I have this dustbin in my head that is full of “facts” that I don’t out-and-out deny, and which in many cases I believe to be true, sometimes enthusiastically — but which have other problems. Some of them need more evidence to be useful. Others have already been proven to the greatest extent they can possibly be proven, and still, they aren’t useful. For reasons like these, the items in my dustbin have already received as much attention as they merit, and will get no more attention from me even if everyone around me is obsessed with them.
To grasp this concept, you have to acknowledge when we draw inferences about things, we may come to the conclusion that a thing is true without coming to the conclusion that it is usefully true. A lot of outspoken people are spending a lot of time trying to convince people they’re right, when what they really need to be arguing is whether a certain action or inaction can be justified because they are right.
Maybe it’s worth taking an inventory of my dustbin, because it is likely a lot of other people have the same dustbin.
One example is men who can’t handle the fact that their wives make more money than they do. I’m told this is a problem, and I have been told this for a long time. Over this time, this has gradually been relegated to the dustbin. It won’t merit a single quarter-second of additional serious thought out of me until I meet a flesh-and-blood example of a frustrated, under-achieving, egotistical husband. I’ve spent my whole adult life working, and half of it to support this-or-that welfare-mom who was conditioned to think she couldn’t possibly make more than six dollars an hour so why bother trying. I’m plumb wore out. If my sweetie wants to step all over my fragile male ego by making twice as much as me, then go right ahead.
Every working man I have personally known, has felt the same way. We’re all very secure in our under-achieving wage-slave male egos. If there are any men who think differently, I’d love to meet them. I’ll bet if they’re out there at all, they’re all under twenty.
Children who “have” to be on Ritalin and other drugs because of their “mild” or “borderline” ADHD: Yes, the parents are right when they say the medication “helps.” Yes, there are hyperactive kids. No, every single kid who is an active or passive discipline problem, is not necessarily one of these.
Children who need this medication to perform, who eventually blossom into adults who do not need this medication or any other kind of medication: Sure, I believe it happens. I’d like to know how often. Shouldn’t someone be asking that question? Shouldn’t anyone considering putting their children on the drug, be insisting on such an answer before going forward?
Other things in the dustbin: The men who “force” women to whittle their figures down to ninety pounds at five-foot-ten, so that the poor waifs have to barf their way into a hospital to make their callous, shallow, and downright mean studs happy. Sorry, I’m not buying it anymore. I think the Kate Moss fashion trend was started by women and homosexuals in the fashion industry. All the straight men I know, like to see curves.
Hate crimes perpetrated upon the Muslim community in the wake of the September 11 bombings, and other incidents: I emphatically believe some of them have happened. I do not believe they have happened to the extent they have been portrayed, nor do I believe our media has dealt with us honestly on this. To whatever extent you believe something has to repeatedly happen in order to become a pandemic, epidemic, or even a significant societal concern, I am unconvinced this has ever surpassed that threshold.
Genocidal acts by Christians in history: I keep hearing about the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades. That’s reaching back in history almost a thousand years. Shouldn’t there be more examples? Two is a trend, three is a pattern. All we have here is a trend, not even a pattern.
What else? There are the men who push up the male insurance premium rate by being worse drivers than women. Oh, there are reckless males out there. But reckless is a helluva lot safer than oblivious. Those soccer moms on their cell phones are driving ENORMOUS cars they can’t control, the cell phones are always the flip-style clamshell thing, that makes it four times harder to check your blind spot during a lane change. I’ve never heard of a woman pulled over for using a cell phone, nor have I heard of a woman, once pulled over, actually getting a ticket. A little crying, and you’re let off with a warning, which means the premium paid by the fairer sex goes down. So yes, you pay less for insurance, and no, you’re not safer drivers. Find me a reckless man, and I’ll find you two oblivious women — who have never been in accidents before, but God only knows how many they caused.
Terrorists who aren’t Muslims: Again, I’m convinced there have been some. I’m convinced there have been several. All I keep hearing about is this Timothy McVeigh guy.
You don’t need to believe in a God in order to make ethical decisions: I think that’s true. I think atheists and agnostics make decent decisions all the time. But to believe they are on par with the religious, in terms of their potential to do these decent things, you have to believe humans have the innate quality of doing palatable things, not simply justifiable things, when they aren’t being watched. I’m winding up my fourth decade here of interacting with people…sorry. Not buying it.
Slimy, filthy, dishonest rich people who didn’t work for their money: I know for a fact they are out there, I just don’t know how many of them there are, or if the fraction they represent is meaningful in any way. The rich people I’ve met treated me pretty good. Something tells me that to the extent I have made myself comfortable, I owe it to my successes in emulating their methods, and to the extent I have failed to do so, I owe it to the differences between their behavior and mine. Sure looks that way, from where I sit.
Pot is not a gateway drug: Those who have trashed their lives with harder drugs, I’m sure, represent a hodge-podge blending those who have smoked pot and those who never did. So this is a description of an aggregate entity using a singular attribute, which always gives rise to fallacy. If there were nothing to the theory that it’s a gateway drug, shouldn’t it be easy to convincingly discredit it, banishing it forever from the realm of subjective opinion? This appears to have not been done.
Homosexuals are simply born that way: Those in the scientific profession have been arguing for this or against this, while waiting for some hard evidence to come along and support what they’re arguing. We ought to have the technology by now to ferret out the genetic attribute, DNA strand, or brain wrinkle, unless the “switch” is buried somewhere in our makeup where we can’t yet go lookin’. Technology can do quite a lot at this point, so that would be some deep burying indeed. I’m convinced some of them are born that way. I’m also convinced some aren’t. Why does it matter, anyhow?
We were awfully mean to the Indians: Absolutely true. More than one euro-sympathetic white guy, who was alive at the time, wrote down on paper their opinion that our behavior was atrocious and demanded atonement. But it’s disingenuous to base policy decisions on that, without taking into account what Indians did to the Caucasian settlers in return. One disturbing thing that keeps surfacing from history, is the Indian who attacks Anglo-Saxons out of fear, because he knows someone who was killed by entirely different white settlers. Okay, now wait just a minute — that’s supposed to be exactly what was reprehensible and hideous when the white settlers were shooting the Indians: You’re killing Sioux Indians because some Cherokees killed your momma. Tribe A had nothing to do with Tribe B, hence the injustice. It was wrong, and bred distrust, when either side did it. How does any of this affect what we can do about it now? I don’t know. That’s the point.
Rush Limbaugh knowingly broke the law when he abused Oxycontin. I’ll buy that. Again, what are you going to do with it? Prosecute him? It’s already been tried, and the case ground to a halt because of patient confidentiality laws. Discredit some or all of what he says? That’s called an ad hominem attack; it’s flawed, intellectually lazy, and stupid. If you’re not going to prosecute and you’re not going to discredit, there’s nowhere to go with it.
My dustbin has so many things, and I think everybody else’s is bulging too. I sure hear a lot of people bitching about how too many people do too much bitching. Now that my dustbin has so many things that I have to write them down to keep track of them all, I think the problem is not that we bitch too much, but that we’re bitching about the wrong things.