Just the Facts Ma’am, Just the Facts

There are times when I realize that I’m wrong.  Sometimes in a discussion where, all of a sudden, a single, well-reasoned statement demonstrates where I made a logic blunder or an omission.  When this occurs, the rational response is to abandon the argument.

When I saw this quotation, it kind of hit me as an explanation:

I’d been talking with a friend about the “Never Trumpers” and the “Only Trumpers.”  In a nation of 330 million people, it is highly unlikely that I can’t find someone better fitted for the presidency than Donald Trump.  It’s equally unlikely that I won’t be able to find someone worse for the job than Donald Trump.  You can substitute names like Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi and their jobs if you want.  Probability says that there are poorer choices than Joe Biden. 

I think Doctor Who might have hit it right about folks who alter the facts to fit their views.  I read an intriguing comment on global warming/climate change – the writer suggested that all of our climate and weather data be charted in degrees Kelvin.  If you’ve forgotten the Kelvin thermometer, it starts at absolute zero . . . if I remember correctly, back in my high school days Mr. Calvert explained that absolute zero was about 273 degrees below zero Celsius.  I listened to the argument that it is the point where all motion ceases, and then I think I took it on faith that Mr. Calvert knew more than I.

“The coldest theoretical temperature is called absolute zero, at which the thermal motion of atoms and molecules reaches its minimum.  This is a state at which the enthalpy and entropy of a cooled ideal gas reaches its minimum value, taken as 0. Classically, this would be a state of motionlessness, but quantum uncertainty dictates that the particles still possess a finite zero-point energy. Absolute zero is denoted as 0 K on the Kelvin scale, −273.15 °C on the Celsius scale, and −459.67 °F on the Fahrenheit scale.”

Still, I have the nagging uncertainty – how could we tell if things got colder than absolute zero?  I accept absolute zero as the best factual explanation we have.  I can see why graphs from absolute zero might be a bit less confusing.  And I suspect that political disagreements stem from “My mind is made up.  Stop confusing me with facts.”

I think back to the presidential election of 1964 – I kind of liked Goldwater, probably for his black rimmed glasses . . . yet Dick Sharp explained to me that Goldwater would start a nuclear war – a matter more serious than the black rimmed glasses.  Goldwater lost – but Lyndon Johnson’s foreign policy efforts in Southeast Asia led to several deaths among our classmates.  We were using propaganda and advertisements instead of facts.

On October 15, 1969, as I cut through the Student Union between classes, I heard a few sentences from a speaker for the VietNam Moratorium.  As I recall he said, “You don’t need to be concerned about Ho Chi Minh.  It’s your own politicians that can hurt you.”  A simple statement – and I think we need to look at the potential harm each elected and appointed political can do.

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