Boyd Matheson: Instant certainty is the enemy of truth and trust

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  • Strider303 American Fork, UT
    Jan. 14, 2019 10:28 a.m.

    I rather enjoy opinion pieces in the paper and magazines. I also enjoy the comics page(s).

    I sometimes find the opinions in the comics "Pogo" and "Lil' Abner" of yesteryear more to the point than many touted orators of today.

    The good thing about opinions is that everyone has at least one. Most of the opinions and "positions" spouted today from all sides are to be taken with some salt. We live in an age where the end justifies the means for a lot of people. With that in mind, I have learned to trust very few pronouncements as fully factual and in my best interest until I can confirm them through time or other trusted means.

    Jan. 12, 2019 8:41 a.m.

    A whole bunch of comments to another recent DN story - "What is Truth" - were loaded with instant certainty. How ironic is that?

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 6:28 p.m.

    2 bits,
    Good comment.

    "Yet without [instant certainty], we might well find ourselves living in a world that is entirely contingent, where decisions are never reached precisely because their subtleties and complexities are quite well understood."

    Not at all. You convoluted certainty with decisiveness. Being decisive does not mean we have to be certain about our decisions. Indeed, it takes great bravery to be decisive in the face of uncertainty, without just being arbitrary.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 11:06 a.m.

    Certainty isn't a problem. Of course we need to be able to be certain of things (after proving them). The problem is "Instant" Certainty. Like a host you like on NBC or Fox&Friends says something and instantly your sure it's true. That's the problem. You always need to research it more and get other information and other sources to be sure.

    I think what he's getting at is the problem of people living in an echo-chamber, where they only hear ideas they already agree with, and instantly believe it and are certain it's true as soon as they hear it.

    Doesn't mean you can never be certain of anything. But you do need to do some research and not instantly believe everything you hear or think.

    I don't care if you heard it from a pundit, a news reporter, the President, a Senator, a friend, or even a prophet. You have to research and prove it before accepting it or being certain about it.

    We do have lots of information sources today. The problem is we can also set it up so we only hear/see things we agree with and nothing else (Facebook etc only send you things they think you will agree with). That's why this page is important. You can get other perspectives.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 9:47 a.m.

    Instant certainty is rarely a good idea, of course. Yet without it, we might well find ourselves living in a world that is entirely contingent, where decisions are never reached precisely because their subtleties and complexities are quite well understood. Thus, when instant certainty turns out to have been correct, that serves our needs well; whereas a contingent world leaves us impotent to resolve the real issues that inflict themselves on us daily.

  • pragmatistferlife Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 8:32 a.m.

    Just a thought. Listening to and reading opinion pieces is not the enemy of truth. I find someone else's creative thinking valuable in my own thought process. of course the caveat is that facts still need to be the foundation.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 8:06 a.m.

    I agree.

    I'm skeptical of everything I hear, at first, until I can find something/someone I trust to verify it. And I continue to look for information that either verifies it or doesn't. So my opinion often changes over time (as I get more information).

    Even when I'm convinced... I'm still a little skeptical. I leave that door open to the very real possibility that I'm wrong, or the info I found was wrong.

    That's why I never claim my "Opinion" is "Fact", or Assume anybody who disagrees with me is "Wrong". They could be right. We could both be right.

    Opinions are not "Fact". Even when based on Facts, they are subject to our interpretation of the facts and biases we have learned over a lifetime.

    There's often more than one set of "Facts". Thus the term "Alternate Facts". It's a real thing, not new, and doesn't mean the alternate facts are "lies". It just means that more than one thing can be true at one time.

    Like you can say Global warming is caused by humans, and be right. But you can also say GW isn't caused by humans, and also be right. Because there are other causes.

    Thinking anybody who doesn't agree with you is wrong... is the definition of "Bigotry".

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 11, 2019 7:54 a.m.

    "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." --Wm Butler Yeats

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Jan. 11, 2019 6:09 a.m.

    a voice...

    You implore us to accept this Matheson piece as non-partisan. Yet his most concrete example (" Hours before the broadcast, one cable news anchor delivered a “prebuttal” to the speech) was clearly partisan. He offered no example of Conservative offense germain to today's circumstances. How is that non-partisan?

    Yet despite the partisan nature of this comment, what Mr Matheson said is true. Good journalism sources and resources their reports. Interested Americans ignore commentary to make up their mind, and go to the source. Good journalism provides that. Opinion pushers don't.

    And sadly, many Americans listen to those who exploit their prejudices through pretend news bearing little in common with acceptable journalism practices. We have seen the enemy of democracy and that enemy is us.

  • portlander Arlington, WA
    Jan. 11, 2019 12:04 a.m.

    Instant certainty is always hated and distrusted by those who live by consensus and conformity. Those are they whom I call the great wishy-washy middle.

    However, I am certain of the gospel principles that I live by. Yet, people ask me all of the time, how I can be so certain in my life. The savior said to His Apostle John in Revelation 3:15-16, that He wants up to be hot or cold and not lukewarm.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Jan. 10, 2019 5:12 p.m.

    Great article. Surprised the comments immediately assumed his position on "instant certainty" was challenging their certainties and are re-trenching their positions in the comment board.

    People, this wasn't a partisan article. The purpose of the article was to encourage all people to be less partisan and more thoughtful.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2019 2:34 p.m.

    I could not agree more with the general thrust of this article.

  • Utefan60 , 00
    Jan. 10, 2019 1:56 p.m.

    Instant dishonesty is the real ememy of trith. We see this spewed out every single day from the supposed leader of this country.

    Then his supporers try to say that instant certainty is the enemy. Actually we live in a society and an information era where educated people can chek out facts.

    That didnt exist during the rise of Nazism in Germany. By the time Hitler's "facts" were checked things had already started to happen. There wasn't a fast way to disperse anti-propaganda to counter his.

    Today we can find truth and check facts at a very rapid pace. When leadership lies to the American public, yes take a deep breath, and find out truth. Fact check things that don't sound right. It is not that hard for the educated, honest and moral people to check things out. Even in religion, facts must be checked and falsehoods brought into the light of day.

    Then don't stand idly by. Stand up, even in anger to lies and dishonesty. Be an example for the next generation, the millennials who are not afraid to stand up. They are not falling for the lies and frankly evil beahvior that we are now seeing in ths regime.

  • djweech , 00
    Jan. 10, 2019 1:49 p.m.

    Thank you so much, Boyd Matheson, for articulating this valuable understanding in a public forum available to so many.

  • majmajor Layton, UT
    Jan. 10, 2019 11:50 a.m.

    Agreed. We, as the electorate, are wrong. We vote short sighted individuals into office and expect them to protect party over the best interests of the nation.

    The current “shutdown” is a prime example; Trump could have had this fight for the last two-years, but didn’t because Republicans had the power. Now Democrats are participants in a battle that potentially ruin 700K+ employees lives over a fight to keep Trump having a political victory, over a minor budget issue.

    Both parties are tripping over themselves to get a “political victory” over the interests of employees who can earn more in a far more professional business environment.

    Federal Employees when you leave, don’t work for Trump, you’ve seen how he treats his minions.

    Before the election, we saw how Trump treats employees and women, but “we” voted him in anyway.

    All our fault...

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Jan. 10, 2019 10:46 a.m.

    Instant certainty is the enemy of truth and trust

    Not as much as dishonesty and broken promises from the person who is suppose to be leading our nation.

    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
    -Isaac Asimov

    Never more true than today.