Reading for Enjoyment

Separating fact from fiction.

I’ve enjoyed a variety of books from this author, who often co-authors, and the range is pretty good. He also has a few cast of characters, so the variety is refreshing. In addition, he brings up a lot of topics, and much, should we wish, can be researched. He certainly has gotten me to look up information, read a few papers, and borrow books from the library, even listening to a few scientists’ online speeches. It sort of provides the opportunity to enjoy some good reads, but also become aware of some topics, then separate fiction, which his books are classified, from real information. **And that is key. I’m thankful for that opportunity.

With one of his sons.

Having served in the military, and written many story books, he also founded NUMA, which they’ve found many shipwrecks and treasures on the ocean bottom. A real adventurist. And he used much of what he and his staff learned for his books.

                Here’s where the article is going.  I remember one particular book in which some bad characters were going to use global tendencies to spread a contagion.  I won’t go into the story more than that, other than to say the good guys kept with the clues and were able to foil the plans of destruction.  It was a pretty good story.  What I like more was the quality of characters within, something Mr. Cussler, often with co-writers, created for his stories, though I’ll always like the first Dirk the best.  That’s the character that got me started with the books.

                Here’s the thing.  When I read, and there are “facts” involved, more so when I can see the trends of beliefs in society, I read more carefully.  For what I’m doing is understanding the line(s) of reasoning.  Although, I realize I’m limited in my novice range, understanding a bit of this and that, like many, we can still follow the rabbit of reason.  In other words, just using the writer’s own logic, reasoning, and conclusions to gain a better understanding of how too many think. But we can also use that information for a bit of an education.

                That reminds me, long ago, while taking martial arts, I was talking with an older gentleman who believed in man-made global warming.  As I considered him a successful man and intelligent, I wondered how he could so easily believe in something so large when the evidence on smaller scales can prove the opposite, but at the least, provide the fodder for more questions.  He replied something akin to sometimes we can see on the macro what we can’t see in the micro. 

                What did that tell me?  He wasn’t honest.  Having been successful in life, working in a variety of stations and doing well, and also being intelligent, he had learned to “seem” intelligent, being “in the know,” and garnering listening audiences by his eloquent speech and charisma, also being politically correct.  There were more words that justified my reasoning.  I still liked him.  I don’t know how he views his own thinking.  Perhaps, even though I believe he knows the information is just not enough, perhaps he says what he says to pursue a course of less pollution and doesn’t mind the disinformation to get there.  To a degree, I might have done that myself from time to time, though I check. But even then, I usually explain that my conclusions are in part, and that I leave the rest for people to research and learn.

                Here’s the thing.  As I shared above, while reading that particular book, I also knew the reasoning did not support the conclusions.  What the good guys feared could never happen. Certainly not with the information they were supposedly able to base incredibly complicated suppositions upon.  But I also know, that when reading fiction, that’s okay.  After all, it’s fiction. But I will say this as well.  A lot of people buy into the fictional accounts and support for their wishful thinking.  I imagine, the fellow from our martial arts class does as well.  It’s like a “feel good” story of hope, but he doesn’t realize all the ramifications of such thinking. He also many not realize the “purposes” of propaganda.

                This article is written in the positive.  Let me explain.  It’s good to understand the manner in which false information grows.  For as we read, learning to follow the rabbit of reason, separating fact from fiction, we grow in understanding the complexities.  And with time, it’s almost automatic.  “You said what?”   “What did he mean by that?”  And so forth.  And as we read, we learn, and we put what we are not certain in the “to be researched” column.  And never do we have to say we know until we do. There’s no guilt in admitting one doesn’t know.

                So, for those who follow the trail of information crumbs, they can better explain, or show, to those listening.  Then encourage them to follow their own trails.  I always believe it’s better to encourage others to think for themselves then to ever follow me or anyone else.  Listen, but listen to multiple sources, read, research, and patiently ponder.  One might even arrive at the conclusion that the information in inadequate and let’s not jump to conclusions.  For homeschooling parents, this is a skill worth teaching, but also encouraging, such that the kids and teens grow up thinking for themselves, never in a rush to believe anything until they have the information.   And even then, time might require more questions. 

This is always a good question to anyone making a statement of fact, more so when it’s on a larger scale: How do you know this to be true? Such a question encourages, if they’re honest, research.

**The following was added later:

                If someone (i.e. co-worker, family member, friend, or neighbor…) says something like pollution is destroying the planet, I have a million questions. 

  1. To the opinion person, I would ask what does the word “destroy” mean?  How do you qualify/quantify that word?  In other words, what do you see happening that is in the description of destroyed?  **I have to ask because all too many people, themselves, don’t know what they mean.  They really haven’t thought about it except in very general terms, which no honest scientist would do.  Am I to believe the life-creating qualities in the soil are going end:  no longer supporting plants and the creation of carbon dioxide?  Am I to believe the oxygen levels of this planet will fall too far for mammals, including humans, and other creatures won’t be able to live?  Am I to believe the ozone hole, which doesn’t and never has existed, is going to open up wide such that everyone gets skin cancer, the sun over-heating the soil and causing damage we cannot reverse?  What is the person talking about?
  2. When any kind of “pollution,” even oil which is natural, enters the ocean waters, what happens?  Does the opinion person knows how “materials” in the ocean waters are handled?  Does that person knows the various levels, the different temperatures, the variety of life, and the tendencies of underwater life?  When an oil tanker leaks oil into the ocean, what happens to that oil?  Also, what is the ratio of water to all pollutants? And among all the “ingredients” in the ocean, interacting with outside influences, what is happening at each that we can both explain and quantify their impacts overall?
  3. When factories emit chemicals into the air, also into the ground, what happens?  What is the ratio of those chemicals to air, how are those chemicals dispersed, and what is the effect on people and animals as distance from the factories increase?  Same with chemicals going into the ground?  And what steps do companies make in this regard?  *I know people remember that movie about PG&E.  We would never want the local residents suffering as the movie shared.  However, have we done the research regarding?  What do we really know about those events?  We should research to better understand, if only to have real information from which to discuss.
  4. With Andrei Sakharov, a noted scientist, a person I believe is honest, perhaps with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I’m more wondering about the effects of nuclear waste and byproducts on the environment.  However, I have to remember that, while they seem to me very good-intentioned people with much in the way of personal experiences and knowledge, I still have to do what research I can for myself.  But I also remember both authors indicating need for additional studies and research, for they’re honest.  Which means, they themselves don’t fully know.  That means more studies.  That means, if they are encouraging people to study and create “good policies,” it’s to protect the environment but not because they know we’re destroying anything. They simply want us to use good judgement. That’s a far cry from global anything.
  5. If we say that the “emissions” that “man” causes to go into the air, but also the materials that enter the ground, is a cause of serious Earth damage, explain that.  What damage?  What qualifies as damage?  How does that damage relate to what the Earth itself-generates?  Explain, I might say to an “Earth is being destroyed opinion person”, if they’re saying temperatures will rise to Earth destroying levels, at what temperature will the Earth be destroyed?  How do they explain all the rises and drops in temperatures in centuries past, even when humans weren’t on the planet?  And if we do somehow can prove the half-degree (or so) of temperature increase in the last hundred years or so, what do we know of the ramifications?  In other words, if the world temperature were to rise 1 degree, 2 degrees, 3 degrees, or more, what would happen?  How would the planet respond?  What information do we have regarding?  And again, if in the past, there was global cooling, even ice ages, and global warming, even when humans weren’t around, how did the planet respond, for we’re all still here, billions strong? **If anything would tell us that temperature change isn’t as great an effect, that might wake some people up.
  6. When chemicals, including man-made, enter the soil, what is under the surface and how do those various “materials” handle those chemicals?  Whether igneous rock, sedimentary rock, sand, clay, and all the other factors, what happens and when something happens, what occurs after, even over thousands and millions of years?  If some chemicals makes their way to ground water, are we using that groundwater, and what happens to that water as it moves about?
  7. What are the pollution mitigating, altering, negating aspects of this world we live?  And if we see pollution, or smog, in the air, as we drive further away, we see the air cleaning up quickly, what does that tell us.
  8. **We’ll stop for now.  We encourage people to read and research.  Learn about this stuff.  It’s fascinating.  Why anyone would prefer blindly believing versus learning I’ll never know.  But in learning, much in the way of wonder might enlighten a person and bring joy in understanding.

**The more we observe, listen, read, and research, even in reading some fiction books, the more questions lead to more questions, and some answers.

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