Dig Behind The Headlines…

A poll by the renowned Gallup organization gives one an impression that bears a bit of further digging.  That organization asked Americans who their first and second choices were for the man they admire most.  Based upon the responses, Gallup then broadcast the ‘results’ and the headline writers went to work:

“Obama to leave office as the most admired man in America”

That, in and of itself, didn’t seem so misleading but when one digs down a bit deeper, the actual results were there to be found.  The poll asked Americans who their first and second choices were for the man whom they admire most.  Obama earned 22 percent of those responses while Donald Trump came in at 15 percent.  The clearer and, to my thinking, more accurate way to report this would’ve been:

“22% of those polled find Obama most admired man in America”

Similarly, Gallup polled for the first and second choices as the most admired woman in America.  Those results had the same headline writer made the call would’ve appeared as:

“Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America”

In reality, just 12% of those polled by Gallup picked Hillary Clinton as the woman they admire most, while 8% said their choice was Michelle Obama.

Polls are, in my estimation, notorious for misleading people based upon the way the results are staged.  And we people are so gullible and prone to taking anything in print as ‘gospel’ that we do not take the time to look a bit deeper for the facts supporting the conclusions drawn.

As memory serves, the polls leading up to the election of President-elect Trump seemed to show Trump without a chance and Hillary Clinton the near odds-on favorite.

I am not taking the Gallup organization to task so much as I am taking us citizens to task.  We have become less and less critical thinkers and more and more simply the sheep who lap up whatever is placed before us.  We can easily become our own worst enemies given the sloppy manner in which we permit ourselves to reach “informed” conclusions.  We might be “informed’ but I’d submit that more often than not our slipshod approach to gathering ‘facts’ leads to us being victimized by ‘facts’ others would prefer us to believe.

That sometimes is entirely innocent.  But, there are those times when critical thinking is an absolute requirement.  The problem is this: we aren’t always sure which is which without some kind of critical review of the “facts” we’ve been given with which we reach our conclusions.  I suspect that most often this is not some nefarious scheme designed to mislead us, but simply an easier way to get a point across without wasting space and/or ink.

We become sloppy thinkers.  We become less able to help others see our points-of-view as the result of our sloppy thinking, and we finally simply quit trying to be thought-leaders; and, simply become another member of the sheep flock.  That is the point that too many of us voters seem to be at based upon some of the things we vote for and against.  Results of votes sometimes seem difficult to square with the facts that exist, but, if we are ignorant of the facts, our votes might not reflect facts so much as simply the result of the popularity contest we endured prior to voting.

That gets to the difference between those of us who deal in facts versus those who deal in feelings.  That is the primary difference between a political conservative and a political liberal.  Facts vs. feelings.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feelings.  Only if and when we let feelings get in the way of a fact-based decision are feelings no longer our friend.  Feelings are the things that drive us to buy various and sundry items.  We are shown what we will look like if we but buy this or that.  We are being manipulated through our feelings.  Who wouldn’t want to be handsome or beautiful?  Who wouldn’t want to be so smart as to drive a BMW?

Manipulation through the control of our feelings is okay so long as we know that we are being controlled by our feelings.  It feels good sometimes to do something we feel is important even though we know in our heart of hearts that the decision is not a good one based upon the facts involved.  I can’t begin to count the times I have done that.  I try not to do that, however, in matters of significant importance.

By the way, the poll discussed also had the following results:

Pope Francis came in third and Bernie Sanders came in fourth.  This alone points up the fallacy of making decisions through the exclusive use of feelings.  Unfortunately, this might also give us a look into our future.  If this is how we view and go about things like the selection of our leaders, we are in deep trouble as a nation.  The best advertisement, the one that really plucks at our heartstrings, will determine whom will be sitting in the Oval office.  That is what decided the first Presidential election in which I was old enough to vote.  A child picking a daisy was shown against the backdrop of a mushroom cloud.  Barry Goldwater (AuH2O) went home defeated.  I don’t think that is the best approach to such a huge decision, but that is the way many go about making those decisions.

In the really important decisions we confront, we simply must use our reasoning and not our emotions.  Once again, we have arrived at the essential difference between liberals and conservatives.  They feel and we think.

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