Belief System Overrides

A pair of news items caught my eye this morning, leading me to what might be an insight.

The first item was news because of its source, but it’s not really news in and of itself. The second item is actually news, though because of its source (same guy) it won’t be treated as news.

The insight? We mix “believe” and “know” together, as if they are basically the same thing.

They aren’t.

I could argue that they are almost mutually antagonistic. Belief is what we use when we DON’T know something. Knowledge can inspire belief, but belief can’t survive the knowledge that would prove or disprove it.

What I mean is, if you have a belief and facts come to light that prove it, it’s no longer a belief. It’s just a fact. But if knowledge came to light to disprove it?

Different story. The belief wouldn’t just go away, because of confirmation bias. It would reject the new knowledge, and the more the new knowledge pushed its way in, the harder the belief would fight it off.

In effect, belief knocks on the door politely, but once it gets in the house it ain’t leaving, even if you call the police to have it removed.

This is how cults are formed. This is how hypnotists work. Once belief is in the house, they can yell at you, tell you to bark like a dog and stand on your head, make you sell flowers at the airport or hold up a bank, and apparently it works.

So, back to the news items. The first item was that President Trump said that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. The second was a list of Trump’s choices for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

One is a belief, one is a fact-based report. One is propaganda, one is news.

What is propaganda? I submit that it’s simply any putative news report whose content is based wholly on what somebody said, combined with an intent to deceive.

That’s it. If it’s he said, she said, he opened up, she broke her silence, he attacked, she fired back, it’s all hearsay, inadmissable in any reasonable court of law.

Intent is harder to establish — confirmation bias gets in the way — so to be safe, just ignore all the he said/she said stuff, and their variations.

Trump doesn’t have to believe in climate change. I suspect all presidents have been compelled to do things for the nation that they don’t personally believe in. His job isn’t to believe, or to disbelieve. His job is to serve the masses.

If the masses believe in climate change, that’s what he has to follow. I don’t know if the full masses do or not, but I do know that they should not base their decision on what Mr. Trump thinks.

Why not?

The second item lists Trump’s seven selections for the presidential medal of freedom, a civilian honor invented by Harry Truman in 1945. It’s prestigious, but I can’t say how valued it is compared to, say, a Nobel prize.

The list: Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley, Justice Anton Scalia, Alan Page, Orrin Hatch, Roger Staubach …

All reasonable choices, I suppose. Elvis and the Babe we all know about. Scalia was a Supreme Court justice, Hatch is a retiring Senator, Staubach and Page are former NFL players; Page is now a Minnesota Supreme Court justice.

There was one more choice, though:

Miriam Adelson.

I’m not going to tell you who she is. If you know, good for you. If you don’t know who the Adelsons are, you really need to ask yourself:

Are you basing your politics on knowledge, or belief?

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