Ok, you should have been able to tell from the title this was going to be a different sort of post….if you thought it was about the Murchison Party, feel free to exit now…grin.
Over the last year I’ve received hundreds of forwarded messages from friends and family, most all of them political and upon fact checking them I’ve noticed that well over 95% are flat out wrong, about 4% are partially factual but “spun” to make a political point far from the facts and 1 or 2% are actually true. The disturbing thing is that I often get the same messages (some reworked in four or five versions over three or four years) from the same people or multiple people and upon querying them it seems they never fact check anything before forwarding it – if it agrees with their politics or worldview. Which mans that I have a lot of friends and family who keep getting “played” – some of these messages are quite well constructed as disinformation and clearly are originated by “parties unknown” but with some pretty good skill at such things.
Now when I started studying the JFK assassination something like 20 years ago, there were several journals and one of the first things I did was order all the back issues so that I would have a baseline in reading new work. I than I spent the better part of ten years going from one highly attractive theory (and group of bad guys) to another…..eventually being forced to toss some of the most fascinating, and sensational ones. I met some people with very sharp minds, and extreme critical abilities (Mary Ferrell being one of the most analytical individuals I’ve ever met…other than a college humanities professor who used to dissect me in class – the best instructor I ever had). And what I found was that those folks worked with data without fitting it to any per-conceptions – heck, Mary was not even a particular fan of JFK back in 1963. What she was, was eminently open minded – no holds barred open minded. Mary would never have been mistaken for a “groupie”, even for Jim Garrison.
But it appears to me that incresingly (perhaps reflecting today’s politics) that a great number of folks have chosen sides and are now defending worldviews rather than engaging in dialog. I was struck recently by a post from someone whose passion I admire, stating that they didn’t need to read a new book because they had read a bad review of it (and no, it wasn’t mine, I’ll get that off my chest momentarily). When did we get to the point of tossing entire books because we either don’t agree with their premise (as stated on the book jacket I suppose) or because somebody picked out a handful of issues with the book? Would we treat documents that way, would we be satisfied if we just read some of the documents or would we want all of them? Do historians work that way with sources? Do investigators – perhaps they never use criminals as sources and use ministers (well that was a bit radical but the point is about the baby/bath thing).
OK, diatribe warning, now to my personal issue. I recently read an Amazon review of AGOG in which the individual said he was disappointed because in my previous books I had seemed bright and now I’ve gotten much less so. Why you ask, well because I don’t reach the same conclusion he already held. Now a few years ago when I started writing people wrote to me and said something like “hey Larry, what did you say that, seems stupid to me but did I miss something” and then we could at least have an exchange…not to imply I convinced everyone but still…. Well the funny thing is that seems to have largely gone away….and in this case the reader did not even seem to take the time to read the appendix at the rear of the book which at least gives some explanation of the points he objected to (or if he did he felt free not to mention that it had been addressed, even if poorly or stupidly).
This all does not seem a good thing to me – nor does the barrage of political emails with no fact checking or the polarization in politics, etc, etc. So I figured the least I could do was object…sort of like my humanities teacher did when he would embarrass me in class when I said something “safe”, rather than really showing I had put any head sweat in to a point and examined all the sides and angles.
Oh, as far as the title of the post….well if you were old like me and a Rick Nelson fan like me it would be self explanatory. But if not – Rick found that people applauded if he just sang the same old, familiar, comfortable songs they were used to but not if he tried to move out of the box they had built for him. His response was that if he was only doing that sort of music he would rather drive a truck (I put in a few hundred hours driving a wheat truck back in the 60′s myself).
I admit that I’d probably be generally thought to be smarter if I always wrote about the same bad guys, and played the same scenarios with just a bit of elaboration or a few new details….but, hey, its just not gonna happen – just in case you were wondering (transparency statement completed).