Convergence of Evidence

4B0CA317-1D02-499B-BCC9-D8A9418B0CA0Some say we need to teach young people how to use a check book. I say we need to teach them (and everyone else) how to measure the validity of a claim based on evidence. One of the most important aspects of doing so is understanding the convergence of evidence. Like in the picture, in real life some lines of evidence will not align perfectly on a single point. Because there are outliers, situations where mitigating factors lead to slightly different outcomes. But there is a convergence where most of the lines come together. That’s what it takes to form a trustworthy understanding of a subject. Looking at multiple lines of evidence and establishing the area of convergence is how you can have confidence that we’ve developed a persuasive understanding of any subject. You can’t pluck one line out of the bunch that you happen to like and form your beliefs on that single line. You also can’t pick the first line that shows up and form your conclusions until you can corroborate with other lines of evidence and find the convergence

For example

You can’t pick this one study about a single asymptomatic subject

One subject

And then ignore this study of eight asymptomatic subjects

Eight subjects

You have to find the convergence to draw a conclusion 

Scarsick

I was reading some reflections and rage posts from a hospitalist working in New York who came from out of state to work in the overtaxed NY healthcare systems. And the way he described his experience and how it’s changed his perspectives made realize that you can make a very stark compare & contrast with 9/11.

To work in the heart of this crisis, not just in New York but also places like Detroit, and then come back to the world to hear people downplaying or denying crisis feels the way it would’ve if the first responders to 9/11 came home to the news broadcasting a sizable and loud contingent of the population saying that 9/11 wasn’t really that bad. Or the death toll was being exaggerated. Or that the first responders themselves were bringing empty body bags out of the wreckage. It’s true that a myriad of conspiracy theories popped up afterwards but at least to my knowledge, none of the ones that caught on denied that the events actually took place or suggested that the first responders were somehow in on a scheme to stage the attacks.

Healthcare professionals right now are seeing the devastation of this virus all over the country and the world.

Healthcare workers that aren’t even directly involved and in harm’s way are seeing it play out, with direct knowledge of and evidence for the devastation.

I believe that we are in the process of creating lasting or even permanent hostility between a segment of the healthcare community & those who deny and/or downplay this crisis.

If this happens I think there’s a good chance it’s going to be a deep and ugly scar in the fabric of our society.

I think the spite is trickling out into the general population.

I think it’s the kind of division that will never fully heal.

On the origin of understanding

Aids HIV Virus

I’ve told this story to several people now (bless them for listening because it’s got to be more annoying in person than it’s about to be here)

Several years ago I wanted to understand AIDS

I mean, I knew it was caused by the retrovirus HIV, I knew it originated in Africa, and I had a basic understanding of its impact and legacy on the gay community

But I wanted to really understand it

So I set out to read as much as I could, to go into as much depth as possible. I got some books from the library. Others I purchased because they were so dense with excruciatingly complex details that it took multiple readings for any of it stick in my mind. I made use of MeLCat to get some more advanced books from Michigan colleges/universities

I was reading about basic virology

I was reading about the impact of colonial urbanization

I was reading about zoonotic disease

I was reading about epidemiology

I was reading about unsafe healthcare practices & developing technologies

I was reading about the politics of healthcare & sexuality in 1980s America

It was 3 months of reading. And in the end what I got from that 3 months is a very basic informed under of the AIDS pandemic. A scratch on the surface of understanding

To think that my understanding was even remotely close to expert is laughable. Learning what I did was valuable and I’m very glad I did it. But what it amounts to is having an informed understanding. Not an expert or specialist or professional understanding

I think there is a key in there to one of the dilemmas we see playing our around us

I invested a significant amount of time in trying to understand a topic. By the time I was finished not only did I trust the experts but had also developed a keen appreciation for how important they are

I had spent a few months. Those experts had spent years, decades in many cases 

Decades devoted to meticulously gathering as much information as possible to draw the most precise conclusions possible

I’m beginning to see that many of us don’t understand that time commitment. The time it takes to become well informed on any level is hours and hours beyond a single google search. And the density of the information itself is well beyond what’s even available for free on the internet

To be informed, you have to either make a long term time investment or trust someone else who has

Instead the ease at which we can reach out and pluck easy info from the internet has tricked our brains into thinking that the world and it’s machinations are simple; easy to discern with a little common sense

It’s a deadly assumption.

I highly recommend using MeLCat if you’re in Michigan and if you’re not, I recommend looking for and/or advocating for a similar program where you live. 

Storm

314AD3B9-FDB1-45DE-BF8E-22049992C37C

Right now people want simple answers to a complex problem which is a recipe for disinformation.

So instead, a simple, applicable analogy:

We can’t predict how many hurricanes will hit the US over the next 10 years. But we know that there are hurricanes. We know the places that have historically been impacted by them. We know the kinds of damage they cause. We even know the atypical complications they can produce that have surprised us in the past.

So even though we can’t predict them, we can prepare for them.

Simple.

The whole Law of Moses

A6CF6E6F-3AF6-4375-A5A7-7B282B1F3236

In seminary a professor asked us this: if every person who calls themselves Christian had lived out their beliefs would the subprime mortgage crisis have happened?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot

If those involved in the crisis at any level had stood firm and said no to immoral and unstable and predatory financial practices?

From financial institutions to credit agencies to regulators, and even the consumers themselves?

I think of it again now

And the Law of Moses

And the Law of Moses in summary being: love God and love neighbor

Loving God being an internationalization, between the individual and God only

Loving your neighbor being then the externalization, your faith put in practice

The financial crisis was a failure to externalize the faith professed from so many in our society of that internalized faith

In our current crisis I see the same

I see in the reactions of those around me the failure to love our neighbor as ourselves

To be a neighbor to the one bloodied and destitute on the side of the road, to show mercy

As a culture we do not value mercy

Matthew 22:34-40
Luke 10:25-37

 

Weddings

I’m at my cousin’s wedding

The majority of the time I’ve spent with my cousin over the years happened in Canada where we’d jump off cliffs into a lake

One thing that’s great about jumping off cliffs with your cousins and other family is the absence of fear

As you’re rushing towards the water you don’t feel the fear of pain & death

Because your family is there

You trust them to take care of you if anything goes wrong

You feel safe in a simple uncomplicated way

That’s what a marriage is

Or should be

A simple bond of safety & love as you jump again & again off the uncertain cliff that is life.

Dear Liberal Friends: this is why you should embrace religion

One acute thing that the last few years have demonstrated is the effectiveness of religious organizations.

Conservatives have proven that.

There are many ways you can look at religious groups and how they function but I’m going to focus on the socio-political function.

Religious organizations function like weekly meetings to form social strategy

Every week a group of people gets together to talk about how the world should be

Every week that group talks about what they can do as a group to make the world the way they want it to be

Every week that group talks about what each individual can do on their own to make the world the way they want it to be

And it’s not just about strategies

It’s also about reinforcing identity

Every week the group reaffirms their beliefs

Every week they expound upon the pervasive nature of their beliefs, how they should impact each individual

Every week they recommit to their common purpose

Not just once a week either

Many religious groups meet multiple times a week in different contexts

And I know a lot of liberal individuals who have their own social support system and peer groups

But this is not the same

This isn’t a meeting about hobby or leisure but purpose

Religious organizations are about investing in your identity over and over again

Perpetuating your beliefs not just as an individual but as a collective

Ingraining those beliefs so pervasively that they inform every decision and action you make

Coordinating and harmonizing your beliefs so that when the individuals in the group act, the group acts as one

And I know what comes next from a lot of people: yeah but I don’t want to shove my religious beliefs down someone else’s throat!

Don’t you though?

You believe in LGBTQ+ equality and representation, don’t you want people to know that? Don’t you want to advocate for it? Don’t you want to be a public voice for it? Isn’t it more than a personal belief you wish to keep to yourself?

Same for refugees and immigrants?

Same for ethnic minorities?

Same for reproductive rights?

Same for healthcare?

Same for science?

Same for education?

Same for housing?

It’s not enough to go to a march every few months. Make a commitment to pursuing these ideals with a like minded group weekly, hold each other responsible, push each other to engage.

That’s what conservative evangelicals have done. And it worked.

Another objection: but I’m not like them! I’m not part of some religious group that all believes the same thing!

I say: so what?! You think they all agree? You think the majority of them even understand the underlying justification for why they should believe what they’re told?

No. They’ve created a common identity and pursue the ideological call to action of that identity. Whether they agree on the justification for that identity or even understand it is irrelevant.

The identity, the community cohesion is what drives them and gets them results.

The habitual nature of the religious group is what reinforces the plan of action and makes it effective.

So many of you liberals that I see post day after day;

You know the way you want the world to be

But you don’t have a strategy to make it become that way.

You don’t meet week after week to create those strategies and enact them.

That is the social function of religion that you need.

And you can do it without all the garbage that comes with those old institutions

Create your own, based on your shared principles

You can’t do it alone

And if you can’t forge strong social strategies, those that can will predominate

FYI, didn’t have time for it here, but one of the biggest strength you could bring into an organized religious group would be completely rejecting all the failed leadership strategies from your ideological opponents and crafting new, evidence based strategies