PARTIAL CREDIT FOR COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY
I have sixteen years of formal education -- seventeen if one includes montessori school. From the fourth grade onwards, merely having the correct answer was no longer enough to get an A-range grade. I had to show my work. A standalone correct answer would only get partial credit; in some cases, correct answers with no visible process to arrive at the answer led to accusations of cheating. Conversely, an incorrect answer could earn partial credit if some or most of the effort to reach the answer was sound. This makes sense when one considers that the teacher's job is to instruct, and a teacher will have far more success educating a student when the teacher can clearly see how the student generated the answer and point out the flaws in the student's approach.
Some classes were nothing but exercises in proving myself. The brunt of geometry is being given shapes and data, then being told to prove a conclusion. In addition to learning about shapes and their properties, geometry and related mathematics classes teach logical tools such as disproving a faulty premise by assuming that it's true, then applying the assumption until reaching an impossibility or contradiction. And anyone who wants to win a debate in high school or college will have to do far more than to say "Pronouns in bio" and drop the mic.
Even after I graduated from USC, my days of showing my work and proving myself continued. As a programmer, I would have to provide demonstrations to show my contributions to the program, walk through the audience's "what if" scenarios, and answer for any unknown defects. And as a software tester, traceability was -- or should have been, at least -- a constant and mandatory metric, whether we were reporting defects, generating test infrastructure such as test cases and test results, or preparing test data. It was never enough to say, "It broke. Fix it."
And as a writer, I still hold myself to a "show my work" standard. I half-jokingly say that some of my joke posts are more thoroughly cited than the Twitter tantrums and blogbarfs from the trolls with whom I spar, but I try to err on the side of caution and provide supporting links before someone prompts for the information. This is why my formerly-posted joke post about Bitcoin being a Dragonball character is more well sourced than tweets from the current president of the United States. My joke tweets fall flat more often than I'd like, but Twitter has not yet informed my followers and mutuals that my claims have been disputed.
I CAN'T ROLL WITH THE TROLLS
With that in mind, I tend to respond frequently with "Prove it," 'Citation needed," or some variation thereof when I'm faced with a claim that is suspect at best and utter bullshit at worst. When I do so, it's more than a throwaway line. It's a challenge. It's a test of the claimant's intelligence and morality. I want them to show their work. And if... no, when... their response is anything other than "Here is my proof," or "I'm sorry; I goofed," then I safely assume that the claimant has a single-digit IQ and the principles of a honey badger.
If that sounds harsh, let me remind my readers that many people will take a look at me and my internet activity, learn that I'm an atheist, and proceed to call me a Nazi, a pedophile, or a Nazi pedophile. Unlike my accusers, I have evidence to which I can refer.
I'm well versed in logical fallacies. Admittedly, I occasionally slip up and use some, often for exaggerated comedic effect. (When I tweet that "empty glass" is a flavor of cola, I'm using a false definition on purpose, as opposed to false evangelicals who unironically refer to atheism as a religion.) So when I ask for proof and get an ad-hominem attack, a response that shifts the burden of proof to me (if they don't want to make their case, what makes them think I want to waste my time on such an endeavor?), or any of a variety of deflections that clearly show them abandoning their "claim," I realize that the other person is much closer to MAGA than MENSA.
In the rare instances where a claimant shares a source, I'll give it a cursory glance, even if it's from a known spreader of lies like Fox News. Nearly nine times out of ten, doing so causes me to find something that weakens or completely destroys the claimant's narrative. And even when that doesn't happen, it doesn't take much time web-surfing to find evidence and sources that challenge or counter the source.
And when I'm challenged to back my claims, I'll strive to do so. After all, my standards are worthless if I only apply them to others. I rarely respond earnestly to logical fallacies because doing so validates them. But I do my damndest to refrain from refusing to provide a source until I've shown beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt that the other person is blatantly and arrogantly ignoring, misrepresenting, or flat-out lying about my sources. I want to show my work, but I don't want to waste my time trying to educate the willfully ignorant or the blatantly dishonest.
THE HEAVY PRICE OF WILLFUL IGNORANCE
There's no kind way of saying this: I live in a country that rewards ignorance, celebrates cruelty, and treats lies and fallacies as valuable as -- if not more valuable than -- the truth. A recent example -- and an embarrassing one, to boot -- is Drumpf's weeks-long meltdown over the election results. He and his accomplices have gone to court 38 times to challenge election results, only to discover that judges -- like I -- are fans of evidence, which Drumpf and his cronies don't have. (They won one case. I honestly don't know how.)
And there's another example that's both recent and months-long: the coronavirus. As of 2020-11-28, over 270,000 of my fellow citizens have died of the coronavirus, and millions more will have lifelong complications due to their infections. For nine months, doctors and health providers have been warning, begging, and screaming for us to follow simple, common-sense procedures to slow the spread. Keep six feet apart. Wear a mask outside of your "quarantine bubble." Limit your activity to essential tasks such as securing groceries or heading to the hospital when you can't taste or breathe any longer.
Unfortunately for my country, a mob of anti-intellectuals -- ranging from spiteful GOP politicians who just want to pwn the libs to internet trolls that can't correctly spell "the" -- decided that they know better than certified and experienced medical professionals, which is why we have packed churches, Drumpf rallies, and far, far, far too many news stories, blog posts, and tweets from people who have lost a loved one to the coronavirus. (I've typed "Please accept my condolences for your loss" so often this year, it's an autocomplete on my phone.)
All because a throng of people spent months shouting, "Nuh-uh!" to people trying to halt a pandemic.
BRAIN OR DRAIN
The human mind is a muscle, not unlike the rest of the muscles in the human body. When it's not exercised properly, it grows weak. The converse is true; a mind that is consistently challenged, expanded, and fortified with truth, knowledge, and the applications of knowledge will perform far better than one that sits idle. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I consider myself proof of that. My mind is literally broken; I have bipolar disorder, and I'm beginning to grow forgetful. However, I have an IQ of 130, a Bachelor of Science from USC, and a variety of technical certifications. (So, yes, when a troll who doesn't know what punctuation is, I don't rage. I laugh.) If I hadn't spent decades learning and actively proving that I can apply the knowledge and skills that my teachers imparted on me, I would literally be dead. Self-destructive tendencies are terrible, but they're a bit easier to manage when I can logically prove to myself that a certain course of action is monumentally stupid.
I will admit that I actively seek out people whom I am convinced are superior to me in one or more aspects pertinent to my life. This not not due to idol worship; it's because I want to keep learning, evolving, and improving. I half-jokingly say that I blog on a cryptocurrency blog despite only having a basic grasp of cryptocurrency. However, I'm eager to learn, especially if I can apply my knowledge to boost my passive income. And many of my readers have noticed that my comedic references are a bit dated; I may be the only blogger on Publish0x that consistently makes jokes involving The Ur-Quan Masters, so maybe some of my favorite comedians can guide me into the 21st century. What the hell is "Bardcore?"
This is not to say that I'll purposefully reject people based on arbitrary skill or intelligence levels. If someone wants to learn or improve, I'll make some effort to at least point them in the right direction. It's the people who glorify their weaknesses or cling to their ignorance that are wastes of my time.
So, please. Provide proof. Share your citations. Show me how you reached your conclusion. If you're at least trying to be respectful, I'll respond in kind. But, as Tom Lehrer said, "Life is like a sewer; what you get out of it depends on what you put into it." If you lob insults, fallacies, or other types of nonsense at me, then you've just volunteered to be a punchline.