Muftic: We are a nation of fact deniers |

Muftic: We are a nation of fact deniers

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

One of the most disturbing trends of 2016 is that true believers of a cause or a candidate are gullible travelers and are sailing on the ship of the fooled when there are actual facts to the contrary. The danger is shaping public policy based on non-facts that impact the lives of us, the public. Garbage in is garbage out and the garbage out could lead to public policies that may be harmful to our own health, safety and well-being.

The old saw, “you are entitled to your beliefs but not to your facts,” is now turned on its head to “ You are entitled to your facts, but not my beliefs those facts may contradict”. One Trump surrogate, Scottie Nell Hughes, was quoted: “there is no such things as facts anymore”. The view of most of the major issues and facts are highly partisan, per a recent PEW opinion poll. No wonder political candidates can get away with lies and ignore the fact checkers and Donald Trump is the 2016 champion of fact twisting per fact checking scorekeeepers.

Psychologists have explanations for fact deniers. “Human beings are frequently reluctant to accept uncomfortable facts. theory of cognitive dissonance describes the unease which comes when reality conflicts with our beliefs, and how we often go to extreme lengths try to ignore or distort evidence, so that we can maintain our beliefs. “

Here is the problem: There are facts out there. They are put together by data gathered from many sources by those who have no bones to pick or who are just numbers crunchers, actuaries , and trained and objective national security professionals.. It makes for boring news and requires a ton of critical thinking and getting into weeds to sort them out.

Here is the danger: If public policy is shaped by the wrong facts, the policy may fix something that is not broken, have unintended consequences, or even endanger national security. The reports that Pres-Elect Trump dismisses intelligence briefings as not factual, boringly repetitive, or slanted, for example, is the most frightening. He certainly does not have his own intelligence service at this time to provide evidence that differs from the current services. The question is whether Trump is open minded enough to take seriously evidence that does not support his suppositions.

This is playing out in Trump’s transition plans. He does not “believe” Russia interfered in our elections either on his behalf or either to undermine faith in democracy in spite of seventeen intelligence agencies and the CIA telling him otherwise. Here is the danger: He is picking as Secretary of State an Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson, who has done so much business with Russia that the CEO got a high medal of honor from Vladimir Putin. However, Trump has supported a Russian foreign policy that is similar to Russia’s. It is likely there will be unintended adverse repercussions to the security of our allies, especially in eastern Europe.

The challenge for all in this democracy even finding the facts in these days of fake news and a media that has become partisan for one side or another. It is easier to kill the media messengers than to take individual responsibility of paying attention to findings of non-partisan, non-profit, data gatherers and multiple sources and go where the facts lead you.

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