Home > History, Thought Exercise > Don't believe me.

Don't believe me.

You really shouldn’t believe anything that I say here.

That’s not to say that you should stop reading, but you just shouldn’t believe me. Here’s why: most of this stuff that I’m writing about, I pretty much just pull out of my ass. I’m not an expert, there’s no research done here. I just pretty much copy and paste from wikipedia, and we all know how reliable that is.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything that I’m posting is wrong. I’m sure that most of it is actually fairly factual. At least it’s as factual as we know it to be right now. You always have to add that caveat in there, otherwise some jerkwad is going to discover something new tomorrow and come back to your blog and call you out on being an idiot because you were talking about something before something else was learned about that one thing. That’s what Galileo did when he found out that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, and then they burned him at the stake.

See, I just proved my own point. They didn’t burn Galileo, but it sounds believable. Let’s put it this way, my posts have an unfortunate, sometimes unavoidable amount of truthiness to them. I try hard to present factual information here, but sometimes the information that I get isn’t completely true. And sometimes I just intentionally provide false information that I assume everyone knows is wrong anyways. I’m kind of a dick like that. The point is that you should keep reading this despite my flat-out lying, but you should also cast a critical eye on everything you take in. This shouldn’t just apply to my posts, but to all “factual” information or news that you take in.

I don’t want to suggest that anyone turn into a hard nosed cynic disbelieving everything they hear. Someone who instantly rejects anything is just as annoying as someone who believes everything they hear. I just want people to believe what they want to believe, while taking a bit of time to do some research themselves to make sure that the facts they’re regurgitating are actually facts. In the past year there have been a number of instances where news organizations have been purposefully duped in order to be discredited for reporting false information. Fact checking is becoming more and more difficult due to the pressure of breaking an important story first, especially when the internet is instantaneous and you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next print edition before deciding to run the story.

Just in the past week I’ve run acrost my own critical moments. In the first I was watching Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary. In the first episode he mentioned that the last Civil War veteran died in 1959. When I heard that alarm bells began ringing. The war ended in 1865. If the veteran in question was born in 1859 and died when he was a hundred, he would’ve been 6 when the war ended. I know that they weren’t very choosey when recruiting troops during the Civil War, especially  near the end, but I think the rules were a little bit stricter than that. More than likely the youngest soldier would be about 12, which would mean that the oldest veteran would be about 106 when he died. That’s possible, but still not likely.

I made a quick search on wikipedia, and sure enough found that it was actually a hoax that the last surviving veteran died in 1959. It turns out that the last veteran of the Civil War died in 1951. He was about 104 when he died. Still an unbelievable number, but I felt an enourmous amount of pride when I was able prove Ken Burns to be a lying liar telling lies. LIES! Not so special now you epically long documentary making bastard. No, I’m just kidding he makes really good stuff.

The next example came from Bruce Russet’s book No Clear and Present Danger. The book is a critical look at whether or not the United States was right to enter World War II. Seems like a bizarre stance to take, but it’s a perfect example of taking a quizzical look at conventional thinking. At one point of the book, Russet talks about the making of the atomic bomb. He mentions that without getting involved in the war, America wouldn’t have been able to develop the bomb by 1945, but we would’ve gotten there by 1947 or 1948.  Obviously there’s no way to disprove his prediction, but I couldn’t help but think that he had overestimated the timeline. If The United States hadn’t gotten involved, we wouldn’t have had such an incentive to kick off the Manhattan Project. I can’t underemphasise this enough, but the Manhattan Project was a HUGE!!! undertaking. I don’t all caps shit without a good reason, and don’t even get me started on the multiple exclamation points. As if that weren’t enough there’s the bolding going on. All that to prove that I’m serious about this. The Manhattan Project cost 2 billion dollars and had 130,000 people working on it. They even created a city to work on it. In 1945 there were 75,000 people living in Oak Ridge Tennessee. All of the workers there were involved with the Manhattan project. I cannot imagine this many people and this much money being thrown at building the nuclear bomb if it weren’t for America’s involvement in the war. In my humble opinion, there is absolutely no way that we would’ve completed the bomb within an extra ten years without that incentive to beat the Germans.

I don’t think that most of the people reading this really need to be made aware of how critical thinking is. Chances are if you’re reading this it’s because you can appreciate how awesome I am, which means you’re a pretty smart group. I pretty much wrote this to apologize for any times when I was presenting something that wasn’t true, and to preemptively apologize for any moments in the future where I lie to you all. Also, I wanted to blow my own horn about how smrt I am for finding those two examples.

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