The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taking off the blinders

Last week's political post garnered a comment that bothered me. Not because it was derogatory (it wasn't), not because it shot holes in my premise (it didn't do that either) but because it revealed a certain close-mindedness that is all too prevalent; an unwillingness to read a conservative opinion or a opinion from

This close-mindedness is not limited to the Left or the Right, it is found throughout all ideological perspectives. It is way too evident in all of society today. It has been with us throughout the history of the world. It has an impediment to advancement, it has allowed the dictators of the world to achieve control and fortify their positions.

It is a refusal to acknowledge that the other side may have a valid point.

Now, before you say how open minded you are and how you always listen to both (or more) sides, let me remind you that I understand that you believe that. And many of you may well be open minded. But not all of those who claim that status really are. I am beginning to suspect very few of us actually are.

I have written before about how we are "herd animals" [here] and how we choose our friends because they are like us, because they agree with us, because they believe the things we do. Our circle of friends tend to reinforce our perception of the world around us. This gives us a comfortable feeling, one of belonging, that we have value. I have mentioned more than a few times how advertisers use that herd mentality to get us to buy products. They also use that desire to be unique in the herd. Ever hear your child tell you how "I have to be me" as he or she dresses, talks, and acts like all of his or her friends?

I noted it once a long time ago as I was crossing the country with my 11 year old son and his childhood friend. I realized they looked, talked, and acted alike. I jokingly referred to them as the "California Clones." There were differences but the differences were so subtle that they may as well not have existed.

I have also written about the growing division in the US [here] which I think is still growing. (
especially read the comments for that piece) I worry about that division. It may be that I am paranoid and reading too much into it. I hope I am.

Sometime, when I was 12 or 13, I learned about something called "The scientific method." It's a simple process and the steps are these:

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

It was the 4th step that began to open my eyes. You see, you were supposed to try to disprove your own hypothesis, not try to confirm it. In other words, the experiments were to find flaws in your hypothesis, not simply bolster it. It is the part of the process which is so important and yet which eludes many minds. If you set out to confirm a hypothesis rather than disprove it, you are likely to overlook its flaws in the process.

I grew up to be conservative. When I was in my teens and twenties, I was liberal. Quite liberal. My friends were liberal. My teachers were liberal. It felt "right" to be liberal. Liberalism was reinforced by everything around me. I didn't question it. Why should I? No one else was. Then, for reasons I do not recall or understand, I began to apply that scientific method to my belief system. I began to observe closely and began to question my friends and teachers to test the strength of their convictions. I began testing them. And that's when I began to change. Because instead of answers that came from their own logic and intellect, they repeated what they had been taught or heard over and over again.

You can get the liberal viewpoint anywhere. It's all over the place. In the newspapers, in the TV news, in the talk shows. Just about everywhere you look. It seems to be the majority viewpoint, doesn't it? But what is it really?

You won't know until you start looking for its antithesis and paying attention to it. You won't know until you begin to question its veracity, until you match the words with the actions (if you can).

The United States is an amazing country. It was founded when some men began to question authority. It incorporated that concept, question authority, into its primal fabric. That is the principle behind Freedom of Speech.

Watch Fox News now and then, read a conservative viewpoint daily, even listen to Rush Limbaugh when you get the chance. You don't have to believe what you read or hear or see. All you have to do is evaluate it objectively. Look past the rhetoric, the talking points and such, and discern what facts you can. Then question those facts, seek out answers. And then do the same with the usual places you get your news and commentary. And then challenge everything.... question authority!

You may not change your mind, you may find you are comfortable with the viewpoint you already have. But don't dismiss the idea that you could be wrong.


Thechubbychatterbox said...

I can't stand listening to talking heads that are so entrenched in their ideology that you know what they are going to say before it comes out of their mouths. I used to listen to Rush until he committed the worst sin of all--he bored me. I didn't mind that his opinions were so much different from mine, but over the years he's shown that he is incapable of being impartial and is only interested in pulling people apart to increase his viewership (my opinion.) George Will, Pat Buchanan, Stephen Hayes (no relation) and other conservative commentators are not as rigid in their thinking and still manage to surprise me. I like a good debate and I'm not afraid to change my opinions when convinced otherwise. I wish we could have more debates in this country instead of people giving sound bites or yelling at each other.

FTell001 said...

and if you really want to prove how open minded you are, watch the BBC and read the newspapers from other countries to get their viewpoints. I"m afraid Fox doesn't even pretend to be unbiased. Blatant in thier coverage and leanings, I'm afraid there are too many other viewpoints to observe that at least fake a more "journalistic" approach.

Douglas4517 said...

What makes you think I don't already do that? I read opinions from everywhere. I don't have to prove how open minded I am. I don't care if anyone thinks I am or I am not. That's a judgement they'll make on their own.

No, Fox isn't unbiased. It's solidly conservative. It's only the liberal networks and news shows that pretend they aren't. I sometimes think that the Foxnews motto of "fair and balanced" has the sole purpose of riling the Left.

But, when you get right down to it, news is simply news... it isn't liberal or conservative. The choices of what stories to present and how much of it to present are what reveals the bias. Just as the choices we make about what to read and what to watch reveals our bias. Just as what we assume about others reveals our bias.   I think what irks so many about the Foxnews channel is that all of their commentary, all of the opinion shows, are openly conservative and that -worst of all- it's successful.

You ever wonder what it would be like if we only had one political ideology in this country? If there were no Republican Party Or no conservatives who would speak up? Think about it... long and hard... and objectively.

Douglas4517 said...

I knew mentioning Limbaugh would bring out some bile. Yep, he can be boring though not all that often. He's a "red meat" conservative, full of himself and absolutely sure he's right. Or pretends to be... for the money.  Doesn't matter.  No one has to listen to him every day or even for the three hours his show runs. Just often enough to wonder if what the Left says about him is actually true or mostly made up. Then you start to ask yourself... why do they make up stuff about him? Or about anyone? Why lie if you are correct about your worldview? That's why I brought him up. Go to the Huffington Post and read through it, look for articles that are about the Right (there's always a lot of them) then read the comments and see how quickly his name pops up. If he is such an obvious fraud and a pompous ass, why are they so fixated on him? He's a lightning rod for the Left.  If he didn't exist they'd have to invent him.

Sightings said...

I agree you gotta listen to both sides, b/c if you only listened to the Right, you'd think Obama was not a citizen and that global warming was a hoax; if you only listened to the left you'd never hear about Solyndra and never know that it was the Democrats who were largely behind the real estate fiasco thru Fannie and Freddie.

Unfortunately, each faction seems most accurate when it's reporting on something negative about the other side.  Would be nice to hear some good news once in a while!

pearlvz said...

I can't listen to Rush.  He makes my head explode, which just causes more work for me in the long run. 



Douglas4517 said...

Duct tape... firmly wrapped around your head. But try not to cover your eyes or ears.

Douglas4517 said...

The good news is out there. It's just that there is so much more bad, it overwhelms us. I really liked your post today.

FTelll001 said...