Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Cobblers, Elves and Gravity: Are People "Efficient" or Dishonest?

 Some posts on social media have reminded me of a story.

There was a little old man who was a cobbler and one day his nephews were in need of shoe repair, so they paid a visit to their uncle. They loved their uncle and there was no better cobbler in the town. He knew how to fix a shoe, but sadly not much else. He would wax philosophical about how wind was the product of ghosts flying around overhead, or that the night sky was a worn-out blanket and the stars where the light from the glowing angels who pull the blanket over the Earth shining through the tiny holes in the fabric.

As he worked on his nephews’ shoes, he accidently nudged his hammer and it fell to the ground. He quickly snatched it back up and yelled toward the ground, “You won’t be stealin’ me hammer today, ya rotten elf.”

The nephews exchanged a look, then one asked, “What do you mean by that, uncle?”

“The reasons things fall to the ground is because there is an elf that lives under the grass using his mental powers to pull it to the ground. If it stays there too long, he will steal it when yer not lookin’.”

The other nephew who was a student at university, tried to explain the concept of gravity to his uncle but the cobbler would have none of it. “Yer too smart fer yer own good, he said, sometimes simple wisdom is the best instead of fancy exaggerated complicated ideas they be puttin’ in yer noggin,” the cobbler said.

They tried and tried to explain, the harder they tried the more uncle refused to listen to rationality. Finally, the cobbler stood and said, “I’ll prove it to ya, I’ll let go o’ this hammer and the elf will use his magic powers to make it fall to the ground.”

The cobbler reached out and let go of the hammer and, indeed, like he said it would, it dropped to the ground.

“See there lads, I told ye so,” the cobbler bragged as he snatched the hammer back up from the ground, “You have to admit I was right, that wee little elf yanked it right flat to the ground. Yer playing the fool ifun ya can’t see that I just proved I was right”

The nephews tried to argue, but the cobbler held firm, “Do ye not believe yer own eyes? Ye saw the hammer fall! Clearly, I’m right!” They continued to try to explain gravity, but the cobbler said, “Yer not gonna brainwash me inta believing the witchcraft like they did you in that fancy school o’ yourn.”

He handed them their shoes, “Here ya go, no charge fer family, tell yer father I’ll see him at church and please, please don’t test the elf ‘cause he be snatchin’ yer goods if yer not careful.”

Now if we analyze this story, there are two options here: Either the cobbler had and issue with Sir Isaac Newton or one of the teachers at the university and wanted to undercut the science of gravity by deliberately putting out misinformation which would make him a blatant liar or he was just ignorant and would not listen to facts because he let his personal bias for believing in elves override demonstrable science and fact. But it wasn’t just the stupidity of believing in elves it was the arrogance of “proving it” with faulty data. He started with the result and worked his way back to what he wanted to believe instead of the other way around.

The story reminds me of a quote from my favorite tv show: “Ah, arrogance and stupidity all in the same package. How efficient of you.”

It used to be a funny line but now, I find it prophetic. In the current age of misinformation, we are inundated with people spreading information that is not true. I have been saying, since the start, that it’s hard to build bridges when there are two types of people who spread misinformation: Those who don’t know it’s false and those who don’t care. One is an issue of intelligence and the other is an issue of honesty. It’s hard to get to a point of compromise or discussion when the person you are dealing with is someone who is either not intelligent enough to understand the situation or simply lying.

It was such an issue I devoted blog to it years ago when I pulled apart a fact free meme about immigration. I was hoping that people I like who were posting hateful and false information would start checking stuff out before sharing things that were not only hurtful but created backlash and perpetuated violence against others. You  can read it here: 


“If you want to open a dialogue or reach middle ground with others, maybe you should start with a position that doesn’t call someone stupid. That might help,” you may say. Yea, but the alternative is that I assume they know better and are deliberately lying.

“Then maybe you should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they think they are telling the truth.” I could, but even if I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are not just “party over country” hacks who are lying purely for political reasons, then I still must stop and wonder about their basic intelligence. 

“Not necessarily, smart people can be conned, tricked, and bamboozled.” Yes, they can, anyone can get tricked or duped, but when people *repeatedly* share stuff without checking it out first, especially in a time when misinformation is rampant, then there has to be more going on that just simple stupidity: It’s stupidity and arrogance wrapped in the same package.

The cobbler in the story was, as the quote went, “efficient.”

I’m seeing a lot of efficiency in on the social media feeds these days. People professing they were right but not for the reason they espoused.

Not long after the 2020 election, lists of “predictions” were posted (probably composed by a Russian troll) and then copied and pasted by Trump supporters on social media over and over. It was insanely fact free, and I saw it with such frequency that I did a blog picking apart every erroneous statement (ie ALL of them). My personal favorite, for example, was the claim “North Korea has been under control and has not been testing any missiles.” In fact, under Trump’s four years they had 32 missile tests compared to 7 in eight years under Obama. It was rife with this kind of misinformation. You can read the whole thing and my response here: 

I took great care to back up my positions with links to a variety of sources left, right, center and neutral, just so no one could dismiss the totality of the response as being liberally bias.

In addition to being rife with misinformation the original post was sneaky.

Two of the points it tried to make were about 1) gas prices and 2) interest rates, implying they were low because of Trump’s great success, and they would go up because of Biden’s failure. Neither is true but it was brilliantly deceptive, if you are dealing with someone who is not that bright.

Because of the COVID pandemic lockdown, the economy was in free fall and is typical for either political party during bad economic times, the Federal Reserve cut the interest rates. They were cut to .01%, the lowest ever.

While they have not gone up yet, my obvious prediction is that as the economy recovers (possibly sooner rather than later to slow the rate of inflation), interest rates will go back up and political hacks will try to blame Biden. I don’t say this to prove I’m smart, I say it because it’s so blindingly obvious that even an English major can see the mathematical/financial writing on the wall.

The same with gas and oil. Because of the lockdown people traveled less and lowered demand. As is typical in a “supply and demand” capitalist economy, the price dropped and manufactures slowed production. It had nothing to do with Trump. It was a global phenomenon. Oil on the international market dropped below ZERO dollars a barrel for the first time ever.

Anyone with a brain in their head could predict oil and gas prices would go up, hell, it had nowhere to go but up, it was like saying water was wet.

Oil prices have also been exacerbated by Putin’s actions in the Ukraine, driving those same barrels of oil to hundreds of dollars and continuing to climb.

There are also calls for investigations into price gouging as oil companies continue to make record profits in the face of rising prices. 

In spite of the stupid little ""I did that!" stickers, it's not a Biden issue, it's a global one.

The original writer who was clearly a partisan hack/liar and used this obvious fact and twisted it to make it look like low prices were Trump’s success and when prices would go up as lockdowns and travel restrictions ended, it would look like Biden’s failure. 

One can manipulate a truth to create a lie. Memes have appeared with the price of gas during the lockdown with Trump's name and the price of gas now with Biden's name. It's technically correct, but doing that without the proper context is the same as telling a blatant lie.

Let me say that again for the slow kids in the back: Putting out technically correct information but doing so in a misleading way without context is the same as lying.

They are doing the same thing with supply chain issues resulted the highest inflation since Reagan (Remember Reagan? The guy they love, inflation under him is good, but under the other party it's bad). Trying to place blame Biden for something that is intrinsically a flaw in capitalism and a direct result of the pandemic is either showing a lack of intelligence or a lack of integrity.

Now you have Trump supporters posting memes or saying, “I was right. Gas prices went up.” 

Yea, they were right, just like the cobbler was right about the elf.

The hammer fell just a s gas prices predictably went up, but *neither* is for the reason espoused… 

So, the question is, again: do I assume the people posting memes and bragging about being right are liars who are putting party above country (or reality) or are they just being…well... efficient?

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