Facts, beliefs, and how we tell the difference

We don’t know that much about the incident in South Carolina where a school-based cop treated a student like a sack of corn mash the other day. That police officer has now been fired. We know he was wrong because the police chief said he was and because our eyes told us he was.

Whether you accept that point probably depends on whether you were already inclined to, rather than a careful analysis of facts.

The student’s crime was she didn’t put her phone away when asked to do so by a teacher, and, yes, she should have.

That’s about all we know and in the absence of knowledge, we supply our own reality; that’s just the way things work.

“I heard she had a gun in her locker,” someone on Facebook told me last night. There’s no evidence to support that, but it doesn’t matter to her. Beliefs shape facts rather than the other way around.

Belief shapes facts.

In South Carolina, the young woman also becomes a symbol for the firmly-held beliefs of what many oldsters think of a generation.

But reality is quite often different from what we think reality is.

This tweet from writer Kia Smith, which is zipping along the InterTubes is a good reminder that we don’t always know what we think we know.

(h/t: Pharyngula)