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Making black turn white
By Vince Milum
Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

In the devolved mindset of modern American thinking, the world is divided into black and white. When shades of gray are encountered, they must be pigeonholed into the black-white dichotomy. The fallacy of this unsophisticated approach can be demonstrated by showing how simply black can become white.

Assume one encounters a situation that is so clear-cut that nearly everyone can agree that it is black. We will call this situation "very dark gray." When the virtual consensus coalesces around the measure to address this situation, we may call the underlying rationale for its subsequent implementation, "very dark gray equals black."

Next we encounter a situation that—though less clear-cut—still commands an overwhelming majority of opinion that the situation is virtually black. Upon addressing this situation, we shall call the precedent, "dark gray equals black."

Having established that "very dark gray equals black" and "dark gray equals black," we may next come upon a situation which leads us to conclude for the sake of clarity that simply "gray equals black." Inevitably, we will travel further along the continuum to assert that, since they are shades of gray, both "light gray equals black" and "very light gray equals black."

Having marched this far along the continuum, is it not reasonable for us to conclude that there is "no real difference" between very light gray and white?

Instead of the inevitable Manichaean erosion of reason, is it not better for us to allow for—and embrace—diversity and complexity? In fact, is this not one of our highest duties as sentient beings? If so, should we not be willing to admit that when we confront situations that are beyond the scope of our understanding, we may be in need of more discerning minds? Alas, I’m afraid, the human ego knows no bounds!

 



 

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