“I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.” (Wilson Mizner)


“If you don’t know, you have to ask,” was my dad’s daily directive for all of my childhood. More often than not, this came up in the process of running a profitable family business but he expected me to follow this code at all times. Unfortunately, following his direction meant that I looked really stupid a lot. He possessed a wonderful knack for patiently explaining the answers to my questions but most people were less than happy with my persistent doubts. I challenged people all the time with questions and most often the answer was, “Because I said so.”

My willingness to ask questions and look for every possible problem has served me well. However, there are times when it seems like I’m the only one who cares anymore. The world around me seems to be quite content to accept every bit of information at face value without ever questioning its potential for accuracy or relevance. It seems to me that healthy skepticism is a lost art and we are heading down a path of tacit compliance where the truth is nowhere to be found. Just because someone is on TV, or the internet, making statements about world events, it doesn’t mean we have to believe them. In point of fact, the media is not a good source of information because someone has to pay for those shows to air.

Therefore, the first question to ask is this, “Who has a vested interest in the content of this message?” Only when you understand the priorities of the source can you put the information into context and this includes our government. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by politicians who are joined at the hip with the special interests that funded their reelection campaigns. We must remind ourselves that every elected official owes their power to parties that intentionally strive to remain anonymous.

Which begs the next question we must ask, “What have they got to hide?” A truly virtuous person or entity would have no good reason to hide from public scrutiny. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that anonymous parties are acting in selfish ways and contrary to the public good. Transparency is a detriment to self-serving individuals because negative public opinion can be very costly. That’s why they prefer to hire messengers who possess some degree of credibility that is universally accepted by a majority of the public. Titles are the stock and trade of media types because they connote authenticity without the need for actual accomplishments. In my experience, I have yet to see a Congressman who was ever successful at anything else. I could make the same argument about our Presidents, all the way back to JFK. At least he served with distinction in WWII.

Here’s why this matters. Skepticism is critical if we are ever going to know the truth about anything. We have to ask questions and expect clear definitive answers. We have to constantly ask, “Why?” “What’s in it for them?” “What if the worst happens?” “What if it’s not true?” “What if we’re all wrong?” By forcing the truth out into the open, for all to see, we can protect ourselves from those self-serving individuals who prey on our trusting nature. Asking questions and expressing doubts is a human right. As  Americans we have just as much voice in the process of government as any elected official or bureaucrat and we need to constantly remind them that they work for us. We get to ask any question we want and they are obligated to answer completely and honestly. I would much rather look stupid than be foolish enough to believe the half-truths that pass for answers in Washington D.C. If I have the correct facts, I can do my own reasoning but it’s up to me to ask the hard questions.

Thomas Jefferson explained it this way, “Your own reason is the only oracle given to you by heaven.” Lets all make the most of our God-given ability and find a better way to reason.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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4 Responses to “I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.” (Wilson Mizner)

  1. stormy1812 says:

    Lots of good “stuff” here. I love that it’s “party” neutral and it’s about empowering ourselves. I like that this isn’t about blaming one entity or another but rather stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for ourselves. I totally agree. I suppose I will express a lil’ bias here by saying I don’t think you should totally dismiss the media, HOWEVER, I do agree that it’s important to question them as well and always read the same story (or topic) from multiple sources to see different angles on things. I agree with being skeptical, which I suppose is a bit funny given I’m a wear my heart on my sleeve, tends to take things at face value, too trusting kinda girl lol. I think I agree because those tendencies for me well…tend to get me in trouble. It’s definitely better to ask questions and to go into things, not just politics either, with a sense of wonder and perhaps caution as it’s called for at times. 🙂

    • grhgraph says:

      Jen,
      I just think too many people follow the path of least resistance when it comes to important events, like wars. It’s really easy to find information that confirms what we already believe and ignore what might be the truth of the matter. I don’t believe either “party” is wrong all the time or right all the time but neither one makes any effort to consider the alternative possibilities. The media should only be concerned with facts not commentary but that ship has sailed once and for all. I do have a sense of wonder tempered with common sense and it makes life much more interesting. My goal here was to remind people of their innate ability to discern the truth and urge them to do it every day. Glad you enjoyed this post but I doubt that it will have much of an effect
      Guy

  2. Amy says:

    Guy,
    It’s been too long since I read one of your posts and this one is so refreshing! Questioning the status quo has been something I’ve been doing quite regularly for a few years now. That questioning lead me to take different avenues in regards to my own healthcare and that of Dan, using allopathic medicine only when necessary, starting training as a doula, and questioning why we do certain things in daily life – just because we can, should we? I would like to say part of this is due to growing up with my Dad, who you know was always up for learning something new. I also know that it’s also how I have been trained as a research scientist. Although that has less to do with it than Dad’s influence. You are right, we have lost touch as a society with our innate intuition and have fallen victim to celebrity, magic tricks, and circus. At least we are not alone in our quest for not only our own truth, but the truth of our personal space and environment.

    • grhgraph says:

      Amy,
      Welcome back. Your dad was the first real skeptic I ever knew. He could be really annoying with his incessant need to ask every question imaginable but, more often than not, I learned something new. The internet should be the greatest source of knowledge and truth of all time but not if we don’t practice real skepticism as a discipline. I don’t think anybody has all the answers and I’ll be damned if I’m going to believe anybody just because they have initials after their name. Please encourage your generation to keep asking questions and seeking the truth. Our future depends on you.
      Guy

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