Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The middle path: Why balance is the hardest to achieve

I have found inspiration in the vigorous discussions that have sprung up from my previous blog and the writings of others. This is a good thing even if we vociferously disagree that we are talking rather than trying to shout each other down. Yet I see the growing cancer of intolerance, disinformation, and excessive hyperbole within the general discourse. It to me is the strongest proof of the growth of tribalism, which I have written on the topic previously, in the United States today.

The issue that I am taking up in this post is the often utter lack of context when we discuss a political, social, or religious issue today. I see the rise of meme's, tweets, and other aspects of social media as tools that are being grossly misused by all of us. Rather than permitting facts as we can research and verify for ourselves we are serving up more "soundbites" that make us feel good about striking a blow for "our" side, whatever side that might be.

I can personally attest to the need for our data to be accurate, factual, and as devoid of bias as possible. Given both my training as an Intelligence Analyst and student of human psychology empiricism isn't just a good idea, it is sacrosanct as without the information is useless. The goal of your research is to provide useful and usable data for analysis and then dissemination to a larger group. It is NOT to allow you to cherry-pick the facts you want to present or ignore those facts that modify your desired end state.

Given the divisive nature of our recent turn in our national politics and rise of what to many are disturbing parallels given the actions of the Trump Administration and Nazi Germany.   The fact that such comparisons made regularly are disturbing yet so are the actions by the Trump Administration to draw such ire from concerned citizens. Rumor and innuendo seem to be propelling headlong into our information stream.  Blindly parroting the rumor and innuendo is counter-productive to the imperative need for factual information that informs us to move as our intelligence and conscience would guide us.

Something to keep in mind, amidst the sound and fury, be mindful of where and what your data comes from if someone else does the research for you.  We must be intellectually honest and hold our integrity dearly in the face of such temptations to fight with our hearts. Our emotions are powerful tools to help us, but unchecked can do far more harm than good to ourselves and others. Outrage at what is perceived injustice, racism, and a host of other ills is justified whenever we find it.

Before we take to the streets and the Internet, let's stop for a moment and gather facts. Groups that have long experienced discrimination have shown us that being armed with factually truthful information is both transformational and infinitely powerful, History provides numerous examples of this such as our revolution against Great Britain. If you separate the propaganda from both sides, you will see that the colonials who fought to break away sought to decide for themselves rather than be told by others, how to rule themselves.

Thus I again sound my refrain of "Stop, listen, research, gather facts, recognize bias both in yourself and your data" before you act. As for me personally, I find it disturbing the amount of concern with our current political and social climate for a lot of reasons. I will fight for those freedoms I have fought for on behalf of all Americans till it is my time to depart the Midgard.

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