It's an election year. And, as with any time period involving trying to communicate messages, the media are full of facts, figures and claims. But, few of them are entirely true.
Whether a race in central Texas, in a Congressional district, statewide or nationwide, there's a problem with the information being shared during an election year.... it's fuzzy!
You know all about fuzzy. We use fuzzy all the time. We have fuzzy numbers - I'm between 50 and 60; I make between $5,000 and $250,000; I watch between 5 and 40 hours of television. We have fuzzy logic - Mason had German settlers making it a German county; lots of people have white pickups making white pickups a better vehicle; lots of criminals have tattoos so people with tatoos are all criminal.
And, there are fuzzy facts.
The strange thing about facts is that, depending upon what you include or leave out, the conclusions will be different. Global warming is caused by --- 1) Cows passing gas, 2) volcanoes erupting, 3) the burning of hydrocarbon fuels. Or... the current global financial crisis was caused by --- 1) Over regulation of private financial industries, 2) lack of regulation of private financial industries, 3) greed.
During election years, the political teams helping candidates look better than their opponents depend upon fuzzy facts. Candidate A will list all the good things they have done and all the bad things their opponent has done, conveniently relying upon fuzzy facts to make the good sound better and the bad sound worse. Obviously, the opponent will have to respond. When they do, they will also rely upon their own finely constructed fuzzy facts. And it continues.
This issue came on to my radar late last week. A friend had posted something on facebook concerning a rebuttal to some fuzzy facts that had been posted by someone else. I looked at it, and though I recognized that the posting relied upon fuzzy facts (who did what, at what time, under the guidance of whom), I found it interesting to see a response to the earlier posting. So, like an idiot, I decided to repost the table of fuzzy facts on my own facebook page.Chaos ensued!
It would seem that people never recognize that they have been led by fuzzy facts if those facts support their current beliefs. They do, however, recognize fuzzy facts when they suggest an outcome of thought opposed to their current beliefs. And, they are more than willing to point out the fuzziness factor.
I need to preface this with another observation I had about the people I've "friended" on facebook - they are, generally, much more civil than many people I've observed having discussions on the social network. That doesn't mean they won't respond emotionally (some did) or that they won't be angry (some were) or that they won't start posting opposing fuzzy facts (they did).
All discourse involves the exchange of information. Some of that information is indisputable. Other bits of information in the discourse are of questionable origin and are open to disproving or verifying. And there are also some pieces of information that are so patently false that no one can believe they've been brought into the argument.
During this election year, remember that facts are never immutable. Everything is open to discussion, and viewpoint colors all conclusions. When you see something that claims absolute certainty and truth, don't be afraid to question and discuss.
We may not find all the facts, but we will find something much closer to the truth.
It’s all just my opinion.