Garbage in, garbage out or GIGO was what they used to teach computer programmers back in the days of COBOL and FORTRAN. COBOL and FORTRAN are the equivalents of Latin in computer programming language. GIGO means what it says – if you put the wrong data in at the front, you’ll get wrong data out at the back. And when this happens to you, Everything You Know is Wrong.
It is often said that a person is entitled to their own opinions; however, they are not entitled to their own facts. Facts are facts. Concrete and provable, they exist in their own right regardless of a person’s opinion of them. “Disagreeing” with a fact doesn’t change it. In today’s era of mass media countless people opine on various subjects, asserting strong opinions and making conclusory statements based on those opinions, yet their acquaintance with the facts may be more problematic. If you mistake the opinions of people you agree with for facts, you are bound to go off the rails. If your analysis of a situation begins with a fallacy, then all that follows will be more fallacy. Though I suspect there is a small chance that if an error is made in an analysis of a fallacy, the right conclusion could be accidentally reached. But I digress…
There is another phrase with the acronym GIGO – it is “Garbage In, Gospel Out” and refers to people who have complete faith in computer generated data, and could also refer to a class of people who not only believe they are entitled to their own facts, they believe that no one has a right to disagree with them and their ill-drawn conclusions. They have immense emotional investment in their opinions -there is a level of quasi-religious zealotry not often seen even among religious cultists, much less among rank and file churchgoers. They have an unflappable faith in “the facts as they interpret them”, unable or more likely unwilling to waver from their dogma. And…because their analyses eschew facts and embrace emotion, everything they know is wrong.
Pulling all this together into the context of The Big Picture: daily living is an exercise in observing facts, processing them, formulating reactions to them and then taking those actions. If your data is bad, or your formula is bad then face it – everything you know is wrong. Question is – what now?
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
There’s a chance that’s not true, but I doubt it.