Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Facts matter!

I apologize if this sounds like a rant, but I'm sick of banging my head against my keyboard.

Facts matter, people.

Intelligent people can agree to debate and have different opinions as to the meaning of facts, but if you don't have the basic facts right in the first place, the argument fails.

So, please, pretty please, don't just make up BS.

Don't try to insist that there has never been an Orthodox rapist, anywhere, ever - and then refuse to provide any source whatsoever, saying "well, I have never heard of one and I defy you to prove me wrong". You make the statement, you back it up.

Don't quote random hate propoganda or personal websites, and expect to have it accepted as proof. It's not.

Don't make random statements that you are sure that you heard that thousands were massacred in Jenin, when the official UN report found that there were 52 Palestinian deaths, half of whom were civilians, and even the Palestinian Authority ultimately claimed that 56 Palestinians died.

Don't casually state that the Israelis are committing genocide and are as bad as the Nazis, unless you want to do some real research and compare the growth in the Palestinian population from 1967 to now with the destruction of the Jewish population in Europe from 1939 to 1945.

Don't try to wring your hands and cry about the tragic death of hundreds of boys due to routine infant circumcision, if your source of information is an article written by an anti-circumcision activist who admits that he doesn't have actual numbers but pulled out an estimate despite having no statistical or medical background that would qualify him to do so.

Don't think that you are being clever by asking rhetorical questions like "Jews don't follow these old biblical commandments like avoiding certain foods or not having sex with a woman after her period, so why should they still practice circumcision?" I may have some fun passing that post around before telling you to google "kashruth" and "mikvah" and stop being ignorant.

Don't make up BS about public political figures, even if you don't like them. You can disagree with Sarah Palin without mindlessly forwarding emails that simply cut and paste a list of commonly banned books and falsely accused her of having them removed from libraries. You can disagree with Obama's economic policies without mindless forwarding emails accusing him of being a secret Muslim extremist or questioning his place of birth. You can bring up legitimate concerns about immigration without mindlessly forwarding emails that are just plain wrong and clearly cut and paste from other sources. [Kudos to David Frum, by the way, who had the courage to stand up and tell Republicans that the attacks on Obama were wrong and counter-productive.]

If you do any of these things, I will call you on it. Please don't insult my intelligence. If you don't know something, there is no shame in admitting it, but don't spread false information. You just make yourself look like an idiot.

Be aware that when I do catch you doing this, my respect for you may be affected. I know some otherwise intelligent people who are guilty of this, and I don't look at them the same way after that. I realize that like the boy who cried wolf, I cannot trust what they say. If it just happens once, I can understand that they may have been duped, but if it happens again I really start to doubt their judgment and integrity.

And finally......

If I call you out on your BS, just admit that you were wrong.

Don't say "even if it's not exactly true, it makes you think". Yeah, it makes me think you are a moron.

Don't turn around and attack my motivations. I hate BS, and that is why I am questioning you. It's not about my feelings about Orthodox Jews, or an indication that I don't respect the lives of Palestinians or baby boys, or about partisan politics.

One more thing:

Even if you are a good-hearted person looking to promote a just cause, do a little bit of research before forwarding any email to your entire list of contacts and posting it on Facebook, especially if it contains serious allegations against a person or business that seem out of character. Otherwise, you are both spreading libel and crying wolf.


Anonymous said...

Well said! May I add the case of people who forward "virus" warnings and other debunked myths. Please, just google it before passing it on! It only takes a moment. Snopes is our friend.


MimiGenghis said...

What a great vent! Thank you