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Holten: A very vulnerable America

Are you a very vulnerable American? I'm sorry to inform you, especially in this election year that you are. But let's not just assume that. Let's give you a quiz. I'm going to give you a list of what you might consider truths and you can determin...

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Are you a very vulnerable American? I'm sorry to inform you, especially in this election year that you are.

But let's not just assume that. Let's give you a quiz.

I'm going to give you a list of what you might consider truths and you can determine, on your own, if you are someone who is easily misled or vulnerable.

For example, do you believe that 90 out of every 100 Americans is a gun owner and that therefore most American households are armed? If you do, you are wrong. The truth is that only 34 percent of American households are armed. That was revealed by a recent New York Times survey showing that individual gun ownership is actually down.

You've probably heard repeatedly that the national suicide rate goes up dramatically during the Christmas holidays, right? No so. In fact the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics reports the suicide rates actually go down during the holidays and actually peaks in the spring.

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If you are bitten by a venomous snake, you're going to die, right? Nope. Of the 7,000 to 8,000 people bitten by a venomous snake each year in the United States, only about five die.

Then there are plane crashes. Though rare, it is impossible to survive a plane crash in the U.S. right? Apparently not because, whether private or commercial, of the 50,000-plus people in American plane crashes over a 17-year period, 96 percent survived.

Police interrogation is very important to solving a crime right? Probably not since statistics show that 43 percent of the people interrogated will admit to committing a crime even if they are innocent.

Here's something else you may not know, that as far back as 1985, according to Dr. Vincent DeMaio, the chief medical examiner in Bexar County, Texas, the rate of surviving a gunshot wound was 95 percent, as long as your heart was still beating when you reached the hospital.

But here's an easy one. During the Revolutionary War, all Americans were in favor of chasing the British out of the colonies right? Wrong. In fact, only about a third of the American populace supported the war. Not only that, there was an overabundance of neighbors ratting on each other and turning each other in to British authorities. So you see, seldom is anything black and white.

How about this: Hanging out in bars is a really bad idea right? Actually not, since a study conducted by the Journal of Labor Research showed that regular drinkers make 10 to 14 percent more money than those who don't drink.

Then some of you might remember the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, where there was a partial nuclear meltdown in reactor two of the Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pa. At the time, it was considered a huge national disaster because of the amount of radiation emitted. The truth is that the amount of radiation emitted was equivalent to one-sixth of a chest X-ray.

Are you getting a feel for how gullible you might be and how easily you can be manipulated?

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I hate to inform you that fooling the American public is the modern political way and if you're smart, you won't assume otherwise. It's all about manipulation.

So let's face it, political speeches and commercials are at best promotions or manipulations, at worst evasion and otherwise outright deception. What they are seldom about is a free flow of information.

Dan Ariely, a Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics, said "In a world where everyone is behaving honestly, any dishonesty constitutes a big infraction. But, in a world where many people are behaving dishonestly and the news is filled with stories of their infractions, even big infractions can feel small to the perpetrator."

Kind of sums things up, doesn't it?

Holten
Kevin Holten

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