Saturday, April 11, 2020

Heretics, Wisdom, Hydroxychloroquine

So on Monday the NY Times published a story that contained the following:

“Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine,” the paper reported. The story later went into more detail: “As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.”
For those deep in TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), naturally this had to go viral -- it fits the narrative! Trump is only in it for the money, and now he is trading people's health for his financial gain! Spread that "fact" far and wide!

However as the WaPo (not exactly "right wing") points out:

That Sanofi investment would therefore constitute between 0.000003 and 0.00005 percent of Trump’s net worth. If you were worth $100,000, it would be like worrying about the nickel in your pocket.
So I hear that "Trump is pushing this drug to benefit his finances" from a not very politically interested source. When I question where that came from, the answer is "a reliable person" ... and there is disbelief in my questioning the information. "How are we supposed to know who to believe"?.

Indeed. My personal creed is "nobody but God -- in him I trust, everyone else gets verified". Oh, and I definitely don't trust myself!

How do I verify? One way is AllSides ... it looks at the story from left, right, and center.

Another is simply to go to "the other side" -- WSJ and National Review lean right, and 90% of the MSM leans left. Once you look at both sides, as in this case, "if it seems sensational, it is most likely fake"! Why? Because sensational sells! "Nothing much of interest happened today" doesn't. Media is a business. There is also a tendency of media to lean left, because media is a "watcher" rather than a "doer" profession.

 When you DO, you get more humble and uncertain -- stuff you do fails, breaks, doesn't turn out like you expected, etc, etc When you WATCH, it is easy to construe your ever changing positions as "always right". This is the reason that people that "do" tend to be more conservative.

This is a pretty classic case -- since there is "some truth" in the claim "0.000003 and 0.00005 ", it isn't a "lie" to say that Trump might get "benefit" from this. If you hate him, ANY benefit he might get is going to turn your stomach, and certainly if you hate him, spreading the negative story is going to feel good to you and get "likes" from those in your tribe. It will signal your "virtue" to your tribe.

Then, like the Corona virus, you spread it! And most likely those who are not in your tribe know what billionaires don't worry about "0.00005" of their wealth ... neither do you. However we ALL like to be "right" and have a "scoop" to share  ... "hey did you hear" is fun interaction, only with advent of Fake News, it is now often also "community/family poison". Nobody likes family and friends not believing what they are passing on. They got the scoop from someone they trusted and they are passing it on -- if you are their friend, why don't you just assume that it is the truth?

Social media worsens this effect -- the natural human instinct is to "like like" -- we will feel little serotonin  jolts when we get agreement in any form, and getting "likes" and positive comments on Facebook gives those jolts, and it is addictive! (that is why Zuckerberg is rich. We are working for him for free!)

Until Trump came along, the number of people that realized how actually biased and "fake" news really was maybe "30%". For both good and ill (the "ill" being less blind agreement), Trump changed that -- he questioned the news, and it turned out he was often right. "Russiagate" was in fact a political witch hunt based on illegal spying by the CIA, FBI, etc. The "investigators" finally had to bear some well deserved scrutiny. With the addition of Trump, the number of people that questioned the "accepted narrative" went up -- GREAT for freedom and effective democracy since every issue has at least two sides, and typically many more. If the issue is "settled", it is most likely significantly wrong, and likely getting more wrong as time goes by.

Why? Because apart from God, change is at least a constant in human affairs. There are new discoveries, new technologies, new ideas, etc, -- without the grounding of God and Truths "endowed by our creator", and support of things like hard to change Constitutions,  it is indeed very easy to slip into post-modern "there is no truth, it is all relative / white privilege"!

Of course, humans created by God still hunger for TRUTH! So while they smugly say that "there is no truth", in the next breath they will proudly say "it's settled science". Since we are not rational, but rather master rationalizing creatures, this is "only natural". When you fail to pray for the wisdom to accept that GOD is the basis of all wisdom, and any little hint of it we can discern is an undeserved gift from him.

I was blessed with the experience of not being able to remember my name due to a brain infection, though I was fully conscious and aware -- just not "intelligent".  I thankfully was able to pray "Lord have mercy" -- no hope of the Lord's Prayer that I had prayed twice a day for years though. I've been blessed to be a person with much to be humble about!

Back when I read Bernard Goldberg's "Bias" I was struck as he talked about the CBS NY newsroom stunned that Reagan had won in 1980. None of the people in the room knew a singe person who had voted for him, yet he won by a landslide! How could that be? What Goldberg realized then was that they were all so biased and in such a bubble that they didn't even realize they were biased. They in fact thought that they had no bias at all!

We are all mostly in that state most of the time, and it takes A LOT to even realize that, let alone be able to see and understand the typically MANY "sides" of reality. To add insult to injury, especially when we are afraid, our natural tendency is to become sheep -- feeling those jolts of serotonin as we become more and more compliant and increasingly bleat our "virtue" of our maximum compliance with the herd. Hitler is easy to understand in the time of Corona!

In this Easter Season, pray for God to send us heretics! !

No comments:

Post a Comment