Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Facts or feelings? Yeah, well ....

A few days ago at a discussion group and talking about the political situation in the UK I was aghast at how many opinions there are that are not based on the reality. That are not based on the facts. Now, it is difficult to be factual because there are many diverging reports, and also possibly depending if you belong to a political party. There are people who have very strong opninions about something or the other but on examination they are ‘feelings’. That is to say they feel something is going wrong but they don’t exactly know why or how. On top of that they do not try to find out from reputable sources. Incidentally, Twitter or Facebook are not reputable sources. They are sources of discontent, halftruths and outright lies. An example I found on the Internet written by a professor of Physics (and you would accept that such a person knows about facts) pointed out an interview with Whoopi Goldberg, yes the one and only religious dancing and singing sister, in which she explained that everyone should oppose nuclear power. That in itself is an interesting viewpoint. If we would ask Greta Thurnberg you would get a diametrically opposing view. But top on her list was the danger of the nuclear plant exploding in a Hiroshima-like way. Now even I, and I am not a nuclear physicist, know that there is not enough material to do that. 

The Chernobyl disaster did show that yes, there are dangers, plenty of possible nightmares, radiation and such but explosions of that magnitude? Anyway, when it was pointed out, she became angry and said ‘This is not about facts, it is about feelings’. Reading that I thought, ‘Well, there you go, another American know-all, spouting off an opinion about something she did not research and knew diddly-squat about. It would have been better to just shut the cake-hole. But it shows that at least we can have an opinion, even though absolutely incorrect. As the professor said, facts are difficult. Take the environment, how many of us do make the effort to read up the incontrovertible facts? It seems that most people not only adopt the Whoopi  approach, but like her, they believe it is the right thing to do. It is the precise problem in the UK at present. Everybody has an opinion on the state of political life in Parliament. In fact, profess these on media sites ad infinitum, Twitter in particular and as a result no-one really knows what is happening. More so, it was the way old Boris got rid off. No-one looked at the hard facts, no-one asked if there was a party, why and what for? That government despite all the problems Covid threw at the nation, government had to continue. Including meetings at which drinks and food were consumed. Call it a party if you want but were those the facts or just feelings? You could argue Boris was unqualified to be PM, but again, is that opinion based on the facts? Or just our feelings? Yet again we see this scenario playing out now Liz Truss is in the firing line. Did we look at the facts? Her ideas were sound, but the money men did not like them? Think about how growth occurs, was she wrong? Or did she make a mistake in not preparing the ground? How many mistakes do we make, every day? One last thing about how to approach these issues of facts and feelings: 

Analyze the issue to death. Gather all the numbers, all the facts, put them (if possible) on a spreadsheet. Create an evaluation function to weigh the importance of all the numbers and facts, and see what the computer says. Then analyze it a different way. Compare conclusions. Then, having completed Step 1, ignore the results, and base your conclusion on your feelings. (From an article in Huffpost).

And this is the way most people appear to face the issues. So, good luck to all in Westminster. I am going to produce a spreadsheet right now!

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