February 29, 2024

ALERT! Clarity under siege!

First, I suppose, I need to place a working definition of clarity on the table.

I see “clarity” as unadulterated data, information received by one of our six senses without interference or modification of any kind. I perceive that actual clarity can only exist in first-hand experience. I saw what I saw… unfiltered, unevaluated. Goes for the other five senses as well.

On the front page of this e-zine is an explanation I penned several years ago, to wit:

Clarity exists when one can observe a situation for what it is, not what they might subjectively interpret or judge it to be. It’s not a pretty or ugly blue shirt, it’s a blue shirt. It’s not right or wrong, it happened. The putt didn’t go too far or too short, it went 7 feet and 3 inches—neither bad nor good. A complete absence of judgment.

Clarity has no regard for expectations. Hence, there are no unmet expectations. Frustration (and the associated emotional energy drain) is eliminated.

Many dictionaries, from my research and perspective, seem to skirt around—and be quite unclear about—the word clarity!:

(From merriam-webster.com, January 1, 2024):

clar·i·ty
: the quality of being clear: such as

a: the quality of being easily understood…

b: the state of having a full, detailed, and orderly mental grasp of something…

c: the quality of being easily seen or heard….

According to Merriam-Webster, I can exude perfect clarity by using small words, give extremely detailed accounts, and do it loudly!

But what if the information is constructed from an individual’s poor memory or listening skills or misplaced trust or lack of accuracy (e.g., they believed a rumor or were not present when something occurred or they garnered their data from a secondary source). Maybe it’s a biased interpretation due to an extreme perspective/background (e.g., MAGA Republican or antisemite Muslim). Perhaps it’s a deliberate and purposeful alteration of the data that suits the constructor’s agenda (e.g., from a U.S. president who is ‘above the law’ he is sworn to protect or one who blindly professes the innocence of his offspring).

The information we take in on a daily basis is so far from clear, I can’t imagine why any of us would form an opinion at all unless we are there when the data is produced. We don’t stand a chance of getting much unfiltered data.

History books are written by the victors.

Medical research is funded by companies who profit from the outcomes.

Politicians lie. Flat. Out. Lie.

MSNBC pushes the narrative to the left while FOX pushes it to the right.

Statues related to the stories of our past are removed to blur that very past.

And even I am occasionally fooled by my confirmation bias because I WANT that narrative to be just so (e.g., MY truth).

What can I do to promote clarity? (Not the dictionary version, I mean the HDClarity version.)

I can admit that my truth (the data I believe to be accurate, almost certainly with no first-person observation) is most likely flawed. If I can comfortably live with that doubt, then I am open for other interpretations. I understand that if I end up going toe-to-toe with the new data, and defending my truth, that I am joining the assault on clarity.

The history of humanity is fraught with agendized data being fed by various publics.

The North Korean government (I currently believe) feeds its population what it wants it to take as gospel and isolates that population from everything else so each and every citizen carries the same truth. (This is nothing new.)

It is well documented that Benjamin Franklin, while in Paris representing our fledgling country, engaged in the publication of unquestioned news about how the rag-tag revolutionary army was soundly kicking the King’s well-trained and well-equipped colonial expansionists. Eventually the British Crown and the aristocracy that supported it tired of appearing to be losers and support waned. Hmmmmmm.

For the past 20 years or so, the traditional information sources like newspapers, TV, and radio journalists (where’s Walter Cronkite when you need him?!), etc. have been overrun by social media. Now anybody can claim anything as accurate. That way anybody subject to a confirmation bias can jump on board and spread the good news! Exponentially!

So it’s 2024! Throw artificial intelligence into the mix! Now I can look at a person whose data I have found to be accurate in the past on my TV or computer. I can hear her voice and take her words as accurate! Or can I?

AI can take any individual’s image, manipulate the movements to match the identical artificially produced voice, and present it to us as reality. It can appear as if I was actually there, listening to this heretofore trustworthy source share information and adopt it as my truth, right? Alternatively, I could become a Zen monk on a mountainside in Tibet with no data besides what I see and hear.

But the world I live in makes my current understanding of my existence, safety, and well-being rely on me formulating truths from the best secondary sources I can find and committing them to my Knower/Judger for future use. I can allow myself to doubt these sources and their proclamations in order to continuously seek reality… accuracy… data. With no judgment.

See what I mean? Clarity is, and always has been, under siege.

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