Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

June 26, 2012

WE THE PEOPLE: A bird, a plane or hallucination?

CROSSVILLE — I saw several UFOs one November night many years ago while flying in a plane load of fellow paratroopers over the Yukon Territory on the way to Alaska. Half a dozen lights appeared and followed on the port side of our troop carrier at a steady but respectable distance and then disappeared. We checked our parachutes. There was nothing around us or below us except snow, mountains, forests and an occasional frozen lake in the dim arctic night. We had no idea what the lights were except that they were UFOs (which was hardly an explanation).

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, says: “In all fields of science there is a residue of anomalies unexplained by the dominant theory. That does not mean the prevailing theory is wrong or that alternative theories are right. It just means that more work needs to be done to bring those anomalies into the accepted paradigm. In the meantime, it is okay to live with the uncertainty that not everything has an explanation.”

Some UFOs and other strange things people believe or think they see are a part of the “residue problem.” The problem is not restricted to scientific theories. The problem appears in politics, religion, and other aspects of human behavior. It often waxes large in the preoccupations of persons with too little reliable information or too little to think with.

Humans tend to need explanations. If there are none, then we often create simplistic ones. Creationism, for example, is an unscientific religious belief. “God did it” is creationism’s only theorem. Whether or not you believe in creationism does not make you a good or bad person.

Reactionary pundits, however, writing about the wonders of conservatism quite often use personal attacks and distorted world views to complain about everything. Close examination reveals they spread invalid information, not real ideas, and want us to see them as being under assault from everyone, including most family dogs.

Much of the residue problem rampant in the country is caused by people who are not in circles that deliberate with logic and reason. The far right often promotes faith-based arguments. These political radicals comb through the Internet like bears in a dumpster feeding on fetid morsels of garbage. They threaten anyone who tries to herd them toward more substantial fare. Yet, they want to control the world because they claim to know the hearts and minds of the Founding Fathers.

Yes, there are lots of new UFOs out there. Not all come from the right, either. The far left knows that capitalism is designed for profit, not for compassion, but capitalism also helps make things run. There is a land between the two extremes.

We are facing a new era. How shall we preserve democracy? Both sides claim to love this country and our freedom. A big UFO problem today is Unexpected Funding Obstacles. We know we must spend less, but how? The choice facing voters is to choose a leader who will lead us to the right balance. Will less taxation and more guns fix things or is it time to rebuild the U.S.A. and our economic machine on the Golden Rule and not the rule of gold?

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