Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Just the Facts, Ma'am

It musing about my last post, it seems to me there is something fundamental about people's understanding of facts. 

There is a spectrum. At one end is a person whose grasp of reality is so tenuous they simply have no conception of a fact outside of what they believe. Think of a severely mentally ill person. Recently a mother left her daughter on the side of the road in freezing cold weather with no shoes because she believed God had told her to. Her "facts" are what she thinks in her head.

At the other end are people who understand that facts are external to what they think. Quite importantly, they will freely change their views based on facts. These people have a good grasp not only of reality but logic. 

Let's look at some cases. If a person came to you and said, without providing any evidence, that  Bill and Hillary Clinton, other high ranking Democrats as well as Hollywood stars were all involved with a Satanic, child molestation ring run from a pizza parlor you would rightly state they needed mental help. So what are we to think of Qanon whose adherents believe just that? Are they all mentally ill? I am sure some are but when it comes to followers, I think many people simply just do not care about facts. Their truth is what they want to believe not what is real. 

Or how about the 70% of Republicans who believe Trump actually won the election. Not only is there no evidence for this but all the facts refute it. But they do not care about facts. I should probably point out that these people fall into two categories. One are those who know that Biden fairly won in a clean election but just lie about it for political reasons. I would guess most Republican members of Congress who objected to certification fall into this category. A larger number, I think, are those who just simply believe what people who they want to believe tell them. They think with their emotions not their brains. 

I see the same thing in the legal system. Some litigants, lawyers and officials who lie and commit crimes know exactly what they are doing but most I suspect just ignore or mentally block inconvenient facts because it threatens their power and income. They are not going to let facts get in their way. Or truth. Or justice. 

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