Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Called "Critical Inquiry"

I may have written about this before ...

I attended Southern Connecticut State University beginning in fall 1989, enrolled in a program they called the "Honors College."

It was an interesting experiment. Instead of taking courses like chemistry, English 101, physics and such, we were given team-taught courses called things like "Science & Technology: Triumph or Tragedy?" and "The Idea of Self in the Middle Ages to the Renaissance."

The courses were taught by two professors from differing disciplines -- the science course above, for example, was team-taught by a scientist and a theologian.

It made for mind-bending work, let me tell you.

Anyway, my favorite course was called "Introduction to Critical Inquiry." The point of the course, and from other follow-up courses, was that everything you read or hear about, everything you are told, is potentially a gigantic crock of lies.

Unless you personally know a piece of information, then you have to trace it back through every stage, every "interpretation" it's gone through, in order to find truth. And, if you cannot, then you simply do not know.


So, if a newspaper reports a story about something an Iraqi said about something that he heard about, you have no idea at all if that's true, and you never will, unless you can start with the story in the paper, and go backward.

Story = To paper, from paginator from copy editor from editor from reporter from source; then you have to know if the source was the firsthand info, because if it's not, then you have to go further back -- to source, from a guy in the market, from a vendor who sold the guy grapes, from his son, from that kid's friend ....

Just a thought, is all.

I argue back and forth with people about different policies and situations and whatnot, but at the bottom, neither of us really have a clue as to whether the information we're basing our opinions on is true, so you have to base your opinions on logic and things that you can reasonably consider accurate and true.

In terms of this war, I think most of start out on the same page -- war is bad. I think most people prefer peace over war. That's why when I see people who have the opportunity for peace but make war where there is no need, like the factions in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, I get really confused. Why is there turmoil when there is nothing to fight about?

So even though I think war is bad, I see video of radical Muslims calling for people's deaths, plain as day, whether it be over a cartoon in a newspaper, or a teddy bear, or a book. I've seen video of people getting their heads cut off because they are not Muslims. What did Daniel Pearl ever do to deserve to have his head cut off in Karachi?

Now, to be accurate, I do not know if those videos were real. But, they found Pearl's head, so I'm guessing the video shows how it got detached from his body.

I don't know exactly why, but people flew planes into the World Trade Center

So, in foreign policy sometimes you have to make a call, politics aside -- do you wait and see if diplomacy works, or do you attack your enemy before he is stronger than you? Waiting would be nicer, except that in these days, waiting is essentially giving your enemy time to amass weapons you cannot defend against.

What if Hitler had been stopped years before he was?

That's what makes the whole Iraq argument so insane. I don't know that Bush lied about the WMDs in Iraq. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. The fact is that we do not know, and we probably never will, unless someone comes out with a tape of Bush stating his intention to mislead the world. Until they do, you have to pick a side based on nothing more than faith -- faith in your country, faith that sometimes people make honest mistakes, faith that the man elected -- twice -- to be the president of the United States actually cares what happens to the country and did what he thought was right at the time.

And for the record, again, I'm not rah-rah-rah for the war in Iraq. Knowing only the publicly-known information that I know, I would probably have tried to ally with Iraq against Iran, because Saddam wasn't a religious nut, he was a power hungry dictator who liked wealth and fame and glory, and he could have been bought off -- which I think is why some people were so gung-ho to get him out, because if he had or got a hold of WMDs, it's not unreasonable to think he would have passed them on to others if the price was right.

So, not knowing anything about anything, I just support what seems to make the most sense at the time. Sometimes I'll be right, other times I'll be wrong.

But sometimes I'll never know for sure.

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