Human beings may be social animals, but we must undergo a lot of training before we master the required skills. The rapidly fluxing change of expectations running through the passing flow of generations, plus the increasing intimacy of antagonistic cultures crowding together as our world grows smaller, makes us strangers to each other as our horizons widen until our focus becomes fixed on distant points.

Although essential to the social process, credibility suffers and trust wanes as the pool of people with whom we can feel truly intimate grows ever more shallow. Maybe most people will never notice this effect and will want to argue about it. Maybe they just haven’t lived long enough.

While fast approaching the ninth decade of my life, I’ve been privileged to notice and think about a lot of things. As an old man I won’t expect these words to glean much serious consideration, but, there are still people of high integrity who will read and understand, so I will go on.

Whether or not people agree with you, maintaining credibility demonstrates high integrity:

  • Your existence demonstrates verisimilitude—

    • Your reputation is impeccable. You pay your bills. People trust you. You don’t play games with their accounts when people owe you money, nor sell off their accounts to increase profits or lessen losses at others’ expense. You always give fair measure.

    • You can be called upon to show the truth. Evidence is your friend. Absence of evidence is reason enough for doubt and disbelief under the law and in life.

    • You feel no need to pressure people about their beliefs:

      • No need for defensive explanations. Apologia acts as a stand-in for reality for when something doesn’t make sense. You don’t hold still for apologetic reasoning; when something seems off, you look for the truth and evidence.

      • No need for name calling. You don’t see why well-behaved people are called heathens, infidels, heretics, pariahs, blasphemer, reprobate, profane, nor all the other put-down names used for those who believe differently. You see such tactics as intentionally divisive.

      • No need for personal attacks. You that name-calling and physical abuse are not the only forms of personal attacks, and that this column amounts to only a partial list.

      • No need for gas-lighting, an especially egregious form of common attack wherein one person attempts to gain control of another’s thinking by reducing self-confidence.

      • No need for Gish-Galloping. That motor-mouthing to stomp on an opponent’s response is unfair during debates seems irrelevant to practitioners of it does not mean they are as smart as they think. While it stays true that some people enjoy being fooled, and others will root for their favorite no matter what, people are getting wise. Such tactics are used to hide something. They may gain few new converts.

      • No need for back stabbing. The spectacle continues with attempts to poison people’s opinions against someone else. People of high integrity feel no need to tell anything but the truth about others; they suffer no spurring to sully reputations for their own advancement or any reason except to tell the truth.

      • No need for conflation. Where one word has multiple definitions, it is easy to slip from one meaning to another for the sake of winning an argument, by treating all the meanings as one and confounding an opponent. A person of high integrity regards cheating as a malicious form of personal attack to avoid.

      • No need for one-upsmanship. People of high integrity will see interpersonal discussions as a potential information resource. They will not see them as competitions, but as a chance to gain and impart ideas and knowledge.

      • No need for weekly belief-reinforcement. People of high integrity, those who value their personal trustworthiness, know that unsupported beliefs diminish over time and lose their importance. Reality supports reality, while fairy tales get abandoned in childhood if given no support.

      • No need for stress induced by a need to continue justifying indoctrinated errors against all of their challengers. As a person of high integrity, you want to know the truth and nothing less will do. You already know the only path to truth runs through evidence to keep you straight; that without real evidence you have only your emotions to guide you; following your emotions will lead to belief in anything that appeals to you, and that is not apt to be truthful.

So, Smartass, where do I find evidence, and how do I tell the real from the fake​?

To watch evidence at work, find a criminal court in session and spend a few hours (or days) watching the process. Anything relevant to science depends on evidence to gain approval and development funds. Reports in the magazines aimed at popularizing science seldom delve very deeply into the actual processes, but may provide “learn more” links or footnotes, as will science-related websites, that will lead you as far as you care to go into most topics.

In fewer words, evidence should be evident on the page; you shouldn’t need to search for it, but, since you are reading this online, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and a host of others are waiting with dangling tongues for you to click on them. Just choose a word of interest, click to highlight it, hold down [ctrl] while pressing [c] to copy it, get your browser running and paste it into the search bar. Click on the blinking cursor, hold down [shift] while pressing [ins] and then press [enter] after lifting your finger off the [ins] key. Don’t hold me responsible for whomever labeled the keys on your computer.

So, that leaves “How do I tell the real from the fake?

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.


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