President Trump, in the state of the union speech, said, “Two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration.” It reflects a common attitude I heard after the New York car ramming terrorist attack. We should ban the type of visa he used to get into the country. That would have prevented this attack.

After the Las Vegas mass shooting, I heard a different attitude. Banning guns wouldn’t have made a difference. If we banned his type of gun, he would have used a different type of gun to do the same thing. If we banned all guns he would have gotten a gun illegally. He is a criminal after all.

Why aren’t attitudes about these two situations the same? Why don’t people say, no sense banning that type of visa. He would have gotten a different type of visa. Even if we had banned all immigration he would have come here illegally. He is a criminal after all.

It seems to me that it’s a knee jerk reaction. People aren’t coming to a well supported conclusion based on evidence. They are jumping to the conclusion that they want to be true.

Would banning a certain type of visa prevent terrorist attacks? Would banning a certain type of gun prevent mass shootings? Maybe, I don’t know, but there are a lot of people out there who think they know when they don’t.

Use your critical thinking skills. Question your assumptions. Require evidence before you believe that something is true. Admit when you don’t have enough evidence to know the truth. Be careful of confirmation bias. Don’t just look for evidence to support your preferred conclusion. Be open to whatever conclusion is best supported by all the evidence.

If you held these two incongruous beliefs that a government ban would obviously have worked in one situation and obviously not in the other situation think hard about how you came to believe these things. Did you have good reasons to believe they were true, or did you just believe what you wanted to be true?

Robert Steinke


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