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Make the effort to be objective

Good old D. Webster defines objective as “pertaining to an external event quite independent of the observer’s emotions or imagination/ unbiased.” In today’s world, we are deluged with an incredible volume of slanted or incomplete information from the news media, both printed and electronic. Under these conditions, it is almost impossible to be objective.More importantly, our personal environment, which is made up of family, job and friends, really affects our biases. People who agree with those biases reinforce our conviction that we are right.Back in my college days, I began to realize that most of the college professors I studied under were out of touch with reality. This was puzzling to me until I realized that most of them had never been outside of academics. In fact you couldn’t be hired to teach a subject if you had real life experience. Obviously, I am generalizing and there are exceptions, especially in disciplines such as engineering, geology and agriculture.As an example, let me cite the professional path of a classmate of mine who was academically brilliant. He received his baccalaureate degree, then masters and then began working on his doctorate. While working on his doctorate, he acquired an assistant professorship, and upon obtaining his doctorate he became a full professor. He is still teaching to this day but never has, to my knowledge, driven a truck, pounded nails, operated heavy equipment or worked in retail or served in the military. Zero practical experience.An infamous CU professor is an example of the second stage. A professor often tends to create an image for himself that will ensure his popularity with the students. He may claim to be an Indian or something else to create that special image.In this process, the professor loses his objectivity and also his credibility, and he is the last one to realize it. This same process of immersion and image building occurs in all professions, not just the educational system. You can observe almost any professional group and make some fairly accurate generalizations about their political position, social skills and spirituality. How they dress, who they hang out with, the job they have, what they drive, how they talk and other observable indicators tell you volumes about their biases.So, is anybody out there really objective? I seriously doubt it. That does not, however, excuse us for not working at it if we are really determined to be good citizens, parents and professional people. I cannot recommend a specific process because each individual is molded by their parents, peers and environment. I can tell you however, that if you are opinionated, arrogant, bitter or defensive, you need to make a real effort to step back intellectually and emotionally and try to analyze life. Someone said that you are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are. Do you have an opinion about global warming? Have you studied both sides? Do you have an opinion about Islam? Have your read the Koran? Do you have an opinion about Christianity? Have you read the Bible? Do you have an opinion about the war with Iraq? I’ll bet you got it from the TV news.I love a quotation from Mark Twain. “If you don’t read the paper, you’re uninformed. If you do read the paper, you are misinformed.” How much more does that apply to watching television?The whole process of being objective is incredibly complex. We do have a responsibility to search for the truth and to vote wisely. The future of our nation hangs on wise and responsible citizens.Ross L. Talbott lives inNew Castle.


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