Off the Leash: October 20, 2016: Believing does not need facts; governing and problem solving do …

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Believing does not need facts;  governing and problem  solving do …

When I was growing up, it seemed that fathers fell into one of two camps — most dads were either Chevy guys or Ford guys. My dad was a Chevy guy. He often told me that the Chevy 350 was the greatest engine ever made. I believed him, mainly, because he was my dad, and dads knew everything.

This is an example of how belief systems are formed. My father was a DIY (do-it-yourself) man. He did routine maintenance on his cars; but he wasn’t, by any means, a mechanic.

Yet I carried that belief about the Chevy 350 engine with me well into my 20s. I never challenged the claim and never saw any evidence to its validity. My dad believed it and that was enough.

Because these belief systems are formed in childhood, embedded deeply into our brains at a time when our brains are still developing, they are very resistant to change.

Belief systems are the foundation on which we build our view of the world. Any suggestion that they may not hold water is a threat to a person’s entire value system and that of the people who gave it to them. It’s so easy to settle a world that one can depend on, and so difficult to prod them out of their complacency.

During this year’s presidential election, we have learned one thing — belief systems trump information. This is a very dangerous trend.

If you want to build a bridge that will stand up over time, find an engineer with knowledge on how to build a bridge, not a person of faith who believes they can build a bridge.

A sizeable portion of our population prefers the story over the facts. This story is devoid of verifiable information and is merely a fiction, or perhaps a myth, which indeed contains truth of another kind. But not the kind to use in solving complex problems that the government is supposed to do.

The government — at all levels — is tasked to solve problems. An important step to achieve problem solving is to gather as much evidence as you can so you can increase your odds of success.

I have had many conversations about the choices we have to make on Nov. 8, and my conclusion is that we are a country of beliefs. We have individually and collective many beliefs — about economic systems, about our own history and about the role government should play in our lives. The latter, in particular, is the most contradictory belief system I have encountered.

We don’t need beliefs and grandiose claims to solve our problems. We need thoughtful and informed plans to deal with this evermore changing world.

If you want to tell me that Chevy is better than Ford, bring me some information that backs up that statement, if you want to win me over to your side. I’m not a child anymore and my dad isn’t always right.

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