[from John] Ira’s latest posting regarding statistics brings to mind my current gripe – frustration? – with the information age. Can anyone be reasonably certain that the information they possess, the information they rely on when they go to the polls is valid and current? I don’t think so. I would like to use an analogy; my grandfather lived in a small town in Minnesota that had a single weekly newspaper. When voting for those seeking national office he only had the information that paper provided. He flew by the seat of his pants – his intuition. My father, living in the same town, at a later time, had a daily paper, a daily (weekly?) Minneapolis paper and primitive radio for information so he still flew by the seat of his pants because his sources were limited. Today I fly by the seat of my pants because I am inundated with information I cannot trust.
I have come to the conclusion that the best way to handle information in the information age is to form an original hypothesis upon which to measure new information discarding some yet be willing to modify the hypothesis if new information seems valid. Keep an open mind but don’t be fooled by charlatans.
The following are my current positions on some items of national issues.
Climate Change. The earth is a very stable planet. Its outer surface and atmosphere have gone through violent, usually gradual, changes over the eons and will probably do so in the future with or without our help. It can be argued that man has or will make some impact on the climate; however, neither the severity nor extent of his impact can be shown. Climatologists design climate models based on limited long-term climatic history and recent more extensive but still incomplete information yet they purport these models explain how our climate functions today and into the future; these same climatologists cannot accurately predict next year’s hurricane season. I have little confidence in their predictions of climate warming or cooling.
Man is a very resilient creature. He lives in the tropical rain forests, in the Deserts in the cold of the Arctic. He lives and thrives everywhere. Today’s technology assuredly allows man great ability to adjust for whatever climate changes will occur when and as they occur.
Ecology. There is no question that man over the ages has had a negative impact on the ecology of our planet. However, the developed nations which have the leisure and resources are acting to rectify previous neglects and will continue to do so. There are many valid arguments for clean power and other conservational efforts. We should be directing our efforts here. We should not mix our need for protecting the ecology with climate change; it is only distracting our efforts.
Sarah Palin. I don’t know whether she would make a capable president; at the same time, I don’t know anyone else who would. Right now, she is getting exposure, which is necessary, if she were to run. From all I have heard she did a good job as she rose through the ranks. In addition, she is not a Washington insider. I reserve judgment until she actually runs.
Government. Will we survive as a democratic nation? Certainly, but the next several decades will be difficult and we will never be able to return to days of yore; nor should we. Since our founding, as we grew as an economic force, the laissez faire capitalism, which successfully made our nation great, can no longer be accepted. It has slowly been amended as our nation grew and the needs of the people forced adjustments. The momentum has picked up over the last four or five decades and in the main the changes have been beneficial. At this particular moment, we seem to be moving too fast, movement that will carry us too far toward socialism. It won’t succeed but reversing the trend and returning to a more balanced government will be painful. I suspect that a capitalistic democratic nation such as ours must always cycle - striving to reach a balance as situations change and time passes.
The following two subjects relate to the conduct of our citizens as well as our national representatives. It is important to have a position on these issues because our national leaders are often accused of immoral or unethical conduct; and, because in America personal ethical and moral standards seem to be wavering. Many feel there is no true right or wrong thus we as a people cannot judge others for their actions nor, if we carry the logic through, can we be judged for our actions evil or not. I disagree see my comment under morality.
Ethics. Ethics are the standards of conduct that permits a society to function smoothly. Ethical conduct transcends the law of the land although it must not supplant the law of the land. The principle element of ethics is trust. Can I trust my national representative; can I trust my fellow man. Once this trust breaks down the strength of our nation goes with it. Today, it seems, ethical standards in Washington are flexible. Standards are allowed to bend to justify a current issue or circumstance. I don’t trust Washington, few of us do. I still trust my fellow man.
Morality. I have always considered morality as a religious attribute; religious heritage defines moral conduct, thus a member of one religion may have different moral standards than one of another religion. Morality is a personal religious issue however; it does not exempt one from the laws. Recently I stumbled on a definition which throws me. “Morality is based on what somebody's conscience suggests is right or wrong, rather than on what rules or the law says should be done.” Can this be valid? Isn’t this a road to anarchy? I reject this definition.