Editorial: In pursuit of truth

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Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Alisa Corey

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Jerry Martin

— Newspaper representative

• Dave Pike

— Community representative

Our View

People everywhere often rely on assumptions and have hair-trigger reactions to issues rather than gather the facts and weigh the other side of the argument before shaping their own opinions.

“The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.” — Mark Twain

The following scenario can be found everywhere from cable newscasts to coffee shop chats.

A hot-button issue arises, and what began as a reasonable conversation spirals into heated disagreement.

Participants take sides and refuse to listen to what their fellow conversationalist — now their opponent — has to say.

The quip that leads this editorial was written with Mark Twain’s characteristic sarcasm, yet it holds truth.

In matters of debate, it’s too easy to dismiss the views of someone of a different persuasion — conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat — as the ravings of a misinformed mind.

Yet this begs the question: Has anyone in the debate really sat down and considered his or her own opinions critically, judging their views from all sides and angles?

More importantly, would it do any harm to listen to the other side of the argument?

There’s no shortage of issues to kindle passionate debate. Everything from national headlines to decisions made in local government are fertile grounds to explore new viewpoints and examine unchallenged ideas.

The problem is people often default to party lines and old loyalties.

Reason gives way to dogma, and unexamined opinions take the place of well-rationed ideas.

The example set by major media outlets doesn’t help much. Heated confrontations get good ratings, and broadcasters often showcase verbal dogfights that excite rather than inform.

But the issue doesn’t belong solely to mass media. The problem extends to the personal level, too.

It’s easy for people to gravitate to the news outlet or pundit that aligns with their personal opinions, naively believing their source is fair and balanced simply because it spouts the same ideas.

Preferring one source above another isn’t harmful in itself, but that outlet shouldn’t be the sole point of supply for a person’s information. A mind that never has to gauge the merit of another point of view will likely remain mired in its own unexamined opinions.

By contrast, critical thinkers consider the facts that formed their opinions. They challenge what they believe to see if it still holds weight.

Critical thinking isn’t a mere luxury in the digital age — it’s a necessity as readers and viewers try to make sense of the flood of information coming through their computer and TV screens.

The editorial board issues this challenge to the community: pursue truth, not party lines or preconceived notions.

Examine long-held convictions and see if they still hold weight.

Sit down with people from a different end of the political spectrum and try to understand how they formed their views.

Putting personal opinions under the microscope is rarely easy or comfortable, but it cultivates an informed mind, one of the most important tools a person can have.

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Comments

native_craig_guy 2 years, 5 months ago

It is not the role of politicians to be critical thinkers and to use their personal opinions to make judgement calls... They need to listen to our opinions and vote accordingly. They need to represent their constituents... It was their free thinking and politicking that got us into the trouble we are in. Congress should be told what to do by the people, not by lobbyists and most certainly not by their own conscious thought.

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ATaxpayer 2 years, 5 months ago

I think those we elected need to be critical thinkers so they review what needs to be done. If not, why would they listen to any of us? We all need to start thinking before makiing decisions for ourselves and our country. Thinking rather than knee-jerk reactions would be a nice change at all levels, beginning with individuals.

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Jason Phillips 2 years, 5 months ago

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” ― Isaac Asimov

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 5 months ago

Good on the CDP for indicting the media's role in fanning the flames. I can't stomach those talking head shouting matches on cable "news."

I'm skeptical, however, that those who deliberately seek out sources of information from across the ideological divide will experience any appreciable shift in their own opinions. As a conservative, Democratic Underground and Daily Kos are regular visits for me. They haven't managed to convince me that I'm wrong about anything.

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