Trump versus Honesty and Integrity

Not that we did not already know this, but the Donald has now confirmed very publicly that he has no grasp at all of the ideas of honesty and integrity.

Three reporters recently resigned from CNN after the network had to withdraw a story that it could not defend about alleged connections between an ally of the so called president and a Russian investment fund.

The Donald, who routinely criticizes the network for its reporting on him and his administration, seized on the resignations to pursue his ridiculous claim that all critical reporting about him is “fake news.”

What the Donald completely misses, of course, is that these resignations are a sign of honesty and integrity at CNN. He fails even to state the event correctly. “[T]hey caught fake news CNN cold.” Um, who is “they”? CNN realized and admitted its own error. There was no “they.” Far from making it less reliable as a news source, this redounds hugely to their credibility among thinking people. Everyone makes mistakes. What separates the adults from the children is the ability to admit mistakes and correct them.

This is both a moral principle and a practical rule. As a moral question, simple honesty requires anyone who makes a mistake to admit it and try to correct it. As a practical matter, all intellectual inquiry, but especially science, rests on the principle that all knowledge claims are provisional and available for later revision if new evidence surfaces. Trump and his minions clearly do not much appreciate real science. They foolishly continue to try to raise doubts about the problem of climate change and the human role in causing it, a stance that, at the outside, risks rendering the planet uninhabitable to humans.

Empirical observation leads any informed observer never to expect any experiment to result in either 100% or 0% in any phenomenon. The same is true of the scientific consensus about climate change. It is not reasonable to expect 100% of scientists to agree on the topic. But the level of agreement is very high, indeed, and real scientific researchers will admit if/when they find mistakes in their research. Even if the people doing the research fail to find and admit their own errors, such is the character of scientific research that others will conduct essentially the same research and announce any conflicting findings. This is routine.

Intelligent people look at all of the available sources, including conflicting claims, and come to their own conclusions about who is right. They do not seize on anyone who admits a mistake and try to dismiss all similar research as equally ill founded.

Again, with his childish response to the honest admission of error at CNN, the Donald only proves what we already knew: he is a petulant, puerile fool who is not fit to govern. Sad.

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