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MythedInformation

MythedInformation
Rembrandt: Judas Returning the Thirty Silver Pieces (1629)
"Those who seem most righteous might just be those most infected."

As we today begin prepping interior walls for painting, I remember a time nine years ago when, filled with MythedInformation, I set about stripping and repainting The Villa's exterior. I'd given myself a month and figured that I'd probably work alone. I had researched, or searched, what I might need to succeed, but I'd consulted with no expert in the field. I'd found and tried to purchase a used Silent Paint Remover®, a six hundred dollar implement which was reputed to ease paint removal. When I arrived at the seller's place, a lovely Northern Maryland horse farm worthy of Kentucky Bluegrass Country, the seller reported that she could not get the thing to work and decided to just give me the damned thing. She could not bear to sell something that wasn't operating. Later, my step-son and son-in-law repaired the electrical switch with an eighty-nine cent replacement bought at the local Ranch Supply. The paint remover worked better with two involved and my brother generously volunteered to help. Then his wife appeared along with his step-son, and a friend drove down from Spokane to help construct scaffolding around the gazebo. My mythical, independent, one-man project became a memorable communal effort. No man ever was an island, and not even a half-decent isthmus.

I'd also gotten the notion that the siding needed remoisturizing.
The siding had been curing in our extremely dry climate for a hundred years, some of it ineptly smeared with silicon caulking, probably to protect it or something, another product of some long-forgotten MythedInformation. That gunk was the devil's own work to remove. I dutifully smeared linseed oil over every newly-exposed board before applying a coat of oil-based primer and two coats of acrylic top color. When freshly finished, the result looked marvelous, but on subsequent visits, I noticed definite blotching and discoloring, even some blistering in areas especially sun-tortured. I later learned the cause. The siding had not needed remoisturizing, but sealing. The oil wash melted right through the primer and the finish. I re-did the front of the place three years ago, resanding blemishes, properly priming with a forgiving acrylic product, re-caulking, and finishing with two fresh top coats. It was a lot of work, but less than the original stripping was, and three years later, it still looks freshly painted. Before this season's gone, I'm hopeful to have completely rectified that original sin which had been thoroughly steeped in MythedInformation.

The Muse says that reading the instructions provides information and not reading them produces an education. Between those two choices lies something even more insidious, the MythedInformation lurking indistinguishable from reliable sources. Whole industries exist today to feed the burgeoning demand for this sort of bullcrap. Politicians wade in, proclaiming the most fantastic fabrications from the halls of our Congress. The infotainment behemoths like Faux News and similar outlets, employ editors to ensure they pass as little truth as possible in their broadcasts, preferring comforting lies to actual facts. They feed a demanding base, one apparently addicted to MythedInformation, preferring its taste and mouthfeel over facts' often more bitter and savory flavors. We studiously avoid curation of the non-information we sort through and ultimately resort to using as if it were true. Anyone might stumble upon some just-in-time revelation and feel saved, and maybe never realize that they've been gamed or that they've gamed themselves. Columbus started his explorations infected with myths. It should be no wonder that the resulting stories of his heroic conquests were no less mythical than their beginnings. We're forever relearning history. Our future's little different.

I'm moved to wonder, then, what MythedInformation I'm carrying into this new repainting effort. I've hired the painter who set me straight on my earlier oil-based error. I've been careful to hire someone unafraid of calling me out. This seems less an act of courage than one of resignation. I realize now, a little late but better than never, that I had engaged a little too confidently, as if I knew and as if my knowledge was somehow superior to all's who'd come before me, as if I possessed some ultimate truth. The certainty within which I engaged reassured me, but falsely. While the illusion lasted, I felt every bit the master. I unselfconsciously spread my MythedInformation, infecting others. The few who deigned to question my wisdom, I easily ignored them. Such hubris seems to always mean something. My humility might this time protect me from repeating similar mistakes, but I cannot expect any guarantees. Even this time, I'm very likely to later stumble upon some fundamental MythConception steeped in comforting MythedInformation which led me astray. This just seems to be the way of this world.

I saw an interesting analysis in the Washington Post this week, a tale of two states. South Dakota and Vermont, now, in mid-July of 2021, both experiencing similar Covid infection rates, among the lowest in the nation. Each state managed their Covid response differently than their counterpart. Vermont with strict masking, distancing, and contract tracing followed by enthusiastic acceptance of the vaccines. South Dakota's governor encouraged super spreader events like Sturgis, shunned masks, and touted mythical facts never actually in evidence. How could it be that both states enjoy a remarkably low infection rate? Well, Vermont created herd immunity by following the best available science. Through the DamnedPandemic, they lost about two hundred citizens. South Dakota relied upon heard immunity, producing herd immunity the old fashioned way, by epically encouraging everyone to get infected and thereby gain immunity. With about the same population as Vermont, South Dakota lost ten TIMES as many people to Covid infections. We can thank MythedInformation and its adherents for that. It might be useful to remember that none of us are natively immune to accepting the information we want to hear as if it were gospel. Those who seem most righteous might just be those most infected.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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