Believing Opinion 6/5/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

A friend of mine asked an interesting question; why don’t Trump supporters see what he is doing? (No, this blog really isn’t about him.) My answer was short, and while it is technically opinion, I believe it is the truth. They don’t see it because they don’t want to see it.

Sir Walter Conan Doyle wrote in one of his Sherlock Holmes books that one must be careful to modify the hypothesis (he used “theory”) to fit the facts, not the facts to fit the theory. It’s easier to change the facts, at least in your mind, than it might seem. People just don’t like to be wrong, so when there are stories of potential wrongdoing, they don’t want to believe it. After multiple investigations from various agencies yielding a plethora of arrests and charges, it’s just sometimes easier to believe that the stories are all fabricated rather than believe that they made a mistake and voted for somebody that they wouldn’t if the party affiliation were simply reversed.

The opposite is equally true. If somebody has a reason to want to doubt something then facts can get in the way. I wrote a blog about posts claiming that less than an hour after police knelt with protesters they turned and shot the protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. I suggested that these memes seemed difficult to believe, and I stand by it. Two of my friends posted on my social media page saying “I know somebody who personally…” A third friend posted about a dozen memes claiming the same thing. The ironic thing is that these prove my point. Two days later, there is still no news that have reported this happening. For the memes to be true, all of the media will have had to leave the kneeling police an hour later, and everybody, for some reason, decided not to film the event. This is highly unlikely; the biggest story had to have been the success of this show of respect and solidarity; what are the odds that nobody would still be filming?

The problem is that, people have a momentum with their anger at the moment. Police brutality has been a problem in our society for far too long. The desire to keep the protest momentum going is natural. Unfortunately, the people who want to turn the peaceful protests violent have seized on the anger and are manipulating online and on the ground. Unfortunately, if you want to remain angry it’s easier to believe these unsubstantiated rumors than to withhold judgment.

There are many reasons that people might let their bias blind themselves to facts. Anti-vax is one example. Parents who unfortunately live through the pain of autism in a child are hurt and want to find somebody to blame. The symptoms of autism typically begin showing up at the time that vaccinations are recommended, so it is natural to assume that these vaccinations are the cause of autism. This phobia was promoted by a doctor who published an article linking the two. Since then, the article has been withdrawn due to inconsistencies, the doctor who wrote it has been stripped of his credentials and a plethora of studies from a myriad of highly respectable groups has failed to find any link between the two. Additionally, the Coronavirus has given us firsthand experience with what happens when no vaccine is available. And yet, now the anti-vax movement is turning its attention to the potential Coronavirus vaccine even before it’s finished.

I believe the reason for this is because of the need to find somebody to blame for the autism. This movement is fueled by the natural remedy business as well, a business, by the way, is projected to be a two hundred-billion-dollar business by 2025. It’s easy to be angry at “big pharma”, an industry that so obviously flaunts its greed, but somehow people miss the source of the holistic information.

It becomes important to ask yourself when it is worth taking up the fight, and when it simply isn’t worth it. I’ve taken to asking myself some questions. First, is it important? For example, I have argued with holistic healers not to change their mind, but because I’ve seen them promote ideas that frankly are dangerous and could cause harm to others. Second, I ask myself why it’s important to me, personally, to debate. If it seems like somebody has a legitimate question about something that I know about (or have an opinion), I’m willing to share it, but for example, I won’t argue with flat-earthers. This is such a ridiculous belief, and frankly, it doesn’t harm anybody. Finally, when I become involved in a discussion, I continually reassess how the discussion is going, it’s direction and goals. It’s too easy to become too emotional, and when this happens, it’s probably easier to simply let the argument go.

I know I can do better. I’m still learning, but I’m hoping they are as well.

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