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November 18, 2006

Accuracy, Part IV

The four steps to accuracy:

  1. Admit you may be wrong
  2. See what is not fully explained, incomplete, or doesn't make sense
  3. Research the material
  4. Be crystal clear
If you don't admit the mere possibility of being wrong, you will inevitably fall victim to lies, distortions, and manipulations. (Many people would be shocked how often this happens.) To avoid this, you must do these things:

  1. Do not accept the first thing you are told or see.

    This leads to huge downfalls for two simple reasons: people lie and people assume. What you think may be right may be a lie or wrong assumption. Or worse, they believe it and don't know the person who told them lied or assumed.

    People lie.

    It's not always easy to tell a lie. The best lies are disguised in truth: leaving out a word, using a certain synonym, emphasizing just the right phrase--they're all designed to mislead.

    Take the following two statements:

    • The sun is shining outside.
    • It's partly cloudy, but the sun's out right now.

    Both have the same connotation: Sunlight is directly hitting the ground immediately outside the building. But in the first example, any cloud cover is left out.

    It gets more diabolical:

    • She wears a necklace of a goat's head.

    Someone was actually fired over this. Why? Because all the Big Brass knew is that this person wore a goat's head to work. (The woman in question was a proud Capricorn.)

    People assume.

    In the above example with sunlight, it's assumed there are no clouds. What if I switch of your electric provider and go to solar cells? I'm on the computer, clouds pass overhead, and I'm cursing a blue streak because my computer just rebooted before I could save.

    Remember the old agage about what you make when you assume something.

  2. Ask questions and clarify

    You should get any information relevant. Are there any clouds? Why did my employee wear a goat's head? Get all the information you can.

  3. Know who you're dealing with.

    A professional is more likely to know what they're talking about than a close friend. Best example: Do you click the arrows on the scroll bar? Over and over again? Endlessly? Well, that's a close friend talking. That's only used to move pictures on screen when they're broken up by the top or bottom of the window. Use the PgUp, PgDn, Home and End keys to navigate, instead. Even better, click and hold the location marker on the scroll bar and move it up or down (or across).

    Then again, there are trade secrets, and professionals won't give you a clue as to what they are. If you hit on one of these, you'll get a good answer, just less effective.

  4. Don't argue

    There are two reasons why people argue.

    • Denial

      Denial is refusal to accept anything that goes against what you believe. It's simply when you think you know instead of realizing it's a belief.

      Knowledge occurs when you have final proof: An original document, an original photograph, an ancient stone carving. The key is that you cannot go back any further to find any additional information. (I'll go into this in Part VI.) The exact wording or image is indisputable, though interpretation may be questionable. This, however, can usually be settled through gaining more information.

      If you can't provide sufficient proof that what you say is true, it is a belief. More often than not, belief is based on interpretation, which can easily be the result of not having enough facts. To avoid false beliefs, you must do all of the above: do not accept the first thing you are told or see, do not assume, ask questions and clarify, and know who you're dealing with.

      Denial means you're putting your belief before knowledge. A great example occurred to a friend of mine. The issue was what language Jesus spoke. It quickly developed into an argument when he shouted, "My Bible is written in English, so Jesus spoke English!"

      English did not even develop until the third century and developed from the languages of neighbors Norway and France and from Latin, because Rome occupied the British Isles. In fact, English wasn't even the same in the early years of the language as it is today. For example, although the spelling of "knife" has remained the same since the Middle Ages, it was pronounced "k-NIF-uh". More extreme, the word "céap", pronounced "seep", became our word "cheap".

      Further, many insist that Aramaic was spoken in the area during the time of Jesus--which also fails. Whether or not Jesus was real, the truth is that the land was occupied since 165BC, when the Greeks took over. They ruled until 63BC, when Rome conquered. Assume Jesus' birth occured in 3BC, as the Church will tell you. After eight generations, what kind of chance did Aramaic have to survive in Judah-Israel? Just look at how fast children of Hispanic immigrants adapt to the English language, even though the U.S. has no official language and you'll start to understand the impact of outside forces on language.

      (You know, I really should do a blog on that sometime, but no promises.)

      How did that belief happen? This is my theory: The Roman Diocese (later the Roman Catholic Church) sought answers, so they used what information they had to produce those answers. Further, they had issues with Greece because of the years of conflict between the two nations. Because Rome took Judea-Isreal from Greece, they refused to give the Greeks any additional confidence by allowing them to believe they never held the area.

      The problem, however, is Acts 21:40, where Paul spoke to the crowd in Aramaic. There are two answers, neither of which I've ever seen anything about: either the reference to Aramaic here (and two more times) were added later, or it was a case of speaking in tongues.

      See how this theory fits into everything discussed so far?

      And I emphasize, this is a theory.

    • The other person is in denial. This is difficult to work with, and I'll leave it up to more experienced people to explain.
That's it until next time, when I go into examining the issue. I have a few personal stories, and I may break it up into subparts.

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