Just the Facts

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Do the facts support our ideas about crime, poverty, immigration, environmental problems, corruption in business, and other things that keep appearing in the news? Are today’s laws and policies based on facts?

When an idea is based on no facts, misinterpreted facts, or misused scientific concepts it is probably social pollution. Even if the idea seems likely to have positive consequences for society, it is still social pollutrion if the people who created the idea didn’t bother to get their facts straight.

Yes, I know legislation and social policy is mostly based on a combination of ideology (We want society to be this way!) and backroom deal-making. I’m hoping we can put the squeeze on politicians’ nutty ideas by testing their ideas against the facts. And while we scrutinize politicians we ought to give some attention to activists’ ideas about society and our own ideas. We ought to ask just a few simple but powerful questions about ideas:

1. Are any of the "facts" wrong? Somebody claims that homosexuality is "unnatural" but you’ve read about a genetic predisposition to homosexuality.

2. Are any terms used incorrectly? To some people a family ideally consists of a married man and woman, and a couple of kids (or maybe the kids are still in the near future). Is this the only reasonable definition of a family, or does it just represent one view of the "correct" family structure?

3. What facts have been left out? For example, what percentage of American families consist of a married man and woman with children (or plans ot have children)?

4. Is there really a trend here? Is the "traditional" family structure really threatened now. as opposed to in the nation’s past?

So, next time you are asked to consider some policy, social program, or ballot initiative pause and think about those 4 questions. Society would improve in so many ways if people followed this not-so-complicated advice. (The real challenge here is not getting people to answer these questions, its to get them to divoce their answers from political and religious biases about how society ought to work.)

Next time:  A social pollution checklist will tie together the ideas I presented in this post and some others.

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~ by chetdavis on July 13, 2006.

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