Letters for February 9, 2017
Biases and blind spots
Interesting comment by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, from his book on assisted suicide: “This is not to say that all persons would always make a similar choice, but the fact that some people have made such a choice is some evidence that life itself is a basic good.”
He could as well have chosen the complementary set of people who did not make such a choice and said: “This is not to say that all persons would always make a similar choice, but the fact that some people have made such a choice is some evidence that life itself is not a basic good.” One is just as logically valid as the other, and either is simply evidence that some people feel one way, some the other, not evidence of some fundamental principle—which demonstrates that no matter how educated and intelligent, we are all subject to biases and blind spots, and are quite facile at subconciously self-justifying to frame things to conform to our worldview. We all do so regularly while priding ourselves on being rational, logical beings, certain we do not do so.
Some of us are fairly good at recognizing this in other people. Far fewer of us are successful in recognizing it in ourselves.
Inclusion and tolerance
With all of the rhetoric and policy coming from our White House at this time it is important for us to remember where we came from. We are a nation of immigrants founded on the principle of religious tolerance.
Our president has turned his back on this aspect of our heritage. Amidst the very public and international outcry against President Trump’s recent immigration ban our country has shown remarkable solidarity. The last count I saw showed 85 airport protests in more than 40 states.
I, for one, think that it is time for our country with all of our varied backgrounds and affiliations to come together to reject President Trump’s dangerous and divisive policies.
Re “The Twitler watch” (Notes from a Neon Babylon, Feb. 2):
Thanks to Bruce Van Dyke for once again proving that Spencer W. Kimball was right when he said, “Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcefully.”
Damage at an early age
Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s candidate to manage our schools, advocates for local control/management with elimination of many protections that federal oversight provides.
Consider Kansas where, because of the decisions of their Republican governor and legislature, they can’t afford to keep their schools open, let alone adequately provisioned and staffed. Consider also that gutting federal oversight and putting significant decision-making at the local level means that school districts can teach whatever the local population wants. How long has the universe been around? Now, consider the child that has to move to another state where the fundamental foundations of knowledge are not what they were in his or her prior education.
We’ve been down this path before, and the reason that we put those regulations in place was to fix real problems. And always keep in mind that when the damage happens at such an early age, the consequences are long-lasting and typically become widespread. Call Dean Heller. Call the President. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Make sure that the deciders know that you, as an American citizen, disagree.
Re “Spirit in the sky” (cover story, Jan. 26):
The photo of Spirit Cave should have been credited to Vivian Olds. We regret the oversight.