I’ve Already Decided What I Believe, Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts

Last week a Christian blogger I follow on twitter (not a personal friend, just someone I started following along the way) posted a link to an article about the spending of President Obama’s administration. The blogger summed up the article by saying that the administration spent less than any other president since before President Reagan. It caught my attention, so I followed the link and read the article.

It essentially said the Obama administrations rate of increase in spending was less than any other President before Reagan. That’s not nothing, it’s noteworthy. However a lower rate of increased spending is very different than spending less.

I sent the blogger a private message explaining what the article was really saying. He sent me back a message saying “Thanks. Good catch.” And that was it. No redaction or correction to his twitter audience.

On the other side of the political spectrum, yesterday a facebook friend posted a link to an article detailing how President Obama allegedly sent out “robosigned” form letters to families of Navy SEALS killed in action. My friend let everyone know there was no excuse for this, and of course the title of the article left out the word “allegedly.” After some quick googling, I found that the truth is that President Bush also sent out form letters, as most likely every president before him did, and honestly, with the number of American soldier fatalities being what they are, what different things could a president hypothetically say in every letter he typed out to families of fallen soldiers? And the signature, as it was later revealed, is real. To be fair, my facebook friend probably read and posted the article before the truth came out, but as of now, there is no redaction, no correction.

I could give examples all day. If your inbox or facebook news feed looks anything like mine, you are inundated with followers of Jesus, dispersing misinformation and half-truths as if they’re on a mission from God. We follow someone who said the “truth will set you free,” but by our behavior you would think we follow the father of lies.

The most troubling thing about is that it’s almost as if we don’t care about the truth. If we find something that we want to believe, that backs up what we already have decided to believe, then we believe it.

But truth is important. Whether it’s truth about politics or theology or science, Christians should be known for searching for and valuing truth. All too often we are children, with our fingers in our ears screaming- “I’ve already made up my mind. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

The biggest danger is that when it becomes apparent to others that our political beliefs are based on something other than truth, the world has to wonder if our spiritual beliefs are also not based on truth. We appear ignorant, naïve and silly. We become nothing more than a punch line on Family Guy, and we earn it.

So brothers and sisters, if a politician or political party does something wrong, call them out in love, but check your facts. We are in the age of the 24 hour news cycle, so whatever your political leaning, there’s a channel, magazine, and radio show for you, but please don’t just listen to media that back up your beliefs. Search for truth.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

17 thoughts on “I’ve Already Decided What I Believe, Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts

  1.              The title of this post is a succinct statement of a couple of things I believe are great faults of the human race: Pride and jumping to conclusions. As you stated “If we find something that we want to believe, that backs up what we already have decided to believe, then we believe it.”. That’s certainly our pride at work there. Because of our predetermined beliefs, we have a tendency to immediately adhere to any statement that seems factual that resonates positively with us.
                  I use the same example of the story that President Obama sent out auto-signed letters to the families of fallen SEALS members as one of my right leaning friends posted a link to a fairly scathing commentary on this story on his facebook. As I myself could not find the rebuttal to this posting (as you said you had, could you link that?) and the post I was reading at no point said “allegedly”, I had no factual basis to refute the stories accusation. But as you said, when you post stories such as this that are only half truths and factually misrepresented, you do yourself and your readers a disservice. Especially if your claims are further proven to be false.
                     This is where mankind’s weakness of pride rears it’s ugly head. The harder we believe something is true, the harder we cling to our beliefs, the more difficult it is for us to admit that we were wrong. I’m guilty of it, as I’m sure many people are. I really do believe though that if we could, as human beings, be much more willing to admit when we are wrong, SO many problems would be resolved!
                     As you stated, the truth is the important thing in these matters. And as we all know, sometimes, the truth hurts.

    •  @NickHogan Excellent observation about pride. I didn’t get into it in the post because I felt like it was vearing away a little too much, but my hunch is that most people get their political beliefs from what they were taught in their upbringing, which is dangerous because if your political or spiritual beliefs are only based on what you were taught growing up, then you’re just chancing it that those who taught you were right.
      It’s hard to find evenhanded articles about the robosigned letters because the mainstream media hasn’t picked up on it, but here’s the article I read. http://www.businessinsider.com/outrage-obama-robosigns-kia-letters-for-seals-families-2012-8

      •  @beardonabike I have seen/agree with your observation that generally people get their beliefs at first from their upbringing (their parents, family, friends and of course teachers/classmates). I think that do the discredit of all of us though, there are far too many people who there who’s beliefs and ideals to which they hold dear are based solely on those factors. In order to truly believe in something, to support that ideal, you have to know WHY you believe in it. You have to deconstruct it, observe it (from not only your view, but from as many differing points of view you can), and then weigh the options and determine how it resonates with you. Like you said, if you believe in something because others around you believe in it, you are only chancing you’re right. Bertrand Russell once said “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” My interpretation: Never cling to any ideal or belief so tightly that you can’t stand to be proven wrong. Because you might be.

  2. Shane, thank you for this grounded wisdom.  I often get too frustrated with politics and their lack of truth, that I often turn away from them completely, like sticking my head in the sand and pretending they aren’t there.  That’s not the correct response on my part either.  I like your call to action, to search for the truth and check the facts.  It was a good reminder to me of what I should be doing as a follower of Christ.

    •  @lenandkara Wow, yeah the head in the sand option is very appealing sometimes, especially when the other option seems to be holding up a politician on a pedestal.

    •  @lenandkara Wow, yeah the head in the same option seems really appealing sometimes, especially when it seems like the alternative to hold up politicians on a pedestal.

  3. We should indeed be lovers of the truth which is why it is so frustrating that there are 700 news stations doing 14,000 versions of the same story and completely ignoring other at times more important stories. I think it is exhausting as a Christian and as a voter to know that you are constantly being lied to or spinned at, thats why I really like websites like http://www.factcheck.org and http://www.politifact.com which help me to weed through lies, misdirections, misquotes, etc. So if you are like me and desperately trying not to rely on that oh so comforting head-in-the sand thing in order to be an informed Christian and citizen, you might want to check out these helpful tools. I also think it is so important to do what Shane did, which is to correct untruths when we hear them. In my experience many of us have become professional eye-rollers who just shrug our shoulders when we encounter egregious errors, shane is right, we should be known not only for investigating for the truth but also for using our voices– for speaking the truth in love.

    •  @kerrikfisher Funny that I’ve heard both the extreme right and left attach politifact. Which really just gives it more credibility.

    •  @kerrikfisher Thank you for those websites.  I need a way to sift through the misinformation on both sides!

  4. I wonder if there’s a deeper issue of discipline here, too. I’m thinking back to high school and that terrible six weeks when they drag you into the library and force you to write a research paper. The first key to writing a good paper is going to primary sources. Like, using an encyclopedia entry on Plato is one thing; reading The Republic is way harder, but it also gives you a much fuller picture.It’s so easy (and empowering) to presume hearsay as fact, especially as we take in our information in bits and nibbles via the web. Nothing wrong with nibbling, but I think as Christians, who are challenged to study and absorb the primary text of the Scriptures, we do ourselves a disservice when we continually do that and forget to feast on deeper and more nuanced portions of information.

  5. What becomes particularly complicated as we exhort one another to pursue truth is that most people are convinced that they are pursuing the truth.  But when nearly all information lives in a vortex of misinformation and speculation (i.e. the Internet, 24-hour news, etc.), it becomes nearly impossible for a great many people to trust implicitly the information they encounter in these media.  But people really want to trust someone, so the most natural response is to trust the people they agree with, and to trust the people who are trusted by the people they trust.This is why I’m not sure that it is best to couch this discussion in terms of pursuing truth (though Shane does well to make that call). As Chrsitians, I think that there is a clearer call to pursue grace and compassion, and that truth becomes easier to spot when our goal is to live in compassion.

    •  @Rhea Bullock “truth becomes easier to spot when our goal is to live in compassion.” Love that.

  6. It’s called confirmation bias; it’s sort of like Texas sharp-shooting. You spray the side of a barn with all your pistol’s bullets then walk up to the holes and paint a bull’s eye around the punctures. Success! And after that happens, it’s hard to walk away from it and fess up, even if you know you’re in the wrong, mostly because you are a proven success. But when it comes to ideas and things of that nature, I think anyone will square a circle and even stop thinking about whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad.
    Those comments were all over the place; sorry about the barns and bullets when you are talking about economics and Presidential policies. When it comes to things like this, I think most people rally with the rest of the rabble and support a cause or character and use that to sublimate thinking. And that’s worse. What your friend did was blind himself and bind his own person to an obvious wrong, a lie. Most people need to live in ignorance because uncertainty is too much to deal with on a daily basis, but that could be the difference between you and him. I change my mind every day about almost every topic I come across, as do most people, I think, but they don’t do that when it comes to voting, people want to be right and they want to say that they have always been right. They want to back the money-making pony.
    He also handled it just like how he sees the Presidential Administrations and other candidates handle fact-checkers: he ignored you.
    Anyone who thinks or lives like this should probably just be left to drift away into the Internet’s bland and endless sea of pointlessness, redundancy and obviousness, just so you don’t read something about and think they’re right, but only until you do the brain work yourself. 

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