basing decisions on bad information… the american way?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080318/sc_livescience/immigrationreducescrimerates;_ylt=AgW5wRp7vxu45ypgVEASATsPLBIF

Two articles I read this week revealed something to me about me that I was a little uncomfortable with… I’m pretty naive. Not in the innocent way of a child. I’m naive in the more dangerous way, I’m ignorant.

First there was an article in a scientific journal on the Mpemba effect. If you are not familiar with that term, in lay-terms it means that hot water freezes faster than cold water. Many people believe this to be true (and under the right conditions it IS). It is not, however, a scientific law. So when you see someone turning on the hot water in the sink and letting it run before filling an ice tray (i’m telling my age…) they are doing that because of a fundamental understanding of the Mpemba effect. The problem with that is… hot tap water placed in a plastic ice tray doesn’t necessarily freeze faster than cold tap water. It very well may take longer. When I first heard of this phenomenon, it was from an elder whose word i trusted. I then operated off of this belief until yesterday. that’s over 30 years of running hot water to freeze something. Without going to in depth (and to prevent the scientific community from attacking), yes I do understand that under some circumstances hot water freezes faster than cold. My point is, that is only part of the information. The particular set of variables required to observe this effect are not even fully understood by science, and yet I was repeating “hot freezes faster than cold” as if it were some universal truth that only a few were aware of.

ok, i know you are thinking…. so? the link at the beginning of the article involves a more commonly held and DANGEROUS misconception. Our fear of immigration has led to something i hoped i would never see in my lifetime… african-american racism directed at another minority group en masse. I’ve heard many of my “brothers and sisters” lamenting the lack of jobs in this country due to immigration. I’ve heard of the “unfair advantage” given to “them” from the government. I’ve heard of their “lack of hygiene”, “inability to speak english properly”, etc…. and all I can say is, THESE ARE THE SAME THINGS THAT WERE SAID ABOUT US AS RECENTLY AS ONE GENERATION AGO!!!! something does stink, but it’s not the immigrants. have we assimilated so well that we even have adopted the superiority complex of the more imperialistic members of our ruling class? I assumed like many that in areas where immigrant populations were high, violence and crime would also be higher. wrong! which throws off another of my previously held beliefs. Poverty doesn’t HAVE to lead to crime. Go figure. Some of the reasons given in the article for the lower crime rate were strong work ethic, a desire not to be deported (can be viewed as an appreciation of the opportunity to be here), strong family structure, etc… good old american values. So why did I believe that it was automatic that immigration led to crime? Ignorance. MY ignorance. Isn’t it easier to say “crime is a result of poverty” than to begin to investigate why african-americans commit more violent crimes per capita than whites? That’s the easy answer, but an incorrect one. Genetics (the opposite spectrum answer for the ignorant) won’t work here either. In African and West Indian immigrants crime rates are also lower than those of african-american’s (and white american’s). No… the answers are simple, but not THAT simple. The answers involve an appreciation for hard work, not the get rich today mentality of many americans. The answer is an appreciation for the opportunities this country provides (including the opportunity to disagree with it’s policies). The answer is to return to a mindset of family first. Our focus on the individual is seen in our governing decisions. Just as I had incorrect beliefs based on bad information given to me by someone i trust…. WMD’s anyone? I’m not defending or bashing…. just stating. I could have very easily tested what i was told about hot water myself in 30 minutes, yet I spent 30 years believing wrongly. I hope pres. bush doesn’t do the same… it’s been 5 years. its not that hard to imagine….

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3 Comments to “basing decisions on bad information… the american way?”

  1. The worst part of ignorance is that we think we know. The beauty in knowledge is knowing that we don’t know. I like your analogies with the hot water and cold water thing. Hadn’t heard of it before so I suppose that I am revealing my age. Good work.

  2. lol… not really revealing your age. it may be a sign that people aren’t as quick to pass on bad information as they used to be. thanks…

  3. Great post. Thanks for writing it. I feel that racism in any form is ignorance. In order to lose ignorance, you must educate yourself, investigate! Ignorance is the root of fear. Go check it out for yourself (lol).

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