Monday morning has arrived. Sunday was yesterday. Saturday was the day before. Please pay attention so we can begin. I know you are all ticked off, except for a few people who claim they don't like sports. In fact, the Curmudgeonly Professor is downright grouchy and irritated that the Utah Jazz got beat by the so-so New Jersey Nets, who looked like world champions beating the Jazz on a last second shot Saturday night.
And, imagine, that loss came one night after knocking off the league-leading and sensational Boston Celtics by eighteen points the night before. Go figure. Then the BYU Cougars, with the best winning record in their team history, and with all kinds of records for team and individual scoring, lost the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas to the University of Nevada Las-Vegas for the second year in a row. Everyone was careful not to point out too strenuously afterward that UNLV plays on their home court with throngs of screaming fans in the stands with only a relative few BYU fans to cheer for the Cougars. Or that BYU holds the national record in consecutive home court wins and that the outcome may have been different in Provo. Worse than losing was the melee after the game when Vegas fans stormed the floor, fights broke out, fans were taunted, someone ended up with a bloody face, and the outcome of a game in which UNLV played an exceptional second half remained tainted by the ignorance and bad primitive behavior of some of their fans. The Las Vegas media scarcely mentioned the whole mess, apparently believing that it never happened.
I realize that we must now get back on schedule and make up about three weeks of delays that have occurred because the Curmudgeonly Professor has found it necessary to provide ancillary information on topics relevant to your university education. Trying to think back, I believe we were discussing how we can continue to be as narrow minded tomorrow as we are today. And this topic arose, as we all remember, because we were discussing the role of repetition and habits in our lives, pointing out that it's o.k. to repeat habits that are good for us but that we might think about improving our lives by fixing up some of the attributes and actions that we persist in continuing, such as being narrow minded.
The first rule for continuing to be narrow minded is to suspend thinking. Do not think about an issue or a situation at all, or you will cloud your mind with pros and cons and you will end up befuddled thinking that, just possibly, you could have been wrong.
Second, never, never, ask yourself if there is another point of view on this subject. And, if someone offers another point of view, do not listen to them since your mind is already made up because you KNOW and you do not wish to come down from your lofty knowing perch and admit that someone else may just have some common sense that could affect your thinking on a given matter.
Third, read and listen to only information by people that you know ahead of time you will agree with because that will merely reinforce your views on how wrong everyone else is.
Fourth, never ask what information is missing here. No matter how objective presenters try to be, everyone has a point of view and they are likely to emphasize their own predilections, methods of analysis, and conclusions, without making enough allowance for considering missing information. And, no matter how hard we try, some information is likely to be missing, not by deliberate oversight, but because we just don't know enough about a subject to begin with. The same with reading books. Always keep in the back of your mind the question, "What is the author overlooking here?". And, "What information is omitted from this story or analysis?"
Fifth, when analyzing data, please do not look at data on all sides of an issue; just pick and choose the data that already support your preconceived conclusion. As my professor at Michigan used to say, "People use data like a drunk uses a lamppost, for support, but not for illumination."
Sixth, never look at the full range of consequences of a particular action, including consequences or results that may go against your conclusions on why or why not a given action may support your own biases and wishes. Journalists and newspaper headlines sometimes make this task difficult for us when they say that "such and such causes such and such," and we say, "See there, I told you so," when, in fact, such and such could also cause an overlooked result that gave credibility to the opposite side of an issue.
The heart of the matter, dear pupils, is that finding information we can rely on and base our decisions on is a difficult, complex, and challenging task that remains a lifetime quest for each of us. But always searching for missing information, alternative points of view, the validity of data, and alternative and overlooked conclusions can go a long way to helping us on the search for reliable knowledge about the world. And that is why we go to college, why we read widely on the entire spectrum of thought and opinion, why we think, why we continually search for new understanding, and why we need to consider whether we really are missing what we need to know if we truly want to continue being as narrow minded tomorrow as we are today. Class dismissed.