EVIDENCE BASED THINKING.
DOES HOW WE THINK MATTER? DO FACTS MATTER?
YET TOBACCO IS LEGAL AND MARIJUANA IS—LARGELY—NOT?
IF YOU ACCEPT THE EVIDENCE--
THAT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.
When you come right down to it, writing is really about thinking—and then endeavoring to convert your thoughts into the written word.
How hard can that be? After all, we all think (a point the less than charitable might debate)—and surely converting a thought into words is a simple transition?
I would like to be able to say that clear writing indicates clarity of mind, but my mind, at any rate, less resembles a neat row of filing cabinets than a vast pile of different thoughts—more than a few that are conflicting.
The advantage of such mental confusion is that thoughts that shouldn’t connect bump into each other—with all kinds of interesting results. Paradoxically, mental confusion can lead to creativity. It can also be exhausting. Thinking, as any reader of this blog will, I hope, know—is hard work. Indeed, it can be downright stressful.
Though I have no illusions that I am entirely successful at the task—I have my own prejudices and biases like anyone else—I try and think as logically as I can in order to put some order upon disorder.
I need order so that I can write. James Joyce could get away with stream of consciousness—having an excellent sex life helped—but most of us need structured sentences that make sense (or at least fool the reader that they do). To that end—leaving style out of it for the moment—I try to base my conclusions on the best evidence available. I tend to think of it as “following the logic of the argument.”
Quite why I think of it this way is something of a mystery to me, but sometimes a word or a phrase seems to capture an idea better than the alternatives like “commonsense.” Words have their own particular magic.
What I accept as reality, but am not in sympathy with, is a tendency for a great many people to allow prejudice to determine their conclusions even in the face of conflicting evidence. It is certainly the easiest approach, because you don’t have to think—but doesn’t an inner voice scream at you and say: “Look at the facts, you dolt!”
Apparently not. This raises the question of defining one’s inner voice. I’m not sure I can with any precision. All I know is that these days it tends to be extraordinarily powerful and rarely leads me astray. It feel rather as if my conscience has taken a course in editing and literary criticism. The damn thing is merciless.
My suspicion is that the primary reason why so many of us chose to ignore the known facts of a situation isn’t because of blind prejudice—that is just a cover. It is because our perceived short-term interests are best served by ignoring the evidence.
In short, in their own way, they are following the logic of the argument.
Well, that makes sense in a kind of senseless way, but the end result of such prevalent attitudes is that a truly extraordinary amount of societal behavior is conditioned by either no evidence at all—or remarkably little. If you want a case history to support that thesis, look no further than the medical profession. A significant amount of what they do has no scientific basis.
And I have the evidence to prove it.
VOR words 558.