Saturday, February 20, 2010

Says you!

How many of us have heard children arguing:

Nu uh! Yeah Huh! Nu uh! Yeah Huh! Nu uh! Yeah Huh! Nu uh! Yeah Huh!

It's as pointless as it is annoying. Sadly, a lot of what I hear on talk radio and on certain Internet discussion boards is exactly like this.

Americans seem to have totally lost their grip with objective reality. Scientific facts are now up for debate. Historical facts are questioned ad nauseam, while conspiracy theories are discussed as if they have the same standing as historical facts.

Leonard Pitts, Jr. recently relayed such an encounter with a reader.* Pitts notes that, "We are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth." His observations echo Susan Jacoby's recent book, "The Age of American Unreason."

On more than one occasion I have been asked if I "believe" in evolution or if I "believe" in global warming, as if the validity of such scientific facts relied at all upon faith.

I made the mistake of listening to the "Walton and Johnson" show one morning and received a hearty dose of modern post-intellectualism. In what is advertised to be a humorous program, the hosts relentlessly bashed all things liberal and scientific like snarky school boys blurting out insults about their romantic rivals.

Facts and information from reputable sources were absent. Instead, the program mostly consisted of reading odd news items and then drawing outrageous conclusions about how the story proved either the validity of their own political, social and economic views or discredited the views of those who thought differently. There was a lot of back and forth, "Yeah, that's right," and, "See, that's what we've been saying."

I guess I understand why they left New Orleans years ago to join their contrarian comrades in Houston. What is disturbing is that they are popular enough to be heard beyond Texas and in markets such as New Orleans. Does anyone find their program funny? Are there really enough shallow-thinking, gullible listeners to sustain the program? The answer to the second question is obviously yes.

One thing upon which I did find I could agree with Walton and Johnson: America appears to be on the decline. And these guys are a perfect example of why.

*Note: I first read this editorial in The Times-Picayune but could not find it posted on their web page.


Sean said...

The sad thing is that for most people scientific facts do rely on a certain amount of faith. Even critical thinkers will logically deceive themselves and rework illogical common thinking they hear into something that works better for them. Faith comes into play from choosing a source of information that they trust even when it's wrong. Whenever money, religion, or political influence is involved, facts will be distorted. With radio/tv programs its a tilted battlefield out there. Despite the public owning the airwaves the one thing standing in the way of diversity is corporate money's influence over our gov't. It's had a paralyzing effect on positive change in our country, and just like the airways our gov't has become centralized as well.

judyb said...

Re: W&J - I cannot listen to them. You hit the nail on the head when you described them as schoolboys. Ugh. Sad thing is, I used to listen to them almost 20 years ago when they were in NOLA and they were actually humorous. Not any more.

mominem said...

An interesting corollary is the number of people who "believe" in the popular fact (even when it's right) but have little or no understanding of the basis for that belief.