Feb 5, 2014

Coke and the CBO - Take Your Medicine

I am often asked how one goes about being truly informed when we live in such a world that is dominated by shallow reporting, reactive politics, and news as entertainment rather than journalism.  Admittedly, this is difficult to do.  But below is one step that helps.

Today, not just the news, but many  "advancements" in science, education, philosophy, sociology, religion and other disciplines are no longer driven by a desire to know, but instead, are driven by advocacy (and the funding that comes with it) and political correctness.  For many, it is more important to be right, or to win an election, or to receive attention (especially the kind that comes with funding) than it is to make authentic and helpful discovery.

Even worse, our culture is content to spread falsehood simply because we believe it passionately and have even acted faithfully according to those false beliefs.  We are a "willfully ignorant" society, as CS Lewis would say, and too often we are so convinced of the truth, we don't think it's necessary to look at the facts.  I'm amazed at how many people repost hateful and ignorant posts from anonymous and unresearched Facebook Pages, for example.   More incredibly is how often someone proudly tweets out thier own shallowness and ignorance in less than 140 characters.  How many people have been fired recently for their tweets?  #HasJustineLandedYet

This willful ignorance is enslaving and destructive - and its getting worse.  Truth only resides in reality;  other residents include fact and consequence.  Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people can even find it on the map.

Anyway, I can go on and on about that.  But that's not why I'm writing.  Here's an exercise that I use which I believe helps give a better idea of what is true about a situation or idea.   I deliberately try to find some sources that have clear biases, yet, call out their own side for being outright false or misleading.  Its a great discipline, and risky in the modern environment, to point out that your own side might just be wrong, or hateful, or ignorant, or a bully, or racist, or whatever the negative label du jour is.

So, as an example, there are two articles published today that I think you should read.  One is from a conservative publication, the other is from a liberal publication.  Both are critical of their own side, without rejecting their respective ideologies.

To make this useful, try this:   If you are a conservative, you may want to focus on what the author of the liberal National Journal writes about the Obama Administration.  But don't do that.  Likewise, if you are a liberal, you may be tempted to focus your attention on what the conservative Commentary says about Glenn Beck and other conservatives.  Again, don't.  Focus instead on your own ideological preference and consider how your side can do better.

I realize the issues discussed by these articles are far deeper than just a TV ad or one report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  A good defense can be made for both because of the complex and deeper issues of poverty and its roots.  But that's not what this exercise is about.  It's about this:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." - Jesus Christ from Matthew 7.

Funny thing is, this works.  When conservatives correct conservatives about what it means to be an American by using Ronald Reagan, it carries a lot of weight and improves the discussion.  But when liberals correct conservatives about what it means to be an American, and engage in name calling, no one listens, and it just makes things worse.

Likewise, when liberals correct liberals about the facts and figures of Obamacare, and they use the words of President Obama against himself, it tasks liberals to reject their own political spin.  But when conservatives correct liberals about the facts and figures of Obamacare, and engage in name calling, no one listens, and the political spin is simply adjusted to obscure the truth even further.

So, some recommended reading for today:

From the conservative Commentary:

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/02/04/a-disturbing-conservative-reaction-to-the-coke-ad/

From the liberal National Journal:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/truth-and-consequences-of-obamacare-distortion-20140205

PSF

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