Southern Man

Monday, May 16, 2011

One In Five People Believe That...

The author of this article expresses amazement that one in five Americans don't believe that OBL was indeed brought to thermal equilibrium with his surroundings by the heroes of Seal Team 6 (® Walt Disney Corporation). The comments to that article expound on the notion that one in five Americans is...well, read them for yourself.

Southern Man observes that for every damn fool idea or conspiracy theory floating around out there, one in five people believe it. That's about the proportion who believe that we never went to the Moon, or that Elvis is still alive, or that 9/11 was a government conspiracy, or that JFK was murdered by a cabal of government agents and defense contractors, or that an alien spacecraft is hidden in Hangar 18, or that (insert politician's name here) stole the (insert year/location here) election, or that super-secret 100-mpg carburetors exist, or that (raising/lowering) taxes will (increase/decrease) revenue, or that eating less and exercising will cause you to lose weight. So, are one in five people idiots? No; the problem is that for every damn fool idea, it's a different one in five people.

Southern Man concludes from this that we are all idiots, laughing at the fools that fall for the conspiracy theory of the day while blissfully unaware of the particular falsehoods and untruths that we ourselves hold dear.

The article does give a clue as to why this is so:
This incredulity phenomenon is a curious creation of a high-speed global media so full of unverified and unverifiable information floating about, combined with a modern cynicism about political leaders masquerading as voter wisdom. After so many lies and misleading claims by politicians over the decades since the Kennedy assassination and its conspiracy theories ("I am not a crook" "I did not have sex with that woman"), the safest way to look wise and experienced these days is to dismiss virtually any public official's statement as a talking point and/or lie.
We are inundated with so much information - more every week than Aristotle was during his lifetime - and so much of it is unverifiable, or biased, or downright false - that we just don't believe much of anything anymore. Southern Man himself questions (and largely disbelieves) pretty much everything he hears or reads. Is this healthy skepticism, or planting one's head in the sand?

Dr. House was right; everyone lies. Everyone. Politicians, scientists, businessmen, auto mechanics, the police, your immediate supervisor - everyone. Remember "don't trust anyone over 30?" How about "Trust, but verify?" Southern Man says - don't trust anyone, period. Ever. About anything.

And he's willing to bet good money that one in five people agree with him.


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