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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/7/14

Glorifying Fact-Free Leadership

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An observation worth noting ... and pondering, from former Vice President Al Gore:

We haven't gone nuts -- but the 'conversation of democracy' has become so deeply dysfunctional that our ability to make intelligent collective decisions has been seriously impaired. Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square -- and the quality of our democratic discourse -- to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world. But we are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence -- when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion -- the public interest is severely damaged.

Certainly the public interest is damaged--continuously--when lawmakers submit and enact legislation bearing little resemblance to the facts giving rise to remedies sought.

But perhaps a bigger problem is that the ongoing celebration of the ignorance and/or complete disregard for facts and reality which hinder ideological pursuits also trickles down to the citizenry. For when the "leaders" the public relies upon for guidance and information offer less than the truth, our collective understanding of the challenges we face--and thus our ability to fashion meaningful and beneficial solutions--is likewise severely damaged.

Is this American "exceptionalism" worth blindly honoring? This is good ... why? I always thought that we elected individuals to represent our interests and those of the nation's to the best of their abilities, not based on who writes the biggest numbers on a check so as to promote their much narrower concerns at our expense. Foolish, I know.

Should we now use this model of fact-free, shameless demagoguing to serve us in other areas of daily life? Why not allow our doctors to prescribe treatments based not on what medical science suggests, but on their own opinions colored by matters of personal convenience? Why bother with market research for new products, or test them first in manufacturing facilities? Let's just allow industries across the board to "wing it." Put something out there, make some cash quickly, and don't be concerned by consequences or the realities as they play themselves out.

And in our great American sporting culture, let's tell our athletes and coaches to stop with the proven training and practice methods. Who cares about coaching experience or expertise? Athletic skill? Big deal! Sell out games at the highest price possible (first, of course) and then just ask some players to show up. Something will get figured out along the way....

A bit of a stretch, and certainly ridiculous examples. But can any thinking person convince one other equally rational person that the faction of "leaders" and industry heads (along with their talking-head shills in the media) who have decided that the expertise of 97% of scientists [the kind with training and expertise] ought to be disregarded make any more sense than what I've just suggested? And how many more years must we wait for "trickle-down" and/or austerity economics to work their magic instead of continuing to demonstrate they are idiotic and colossal failures?

Who is "winning" when we glorify stupidity and paranoia? This is our best?

The ardent supporters of fact-free ideology might want to double-check their supply of anti-consequences medicine soon. Of course, they could also take a moment and consider facts.

Wouldn't that be something!

Adapted from a blog post of mine.
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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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