I keep myself pretty informed. As much as I can, I base my opinions on data, not other people’s opinions. Yes, I probably have a bias – most people do. But I do try very hard to back my assertions with facts, not conjecture.
I have come to realize that trying to express those opinions to some individuals just isn’t worth the stress.
These individuals come in all stripes. They range from the people who still believe the President is some Manchurian Candidate character whose birthplace is in question to people who complain that their health is failing while lying to the doctor about their diet and medicine regimen. They all make me crazy. And they shouldn’t. It’s my choice to discuss these things with them. And going forward, I’m making a concerted effort not to.
Why? Because they won’t change, they won’t listen to reason, and facts mean nothing. For example – one individual I know was recently admitted to the hospital for a possible stroke. When asked about what they had eaten that day, the response was “Coffee and a cookie for breakfast”. The doctor asked “Aren’t you a diabetic with blood pressure problems?” – the individual couldn’t see how their diet choices were that big of a deal. When asked whether they took their medications regularly, the answer was “Of course”. “Did you take them this morning?” – The answer was no.
This individual’s pantry is filled with a diabetic’s dream – pastries, breads, cookies – every form of bad carbs you can imagine. And yet, they can’t figure out why they can’t lose weight. Instead, they look to fad diets, like drinking “cucumber water”, which results in a temporary loss, but no improvement in the long term. They refuse to acknowledge that their own choices are killing them.
It’s like the proverbial ostrich sticking their head in the sand. If they just ignore the facts, ignore the evidence, and just say “Oh, that doesn’t work for me” without even trying, they think they can just keep on going the way they have.
I see the same thing with conservatives. Their need to hate President Obama is so consuming that facts are irrelevant. Here are some classic examples:
- He’s going to take away your guns! Except the only gun legislation the President has signed granted the ability to carry concealed weapons in National Parks.
- He’s a Communist/Socialist/Name your “ist”! Except bank bailouts, multiple small business tax cuts, and cutting government payroll say otherwise. If they call a Communist, or a Socialist, they have no real concept of the meaning of those words.
- He’s a foreigner! Yup, this one is still around. The “Donald” is still searching for clues, despite the fact that the Secretary of State in Hawaii has produced both versions of the birth certificate. Regardless of facts, they still want to question his authenticity.
- He’s destroying the economy! This one makes me crazy. All evidence points the other way. Job losses have essentially stopped, and unemployment has dropped steadily. Of course, once the numbers for the standard measure of unemployment (U3) showed significant improvement, conservatives jumped on the bandwagon to say that we really should look at the U6 numbers, which take into account ALL unemployment and underemployment. Except, that number is also vastly improved. If the trend for the last 20+ months keeps up, the current administration will reach U6 levels below the levels at which President Obama came into office before the elections. And, the Dow is at levels unseen since before his election. GM is showing record profits, back from the brink of extinction. And corporations are hiring again, and showing record profits in a wide variety of industries.
- He’s gonna kill us with these gas prices! He wants them higher! A complete twist of the President’s statements. He has said that $5/gal gas prices might reduce demand further, but demand is already at 1997 levels, and the number if rigs drilling in the Gulf is 4x what it was when he took office, despite a one year moratorium on leases. If current production trends hold up (and the industry thinks the projections might be conservative) – with no additional drilling than is already approved – the US is poised to become a net exporter of energy products in about a decade. The price of gas has nothing to do with supply and demand. It’s about speculation.
There are plenty of other examples, like refusing to give the President credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, or the assertion that somehow, he’s soft on terror because he chooses to work with diplomacy first. Every single one of these is easily refutable with data and facts. But that doesn’t matter.
No, these folks will not change their beliefs. Period. If presented with facts, regardless of how valid, strong, unassailable they are, they will actually redouble their efforts to believe despite all evidence to the contrary. Those facts are perceived as an assault on their very core, and their resulting behavior is to simply stick their heads in the sand and ignore what is right in front of them.
How else do you explain Tea Party proponents who want government “entitlements” slashed, but turn around and say “keep your hands off my Medicare”? They want to cut the very programs that they rely on – but don’t want those programs cut when it comes to their own welfare.
In a nutshell, you won’t change these folks’ minds. The more you show them that the facts are against them, the more entrenched they become. And the deeper their heads dive into the sand.
So, I had to come to a conclusion. I’m not going to try. Their beliefs are so entrenched that no amount of persuasion, fact, data or debate will change their minds. So, the easier solution is to focus on those folks who haven’t buried their heads in the sand, who are open to discussion. The independent thinkers who still value information over rumor, data over innuendo.
And when things continue to get better, the ostriches still won’t see it.