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It is vitally important that the same willingness to confront data with a critical eye be applied without bias and therein lies the conundrum. A critical eye REQUIRES recognizing when you KNOW the facts and when you DON'T. It requires a level of honesty and maturity and it is a challenge when we have well-formed opinions about our own reality and are looking for evidence to support our point of view. Trying to set up a blank slate so we can actually SEE the difference between fact and opinion can be a challenge, but with practice it becomes easier.

I have found fault with Republicans and Democrats and Independents my whole life. I grew up in a mixed political family, but they NEVER threw away truth and fact in their discussions. They never misrepresented their opinions as fact. My father used to say that if someone tells you the light is on and you can't see that the light is on, be aware that what they are saying may be an opinion and not fact at all. I failed a coloring test in Kindergarten because I colored my turkey white, when I was supposed to use colors of wild turkeys. I had never seen a wild turkey, but we had 9 turkeys on our farm and they were all white. My teacher told me I was wrong - an early lesson in fact versus opinion. I have been an Independent both politically and in my thinking for over 60 years. I can spot a chip on someone's shoulder a mile away.

I was a national debate winner in the National Forensic Society advocating for a position I DIDN'T EVEN SUPPORT. It taught me early on that if you have an opinion, you can find ways to use data to support that opinion. However, to present data as factual when the facts are not fully known -- is dishonest. To draw analogies between situations where the FACTS are known in one case and not known in the other is disingenuous and a disservice. Integrity demands better of us. Opinions NEED to be identified as opinions for the sake of our country, our understanding of history, life and ourselves. I am a minority who has faced down the barrel of gun, worn off the soles of my shoes in marches, and fought my whole life for justice, BUT I did not and will not take an opinionated stand before the evidence is presented and act like it is the truth. It is not useful or helpful and only feeds the current frenzy of divisiveness. I encourage others to do the same.

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