Cognegative Discrepancies

I have been reading a number of articles that all point to a common occurrence — those who are the greatest opponents to a variety of issues are those who know and understand the least about them. Really good research has been done around a variety of controversial topics and a deeply disturbing trend is emerging. Those most opposed to vaccines are proving to be the lest knowledgeable and well versed about immunization and preventative care. those most vehemently opposed to masking prove the be the very least cognizant of what masks do and don’t do. The loudest opponents to the teaching of critical race theory fail even the simplest, most basic tests on what critical race theory teaches. The strongest adversaries to tax reform, federal funding, national debt and federal deficit are fundamentally incapable of explaining the intricacies of any of them – even among some of those elected to make decisions about them. Ignorance is not only bliss, but seemingly a prerequisite for influence and authority. It no longer matters for “experts” to know anything…

When we start confusing opinion with fact and personal belief with evidence we are in deep trouble, both individually and collectively. Lives have been lost due to misinformation and misunderstanding about COVID-19. The outright rejection of critical race theory creates false perceptions and perpetuates the many facets of racism that CRT is designed to confront. The philosophical bases of CRT is an openness to challenge conventional wisdom and the commonly held understanding that “history is written by the victors.” There are few claims that CRT is any less biased than the white dominant histories we have been handed, but simply a claim that all voices have a right to be heard and addressed. Certainly there are some poorly developed CRT resources, but they should not preclude the excellent resources that exist as well. What are we afraid of?

What is currently happening in Washington DC should concern every single person in the United States, regardless of party affiliation. Our government is abdicating governance for toxic competition and aggression. The people are no longer being well served. We, all of us, must take responsibility for this. We have allowed politics to become a cutthroat and caustic game instead of the means to a civil, equitable, and just society. Real lives are being harmed and destroyed by politicians no longer caring who is affected. The majority of Americans believe that those individuals and corporations who make the most money should bear the largest responsibility for the support of the common good, yet the diminishing middle-class pays more and more as it races to become lower-class impoverished. What is happening concerning infrastructure and economic investment is the capitol today is irrational and short-sighted, and reflects the ambitions and agendas of some petty and small-minded individuals. The corruption of power is heartbreaking, and it will harm the most vulnerable in our society. And many of the most vulnerable are some of the strongest supporters of the most destructive voices and positions in our country. And instead of finger-pointing, blaming, and accusation of individuals by name, it is time to acknowledge that this is a systems problem calling for radical change. It isn’t a specific individual who is at fault; it is a type. Selfish, self-interested, greedy, cynical, prejudiced, malicious, arrogant, entitled, pampered, pedantic, pompous, bigoted, and hostile — are these truly the qualities and characteristics we want to define the people we place in positions of power and influence? If this isn’t want we want, then we’ve got trouble, because these traits are the very ones produced and promoted by our current system.

We are in a terrible spiral. There is such widespread anxiety, fear, distrust, and frustration that we listen not to the most reasonable voices, but the loudest voices. Promises of safety, security, stability, and prosperity are seductively attractive, but we tend not to care that the people making them have absolutely no intention of delivering on them; then we are appalled when “the other side” is blamed. One party proposes a way to reduce the debt of the other party, who accuses the proposal of trying to make the problem worse, instead of better. What might happen if both sides joined forces to confront the problem instead of making it a tug-of-war? What if benefitting all people were more important than winning and only benefitting some? The longer our government is divided into enemy camps, the more people will suffer.

Volume is not a good indicator of integrity. Just because a voice is loud doesn’t mean it is right, or that it should be listened to. The negativity and limited cognitive capacity of simple minds is a danger to us all. We should never be afraid of the free and open exchange of ideas, but we should allow space for consensus to emerge. Not all ideas are created equal and some truths (justice for all) are of greater value than others (green is a color) (and many “truths” are nothing more than mere opinions Coke is better than Pepsi…). The fact that someone doesn’t like to mask and has heard that masks are unsanitary simply does not change the facts that we are safer together masked than unmasked. The reality that our racial and ethnic history is deeply conflicted and filled with injustices and atrocities is a fact that we should face, though individual facts may be difficult to pin down and verify. There will always be a fringe element that disregards fact for fiction – be it moon landings, the Holocaust, round earth, racism, sexism – but we simply cannot allow the tail to continue to wag the dog. We see what happens in the church when we do this. How many people point to the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the dozens of Holy Wars and cultural abominations conducted in the name of religion, and dismiss all belief as corrupt? But the greater good, and the potential for good, is so much greater. Anything can be corrupted. It is up to the faithful majority to act upon, believe, and spread the best available information and knowledge available, and then to support leadership that espouses the best for all. We’re living in scary times, when negative thinking and small minds say so many things that simply are not true – and then so many others believe them.

Categories: Uncategorized

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