When I was a kid, we had a big set of Encyclopedia Americana in our house that was my go-to Google-of-the-day for every bit of fact finding and trivia that drew my interest.
Once, when I was a teenager, my dad and I had a disagreement over some fact about a foreign country or its people, I can’t remember which.
However, my dad was spouting an opinion as fact that I was certain was wrong. So, I grabbed an encyclopedia, looked it up and read the part to him that proved that he was wrong.
“Now you’re taking it too far,” he said, clearly irritated.
Translation: don’t let your facts get in the way of my entrenched beliefs.
Anyway, I’m writing this because we’re seeing people in our society make up their minds and cling to ‘alternative facts’ when clearly there is no evidence to back them up. Or there’s evidence that shows that it is wrong and they still cling to their beliefs.
The dispute over vaccines, for instance. People would rather take their Uncle Jimmy Joe’s word that the COIVID-19 vaccines are making thousands of people sick or, worse yet, killing them, than accept statistics kept by health care professionals and scientists that show vaccines are incredibly safe and effective.
I’m pretty sure it’s really an issue motivated first and foremost by political beliefs. Red state. Blue state.
But we all stake out our territory on different issues and refuse to budge even when we’re smacked in the face by reality. I’m sure I’m guilty, as well.
And that leads me to an issue that really disturbed me this week. One of my neighbors whom I like and enjoy hanging out with in his driveway, stated as fact that a high-ranking OKC city official gets a cut from every concession sold at Scissortail Park because he made a donation to its construction.
I ask him to offer some proof. “They reported it on Channel 9,” he said.
If it had been reported on TV or in the newspaper, and there was evidence to support the allegation, the story would be huge and talked about by everyone in the city. The official would likely lose his job.
Instead, it’s told as fact by a retired OKC resident who is skeptical about the whole MAPS program and Scissortail Park, as well. He doesn’t need actual proof, because he heard the story told as fact from others who share his point of view.
I even ran the allegation past a respected reporter for The Oklahoman that I trust and who told me that “none of it is true.” I’m taking his word for it, because, if true, it would have been a giant Page 1 headline.
The disturbing aspect is that my neighbor repeats the story to anyone who will listen, and in my far north OKC neighborhood there are a lot of takers.
I think some of it has to do with the fact that our neighborhood is so far out of the city’s core that people like my neighbor don’t see the benefit that MAPS and Scissortail Park have brought to our city.
As I walked back home after the encounter the other day, I couldn’t help but think of my dad and his long ago wrongly held opinion-as-fact. Even the Encyclopedia Americana couldn’t budge him off his belief.
Sad to say, that’s how it is with a lot of American society today.