Why Facts Don’t Matter

Eyewitness testimony has been the bedrock of our justice system. Studies have repeatedly shown, though, how unreliable our recollections can be. False memories can be slipped into our memory by third parties. Or we see what we expected to see and our mind fills in missing detail and that becomes our memory. We tend to re-tell a story according to the listener. Defense attorneys know this. With retelling, we become more certain that an erroneous recollection is true.

Researchers at Stanford University had volunteers review suicide notes and decide which were real and which were made up. They were informed of their scores; some were told they were correct in almost every instance, others that they were wrong on most of their choices. Except all the scores were fictitious and had no relation to the subjects’ actual performance. Even after being informed their scores were bogus, subjects originally given high scores still persisted in believing they were exceptionally perceptive, much better than average in determining what was true.

Which brings us to Fox News and its loyal viewers…

Right-wingers have been frothing about the nefarious deal Hillary “Lock her up!” Clinton made, selling U.S. uranium to Russia in exchange for large contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Fox News has been relentless in promoting the story, feeding the outrage against Mrs. Clinton. But then Fox talking head Shepard Smith went on the air and, point by point, took apart the story. He dispassionately pointed out that Clinton was not Secretary of State when the sale occurred, that the State Department was only one of nine Federal agencies involved, that the company, Uranium One, was mostly Canadian owned, that none of the uranium in question would leave the United States. Et cetera.

Fox’s audience was not interested in facts. They turned their outrage against Shep Smith.

“I feel you are actually CNN (fake news) when Shep Smith is on.”

“Get rid of him. He is a shill for Hillary as most gays are. Does not have the integrity to be on Fox.”

“Shep Smith needs to be fired for his biased reporting!!!!”

… and on and on.

Shepard Smith should stay with Fox News. Viewers need to be confronted with documented information, even if only rarely.


Of course, it’s hard to refute Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s chart showing Uranium One conspiracy.

Summer of Love – 2017

The de Young museum is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the “Summer of Love.” About 100,000 young people came to San Francisco in 1967 to share in peace and love. The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll runs through August 20. The exhibition includes a curtained room where museum-goers can immerse themselves in the sixties, by lying back on beanbag chairs surrounded by a psychedelic light show accompanying rock music… and play with their smartphones.

What To Drink on 420 Day

Heineken presumably knew what they were letting themselves in for when they put up a half-billion dollars last year to purchase half ownership of Lagunitas Brewing. Tony Magee founded the brewery in Petaluma California. Since then, most non-profit events in Sonoma County featured Lagunitas beer donated by Mr. Magee. The brewery also made headlines with the great marijuana bust of 2005. Lagunitas suffered through a twenty-day license suspension imposed by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Unapologetic, the company periodically releases a seasonal brew labeled “Lagunitas Undercover Investigation on Shutdown or ‘Whatever, We’re Still Here’.” Still here… and there, too. Lagunitas has expanded to Azusa, Chicago, Charleston and Seattle.

So, of course Lagunitas is commemorating 420 day. According to legend, the day’s origins can be traced to high schoolers in San Rafael, just a few miles down Highway 101 in Marin County.

Lagunitas will celebrate – the operative word no doubt will be “celebrate” – twenty-five years of brewing in 2018.