The information age is rough. It's so hard to know what's true.
For example, how do I know which emails I forward on to ten friends will actually result in good luck versus those that won't? Can that pill really make my penis add on inches? (Inches!) And that deposed Nigerian prince sounds so sincere.
But I don't know… So many people abuse the truth in so many ways and for so many reasons. What to do? What to believe?
It's easy to drop the wise approach of "don't believe everything you hear" and regress into "don't believe anything you hear." Of course, people who claim they don't believe anything always end up believing something. Those who don't believe "The Media" always end up getting their news from some other source that could also easily be categorized as "The Media."
Still, the primal reaction to disbelieve everything is understandable. You're hesitant to take things on faith, and that's wise, but in our specialist-driven society, you have to be able to assess others because you can’t be an expert in all fields.
So the info glut is here to stay, and we can't necessarily assess the truth of something as much as we'd like, but we can easily assess our assessment. We can check our own bias, and check against timeless rules. For example, is this something we want to be true? Is this too good to be true? Is this so complex I have unanswered questions and some clown is pressuring me to act now? Etc.
That introspection is becoming (or has become) our lone critical tool. Without it, we look ridiculous.
Case in point: climate change deniers. These people could use some serious self-assessment, because the extent of their research into climate change involves a paid shill telling them it doesn’t exist. Now of course I don't know that for certain. It's entirely possible that they consulted more than one paid shill.
Besides, aren't I making a leap of faith that climate change is real? Well, sure. I am. But not all leaps of faith are created equal. I haven't done massive amounts of research into climate change, either. Who can? Scientists can. And when you line up lots of scientists and they believe it, is it wise to doubt them or believe instead the opposite view being pushed by a talking head with a well-known habit of always defending big business?
If climate change deniers are so independently-minded, why haven't they instead started a "Pilots Are Dumb" movement? On any given flight, why aren't there legions of people rushing the cockpit, shoving the pilot aside while screaming, "Get out of here! You don't know what you're doing! I can fly this bird better than you!"
Why haven't the climate change deniers called for the firing of surgeons? Why aren't hordes of talk-radio junkies kicking open the doors to operating rooms, plastic knife in hand, screaming, "Step away from the body! I'll handle this!"
And how dare they claim to "Support the troops!" Surely the troops are criminally incompetent compared to a climate change deniers' renaissance-man-like skill set.
No, they're not doing any of that. That would be absurd to claim they're experts in fields that require such intensive training!
Yet somehow, climate change deniers are experts in climate change.
So let's review: They have no piloting background, but there's no movement to overthrow pilots. No surgery background, no movement to overthrow doctors. No climate change background, yet there's a movement to disregard climate scientists. What a lucky coincidence for the industries that are anti-environmental protection! All without the use of propaganda! (Wink.)
One more example that's great for larfs: when people who don't claim to have studied any biology try to deny evolution, but offer up some insane condition which would allegedly win them over. As in, "I don't believe in evolution and I won't believe it until I see a hamster with wings. If evolution is real, where are all the hamsters with wings? And gravity? Calling B.S. on that! What about Superman? It doesn't affect Superman, so how can you say it's a hard and fast law of physicsology?"
I feel bad for scientists and true independent thinkers. In their naïve honesty, they'll say things like, "Well, we're 99% sure carbon emissions from human activity heat up the globe and screw with the climate." That’s all the opening a fake independent mind needs. "Oh, you're not definitely sure? Well call me back when you are. Until then, go away. I have to gas up my SUV for another three mile drive."
Of course thinking for yourself is a great thing, as long as you sprinkle it with some humility. But that's what the fake independent mind doesn't do. They are confusing independent thought with a mind unanchored. They refuse to believe anything they don't want to that's beyond their own experience. There's no better recipe for ignorance than that.
Larry Nocella writes The Semi-True Adventures of Lar blog at LarryNocella.com. He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? The world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to Carbonfund.org. The book is available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle eBook. It is also available for other eBook readers.