Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A frustrating conversation

If you're wondering why discourse in this country doesn't move forward, get a gander of this conversation I had with someone. ME: I've been reading this fascinating book called "Freakonomics," [see sidebar]. It had this one section about conventional wisdom and how often it's wrong. For example, the book points out [pp. 149-150] that the conventional wisdom is that the most unsafe thing you can do for your child is to send him to a playdate in a house with a gun. But he points about that, in a year, 1 child drowns for every 11,000 residential pools, while 1 child is killed for every 1 million guns. In actual numbers, about 550 kids drown in backyard pools per year, while 175 children die from gunshots every year. FRIEND: I disagree. ME: You disagree? These are just statistics; they're numbers. FRIEND: No, with a pool, you can assume that people are going to do stuff to make it safer. ME: But the whole point in the book is that it's not safer. FRIEND: No, it's just not right for one child to have that kind of power over another. ME: Huh? FRIEND: Yeah, with a gun, one child has power over another. That's wrong. ME: But we're talking accidental deaths here, not murder. In any event, if one child pushes another swimmer in a pool, that's also power. All that the book is saying is that, if I send my child to house A, with a pool, versus house B, with a gun, he is more likely to die at house A than at house B (not that death is that likely in either case). FRIEND: No, it's just wrong to have a gun in the house. There are lakes, oceans, pools. Kids drown. ME: That's my point. They're more likely statistically to drown, than to get shot. FRIEND: No, I can't agree with that. And that's where I abandoned the conversation and turned to Cindy Sheehan's repulsive anti-Semitism, something that my friend could agree was disgusting and disgraceful. What the conversation demonstrates, aside from a visceral dislike of guns (which, frankly, I share), is the fact that actual information cannot move dialogues forward if the person in the conversation has a strong bias. In the face of this type of bias, facts are meaningless. Given the Left's antipathy to Pres. Bush and its intense hostility to "Bush's War," no information about a strong economy, or about progress in the war effort, or about the fact that there haven't been terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11, will have the slightest effect on the Left's thinking. Of course, many of you have had an epiphany where the slow accretion of facts is suddenly propelled along by a single big event, such as 9/11. For me, it wasn't so much 9/11 as my conviction that Pres. Bush did absolutely the right thing when he invaded Afghanistan and when he announced the Bush doctrine. It made so much sense to me that I was able to step back from my former prejudices and reevaluate a lot of the information that had always been available to me. If you want to see impressive analyses of the journey from left to right, you can read books by Michael Medved or David Horowitz, or you can check out Neo-Neocon's "A mind is a difficult thing to change" series. My conversation with my friend showed me just how aptly named Neo-Neocon's series is.