Message from the President

 

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.”

 

Or so the saying goes. For us, as consumers of modern media, it’s often difficult to distinguish between the two. There’s certainly no shortage of opinions in the media, but those expressing opinions, particularly on television and the Internet, seem to perceive less and less need to base their opinions on fact. And facts are getting harder to come by as newspapers, networks, and news bureaus keep reducing their “boots on the ground” reporting staffs, and concentrate their increasingly-limited resources on the scandals, conflicts, and celebrities of the moment.

 

This is where we come in. As a nonpartisan organization, we try to bring speakers to Sonoma County who can provide us with factual information, based on personal experience or scholarly research, to help us broaden or deepen our understanding of what’s going on in the world. While we shun speakers with only fact-free opinions to offer, we also recognize the practical impossibility of getting speakers with only opinion-free facts. People with specialized knowledge of what’s actually happening unavoidably have opinions based on that knowledge. Often, these opinions help us bridge the gap between knowledge and understanding. To illustrate: the most asked question in our Q&A sessions is some variant of “Why…?”-- a question which calls for an opinion. Therefore, we don’t prohibit speakers from expressing opinions. We simply ask them, and you our members, to recognize that reasonable people can draw different conclusions from the same set of facts, and all points of view should be respected. After all, the United States was founded on that principle that reasonable people can differ, and such differences should be resolved by voting. It was a revolutionary concept at the time. Maybe it still is

 

                                                                                 -- Paul Willihnganz

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