Believe me. Don’t believe me.

It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been cursed.  I’ve carried this curse since childhood, but it wasn’t until only recently that I recognized it as such.

It’s not a bad curse, like having things break when I touch them.  It has more to do with people telling me things.  I have a problem believing them.  Not the people, the things they tell me.  See?  There’s part of the curse.

I don’t combine the person with the thing they tell me.  To me, they are two very different things.  A person I love can tell me “We ate asparagus last night,” and I know that she believes that what she is telling me is the absolute truth.  The thing she said, we had asparagus for dinner, might be true, but then again, maybe not.  I check my memory to review.

Good news!  My memory and her statement match.  Yes, I believe her statement, but only AFTER I checked my memory.  But what if it doesn’t match?  More good news for my relationship, she’s always been right.  Well, almost.  But when she’s wrong it doesn’t matter.

The point here is that accepting any statement and immediately putting it into a box marked “true” is something that many in our society seem to have lost.  Perhaps we never had it.  This is most evident when watching any of our partisan political parrying. [1]

Is it just me or do Republicans in general seem to accept the statements made by their favorite entertainers lock, stock, and barrel?  I hear some of these statements repeated by friends or relatives of mine, and I think, “How can they actually believe this is true?”  Here’s two that come immediately to mind: “The arabic culture has never contributed anything of value to society,” [2] and “All teachers are being indoctrinated by a socialist out of New York City.” [3]

Their talking heads, whether it’s Fox or Rush Limbaugh, espouse incredible nonsense on a continuous basis.  Supposed experts back them up, but such false authority isn’t even needed.  There is something about the continuous vitriol and wild conspiracy theories that keeps these “conservative” minds drinking from the same unhealthy cup time after time.

The curse continues.  All I can do is shake my head, and worry about the future of my friends, and the future of our world.  Is the answer to let their leaders continue to manipulate them for their own greedy ends?  Or to somehow spread the curse, my curse, that some call skepticism.

I don’t know the answer – but perhaps you can help.  Any ideas?


[1] Full disclaimer: I started out as a Republican.  I converted to Democratic.  Then I became liberated.  Today I’m a fully committed Scientific Conservative.  But that’s another column.

[2] I took this one personally, as my culture also originated from the fertile crescent.  In fact, all of our cultures did.  I carefully pointed out that the terrible arabic culture has contributed many major advances to civilization, such as the arch, arabic numerals, and algebra.  And that was only for “A.”  They responded, “What have they done lately?”  I rolled my eyes.

[3]  The idea that any large group of people could be so indoctrinated so that they all believe the same thing is so absolutely ludicrous that I didn’t know what to say.  Even today, if we were to ask everyone in the world whether the Earth was round, we could find those who say “No.”  Even more incredible is thinking that such (generally) wonderful people as teachers could be taught to all think in the same way and accept a common doctrine.  I’m still not sure how to react to this one.  Ideas?



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