Jesse Robison

Jesse Robison

True confession — I have been a bit checked-out of the modern world for the past year; particularly the information highway. Between charity projects, work demands, writing columns and hedonistic pursuits, I’ve had little time for much else.

I haven’t focused much on garnering news, the real truth so to speak. That has been a relief because much of what I hear from others, if believed, suggests the end is near and that humanity is under siege from diabolical forces.

In the last year, I have turned the television on twice. Once to watch a movie with my daughter and the second time to listen to the news (that didn’t last long). My information has been gleaned from reading the Idaho State Journal, which is skimpy on copy these days like most newspapers in America.

I have partaken of limited news on the internet, and then there are the headlines that regularly flash across one’s telephone whether desired or not.

Being removed from news consumption, I have been intrigued by the conflict in information being bandied about those I encounter during my travels.

I have friends and family who have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and others who are adamant that will occur over their “dead” bodies. They are all dear to me regardless of their choices, but I have heard a conflicting earful over the reasoning involved in deciding whether to vaccinate.

One cousin tartly observed that the unvaccinated, who are clogging our hospitals and dying in statistically higher numbers, are getting their just comeuppance as nature thins the mentally weak from the herd.

Having elected to vaccinate, one can fairly ask: What information did I rely upon in making that choice? I read a lengthy email sent to me by my son who shares a house in France with an expert on vaccines.

After Patrick addressed the obvious health benefits for effective vaccination, he explained why multiple vaccines were so quickly created, and he provided statistical support data with source citations. He had answered my concerns and convinced me it was the safest choice. It was also helpful reading Mike Corrigan’s past ISJ column in which he made a potent case for the historical value of vaccines in eliminating other scourges upon humanity; little things like smallpox and polio.

When I encounter people who are vacillating about vaccinating due to fear, I offer to share my son’s email. I have had several people tell me they won’t read it because they don’t trust the vaccines — in essence, their mind isn’t vacillating, it’s already closed on the subject.

I do not engage in spirited debates with those who refuse to vaccinate. Mostly I listen to their reasoning, and nothing I have heard is based upon studies or statistical information.

The persuasive proof offered for the proposition vaccines are bad and that you can’t trust anything you hear or read that is positive about the benefits of vaccines are typically stories of an individual negative reaction. It does raise the question, how do they know the negative story they are relying upon is trustworthy, and more critically how do these individual circumstances compare to the legions of millions who have been successfully vaccinated without adverse health consequences?

It boils down to one thing — having accurate information to make wise decisions rather than operating from a closed mind before you have done your homework. An excellent column online about that subject is Leo Notenboom’s, “How Much Can I Trust Information on the Internet?”

Summarizing his berries of wisdom, the internet is “nothing more than an information delivery system.” The ease with which anyone can publish material has made it exceedingly untrustworthy.

As Leo says, “Take everything, absolutely everything, with a grain of salt.” Do not rely upon one source — use multiple sources to cross-check information including their posted source because false information, like nasty rumors, is frequently republished.

Accurate information facilitators suggested by Notenboom are to understand the problem or issue; being skeptical as you begin your search; doing the investigative work (although tiring); and building a network of more trusted sources, realizing that is a relative term.

Leo and others recommend that you utilize snopes.com as an excellent site for confirming accuracy or debunking misinformation and other competent validation sites exist.

We are all entitled to our opinions; however, your decision making theoretically should be enhanced if you have reliable information to guide your actions.

I have been remiss for some time in collecting current information on many issues due to the situational constraints upon my time. That has allowed me to avoid uncomfortable conversations on many subjects because my fall-back, when I hear what my intuition tells me sounds crazy, is to say, “I have no opinion on that subject because I haven’t had time to do my homework.” What a novel concept, eh?

Jesse Robison is a Pocatello native educated in Idaho. He works as a mediator and insurance claim consultant, but his passion is public art. Robison has spearheaded art improvements throughout Pocatello, including the Kizuna Garden located at the Pocatello airport, and serves on the Bistline Foundation.