In contrast, well thought-out solutions make the difference between simply living with our problems and actually fixing them. To cure an illness or heal an injury, we visit a doctor, not a mystic. To get out of a dead-end job, we seek training for the kind of job we want, not excuses for our status quo. To learn what the weather will likely be next weekend, we consult a meteorologist, not a fortune-teller. Reliable information costs time, effort, and money (our own or someone else’s), but the results eventually justify both the choice and the investment.
As to distinguishing what is true from what is not, there are many fact-checking venues, some more reputable than others. The most reliable ones base their concept of truth on the correspondence of ideas to reality. Others equate truth to correspondence to ideology; however, reliability varies inversely to how much the ideology deviates from reality. Moreover, it is now popular to accuse fact-checkers of dishonesty, though it is usually the accuser himself who is more detached from reality, thus multiplying his own embarrassment rather than reducing it.
It is in our own interest to be acquainted with the basics of any field in which we choose to intervene, and to choose our sources, not for their agreement with our beliefs, but for their consistent agreement with independently verifiable fact. This is why today’s prevailing pattern is that most (though admittedly not all) successful people rely on science instead of mysticism, history instead of mythology, results instead of tradition — preferences anyone desiring lasting success ought to emulate.
S. A. Joyce is one of our regular community contributors.