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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Opposing theories does not make one ignorant

Well, hello fellow respiratory therapists.  I have been retired for a while now and I am having an excellent time.  I do, however, continue to keep up my license and I do continue to work from time to time.  It's so easy to lose your skills.  In fact, it's almost easier to lose your desire to work.  The more I don't work the more I don't want to work.  Does that make me ignorant.

I doubt it.  And that's the topic I wish to discuss this morning.  I think it's important to know that every single person in Washington is a smart person.  Every single person is smart in his or her own way.  I think no one proved that more so than Socrates when he questioned many people on the streets, particularly people from the aristocracy.  He found that many people professed to be experts in that of which they were actually ignorant on.  For example, the Senator who never dug a pit in his life professed to know exactly how to do it.  This does not make that Senator ignorant, it makes him ignorant on that subject.  Socrates made society aware of this, and for doing so Socrates was put to death by Hemlock poisoning, as Plato wrote about in his books.

Yet as a person learns from experience, and as he learns from studying facts, and as he learns by empirical data, he becomes educated.  So writing opinions based on empirical data is not ignorance at all, it's actually intelligence.  Now these opinions may be wrong, but they are not based on ignorance.  It takes quite a bit of intelligence and patience to be able to learn, and it takes even more intelligence and patience to be able to write what you learn.  For example, how many people do you know who can write and write well?  

If someone writes an opinion based on opinion, that is ignorance.  If someone writes an opinion based on junk theories, that is ignorant.  If someone writes a blog post referencing facts, that is not ignorant.  If someone bases an opinion based on fact, then it is not ignorant.  If someone writes an opinion based on the words of other people, it is not ignorance.  Ignorant is the person who refers to those who do not agree with them with words like ignorant.  

For the record, all of politics is based on theories.  Consider that we as humans have only been involved in the scientific world for about 150 years.  The world has been around for billions and billions of years, and we humans have been around for thousands and thousands of years.  So to say that we are experts on anything based on our short time studying this planet, well, would be ignorant.  We have theories about economics, we have theories about global warming, we have theories about health care, but what our theories are based upon is just a small itty-bitty part of time.  

That is one of the things I think is wrong about our society. We make theories, and then we treat these theories as fact.  Many of these theories have been just made up because they sounded good.  I will give some examples: 
  • Salt makes your blood pressure go up
  • Exercise makes your joints go bad
  • Asthma will go away as you age
  • Man is causing global warming
Every one of these are valid things we should take seriously and respect.  I like to recycle and I like to clean the side of the highway I live by.  I like to take care of nature.  But we have been studying the globe for just over 50 years, and the earth has existed for billions and billions of years.  So how do we know that our present trend to global warming is not normal.  Did you know that in the 1970s (I remember this well) there was a scare about global cooling, and politicians actually had a proposal out to melt the polar caps to warm the planet.  Aren't you glad that didn't happen?

Salt is another good example.  People need salt to live.  Yet sometime ago someone made up the theory, based on no evidence, that salt will increase blood pressure.  There are absolutely no facts to prove this, but it was a valid theory.  It was respected by the medical community for years.  However, for the past 15 years evidence is coming in slowly that this is a myth, that your kidneys pump extra salt out of your body, and salt does not make your blood pressure higher.  Yet people who are so in love with the theory that was based on no evidence say things like "Well, it's only one study."  Well, I like to say to these people this:  "Name me one study that shows salt increases blood pressure."  No one ever has.  So while the science is on the side of salt is okay for you, the medical profession continues to treat the myth as fact. So who is ignorant.

This actually goes back to something Rick wrote about a while back, that people who are on the side of facts are usually the ones who are put on the defense.  If you don't believe in global warming, and you have all the facts on your side, you will be mocked and ridiculed.  If you don't believe me, just ask my grandson.  He spoke out against global warming at school, and was made fun of even by the teacher.  So who is ignorant?

The hypoxic drive theory is another good example.  The medical profession has been keeping people who need oxygen hypoxic since this theory was created in the 1960s, and it was created based on a study of four people as Rick wrote about.  Hundreds of studies have proven this theory to be a myth since then, but who is put on the defense?  The people laughed at and ridiculed are those who have the facts on their side that the hypoxic drive theory is a myth.  

Likewise, people who oppose treating certain myths as fact are often referred to as ignorant.  These people have heard the myth so many times that any one who opposes it is ignorant.  They use that word because they don't have an argument, so the other person must be ignorant.  The truth is, the opposite holds true.  Ignorant is the person who treats theories as facts, and who ignores it when true facts are learned. 

So whether you are republican, libertarian, conservative, socialist, or whatever, the person who doesn't have the same views as you is just as smart as you, he just has a different opinion.  So let's stop being mean, and start discussing ideas in this arena.  Debates are good; opinions are good; blogs are good; opinions you disagree with are good too.  It's time we respect this and stop calling people we disagree with names like ignorant and stupid and morons and Nazis.  

That is my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.  If you want to call me ignorant for it, so be it.  Now I'm off to work here at Shoreline medical.  I hope they didn't move stock on me.  If they did, and I can't find it, does that make me ignorant -- or just lost.  


Quinn said...

While I agree with most of this post, read about the great pacific garbage patch and tell me humans can't affect the environment.

Rick Frea said...

Oh, I have no doubt humans impact the environment. Thanks.