Thoughts on the facts of life

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, June 21, 2018

“Most people don’t know what they are doing, and some of them are really good at it.”  — George Carlin

I was perusing amid the legion of reference books that line the shelves in my office the other day when I stumbled upon a long unopened one, the contents of which may well hold the answer to one of the more troubling questions plaguing contemporary American society: Why are so many people so apparently willing to simply ignore facts within the forming of their views of this and that?

This phenomenon, of course, can and does lead to some rather unfortunate conclusions being drawn by folks, because as I and any number of others have pointed out, people are, indeed, entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

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You can, as example, form the opinion that you are Superman, but the fact is, that if you put on a cape and leotards and jump off a tall building to prove you can fly, the otherwise extremely fortunate existence of gravity is going to turn you into fertilizer in pretty quick fashion.

And while I am fully aware that there are all manner of psychological and group dynamics at play in this democracy and self-defeating stance of our relatively recent adoption, it occurs to me that those of us trying to figure it out might be overlooking something pretty obvious.

It is my new theory: Life is complicated and its facts can be pretty scary things.

I am going to get around to trying to prove this theory of mine (Gather round, folks, Ray has another new theory.) in just a minute, but before I do, difficult as it may be, could we all just perhaps agree on one thing?

There is never, ever, any justification whatsoever for using the otherwise both perfectly good words “fact” and “true” in combination. To do so is redundant, and, well, ignorant. That’s because if something is a fact, that something is, by definition, true. There is no such thing as an untrue fact, so until the Trump administration succeeds in its daily efforts to defy the laws of logic  and grammar sufficiently to get us all to accept their unceasing streams of “alternative facts,” the word “fact” requires no veracity verifying modifier.

Just a pet peeve.

So now on with the business of proving my theory (Oh, goody)  that facts are scary things.

Did you know:

• The human stomach must produce a new lining every day in order to protect itself from its own acid? Pretty scary, huh? Of course, when you look at some folks’ stomachs, you get the idea that they might be producing several dozen new liners every day.

• One serving of Aussie Cheese Fries at Outback Steakhouse contains 2,900 calories, the entire recommended daily intake for the average person? And while that fact is scary enough, you might also cringe at the related fact that the restaurant considers the fries to be a “side dish.”

• Each year about 50 to 70 confirmed shark attacks, resulting in five to 15 fatalities (on average) occur around the world and that those numbers are on the rise? So, what serves as “confirmation” of such things? When something takes a chunk out of somebody’s rear end, do we really suspect dolphins?

• A polar bear can rip off a human head with one swipe of its paw? (My mother could do that with a look.)

• There are over 700 species of bacteria within the human mouth? Might ought to let  that one slip out of mind next time you gear up for a big ole smooch.

• The average human being will spend three years of his or her life on the toilet? In fairness, however, that’s about the same amount of time he or she will spend on “hold” with AT&T. (But they value your business.)

• The average human loses 85,000 brain cells each day, but only regenerates 50 new ones? This ratio is much higher, though, among Mississippi elected officials.

• Almost 60 percent of all Americans can name the Three Stooges, but only 17 percent can name three Supreme Court justices? I can think of a lot to say about this, but none of it is funny.

• A cockroach can survive several weeks after losing its head?

• You have a 1-in-3,000 chance of being hit by lightning? So, everybody in Mississippi should feel better about driving across the river for those lottery tickets, where the odds are really good.

Oh, and what will really jolt some folks, humans and dinosaurs were not alive at the same time and the Earth is a whole lot more than 10,000 years old and the only profession that the Founding Fathers saw fit to protect by name is the press.

You see, the thing about facts is just denying that they are doesn’t mean that they aren’t.