Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drunks and Lampposts

Legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully once said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost—for support, not illumination.” I’ve since seen this same sentiment applied to people and their preferred sources of news and information.

In other words, most of us want our worldviews bolstered by the news programs we watch, as well as the books, newspapers, and magazines that we read (assuming we do). We are not on eternal quests for understanding and enlightenment. After all, such unquenchable pursuits necessitate, at the very least, some measure of reflection on the front end and a whole lot of digestion on the back end. And with our ever-waning attention spans in full throttle, locating support for what we absolutely believe is true—the way things are—invariably circumvents Illumination Road, where alternative views and gray areas on matters great and small, significant and trivial, reside.

There’s nothing quite like an election to bring out the worst in people—in all niches of the political spectrum. In today’s Information Age—with more interaction between and among individuals from both our pasts and the present—a regular dose of unsolicited ravings is wont to come our way whether we like it or not. Food for thought: Talk of politics and religion in drinking milieus is considered a no-no—not good form. And perhaps this same dictum should be applied to the social-networking bailiwick and the e-mailing habits of certain over-zealous friends, relations, and acquaintances. But, honestly, this noble prohibition is often ignored on the barroom scene. Drunks under lampposts—enjoying support and not appreciating the illumination in the least—are, I suppose, as American as apple pie.

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