Tag Archives: controversy

Informing vs. Inspiring?

We of Western Civilization have become terribly scientific. We worship statistics and facts, we embrace objectivity as the most useful and worthy perspective, we insist on the scientific method as the ultimate judge of reality.

I appreciate science as a tool. What a wonderful approach: utilitarian, organized, analytical. All the pesky variables controlled. So clean and shiny!

However, I see no reason to reject out of hand other tools such as intuition, logic and personal experience.

Many of the controversial topics being discussed online today (such as poverty, vaccines, environmental destruction) are volatile and degenerate easily into us vs. them, with each side attempting to present the indisputable, proven-beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt facts that will shut down all the fuzzy, half-baked arguments of the other.

So when an opinion is offered in the public sphere, many commenters will immediately jump to the punchline: “What’s your source? What documented scientific study are you basing this on?”

I agree that someone claiming to be presenting information should certainly be able to show where that information has come from.

But is informing the only valuable form of communication?

I want to inspire people to examine, explore, analyze and investigate for themselves. I don’t want anyone to be convinced of my argument and look no further. The responsibility for the decisions the reader makes is solely that of the reader, and so even if I have an extensive bibliography whose notation includes even the paragraph number and what the author was imbibing as they wrote it, the reader still must decide for themselves. I don’t believe there’s a point where I can prove what you should do in your given situation; I cannot ever stand exactly where you are right now, and so ultimately, facts or no, you’re on your own.

I’ve come to realize that, though science can contribute so much to our understanding, my strength does not lie in pinning Life down to the concrete slab and dissecting it methodically into its separate bloody parts, each of which can be labeled and preserved and stuffed into a drawer somewhere in the lab to be paraded around at a later date to prove a point.

My strength lies in observation, experience based on engaging with living beings in movement, reflection upon a synthesis of perceptions and even from intuitive understanding that comes from looking at the big picture. All of which is airy-fairy, hard to quantify, subjective and inadmissible in court.

So is there value to anything besides cold, hard facts? Is there beauty to coloring outside the lines? Does everything have to come down to profit, progress and the letter of the law? Even in spiritual matters, the argument so often devolves into “Well, it says so right here in this Book…”

Are there not times that Life as it Is right in front of you can hold the answer, regardless of precedent, protocol or representative study?

Can the scientists and I live and let live, appreciating each other’s unique contributions? Or am I the bastard pontificator, discounted and disowned by Those Who Know, unwelcome in the Public Think Tank that is comprised by our internet forums?

(And when you give your answer, please document your sources… 😛 )