CSotD: … and when did we not know it?


There’s a raft of stupid out there, as noted in today’s Mt. Pleasant (Tribune) and, yes, the only thing more annoying than unmitigated nonsense is people who feel superior for believing it.

Appropriately, there’s a new study out that shows that the people who pride themselves on being able to spot fake news are the most likely to believe and share fake news.

I say “appropriately” because we didn’t need a new study: The Dunning-Kruger Effect was published in 1999, which, for the benefit of those who think they excel at math, was 22 years ago.

The study was called “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”


Part of the issue is the innocent persistence of medieval belief systems, as demonstrated in this Gary Varvel (Creators) commentary on coronavirus research.

There persists a pre-Enlightenment view of science that goes back to the practice of manipulating data to prove what you already believe rather than starting at scratch and seeing where developing facts lead you.

If you follow modern Scientific Method, you’re apt to come up with new information that will cause you to update your stated theories.

It’s not “flip-flopping” any more than opening the door, noticing the gathering clouds, and deciding to pause and grab an umbrella is “flip-flopping.”

As noted by Paresh Nath (CartoonArts), we’re still trying to figure out the source of the coronavirus, not because of “bad science” but because China has been stonewalling investigators, which offers a nice “Great Wall” metaphor but should come as a surprise to nobody.

A lack of candor on the part of the Chinese government hardly counts as “new information,” and if you stop trusting them now, that surely constitutes flip-flopping.



New information can cause people to change their quasi-political opinions, and that isn’t “flip-flopping” either.

This Pia Guerra cartoon is a bit unclear on her response to Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open; it could have been drawn either when she refused to meet with the press, or when she withdrew, confessing that she has some serious depression issues to deal with.


But Martina Navratilova was absolutely clear: She had criticized Osaka on the Tennis Channel for failing to fulfill her contractual obligation to meet with the press, but, after learning of the reason and with Osaka’s honest (and expensive) withdrawal from the tournament, she became a firm supporter of the young woman.

That’s not flip-flopping. That’s “learning more,” and responding like a decent human being.

If you don’t learn new things on a regular basis and respond appropriately, you’re wasting your life.

But it does open the question of things you’re supposed to already know, which brings us to this


Canadian Juxtaposition of the Day

(Graeme MacKay)


(Michael de Adder)

The discovery of unmarked graves at the former site of a residential school in Kamloops, BC, has sent Canada into paroxysms of shock and horror, which is an appropriate response, except that we already knew about this.

Obviously, First Nations people have known for more than a century about the appalling practice of forcing native children to leave home and attend schools where their hair would be cut off, their traditional clothes burned and their languages forbidden, amid an atmosphere of physical violence and frequent sexual assault.

The rest of us, I think, first learned of it when revelations of abuse at the Mt. Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland, more than 30 years ago, cascaded into similar stories of abuse of orphan/slaves in Quebec orphanages and then of the horrors of the residential schools First Nation children were forced to attend, including, in at least the latter case, unexplained, unannounced deaths as part of the toll.

The popular, award-winning classic CBC series, “North of 60” confronted the story in 1993, with one of the main characters in that native community confronting an abusive teacher, as well as arguing with her older brother, who had survived their school with less trauma.

And Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to First Nations people for the abuses in 2008.

I’ve no objection to bringing it up again, particularly since the system persisted nearly to the end of the 20th Century and many of those children and their parents are still around and still scarred.

That Globe & Mail article uses the term “renewed.” Fair enough.

But I object to anyone who is surprised.


Which brings us to this front page of the Tulsa World, June 1, 1921, which has been all over the Internet as evidence of how “the media” covered the destruction of Tulsa’s Greenwood district that weekend.

Bullshit. Cherry-picking one rightwing newspaper and declaring it typical is a case of intentional malpractice.

A look through the newspapers of the day show universal revulsion for the riots. Granted, the coverage was from the “default” setting of the times, in which minorities were seen as “other” and the audience was assumed to be white.

But this cartoon appeared in the Akron Beacon two days later, contrasting “Civilization” with the destruction in Tulsa. Newspapers around the country also ran editorials condemning the riots, the looting, the burning and the murders.

It’s unfair to play up one newspaper’s overt racism as indicative of the overall response, though you can certainly express outrage over how quickly public attention turned to other matters.

But even then, a look at history shows that there was continuing outrage, if not at Tulsa itself, at lynchings and other racist violence.

Well before Tulsa, and nearly half a century before the Civil Rights Bill, Congress attempted to pass an Anti-Lynching bill based on the 14th Amendment.

It failed, but before the America Firsters pass laws dictating how we should teach the history of race in this country, maybe we should all study the history we already have.

For instance, here’s a bit of history I wish someone would dig into:

There’s a strong indicator that Black veterans returning from France didn’t shuffle and scrape so well anymore, inciting a surge of violent fury from their white oppressors.

One Black GI explained this new information:

A funny encounter, but one helluva revelation and awakening for young men from the land of Jim Crow.

Leading to some more history you’re supposed to already know:


4 thoughts on “CSotD: … and when did we not know it?

  1. In re 6/1/1921 Tulsa World front page: It is worth noting that the World went on to publish three “Extra” editions that day as accounts of the massacre continued to come in. (Although that third edition could only account for “about” 15 deaths of Black citizens, a lower headline reported that “List of Dead Mounts.”)

  2. Obviously Chip Bok was not the cartoonist for the Akron Beacon at that time or it would have been a much different “cartoon.”

  3. Paul, I felt there was a disconnect between whoever put together that first edition and whoever did the Extras. Not untypical of a newsroom in a pressure moment, but perhaps you have to have been there.

  4. please parse/ explain the”queenspark midnight” cartoon in 14 june 2021 globe and mail.

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