It’s Complicated

One of the most dangerous assumptions a person can make is that there are simple answers, solutions, or viewpoints regarding the major issues out there today. Gun control, Wealth gaps, Defense spending, censorship: there are no easy answers to these or many other important issues of our day.

The pat or smug one-liners you hear on the radio or get from talking heads on TV suggest that these sages have it all figured out. And for a second many of their pronouncements actually ring true–unless you have the tools to know better.

One of the most important lessons students can derive from their education is the idea that the answers to the big questions are fraught with tradeoffs . What’s worse is that the more money that surrounds the issue, the more you have conflicts of interest and disinformation. Students hopefully realize that the issues are complex far beyond the ability of any one person to reduce them to a one-liner.

It is the sincere hope of propagandists to abuse statistics and then tempt the audience to get emotionally involved through fear while at the same time creating a common enemy.
“Recent statistics show that our country is in serious trouble (manipulated statistics revealed here). If we let Group X continue to carry on like this, we will become a third-world country.”

The idea is that rather than investigate the issue or use critical thinking, the propagandist will short-circuit that process and convince the audience to simply resent (or even hate) the members of Group X (and perhaps even Y or Z).

The goal of the propagandist is to generate an emotional response and reaction for political benefit (purely and simply: power). The consequences become immaterial and are of little or no importance to a propagandist.

One goal of an education is to promote critical thinking, awareness, research or investigation, and a healthy climate of skepticism where conflicts of interest exist. An education is a good first line of defense in the struggle to ward-off propagandists and their messages of hate.

The Dark Ages were dark because no one was encouraged to think anymore.

Very little worth knowing is simple. There is however, great satisfaction in learning and getting the tools to form a coherent and functional worldview such that you can apply it and live comfortably through it–and make changes to it as more is revealed.


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