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How do you Make Up Your Mind?

The Love Canal environmental disaster

Your Approach to Life

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Do you check out the facts or do you usually prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt. Are they politicians seeking your vote? Do you assume their popularity or status as a celebrity mean they're also knowledgeable about unrelated fields?

Do you believe whatever someone else says, without first ensuring that it is either credible or plausible? What's your approach to life? Are you generally gullible, cynical or skeptical?

You can be gullible, say yes and accept something without question. You can be cynical, say no and reject it without checking it out. Or you can be skeptical: you'll
change your life by withholding judgement until you've investigated the matter and have enough information and experience to make up your own mind.

The Drawbacks

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There are drawbacks to all these positions. The cynics can miss out on the benefits of new, fresh and exciting experiences, they have the generally negative mindset that goes with being cynical.

The gullible can find they have been deceived. The number of people who are willing to benefit themselves no matter how much harm they do to others is astonishing.

The skeptical can miss an opportunity by insisting on carefully checking out the facts of the matter first. There are deadlines to many offers, and a delay may mean you miss out on a good deal.

Are You Indecisive?

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In some countries, you risk being labelled wishy-washy if you don't come up with a definitive answer immediately. Yet I'm a definite maybe doesn't seem to count as acceptable for some reason! But what's the hurry to make up your mind? Whenever someone tries to persuade you to take a stance this very moment, then you'll change your life by asking yourself what they have to gain if you decide immediately.

If what they say is valid now, then it will still be valid tomorrow. But making up your mind tomorrow will give you the time to explore the consequences, think it over for yourself without being unduly influenced, and choose for yourself. After all, you'll bear the consequences of your decision.

Although some people confuse the negativity of cynicism with the cautiousness inherent in skepticism,
don't self sabotage - realize they are not at all the same.

A Skeptic is not a Cynic

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There's an enormous difference between a cynic and a skeptic. Many people consider me to be one of the most positive people they know - and I definitely am. Yet some are very surprised to hear that I was a member of the Ontario Skeptics society for many years.

The Love Canal environmental disaster

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Journalist Eric Zuesse was skeptical about the government's claim that Hooker Chemical Company were at fault in the Love Canal environmental disaster, as the problems only surfaced twenty-plus years after the local district acquired the land. See the fact-filled Love Canal exposé published in Reason magazine.

secret of success was to investigate the facts, which found incontrovertible evidence for government failure. The school board's dishonorable conduct was the real culprit. Despite Hooker Chemical's demonstration and many warnings that it was a sealed waste dump totally unsuitable for building, the company was coerced into selling the land for the nominal price of one dollar upon threat of expropriation.

The company even inserted a seventeen-line caveat into the transfer deed warning it was a chemical dump site and unsafe for anything. But the Niagara Falls City School District ignored all the warnings along with the graphic demonstrations. Why confuse the issue with the facts? After all, they had already made up their minds, wasn't the waste-site at the perfect location for schooling and housing the expanding population?

The real tragedy is all the people deceived by the one-sided information provided by the gullible involvement of the Pulitzer prize-winning author. When you can write a good story, and dress it up as apparent non-fiction, why let the facts, no matter how inconvenient, get in your way?

Food for Thought

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"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."

- Professor Thomas Sowell, PhD, incisive American economist, philosopher. Prolific author in race relations, decision-making, and practical economics.

* See the fact-filled Love Canal exposé by Eric Zuesse in Reason magazine at:"

This article was originally published at

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