that nature is the culprit. Today, it is apparently caused by The Government. If only a new law were passed, some argue, there wouldn’t be any more hurricanes.

– There are those that think that there is such a thing as Government Money – as in, “I think that the Government should pay for abortions.” The Government has no money. They just spend yours – or more specifically – they spend the money of those that pay taxes.

– There are those that think that “more money should be given to…” such-and-such a cause. Remember, in this free society, you are free to give ALL of your money to whichever cause you wish to support. But usually what these people mean when they say “more money” is not more of their own money, but more “Government Money”. (See point above.)

 – It is important to take responsibility for your actions. So many studies are being conducted nowadays to prove that “it isn’t your fault”. Being overweight is the fault of McDonalds, or society, or television, or someone else. If you spill hot coffee on yourself, try to be more careful next time. If you hear that a blizzard is coming, make sure that you have enough food in the house or you may run out. If your 15 year old son is out drinking at 2 in the morning, we do not need another government program — it is up to you to take care of him.

 Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year from the Truth and Sense Network. Above all, stay safe — and may God bless America.?

"Don't Tell Me! I Saw it on a Website!"

 I am always amazed at the power of the media. Seeing something on television makes it true. Seeing something in print in a newspaper or on a website is proof that it is a fact — and in fact it is then often used as a reference in someone else’s research paper. Once someone sees something on TV or in the paper, it is almost impossible to convince them otherwise.

 This is especially frustrating to those people who are actually experts in some field. They can devote their lives to study in a particular area, work in the field for 40 years, and still be told that they don’t know what they are talking about. After all, “I saw it in the paper.”

 The media worshipers think that they are even more credible if that newspaper article that they are quoting came from some foreign country news service– especially if that country is hostile towards the United States– because then it seems more like some “inside scoop”.

  It could be said that the more ignorant that someone is of a particular topic, the more likely that they will be convinced of something that they see on TV. Watching TV and reading the paper are really just forms of entertainment with limited educational value. “Reality” TV shows are supposed to be able to portray real life, but Critical Thinkers that visit this website may ask, “If you want to see real life, why are you sitting at home and watching TV?”

 Getting an education from television and from websites is the easy way out though. Rather than spend years in college and gain the years of experience in a particular field, one can read an article and become an expert while eating breakfast. Plus, now one can wave around “proof” in front of people who disagree with one’s new-found expertise. And their vote is just as good as the vote of the true expert.

 This is not to say that one should not try to stay current or to try to expand one’s horizons. The news does provide a valueable service. People should strive though, to resist the notion that keeping up with their favorite paper is the path to true knowledge and insight. Simply stated, it should be no surprise that there are people who know more about a topic and all of its finer points than can be learned from reading a newspaper or watching TV.

 Let us face it. Facts can be wrong. Mistakes can be made. You can get five people who personally witness a car accident and get five different reports of what they each swear happened. Never mind how the facts come out when they get reported by someone who was NOT there. Facts are not the whole story anyway.

But even when the facts are true, you often get what we Critical Thinkers would call a Logical Error. It is when the facts may actually be true but either the wrong conclusion is drawn or the argument takes a tragic turn of reason.

 Take a fact at random and let’s enjoy the fun of drawing the wrong conclusion!

 People who eat vegetables – die. This is factually correct. But there is more to the story, of course. Here is a fictional account of a study that went “off the path”, shall we say.

 Dieticians who have studied the eating habits of early American settlers in southern Virginia have found that all of those who ate vegetables have died. Scientific analysis of dental fragments found that the settlers ate a diet high in vegetables, including maize. When town records were compared with passenger rosters from the settler’s ships, it was found that of all the original residents,  every single one of them has died.

 “We were shocked,” relates Dr. Samuel J Ragmuffin, Chief Researcher of the Gamma Research Foundation, “We had always known that the settlers ate lots of maize that they got from the Indians, but we never suspected such widespread mortality.”

 “Originally we had suspected Beri Beri as being the cause of their demise, but we were perplexed by the fact that some of the skeletal remains showed no such evidence. It wasn’t until we realized the only common thread that could have killed all of them was their high-vegetable diet.

 Dr. Ragamuffin had various cookbooks on display from the time period in question “…and almost every recipe had — you guessed it — vegetables in it. I am sure that a lot of Vegetable Company executives don’t want you to hear about this.”

 Upon his discovery, Rasmussen has called for an immediate cessation of all vegetable intake by anyone and has urged Congress to enact emergency measures.

 “We now know what is killing people and we have the means to stop it,” stated Ragamuffin.

 Some critics claim that it could have been something else that killed the settlers but the supporters of Ragamuffin are quick to come to his defense.

 “What, like the Indians would have killed each and every one of them? We in fact have some remains where there were no apparent injuries found!” said one demonstrator as he prepared for a march on the White House.

 “Just think of anybody that you know that has ever died. Did they ever eat vegetables? What about eating things that were made with corn syrup?” asked one of Ragamuffin’s followers.

 “Obviously the government is responsible. Or to blame. Or something. They should have known! They are our only chance!” said another.

 “You’re just a crony of the rich corn industry executives!” shouted one Ragamuffin follower at a man who refused to believe the facts brought to light by Dr. Ragamuffin himself.


 People should continue to read the newspaper of their choice, watch whatever TV shows that they like and visit any website that they please. Understand though that this may not make someone as well versed in an area as someone who lives, works and breathes the subject. Reducing any issue into a list of facts and talking points is not only misleading, it is an insult to those who put in the time and effort and who really know what is going on. Talk to them if you really want to learn. The value of experience is only fully appreciated by those that have it. The next time that you hear someone disagree with someone else, be wary if they say,  

 “Don’t tell me! I read all about it on a website!”

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