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Opinion does not change fact
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A recent experience on gave me another outside-the-box glimpse into human nature. This one gave me some insight as to human perceptions and how they play in opinion.

Over the weekend I posted an interesting photo on my Facebook page. It was a photo that I took of the snow-capped Sierras from Hickman Road near Keyes Road. Having grown up in Stanislaus County I grew up hearing that a person can see Half Dome from our Valley on exceptionally clear days. I also learned from my father, who grew up in Delhi (Merced County), that El Capitan Way is named as such because of the fact that you can see El Capitan, the famous rock in Yosemite National Park.

Ironically a book on Yosemite by Shirley Sargent shows Half Dome sticking out like a thumb from the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton about 200 miles from Half Dome.

Most of my life - on those rare clean air days - I never knew where to look for Half Dome. One day it loomed larger than life in my binoculars. The trick is situating yourself in the right area.

My photo clearly shows the distinctive form of Half Dome nestled among the rocky crags of the beautiful Sierra. But the posting of the photo raised a bit of controversy. One suggested that she wouldn't have believed the photo if I hadn't posted it. (There was a hint that I faked it). Another FB friend saw me later and boldy told me: "My son says that's not Half Dome. It's another dome. It's not Half Dome." I assured her that it was indeed Half Dome. There was no convincing her. In her mind, it was an open and shut case of me being wrong.

Clearly both of us could not be right. But since there are no other domes that look like Half Dome anywhere in the world, let alone in the periphery of our vista, my friend was sorely wrong.

I began pondering this point: If people could be so contrary about photographic evidence showing a tangible piece of geography some 95 miles from my camera and clearly be wrong, what other matters of truth are being bucking the evidence and arguing against truth? For example, we live in a world filled with intricate and fascinating detail. Just examine a common leaf and see its sophistication. Or the countless number of stars in the universe. The way the human is formed from nothing and created into a complex being that thinks and feels is a miracle. Life is an amazing phenomenon. While only an idiot could believe that a wrist watch could assemble itself, there are people who look at creation and say, there is no master designer, no higher intelligence, no God. But, however, the Bible defines a fool as one who says in his heart that there is no God (you'd find that in Psalm 14:1).

My thoughts were again stirred on Sunday evening when I was invited to a friend's home for a backyard gathering. The house is on the bluff overlooking the scenic Tuolumne River. All the guests were oohing and aahing at the fabulous river view through the chain-link fence on the south side of the property. The sound of water added to the scenic view; it sounded like a pristine waterfall below the house. Our friend suggested that we might not want to go closer to the fence, which of course, prompted everyone to do so. Upon second examination it was apparent that the sound of the "waterfall" was actually the sound of water spraying from an aerator on the green sewer pond beneath his house.

The first perception of a lovely waterfall and something of beauty, was wrong. Instead it was a putrifying reality of human waste water below us. This, too, got me thinking: If humans could be duped into believing a sewer plant was a gorgeous waterfall, what other things could they be duped into believing? Bear with me. Think of a time in which unthinking masses fell for the hollow chant of " change" - change can certainly be a bad thing as well as good thing - emanating from a charismatic figure with a thin resume who thus far has disillusioned and disappointed his people. In short, their desire for change has led to further government enslavement of its people and businesses, increased the national debt and taxation and taken our system of government much farther from what our Founding Fathers drafted.

We would improve our quality of life and living if we'd all stop and practice a little analysis before we conclude the truth as we know it. Few people and few institutions today encourage critical thinking. More Americans are taken in by image over substance. Face value is accepted over investigation. Few are capable to defend one's view or opinion. Generations of schools with debate teams have given way to institutions that turn out skulls full of mush.

Perhaps that's why many of my friends despair and shake their heads and accurately observe that much is wrong with the direction of the world today. They have trouble believing that so many could fall for such schemes, such lies, which only further cripple the rest of us. But what do we expect when we fail to study the critical lessons of history? Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.

It would be nice if people could shut off American Idol for one night and study their ballot propositions or look into the positions of politicians who twist the "facts" for a vote. Or better still, take time to ponder what life is - who created it? - come up with a list of questions and make a genuine attempt to get some answers.

The results could be literally change our nation.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at