You can have enlightenment for ninepence but you prefer ignorance

Alan Jacobs offers some advice (that he is confident will not be taken but that is another matter):

What I’m asking you to do is to act like a grown-up.

Don’t just cherry-pick the one number that seems to fit your narrative. Do a comparative study. Look at numbers from all over. Add and divide.

Discover how many people have died in this country from COVID–19 and over what period of time. Now compare that to deaths in the last few flu seasons, and ask yourself this: How long is a flu season? This page might give you a hint. Do the adjustments to correct for differences in the lengths of time you’re looking at, because that’s what grown-ups do.

He ends this mini-rant with a literary flourish which I quite like (hence this post):

C. S. Lewis’s old tutor, whom he called Kirk or Knock or The Great Knock, was an irascible old Ulsterman who would regularly get exasperated by people who lacked intellectual discipline and even basic curiosity. He would sometimes say to such people, “You can have enlightenment for ninepence but you prefer ignorance.” That’s you. You can do better, and God help your sorry-ass soul if you don’t try.

As Jonah Goldberg has said, this virus should be known as “reinforces my priors” virus for they way everyone immediately began to use the economic, cultural, and political implications and potential impacts as further proof that they were right all along.  Social media has always been like this to some extent but the seriousness and stress of this seems to have ramped it up a couple of notches or ten.

I personally have no interest in trying to master the data or argue about it, but if you choose to wade into those waters then acting like an adult seems appropriate.

1 Comment You can have enlightenment for ninepence but you prefer ignorance

  1. Chris Schimpf

    Information and data has never been so easy to find and yet seem to benefit society so little. Frustration has led me to use the snooze button so heavily in Facebook that I wonder why I bother with my account. However, thanks for your FB post to help guide me back to this blog.

    Reply

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