The benefits of my strange experience are mostly gone, but I still have a little of that confidence it gave me.

Now, on to the news.

I’ve been reading more of the news lately — mostly BBC and ScienceDaily.  The latter helps me come up with new, interesting ideas, in addition to being a fun site to read.  The former helps me keep up with current events, which I had been turtling myself away from.

As I got back into reading the news, I was immediately confronted with the reason I stopped reading it to begin with.  Many stories are on recent, developing situations with much of the information missing, meaning that it would be pointless to form an opinion on them.

And yet, most people do, forming opinions from their own life experience.  One example (and I hate to use this, since I tend to stay away from celebrity stories) is Oprah’s accusation of racism in Switzerland.

Was it or wasn’t it?  Some say it’s racism while others say it’s snobbery.  The information that I would need in order to form an informed opinion simply isn’t present.  However, people (myself included) form opinions on such incidents based on their own life experience rather than the facts of the situation in specific (which, even after they all come out, can be interpreted either way).  In the end, there is an objective truth about what really happened, but all we can do is guess what that truth is based on our own experiences.  When it comes down to it, unless one is a practiced people-reader, it is difficult if not impossible to rule on the situation objectively, and the sheer volume of misinformation at the start of many high-profile cases skew opinions in one direction or another based on that first impression, sometimes prompting people to action over the internet.  An excellent example of such were the rumors that were reported as fact following the Boston bombings earlier in the year.

Perhaps a wider variety of life experiences and meaningful encounters with others brings one closer and closer to the truth?  If so, then I’m definitely not one who should express an opinion on this.

Of course, I could just read the news without forming an opinion, right?  Nope.  Part of the fun of reading the news, I believe, is forming that opinion of the events and/or opinions contained within.  It strengthens or weakens our mental predispositions, giving us a high of experiencing strong emotion in a context divorced from our everyday lives, kind of like a good book or movie.  To judge the situation is an automatic response, and even if one suppresses it consciously, it takes strong mental discipline to walk away without forming any opinion at all — stronger mental discipline than I have, for sure.  I don’t doubt there are those out there who can do this, as I’ve seen that a great many interesting things are made possible by the brain.

In the end, I decided it was fine to read these things despite my automatic judgments.  It is, after all, part of being human.  Or at least I think it is.

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