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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/4/17

The simple truth is we're only half-smart

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The U.S. Census Bureau counted 308 million people living in America in 2010. Their headcounters likely missed a couple of million heads, and several million residents deliberately ducked the census altogether because, for reasons of their own, they prefer not to be counted. Add them to an ever-growing population and the true number sits somewhere around 320 million souls by now.

Half of those people, more than 160 million of us, are below average in intelligence. In proper terms, they're below the median when it comes to intelligence, but most folks don't know the difference between a median and an average. But it's a simple and undeniable truth that half the people in America are smarter than the other half.

Here's another: as individuals, most of us are smart enough to get by, but the larger a crowd becomes, the dumber it behaves. When humans gather in groups, a tipping point is soon reached and the group begins to grow stupid. It's most obvious in the stadiums of professional sports teams, but it shows up pretty much whenever large groups come together.

Those two simple truths also illustrate how difficult it can be to find the truth of most things -- especially anything political. The idea that truth exists independent of an observer or listener is mostly a myth. When a majority of people agree on what actually happened in a situation, we can get a consensus of opinion, but we rarely get a unanimous one.

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So truth is elusive, opinions matter to most people as much as facts, and perception is everything. That makes it easier to give up the search for truth rather than dig for more information. Most Americans took that easy path and gave up doing their own research long ago.

Instead, we turn to televised news programs that rely on advertising for their existence. Those programs need high rating numbers to attract advertisers, and sensational headlines attract more viewers than in-depth reporting. That's a third simple truth which applies to all broadcast news on every channel, with the possible exception of PBS.

So when "fake news" starts coming at you from your TV screen, you shouldn't be surprised. The real question is whether you're smart enough to recognize if what you just saw is true or not, and if you know enough to fact-check what you just heard.

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By all appearances, half of us simply don't. One important question remains -- which half do you claim as yours?

 

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Rob Lafferty Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Former newspaper editor and reporter, freelance writer, print production manager and lifetime political news junkie...

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