Joe Harrington [The fact is …, Viewpoints, Jan. 11] points out the importance of critical thinking and by implication the folly of Mr. Trainor’s aversion to fact-based correspondence [We welcome your opinions … within reason, Ken Trainor, Viewpoints, Jan. 4]. Mr. Trainor, in justifying the Journal’s position to limit fact-based correspondence, used the example of the sun traversing the sky from east to west. This is an illusion according to Mr. Trainor, not a fact. Hence, facts are not what they seem, as many are mere illusions. The observation that the sun rises in the east, traverses the sky and sets in the west is not illusory. It is an undeniable truthful observation. What has been debated over the millennia are the facts behind this observation: does the sun actually move across the sky or does the earth rotate on an axis and the sun remain still? In the end, further observation, astronomical as well as earth-based (as graphically illustrated by the Foucault pendulum), all subjected to critical thinking, won the day. But the larger point is this: Mr. Trainor’s skeptical view in regard to fact-based correspondence, actually insults his reader’s intelligence by implying their inability to use critical thinking to sort out the “facts behind the facts.” Now, given that critical thinking — a hallmark of western civilization — has been recently denigrated as an instrument of western oppression — this is not surprising, but none the less very concerning. And that is a fact!

Bruce Kleinman
North Riverside

Editor’s note: Despite Bruce’s rhetorical indulgences, we do not have an “aversion to fact-based correspondence.” But we are averse to correspondence that is overly reliant on numbers, statistics, quotes, etc., especially when those are misused, badly reported, taken out of context, inaccurate or altogether false — and when that happens, don’t be surprised if it takes longer to fact-check and get that correspondence into print and, yes, sometimes not printed at all.
Here at Wednesday Journal, we are big fans of critical thinking, which is a close ally of reason, which we mentioned in our proposed guidelines for submitting to Viewpoints although Bruce seems to have missed that part. We are not limiting “fact-based correspondence.” We are simply asking those who submit to use critical thinking and reason instead of padding their letters with “evidence” that requires a considerable amount of fact-checking. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

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