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Pitts: Facts no longer weapons in the debate wars

February 23, 2010

Today’s column by Leonard Pitts echoes the despairing reality that facts no longer have the power they once did in the debates of today, when opinions remain steadfast in the face of facts that apparently refute them.

Syndicated newspaper columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. gestures as he speaks Thursday to an overflow crowd in the Taylor Lecture Hall on the campus of Brescia University in 2006 for a lecture sponsored by the Owensboro Area World Affairs Council.

Pitts wrote about a response he received to a recent column in which he noted the World War I heroics of a black solider. A reader wrote him to tell him that the story was just “PC bull” since, he claimed, black men weren’t allowed into combat until 1947. Despite being presented with evidence to the contrary, the man remained unmoved.

From Pitts’ column

To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper’s online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe.

It’s a frustrating reality that Pitts describes, and unfortunately one that’s not far off at times. For the sake of public discourse, let’s hope that the diversity and number of ways people can obtain information these days doesn’t continue to leave people further apart, but hopefully still able to engage in debate and find common ground.

Any thoughts about the state of public discourse in Owensboro, Kentucky or the country today?

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