Citizens who can't, or won't, read. (And this post is long so they probably won't read it, either.)

TLDR: "too long didn't read"

That's a thing today, so much so that some web articles have a TLDR section that presents a kind of Clif Notes version so you don't have to read it all. 

We're all uninformed about something pertinent. We can't know everything. The Bible even says that with much knowledge comes much sorrow because now that you know, you're responsible for what you do.

So my expectation for myself and for others isn't to know everything. But I do have an expectation that there will be a certain level of effort when engaging with some new information.

There seem to be two kinds of people: those who are proud and unashamed they don't read to comprehend, and those who maybe aren't aware they don't read and comprehend.

Related are people who create an information bubble for themselves because they dismiss some sources at hand without reading them and so they will not accept any debate points that use a source they've decided is unacceptable. It's a curious path of chosen ignorance, particularly today when there are few broad information sources and most websites and even news media have a particular slant. You'd better be able to read other sources for full consideration and understanding of how people think.

So anyway, let's check how I wasted my life to get some screenshots for this blog post.

"I didn't read it and have no shame and will argue about what's in what I didn't read."

On the Social Sewer Network of Facebook, I had this fellow to interact with, regarding this post.

I told Stephen that the proof for my statement was in the article linked to, and it included screenshots and links to the actual source of the information I was using to make the claim.

Around the same time frame, this comment pops up for that post in my comment moderation queue for that post:

In about a week, there were 15K hits. A few people read it, I guess, and not just my mom.

Granted, I don't know if it's Stephen who maturely left that comment, but I'm pretty sure it is based on timing, what he says, and some other things he might not now are visible even if you have the courage to comment anonymously.

I laughed, and showed it to my friend, explaining the conversation.

"This guy is the stereotype. He's literally what people say and assume about voters from the opposing side."

Comments like these are a dime a dozen, especially if you've been blogging for 20 years.

Two things are troubling with the whole scenario.

First, this fellow is unable to distinguish opinion from presented factual information. While I'm not a fan of the news reporting we see today, I suspect it's become very easy to dismiss anything we don't want to read as opinion "fake news" or such. We must be able to distinguish opinion from someone saying "here is the proof that supports what I'm saying." Even if there is colorful opinion and writing around it, the data is still there.

Secondly, he is proud he wouldn't take the time to read a few thousand words. Why would you be proud you didn't read something that you've engaged in debate over? That's stupidity.

Does a fellow like Stephen, and those like him, require sound bites to make sense of their world? And from that, he will make decisions that will affect me? Right there is the terror in pure democracy, which is why a constitutional republic (or representative democracy) like we allegedly have here in the U.S. has some real value.

In a pure democracy, laws are made directly by the voting majority leaving the rights of the minority largely unprotected. In a republic, laws are made by representatives chosen the people and must comply with a constitution that specifically protects the rights of the minority from the will of the majority.

We have people who won't read and consider. They can technically read the words, but they do not read in a way that leads to comprehension. Or even consideration. This perhaps comes from people leaving school unable to read and comprehend what they've read, or not having been taught the value of reading something for yourself. I don't know.

Stephen isn't the only one, by the way:

This guy's comment was a response to another person's article (which was actually pretty good and made some logical data-fed points). I'm starting to really tire of people who provide their opinion but refuse to read the thing they're making an opinion about. So I thought I'd prod him to be more specific. It's easy to say something sucks, but a little trickier to be more specific.

For someone like these two guys, all I can ask is that you'd please learn to read longform, learn to comprehend, and practice not needing an "expert" to interpret non-industry specific information for you and explain it to you. 

"I won't read it because of the source and also here are some non-sequiturs, GIFS, and emojis."

So this happened. It's long, it's pointless, it's mind-boggling, so brace yourself.

First, there was this post below. I thought it was interesting. As you can see, a page called "Point Of View" shared screenshots from ND Dept. of Health / Joint Information Center  / Office of the Governor sources. Not to belabor the obvious (but you'll see why I have to in a minute), the graphics and data being shared are made by or based in NDDOH sources.

I haven't been on the NDDOH Facebook page for months because it's basically Pravda. However, I thought I'd pop in and see the daily Doom and Gloom fear tally. In the comments, I simply shared the numbers from the POV post. No other context. Just the numbers as follows:

"According to your own stats:

Flu Mortality Rate in ND in 2019 - 3.55%
12,000 cases/426 deaths

COVID Mortality Rate in ND in 2020 - 1.15%
22,218 COVID cases/256 deaths"

Apparently that's like racy bodice-ripping literature to some, because all of last night (and I guess still this morning according to my notifications) there were responses from the same three people.

You could make a drinking game out of all the times Ms. Kathryn used the word "science."

Apparently, if you use "science" for every other word, you're really sciencing. How much science could a non-scientist science if a scientist could science science? Did you know that when you share the numbers provided by the state health department without making any scientific claims but simply sharing tallies and rates, you have to have scientific proof? Of the numbers? Maybe some kind of double blind study on how to calculate percentages? Or something?

It's like saying "this car is red" and someone coming back with "where's your scientific proof?"

But of course, it's Facebook, so it goes on:

So I shared the link to the source of my numbers so she could see the data for herself.

"No that tells me absolutely nothing. You're showing me Covid deaths, not flu deaths as you claim from 2019," Ms. Kathryn informs me, before eventually winning the debate with a scientific animated GIF of an actress shrugging.

I beg to differ:

And then it devolves into an argument about POV, the source of the graphic, and all kinds of other stuff. It was like watching food chunks go down the toilet after a good vomit. That dessert was so good when I ate it. How did it end up like this?

Remember, my original post was numbers.

Then there were some national numbers, discussion going elsewhere, a comment that masks shouldn't cover your eyes, the word "science" and "facts" used to great extent and apparently unironically, then some emoticons of hand gestures, and then something about me getting my facts from a dictator.

Well, to be fair, the NDDOH is sort of a puppet of a sketchy governor, so with the numbers coming form the NDDOH, that might be accurate.

Ms. Kathryn then asks if I agree that 34,000 people died of the flu in the U.S. last year. 

Well, not that it has anything to do with the North Dakota-specific data I posted, but no, not exactly. According to the CDC (along with another chart here):

During the 2019-2020 influenza season, CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths. The influenza burden was higher in young children (0-4 years) and adults (18-49 years) compared with a recent season with the 2017-2018 season, a recent season with high severity, and provides evidence to support how severe seasonal influenza can be at any age.

But see what I did there? I was able to go look for a source and find it. I didn't demand she provide me with a source she found acceptable. I went to look myself. No word on if she's up on the flu deaths from 2009's H1N1 outbreak, which impacted a very young demographic and had a very different government response.

Then some fellow named Tim hops in and questions the validity of doing division to determine a rate since 2019 flu season is over (correct) and the Big Rona outbreak is not (correct). I fail to see his point, since a) the CDC, the WHO, and pretty much everyone has been calculating fatality and infection rates throughout the pandemic and outbreak, knowing it will continually vary as time goes on and more data comes in, and b) we're making significantly disruptive and detrimental medieval public policy regarding this virus based on other still-fluctuating data and seeing some comparative perspective is useful (more on this later).

With Tim's argument in mind, I can see that the rate calculation is not a perfect comparison, but it is an interesting one. But that's his point, it seems, that it's not a fair comparison. 

He's also at odds with the NDDOH including pneumonia with the flu.

Well, he accuses me of doing that, actually, but I again reiterate that THE NUMBERS WERE FROM THE NDDOH and not me. That becomes a running theme: the numbers are false or I was fudging them a bit. I literally took the numbers the NDDOH provided, and showed how I calculated the rate (which POV had also done, but I had checked their numbers to make sure because, you know, I didn't want to share false numbers).

2019 Flu Data in ND per NDDOH / NDJIC
12,000 cases
426 deaths from flu/pneumonia

426 is what percent of 12000?
426 = n (.01)(12000)
426 = 120n
426/120 = 3.55

2020 SARS-COV2 Data per NDDOH
22,218 cases
256 deaths from (with?) 

256 is what percent of 22218?
256 = n (.01)(22218)
256 = 222.18n
256/222.18 = 1.1522189

I simply put NDDOH's own numbers in the comments of their own post, numbers from a post they were using to persuade people to get the flu shot. They packaged them together, so I shared it as such. If the associated pneumonia deaths with the flu, take it up with them. Why this became a thing about me faking, fudging, or whatevering the numbers, I don't know. I assume they are so prepped to attack anyone who mentions the flu that the red mist comes over them and they attack.

I did point out to Tim that right now, we don't know who died purely from SARS-COV2 and who died from other things (like pneumonia, which some have died from) because part of the issue we have right now is how the deaths are categorized and attributed. The best we have is whether someone died with it or from it. So in the same way that the numbers aren't as accurate as last year's flu, our specific attributable deaths are in the same boat. The whole death count and COD is it's own interesting discussion. In talking with people in the medical community and some in the LE community, there are very interesting stories from here in Bismarck in which the COD was attributed to SARS-COV2 and it was anything but.

And also, I ended it with Ms. Kathryn. After she spent some time calling me stupid, I rejected her offer to offer up prayers for me. With her thought process, who knows what she'll accidentally pray. Probably not my finest moment there, but really, did I just get a "thoughts and prayers" after that much nonsense? Good grief. 

This actually went on for some time after this screenshot, with Ms. Kathryn passing the clever debate baton of "you got that from POV page and therefore it is null and void" to a fellow named Larry who eventually appealed to authority in his argument with me that his wife was an administrator (of the NDDOH Facebook page? Of me? Of Big Rona? Who knows.).

I tell you, in an age where authority figures are churning out propganda and taking a dump on the Constitution as fast as the CARES Act money will let them, an appeal to authority really hits all the right notes for me. Tell me more of what the authority figures would have me do and think!!! 

Obviously, that was an unbillable waste of my life which is why I regret checking the daily doom count churned out by the sycophants at the NDDOH social media department. The comments sections there are always a collection of "not today" if ever there was such a place.

How is it that a simple post of numbers provided by the state department on whose page I shared them would lead to all of that? Was it because of tricky contextual devices I wove into my original comment? 

If someone had posted the numbers and I, in reading them, felt a reaction and need to respond, my questions would have been an attempt to figure out why they were shared, since there was no context:

  1. What do you mean by posting that? (A: Perspective)
  2. Do you think the flu is the same as Big Rona? (A: No. I've made that clear in my writing.)
  3. Do you think the numbers will still be similar when it's all said and done? (A. I don't know)
  4. What perspective are you wanting people to see? (A: That the response and reaction is disproportionate and worth re-evaluating considering what we've come to accept as normal for the seasonal flu.)

My friend and I were talking about some news report which had announced some Big Scary Numbers!

"Well, what's normal?" I asked. It doesn't help to hear the current number for people in an ICU or obituaries in a city paper or whatever else if I don't know what the baseline is.

What is a normal death rate for people age 80+? How many people are normally in the hospital? How many die each year when there isn't a pandemic? How many suicides happen each year? How many people with obesity and diabetes and other conditions die from the flu? From those conditions? How many people normally die from the flu and what demographic are they?

"This year, 600,000 people have died from heart disease! And another 600,000 from cancer! Almost 200,000 have died from accidents! This is an epidemic!"

That's pretty scary, except apparently, according to the CDC, that's our nation's "normal." Without comparison for context of normality, random numbers don't mean anything. And with SARS-COV2 deaths being a murky mess right now as to what was truly caused by it and what was caused by something else, we should put up some comparisons.

If some authority whips out a number, you have to ask what's normal so you know if it's really that shocking or not. We'd probably be more shocked at what's normal. My goal in posting those numbers was to show that we've grown "comfortable" with a certain number of seasonal deaths, and come to see them as normal in a sense, and so our response has been peculiar with SARS-COV2 by this point when we know a lot more information than we did at the start.

But you know, science and facts from a dictator and so forth. I was actually taken aback by the weird, winding, nonsensical response, particularly from Ms. Kathryn. I shared her responses on my own page just to make sure I wasn't the only one finding them bizarre and without a logical train of thought. (Yes, people agreed, it was strange.) "I could have better conversation if I talked to the flowers in my garden," I said to them.

There was a blatant refusal to look at the information because of the source. Ms. Kathryn (and later, Larry, whose wife was the vague administrator of something) literally refused to look and wouldn't consider it as real unless I provided another source. Since I couldn't post graphics in the comments section of the NDDOH page, I couldn't post the actual NDDOH graphic with the data.

"That's from the Federalist, a conservative rag!" or "That's from Reuters, which is fake news!" I've heard repeatedly this year. Would you just read it first, before deciding to negate it?

People who can't or won't read, calling you stupid. That's where we're at. That's our public discourse.

That's not utopia up ahead, but chaos.

We are not moving towards uptopian civilization, but chaos.

Ever see the movie Idiocracy?

That movie is ridiculous, but the scary thing is that it's like a 10X version of where we are. It's an extreme exaggeration of the qualities we have now on so many levels. It's a horrible movie and ridiculous farce but as you're watching it you get a sinking feeling because you recognize the pattern.

"The government told me to water my fields with a kind of Gatorade, so that's what I'll do even though I can't get any crops to grow anymore," we see in the movie as an over-the-top example. Completely ridiculous, it? We also see people doing what the government tells them to do now, whether there's specific proof it does good and unwilling to think it might do bad. They won't even hear your suggestion to reconsider, and put out their hand and snub their nose at your source of verifiable data.

When you don't think from yourself and you create an information bubble, you start racking up points for your citizenship in the Idiocracy.

This is problematic. Seriously so.

It goes far beyond one singular election or the current outbreak (yes, it's not a pandemic anymore).

People don't read longform content. They won't read anything outside of what they willingly accept. They don't know the Constitution. They don't seem to think about what they've read in terms of identifying what is opinion and what isn't. They don't even know how to read, within an opinion piece, what parts are the factual references that the writer uses to show the reader how the opinion was arrived at.

I don't think I'm a genius, but I at least have a sense of curiosity when hearing someone telling me something I didn't know or don't really agree with that makes me want to go read to see if that's correct. Is there no intellectual curiosity anymore?

This year, after tellling myself to read and consider a point of view I had not previously held to and wasn't too interested in delving into, and even attending an event to listen to some speakers present the alternate information, I changed my mind and opinion on a particular topic. Can we not still do that? Can we not consider an alternate view point seriously? 

Apparently no.

I don't want to be awful, but if this is our voting future, we're doomed. We are absolutely doomed. 

Ms. Kathryn is also voting, you guys. She has all the feelz and has the talking points memo, but that's it.

Even people who read and think and consider what the decisions are can't be perfectly informed on every candidate that shows up on their ballot. I can't imagine how people like the examples in this post fare with their ballot if they have a mind that instead of being curious and wanting to be sure their opinion is based in solid consideration, instead spends time building a list of sources they won't read.

If you made it to the bottom of this long post, congrats.

Many words and long sentences are today's Everyman Everest.


  1. Of course I made it to the bottom of this long post. Congratulations are appreciated, but misplaced. The post's length was equivalent to my having enjoyed not just a slice of blueberry pie, but the whole pie. Gluttony, maybe, but not virtue.

    The post to which "unknown" objected because of its length: I didn't comment, but I certainly read it all. Had I not, I wouldn't now be aware of FollowThe, a useful site which I found to be quite interesting on the finances of Indiana politicians, including "my" congressman, who turns out to belong to General Dynamics, really. Belated thanks for that.

    Yes, I've seen "Idiocracy." I would quibble only with your estimate that we're not there yet by a full order of magnitude (10X). From here, it looks more like 3X to 4X.

    And yes, Ms. Kathryn votes, which is among the reasons I don't. My consent is withdrawn.


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