Monday, October 24, 2011

If You Don't Know - SAY You Don't Know

When the Obama Health Care Reform Act (HCRA) was being dragged around the media like downed solders through a Mogadishu central market, I was asked at least five times per day: "What do you think?"  Before I could respond, the other person would almost always launch into a heated, emotional tirade about how evil, bad, and wrong it was and how it was going to destroy our nation and our "way of life".

So I would be patient and, like Ali, would allow my opponent to wear their self out on their own.  Then I would calmly respond:  "Have you read the Bill itself?"

Not one single person had read it.  Not one had even attempted to read it.  I had not read it either, so I would follow that up with: "I'll tell you what I think as soon as I've finished reading it and had time to absorb it."  The look on their face was as if I just told them I fed their child to a starving Lion.  Oh yes.  The look.  THAT look.

I'm not defending the HCRA by any stretch of the imagination.  My modus operandi is to temper all such issues with a measure of how much impact I can *possibly* ever have on it being processed into law.  The answer is usually the same: ZERO.

But the key point remains:  Before opening your mouth to express an opinion, please, PLEASE, be sure to educate yourself on whatever it is you are opinionating about.  And before you ask: NO, watching/listening to cable news shows and podcasts is NOT educating yourself.  That's listening to editorialized, subjective, spoon feeding.  If you want spoon feeding, then go ahead and watch your favorite "news" person blabber on about what THEY think and program your mushy brain to follow what they want you to follow.  After all, that's why God (or whoever you believe in) gave you a brain, right?  To shove it into a mold shaped identical to whatever you watch on TV.

Legislative actions are filed in online, public-available, systems that allow you to search, browse and read to your heart's content.  There is no excuse in this day and age for not reading the source of a particular subject.  If it's not available for you to read, guess what:  It's probably not available for you to decide either.  So, if a subject is beyond your control, take up a more valuable thing to be concerned with, like arguing over the sunrise or weather.

But the same holds true for technology and just about anything else.  Ever hear someone say "Oh, that ____ product sucks" or "____ is a piece of crap."  Ask them to back it up with evidence.  Not stories, and retelling of past so-called experience, but actual hard numbers, log files, case records, etc.  Most of what people tout as fact and "guidance" is utter pure bullshit.  There are exceptions, of course.  But even they can be wrong or misguided, as we call can be.  Read.  Learn.  Do not wash, rinse and repeat.
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