When I was teaching, it was sometimes disconcerting to find that what I had earlier presented to my students as fact wasn’t in fact, fact. Mozart wasn’t buried in a pauper’s grave, at least at first; it didn’t rain on the day of his funeral; and there were mourners. Oh, well. We all have false beliefs from time to time, many of them never brought to light. But during election season, not only are more false beliefs trumpeted abroad, but many of those beliefs are demonstrably false.
Like the belief of some in Ohio that Romney was more responsible for Bin Laden’s death than Obama. One might wonder if some Mormons thought to baptize Bin Laden after his death. Probably not. The rite may be OK for Jews but not for Arabs. Anyway, as a curb to demonstrably false beliefs, usually held in times of stress in a vain attempt to hold an incoherent world view together, I offer the following brief essay.
There are a number of ways that I know I’m right. My favorite, although it doesn’t happen a lot, is that sometimes I just know I’m right. It’s like all the planets are lined up, and I’m looking at a horizon to horizon rainbow. Everyone knows the experience. Am I right or am I right?
Another way I know I’m right is if I see something with my own two eyes. If I can’t trust my own eyes what can I trust? I haven’t seen any flying saucers or potatoes that look like the Virgin Mary, but I’ve seen several relatives get well by means unapproved by the AMA. And once I was in a car accident, and the policeman, who had seen lots of accidents, said it was a miracle I was alive. Really lucky, he said. Well, I not only survived, I walked away from that car seconds before it blew up. I always say you make your own luck, but since I couldn’t have made my own luck that time I can only conclude that Someone was looking out for me.
Sometimes I’m sure I’m right when I don’t see things. For example, anyone in New York City this winter can be sure that the globe is not warming, especially if they rely on oil heat.
But there is a limit to what one’s own eyes can see. They can’t see much of the past for instance or events occurring some distance away. For such events you need someone like yourself. Someone with two reliable eyes. In other words, you need an authority. Now, I know that many people claim to be authorities, so you have to be careful in deciding who is and who isn’t an authority. Some people tell you not to believe the special interests, but why not? They’re special, and of course they have interests. Everyone has interests and should pursue them. Am I right or am I right? Should I believe someone who isn’t special? Jesus was special. The Founding Fathers were special. Rush and Glenn and Sarah are special. Not only are they special, but you know they’re right because they tell it like it is. You may notice that some people who claim to be authorities hedge their claims. They’re like the weatherman who says there is a sixty percent chance of rain. Well, I want to know if it’s going to rain or not. Were you ever in a sixty percent rain storm?
Another way to judge supposed authorities is to see if what they say lines up with what you are already sure of. Like any right-minded American I’m sure that the American way of life is the best way, so if any clodhopper comes along and says something critical about our way of life, I know I don’t have to listen to him. Or if I do, I’m sure that what he says is false so the opposite is true. It simply follows from being sure you’re right. When you get down to it, this is an excellent way of weeding out all kinds of false claims, and it saves a lot of time that might be spent trying to understand other people’s convoluted arguments or checking their supposed facts.
Some people claim that the truth is revealed to them. This may be so, but it hasn’t happened to me other than the kind of experience I first mentioned. The best way to deal with these people is just to treat them as another kind of authority. Some are right and some are not.
If you look at the polls you will see that most of the people agree with me most of the time. When they don’t, you can be sure they have been misled by a lying politician or by the bias of the mainstream media. Or both. When this happens too much, you will see people taking to the streets who are revolting.
Given all that I have said, you should know by now that I am an authority on being right. Don’t be a dolt. Don’t be left out. If you follow the examples I have given here, you, too, can be sure you’re right. It’s good to be right.