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Holten: Worry, frustration and resentment

"We feast on soundbites, quickly conclude that they are fact, almost never do research and then further spread the misinformation. It happens every day, magnified by social media and especially the mass media," writes Kevin Holten.

Kevin Holten
Kevin Holten
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Would you like a word that summarizes our modern times? I mean, would you like me to pick a term that will most appropriately describe society today? Well, here it is. The word is conjecture.

It’s conjecture simply because we, as a society, seem to be addicted to it and it’s much of what we do. Now, according to Mr. Dictionary, conjecture is an opinion or conclusion formed on-the-basis-of incomplete information.

Did you get that? Based upon incomplete information. Fact is, many of our opinions are based upon incomplete information. Or is it better to say that they are based upon misinformation?

We feast on soundbites, quickly conclude that they are fact, almost never do research and then further spread the misinformation. It happens every day, magnified by social media and especially the mass media.

No, not all of us do it. But many do. And many in key positions do it, constantly and purposely.

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We apparently have a fetish for predicting the outcomes of everything in advance. In fact, you can’t watch a television preview of any upcoming sporting events in America without the talking heads taking turns predicting (conjecturing) the outcome of the games and often being wrong.

And how many millions are spent on polls predicting the outcome of political elections only to be, especially this year, quite inaccurate.

Perhaps it’s mass societal insecurity. We are so insecure that we’ve just got to know the future before it happens. And in the meantime, what we discover is that there is no such thing as an expert.

So, who cares, right? Why does it matter? It matters because truth matters.

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth. That’s what Mahatma Gandhi said back when he was using nonviolent resistance to lead a successful campaign for India's independence from British rule. And to later inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

And even the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, said that truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away. Problem is, even though it doesn’t go away, a lot of damage sure can be done before it comes to light.

Speaking of light, and at the risk of getting a little too religious for you, I can’t help but note that Jesus Christ said that he is the light of the world. Oh, and he also said that he is the truth.

So, is that who we are shying away from?

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Funny how we so often say that, "So and so just can’t seem to face the truth." It’s also interesting to note that, at one time or another, we are all depicted as 'so and so.'

There’s another reason why a focus on conjecture is bad. It encourages and promotes worry. Worry encourages and promotes ill health. So, it might just be that our conjecture fetish alone is the prime source of stress in America, leading to ill health.

We think that consulting experts, conducting polls, and predicting the future will give us comfort. Instead, it creates frustration.

Dale Carnegie, the developer of courses in self-improvement once said that our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.

Funny, isn’t it, that those are the three things dominating our nation today.

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