Truth is so relative it takes courage each morning to get out of bed. Will the ground stay beneath my feet? Seeing life as illusion is a habit of mine as anyone who’s read my novel, Trompe l’Oeil, knows. Yet nothing in my fiction compares with the bizarre circumstances of ordinary life.
Take, for example, a recent finding that poverty makes a person stupid. Yes, that’s what I said, though the words sting my eyes like bits of ground glass when I write them. Nonetheless, Princeton University has published a study concluding that when a person feels poor his or her IQ can drop as much as 13 points. Elder Shafir, co-author of the study, speculates that “when you don’t have enough [money], it occupies your mind and takes away bandwidth that you could use for other things.” (“The befuddling effect of poverty,” The Week, pg. 19.) Given all we’ve learned about how poverty disrupts the lives of individuals and society, it seems reasonable to conclude it’s a luxury this nation can no longer afford.
Couple the Princeton study with another from Yale for a fuller picture. The latter concludes that politics dulls the mind. Law Professor, Dan Kahan tested the math skills of 1,100 volunteers, organizing them according to their political persuasions. Each group was given mathematical data that ran counter to their beliefs. For example, when gun advocates were given figures which led to the conclusion that banning guns was effective, the participants lost their ability to tallying accurately. The same was true with gun opponents. Volunteers were left muddled when they received data that showed banning guns had no effect on crime. Kahn’s conclusion? That “no matter how intelligent we are, when it comes to politics, we believe what we want to believe, and neither facts nor evidence ever changes that much.” (“How politics distorts our perceptions,” by Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, as reported in The Week, 9/20/13 pg. 12.)
That truth is relative is more than a cliché. It’s probably the only truth we’ll ever know. How else is one to explain why Edward Snowden, seen as a traitor by our government, is hailed as a hero by some of our allies? The Green Party in the European Parliament, for example, has nominated him for the Sakharov Prize, an award given to those who champion human rights and freedom of thought. http://news.yahoo.com/fugitive-snowden-running-european-rights-prize-101626064.html. From my world view, I hope he wins.
(Courtesy of www.disputeabout.eu.com)