Nick Jacobs | The challenge is to agree | columns

When I started writing as my passionate hobby, it was very different. My constant search for knowledge, academic credentials, and work experience was enough to give my written opinions a measure of acceptance. I had paid my proverbial dues.

If I then quoted a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and Professor of Harvard University, as Steven Pinker did in his book “Rationality,” it would have been an insurance of credibility that would have led to additional conclusions from my readers . But things have changed.

When I was teaching and lecturing, I often asked the students or business people I spoke to what color my tie was.

Although there were sometimes minimally nuanced suggestions as to the hue, it was generally accepted that if the tie was blue, it was blue. At this point, I would suggest that the only reason we called it blue was because as a civilization we had agreed that the name of this hue was actually blue. It was a generally accepted decision. Now even things like the color blue come into question.

As Pinker notes, “We have tended to use the powerful reasoning tools we have discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation, and causation, as optimal ways of updating beliefs and making decisions, individually and with others meeting.”

This tie is blue.

Then the lid fell off, and a significant percentage of us began to cling to error, prejudice, and illusion as sources of information. Although our world worked because “we discovered the laws of nature, extended and enriched our lives, and set the standards for rationality ourselves,” this alternative belief system prevailed.

That’s when professional liars and scammers began to take advantage of our prejudices, weaknesses, and delusions, hitting nerves that made sense to many. Their lies were surrounded by just enough truth, and that truth seemed so real that rationality went out the window.

In a recent SNL monologue, Dave Chappelle alluded to the debate about the soon-to-be 45th not succumbing to normal because he didn’t have to.

As Chappelle described it, the admission of this information by someone who had benefited so greatly from a rigged system was a truthful revelation never before released on the stage of a presidential debate.

The then-candidate went on to say, “If you want everyone to play by the same rules, change them.” Yes, our elected legislators had better pensions, better health insurance, and could invest in stocks they had inside information on.

Moreover, many of them had become wealthy from the same system that denied workers fair wages, opportunities to increase their wealth, and protection from prosecution that this protected class enjoyed.

The education system, the FBI, the CIA, and the judiciary have all been openly criticized, and this has provoked a series of aha moments from those who had been suspected in the past. But none of these significant weird rules changed, and the rich just got richer.

The challenge for us as a society now is to try and find ways to get us back together on the color blue. We all know that the system is often distorted, but to openly destroy, deny, or ignore it will leave us all in a state of unhinged chaos. We have work to do to correct these deficiencies.

Immediately after the election, I received a text message that read, “I’m on politics…it doesn’t matter who’s in charge. Just a slight wave of your hand while both parties are kidding us. I will continue.”

Let’s move forward together and work to fix what needs to be fixed.

Let’s agree on what really is red, white and blue and respect each other as we get back together.

Windber’s Nick Jacobs is a healthcare consultant and the author of Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare.

Windber’s Nick Jacobs is a healthcare consultant and the author of Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare.

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