THE CIRCLE AND THE DOT
“Grandpa, why do some people act as if they know everything?”
“That’s a good question Johnny. Why do you ask?”
“Well Grandpa, when we went to the store the other day, I heard a group of people in the parking lot all talking about the virus outbreak. I think they called it Corona. One person said it came from an animal. Another said it escaped from a lab. A third heard from a friend that it came from a beer! Then there were two others. One said this virus was just like other viruses that we have had in the past and that it too shall pass. The last person was the loudest and said it was definitely very different than any other virus and much more deadly. In fact, he felt he was right because almost all the news shows seemed to promote that too. Therefore, most others believed that to be the case as well. After all we’ve been sheltered in our homes for three months now until.….well who knows.”
“Well Johnny you are quite observant. As you have noticed, people have many differences in their opinions. But opinions are just that, what someone feels about something. That is different from facts. Facts can be obtained from actual pieces of information or data that are true and can be actually verified not just based on somebody’s opinion. In the case of this virus it has been difficult for people to get more facts than opinions. This creates a lot of confusion and can lead to wrong conclusions.
Valid conclusions can be drawn from information or data as long as the data is factual. Facts are obtained by asking questions. For example, if someone died, was it due to the virus alone or did the person have another sickness before being infected? Which was the actual cause of the death? What age group mostly got the virus? How was the virus spread? Did everyone that got the virus show symptoms? If not, did they die anyway? How many that got the virus actually died? How did those statistics compare with any other virus or flu? What was the percentage of death to cases in high population areas versus low population areas? Why must all areas shelter versus just high concentration areas?’”
“Boy Grandpa, you ask a lot of questions. Why so many questions?”
“Johnny that is a good question in and of itself and I am glad you asked. Remember what I said about facts. Questions help one to gather facts. It’s good to get as many facts as possible because they can result in better conclusions and thereby provide better answers to the problems we try to solve. If we just rely on opinions or people’s feelings, we can go down a road of unintended bad consequences. Fear is one of those feelings or consequences that cause people to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. With this virus people have been told to “fight” it by sheltering themselves in their homes. We have not fought other viruses this way so why is this one different? The facts (data) suggest that the deaths as a percentage of cases is the same or less than other viruses or the flu. What other facts are there causing us to behave differently this time? Why are people more afraid this time versus any other?”
“So Grandpa, it sounds like there is always more data or facts that could be obtained and therefore give better conclusions if we ask more informative questions?”
“Johnny you are a good student and learn quickly. Some people might say, ‘you have common sense.’ But again, by asking good questions, more information becomes available to analyze. This in turn helps us to solve problems or simply gives us a better more informed point of view on a subject. That kind of gets us full circle to your original question you asked. Remember, you asked, ‘Why do some people act as if they know everything?’ Well, there are some very smart individuals in the world, but nobody knows everything! God is the only one that holds that title!! So, if we can say that nobody knows everything, that must mean there is always something new to learn or discover. That’s why it’s important to keep learning no matter how old you are.
To help you remember to keep that thought in mind, think about this simple illustration. You can draw this on a piece of paper if you wish or just imagine it in your mind’s eye. Picture a round circle approximately six inches to a foot in diameter. Now take a pencil and put a dot in the middle of the circle. The dot represents what any individual knows. The blank space around the dot inside the circle is all of the information that exists in the world. The picture illustrates that there is a whole lot more that we don’t know than that which we do know. Even in science, nothing is “settled”! There are always new things being discovered that tell us more than we knew before. That’s why it’s important to continue to get the facts, keep learning and don’t ever get the attitude that you know it all!”
“Thanks Grandpa. Good talk.”