We’re often advised to follow-the-facts. But then there’s that old skeptic Dale Carnegie whose books keep selling ever since the Great Depression: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of facts, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.”
Sound like your Congress…? Your boss…? Your partner…?
Facts, though, still have their place. Like the facts from the Washington Post: “The average household wealth of the top 1% in the U.S. — including home equity, stocks, investments — was almost $14 million in 2009; while the average wealth for the bottom 80% was $62, 900.” And from Time Magazine: “In 1950 the average U.S. household spent 22% of its income on food and 3% on health care; whereas today food costs have dropped to 7% while health care costs have risen to 16%.”
When following the facts to find the answers, you usually realize most of the answers are a moving target. I’m reminded of adventurer Thor Heyerdahl: “Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.” We’re progressing so rapidly on the exciting frontiers of complex scientific and economic facts, could we be losing touch with some of the simpler frontiers of time-tested, common-sense? Otherwise known under rubrics like: Tradition…custom…intuition…what-mom-always-said. Or as the ol’ boys at the corner saloons and VFW Halls grouse: “Just about the time you learn all the answers, they change all the questions!”
Time happens. Repeatedly discovering perplexing realities that insist on flying in the face of prodigious facts, well, it’s a humbling experience. A purging one as well. I always remember Grandpa’s shock when he recalled migrating from Italy to the great Copper mines in 1903 Arizona. “The one thing I learned as a boy was that everything-changes-but-the-mountains. When I returned as an old man, years of slate-mining changed all that. The mountains were gone!”
Just last week they reported another iconic absolute in trouble. London’s Big Ben is leaning by 0.26 degrees every few years. Next they’re going to tell me Mom was wrong when she said: Eat your vegetables. Oh wait — I think there’s another set of facts coming out soon on that very subject. Only this time I’ll copy the report in pencil…!
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