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Disintegrating Facts August 26, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, Nature, People.
Solar System Planets.

Image via Wikipedia

When I grew up, we had 9 planets in our Solar System.

I know that because I got a “100” on that science test.

Actually, I got a 104.

I answered the extra credit question.  

I liked to show off. 

It made my Ego feel good.

As I was saying, there were 9 planets:

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Now, there are 8.

Pluto has been “demoted” from planet to some other nebulous mass of matter on the far reaches of our Solar System.

If I had said, “Pluto is NOT a planet,” my teacher would have told me I was WRONG . . . and I would not have scored a 104 on the test.

These days, if I said, “Pluto is NOT a planet,” she would agree with me.  As our knowledge expanded, the number of planets in our Solar System shrunk.

A “fact” turned out not to be based in fact at all.

The virtually unanimous opinion of scientists that Pluto had the stature of a planet was based on insufficient data.  Disintegrating facts.

At one time, the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around us.  We were the center of the Universe.  That, of course, is no longer the case.  The world didn’t change; our interpretation changed.  Facts disintegrated under scrutiny.

Most of the “facts” that people toss about are subject to interpretation.  As such, they aren’t really facts at all.  They are merely opinions . . . based on the information currently available.

Will our knowledge of physics and metaphysics continue to expand causing the facts of today to be knocked out of orbit?   Of course.

For that reason, when I disagree with “facts” espoused by others, I tend to say, “I disagree” ~ alerting them to the fact that we have divergent opinions on the topic being discussed.

I rarely say, “You are wrong” or “I am right” because I might, in fact, be wrong ~ just like those scientists who labeled Pluto a planet.

A divergence of opinion is just that ~ opposite views of the world based on the totality of our experiences to date.

For 30 years, as an atheist, I claimed that “what you see is what you get.”  That opinion changed in the course of a single evening because of a mind-blowing and life-altering experience that convinced me that there IS more to this life than meets the eye.

Does that mean that I should take my experience and argue that atheists are “wrong” about their view of the world?

Of course not.  The what is, IS.  In contrast, the “facts” of life are, of necessity, subject to interpretation based on our experiences and the information currently available to us.

Why would I want to waste my time trying to convince someone else that my view of the world is RIGHT and their view of the world is WRONG?

Other than to satisfy my Ego’s desire to show off, of course.   😉

“Everything we hear is an opinion,  not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” ~ Marcus Aurelius  

No rules.  Just write.

What about you?

When you disagree, do you state your truth calmly and clearly and let others accept or reject it?  Or do you pepper your position with strident comments like, “I’m RIGHT”  or “You’re WRONG!”?

Is it easy for you to agree to disagree?

Related posts:  To Agree Or Disagree * Desiderata . . . Desired Things * A Study of Contrasts * The Courage to Be Free * Unusual Angles * Speak Your Truth . . . Quietly and Clearly


1. Penny - August 26, 2011

When you disagree, do you state your truth calmly and clearly and let others accept or reject it? Or do you pepper your position with strident comments like, “I’m RIGHT” or “You’re WRONG!”?

I…..totally believe in…. telling it like it is………I never say, I know I am right……..but, I will say I am right about my thoughts….they are mind…right or wrong- agree-or disagree. Diversity is the interest in deliberating our staus. I can also truthfully say, I’ve learned from other’s thoughts-adding at times a little more sauce to my thoughts. 🙂

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

Good points, Penny.

I’m more open to discussion (and adding “sauce to my thoughts”) when someone says “I disagree” than when they preface their comments by saying “You’re wrong.”

An open mind learns more in an hour than a closed mind learns in a lifetime.

2. barb19 - August 26, 2011

‘Facts’ change when we learn more ‘facts’. We all need to nurture an open mind.

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

Having an open mind makes life that much easier.

As soon as someone says, “I’m RIGHT and you’re WRONG,” I know they are not really interested in exploring the issue to find common ground . . . they’re just interested in feeding their Ego at my expense.

I generally give them a gold star and let them continue the “debate” on their own. 😀

I do feel there is a difference when we are talking in generalities rather than about specifics.

For example, if faced with a single looter in England, I would take the time to see if there were extenuating circumstances, etc., that should be considered before “throwing the book at him.”

In contrast, when looking at the looters’ actions as a whole, I felt fine saying, “Lock them up and toss away the key.”

3. barb19 - August 26, 2011

I should have said “learn to nurture an open mind”, because it doesn’t come easily to some people.

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

It doesn’t come easy because we are socialized to COMPETE not to COOPERATE.

We aren’t taught to look for a Win~Win scenario . . . we’re taught that success means having MORE than the next guy.

We give lip service to expressions like, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” . . . but parents are in the stands screaming obscenities at the refs in little league games for making bad calls.

It’s rather pathetic this mindset of winning at all costs . . . the idea that the end justifies the means.

And in each case above . . . it’s all about making our Ego feel good vis a vis the next guy.

4. Rosa - August 26, 2011

Great post, Nancy! The ‘facts’ are constantly changing and the way we see the world around us often changes with them… Good job on the 104! hahaha

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

Thanks, Rosa.

I took a bit of literary license with this post. I don’t remember the specific test in question, but I do know that my Ego loved it when I got MORE than a “100” on a test. 😉

And I also know that I loved showing off . . . I was a regular Little Miss Know It All in grade school.

Remember that obnoxious Teacher’s Pet? C’est Moi!

5. creatingreciprocity - August 26, 2011

Well put, Nancy – Pluto is an excellent example – you might be interested in this –
P.S. Hope all is safe from hurricanes where you are.

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

Wonderful post and points, Patricia.

We do not see things as they are . . . we see things as we are.

Also, interesting about the demographic change in who tends to get diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Something similar happened during the witch hunts in Old Salem. Once female landowners without male heirs were named as witches . . . their lands were confiscated.

Motive? Perhaps.

6. Team Oyeniyi - August 26, 2011

As an atheist, I like your attitude! I have no desire to “convert” believers and I do wish they would not try to convert me!

My husband will sometimes mention he doesn’t know how I cannot believe, but he never pushes the point. We are debating the Qu’ran at the moment over the youngest who has a bad cold and ablutions, but that is a health issue (the Qu’ran is very specific about staying healthy) because I want her to stop wetting herself five times a day until she gets over the cold and Dad can’t quite see the health connection!

Team Oyeniyi - August 26, 2011

Very easy for me to agree to disagree on the topic of religion!

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

Since it is a “personal” experience, there is no room for me to argue that I am RIGHT and someone else is WRONG. We can only agree to disagree.

Mixed marriages offer real challenges if either or both partners feel strongly about their religious beliefs . . . and want their children to follow those beliefs.

Good luck to you and your husband as you agree to disagree.

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

I rather enjoyed being an atheist for those 30 years. 😉

I couldn’t understand how people could believe in any kind of higher power with all the evil running rampant in the world.

While I now believe in a higher power (a universal spirit) . . . it’s not the “God” of the Bible I heard about in Sunday School.

Formalized religion holds no appeal for me. For one thing, I cannot pray to a personified deity who would allow children and animals to be abused in the name of Free Will.

I feel more connected to “the loving source” when I look within.

7. Carl D'Agostino - August 26, 2011

I think most atheists concede there is some kind of creator but with all the unmerited suffering in the world it is understandable why one would not want anything to do with a god that allows such horror and contamination. So their disbelief is based on disgust. It is easier to believe in God when good things are happening. In any event He must be a very busy fellow and I wonder how he pays attention to anything on our little old planet which is but a grain of sand in the universe. PS You forgot one of the planets – California.

Team Oyeniyi - August 26, 2011

No, we don’t concede there is some kind of creator, Carl.

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

I’m with Team Oyeniyi. As an atheist, I did not believe in any higher power or creator.

I couldn’t explain how the Universe came into being, but I was satisfied that we evolved from the Apes rather than springing into being in the Garden of Eden.

Some day, California will get the recognition it desires! Planet Hollywood.

8. brainrants - August 26, 2011

Your best point is the part about “I disagree” versus “you’re wrong.” I try to accomplish that.

I’ve tried many ways to change people’s minds: calm debate, rational exchange of ideas, emotional shouting matches, fistfights, and the last ditch: a 5.56 ‘changes’ a mind… albeit irrevocably. I’ve found that your response level needs to be pitched to the person you argue with.

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

Except for family members (like my niece), I rarely try to change anyone’s mind these days. I share my views and opinions and let people take what resonates and ignore the rest.

Of course, some people would prefer that I don’t even do that.

They feel that their view of the world is the RIGHT view of the world and that the rest of us should keep quiet. 😉

9. SuziCate - August 26, 2011

I like your approach. I need to practice saying I disagree rather than telling others they are wrong…thank you for this!

nrhatch - August 26, 2011

When someone says, “You are WRONG!” to me . . . I feel like I’ve been slapped. {{ouch}}

In contrast, if someone says, “I disagree,” and I have the time, I’m all ears ~ “Great. Let’s talk about it and see where our opinions coalesce and where they diverge.”

Stay safe, Suzi!
Keep picturing Irene sailing back out to sea.

10. 2e0mca - August 27, 2011

Ahhh! But what about Planet X? You know, the one that they can detect by its gravitational pull but haven’t actually photographed yet 😉 The downgrading of Pluto has been on the cards for quite a while now so I wasn’t surprised. But your post reminds me of one of the first things that you are taught on an Open University Science Degree Course – The definition of a Scientific Statement.

A Scientific Statement must be a statement that could be disproved – an example would be ‘All Crows are Black’. A statement such as ‘Some Crows are Black’ is not a Scientific Statement since it can’t be disproved – it is a truth. Thus ‘Pluto is a Planet’ was a scientific statement open to being disproved as knowledge advanced.

Your comment about Atheism reminds me of a joke I had with the passing Jehovah’s Witness Posse last time they knocked on my door and we discussed our varying beliefs – ‘Even the Atheists don’t believe in Atheism any more!’ 😉

An interesting and though provoking post Nancy 🙂


nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Thanks, Martin. That’s another great trick/tip for keeping conversations going . . .

Instead of saying “ALL” or “MOST” (when making a definitive statement), substitute “SOME” or “MANY.”

For example:

Some parents don’t know what they are doing.
Many parents need to take a parenting class.

Or . . . some atheists don’t believe in atheism any more. 😉

11. granny1947 - August 27, 2011

I still think the earth is flat.
Don’t you read Terry Pratchett?

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Nope. I have never read anything by Terry Pratchett. Does he write Sci-Fi Fantasies?

crumbl - August 27, 2011

Anyone who’s been to Saskatchewan knows the earth is flat. 🙂

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Same with anyone who’s traversed Nevada in a car. Ack!

12. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 27, 2011

I too like the idea of saying, “I disagree,” rather than “You’re wrong.” The latter is the expression of a fragile ego in my opinion. Mine was fragile for many years until I realized that fragile egos are not successful in a meaningful definition of the word.

By the same token, I cannot possibly say to you, your experiences don’t measure up. Experiences are very subjective and measured from an inner perspective. Interpretation may differ, but then, whose experiences are they, anyhow?

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Wonderful points, Sandra. I agree with you 100%.

Statements (like “you’re wrong!”) stem from a fragile ego trying to assert itself and exert CONTROL over what someone else chooses to think.

“I disagree” lets the other person know that there is an area of disagreement that MIGHT be worthy of exploration . . . as soon as they calm down and stop yelling. 😉

Likewise, instead of making accusatory statements (e.g., “You are a terrible cook” or “You have no compassion”), we should talk about how we feel (e.g., “Sometimes the food you cook does not appeal to me” or “It bothers me when you eat bacon for breakfast”).

Thanks, Sandra.

13. Tammy - August 27, 2011

I find myself saying, “I remember it differently.”

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

That’s a wonderful way to “compare notes” when we’re discussing our memories.

We seldom remember things with complete accuracy and recall because of the way our memories are stored ~ smells in one place, visuals in another, audio in a third.

We’re scatterbrained. 😀

14. kateshrewsday - August 27, 2011

I would love to hear about that evening one of these days, Nancy. Have you blogged about it?

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

I’ve blogged about it “in passing” ~ see the first paragraph under #3:


I feel like it’s been addressed elsewhere as well. But it may still be in “draft form” rather than posted on SLTW.

15. Linda - August 27, 2011

Why on earth couldn’t the planet Uranus dissapear?! Pluto seemed like such a cute little planet. Easy to say and remember.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

I take it that your don’t care for the name, Uranus? What would 5th grade class clowns do if it disappeared? 😉

16. Linda - August 27, 2011

5th grade girls sure would enjoy science more.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Yes, indeed!

If we had held auditions to be planets for the school play . . . I would NOT have auditioned for the part of Uranus. 🙄

17. Paula Tohline Calhoun - August 27, 2011

I wrote a brilliant comment on this post, but for some reason or other, i see that you have deleted it – I mean it couldn’t be that I just imagined writing the whole thing, could it?. . .

In any case, I want to let your readers know that my comment was utterly brilliant. Since you deleted it, I would assume it’s because you were jealous of my astute comments which overshadowed your own inferior ones – event though they were more than adequate.



nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Are you daft, mon?!
Or taking too many horse pills?!

I didn’t delete any of your comments, PTC.

You have written several brilliant comments lately, but none on this post.

Alas! More’s the pity.

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Maybe you are thinking of your comment on:

* What’s That, Again (Comment #3)?
* I’m Such A Scatterbrain (Comment #10)?

In either event, I suggest that you re-read the Scatterbrain post. 😛

Paula Tohline Calhoun - August 28, 2011

What scatterbrain post? Huh? What on earth are you talking about? What pills? What comment did you not delete? I don’t write comments on your posts – you already say enough without my paltry one or two words. . .

Sheesh! Nancy – maybe you should write a scatterbrain post. . .

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Shall do! 😀

18. ElizOF - August 28, 2011

All facts are subject to change… ditto opinions and the air we breathe… I like to learn new things and every time I hear a new twist to an old story I get excited… 😉
Hope you are dry, we are battling the rains!

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Same here. I do, of course, make snap judgments from time to time (sounding like I’ve elevated a skewed and biased opinion to the status of scientific certainty) . . . especially when my patience has already stretched too thin.

In saner moments, I see opinions as mere puffs of smoke . . . worthy only of wafting away to make room for the next.

Stay safe!

19. Christine Grote - August 29, 2011

Fascinating. Would love to hear more about your mind-altering experience.

nrhatch - August 29, 2011

Thanks, Christine. I’ve blogged about that night “in passing” ~ see the first paragraph under #3:


I feel like it’s been addressed elsewhere as well. But it may still be in “draft form” rather than posted on SLTW.

At some point, I’ll post a less abbreviated version.

20. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - August 29, 2011

I grew up with nine planets too. Ah, we were so naive then.

nrhatch - August 29, 2011

Weren’t we?

No wonder, really. If we wanted to research something we had to go to the library, pull the Encyclopedia off the shelf, and look through it to find what we needed.

If we didn’t know where to start . . . it was hard to end up where we wanted to be.

Today . . . we just google and find all sorts of enticing clues.

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