Becoming Conspiratorian

Nobody likes the title of a conspiracy theorist.  There’s a stigma attached to those who are inclined to distrust the official version of things.  Perhaps that stigma is waning a bit these days as information appears to be so ubiquitous, from so many different angles and perspectives.  But the reality is that most people (self included) don’t take the time to seek out various viewpoints on things.  We hear the sound bites and see the headlines and hear the talking points online or in the newspaper or on the nightly news and that’s about it.

So the latest story about the shooter at the Planned Parenthood clinic is what we know.  There are agendas to be pushed using this event, and many media sources have been immediate in using this as an opportunity to label any opposition to abortion as domestic terrorism, as though opposing abortion means you support killing those who disagree with you (which it doesn’t, just for the record).  I’ve been wrangling over this issue of redefining opposition as terrorism the past few days.  I’m deeply disturbed and worried by it and you should be as well, but I haven’t figured out how to talk about it yet.  I’ll let you know when I do :-)

For now, what we need to realize is that there is data and then there are facts.  We are often led to believe that they are one in the same but I maintain they are not.  Data is an event, a piece of information.  Facts include conclusions and notions that are wrapped around the data.  What we are presented with are facts, and that sounds like it should be objective but it frequently is not.  Interpretation has already been done by the time we are presented with the facts.  What we really ought to have more access to is data, and then be allowed to draw our own conclusions and facts from that data.

I don’t know anything about the website where this article is published, but I like the way the information is presented – closer to data rather than facts.  I like that it allows me as the reader to form my own conclusions rather than present me with the conclusions.  It doesn’t presume that the conclusion of an event defines the entire scope and intention of that event from start to finish.

Much still needs to be distilled in the shootings in Colorado this past week.  The shootings are deplorable whatever motivations are or are not there.  And we need to bear in mind that whatever the shooter decides to say at this point about those motivations may or may not be true and accurate (particularly given the curious nature of the shooter).  But I’m all for giving me data, not just facts.  Tell me who was shot, where, and when, don’t just tell me that another conservative terrorist shot up an abortion clinic.  Let the data speak for itself, and we’ll better be able to discern what the facts are.

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