Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sincerity versus credibility

“If the power goes out at school, and remains out for 30 minutes, you have to dismiss school. It’s a state law.” Or so I was told by a tenth grade student. Bless her heart, she is one of those that states her opinions as facts.

I hadn’t heard of this “state law” she claimed to be fact. So, I asked her, “Where did you hear about this state law?” You see, as far as I know, it was up to the discretion of the school district to determine when school was let out due to various reasons.

“It just is,” she said.

“But where did you hear about it?” I asked.

“My friend told me.”

“And where did she hear about it?”

“Look, Mr. Morgan. I trust my friend and so it has to be true.”

And there we have it.

Perhaps it is from my years of working in television, but for whatever reason, I tend to be skeptical of things unless I can verify them from a credible source.

To me, at least, there is a difference between someone having credibility and trusting someone. As the saying goes, “Sincere people can be sincerely wrong.”

The weather is a great example of this. Let’s say my best friend, someone I really trust, tells me it will snow three feet tomorrow. Let’s also say that this same best friend is not a meteorologist, but rather they heard about the snowstorm from someone at work and believed it.

Does it mean I don’t trust my friend if I go to the national weather service website (a credible source) to check what they say about the weather? No, it doesn’t mean that I don’t trust my friend.

All you have to do is turn on the news to see how many people truly, honestly believe in different views—sometimes in direct conflict with another person.

Here’s an example: one person states that the democratic candidate is going to win. A different person states the republican candidate will be the certain victor. They both can’t be right.

In this case, one person is wrong even though they sincerely believe they are right.

If I can be so bold: Before you buy that swamp land in Florida which is guaranteed to triple in value in the next month, or throw out all your food because you heard if it has the letter “e” in its name it is bad for you, do a little digging at other points of view. You may discover that there isn’t enough credible evidence. 

(Side note: this blog is mainly about intellectual ideas. In the matters of religion, I believe the only true credible source is through the Holy Ghost. Meaning, when it comes to religious matters, that should be between you and the Almighty.)  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Math and Musicals

I have a confession. I’ve not seen the movie Frozen. I’ll admit that I’d probably like it if I saw it. Then why haven’t I? Maybe it’s because everyone else has seen it and can sing the songs from memory. Maybe it’s because when I get the choice to watch Frozen or do something else, the “something else” has always seemed more interesting. Truth is, I’m not sure.

What I do know about myself is that I don’t like musicals, as a general rule. From my point of view, too often the pacing of a musical comes to a screeching halt when the music starts up. Meaning, the songs don’t progress the story.

Out of love for my wife, I watched Phantom of the Opera with her once. I really struggled with it. The music was good. The characters were interesting. The sets were beautiful. But I didn’t like it. How can that be? I don’t recall the specific details, but there was a scene where the characters were basically running for their lives. What would any sane person do in that situation? I can say pretty confidently that they wouldn’t stop to sing about the danger they were in—yet that’s what happened. Ugh.

But this blog isn’t a rant about musicals, believe it or not. In fact, a musical recently helped me realize something pretty wild.

While going to high school in the late 1980’s, there was a musical that was pretty popular called Chess. One of the songs even became a hit on the radio: One Night In Bangkok. I ended up buying the cassette version of the musical and I listened to it over and over.

With the recent advent of digital downloadable music, I was able to find the original soundtrack and buy it online a few days ago. (I could have found it for free, I’m sure, but the author in me wants to have creative people actually get paid for their work.)

I hadn’t listened to Chess for years, yet as the songs began to play, I found that I could sing along. It was trippy to recall lyrics and how they were sang after such a long period.

Around this same time, I was asked to cover a high school math class. I generally shy away from teaching math because while I learned it in school, I simply don’t remember it. Even when I looked at what the students were doing and tried to understand what was going on, it didn’t come back to me nearly as easily as the lyrics and music to Chess.

Why is that?

It’s one of the mysteries of the human brain, I’m sure. I’ll bet there are dozens of studies out there that prove people can recall songs easier than other things. Heck, there may even be some theories on why that is.

Maybe it means the human mind is designed to recall music better than math facts—yet students are required to take more math classes than music classes. Perhaps all the math classes are needed to help people think in a way that doesn’t come as natural as recalling music. Hmmm.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

You be the judge!

Time for a little quiz. 

You get to be the judge. I’m going to post pictures of three books. 

Without searching for them on the internet, I’m curious to know which book you would be most likely to read.

Are you ready?

Okay, here we go:

Which one did you choose? Or would you choose any of them?

Why do I bring this up?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to show people the cover of my next book, Bring Down the Rain. (It will most likely be out in July.)

The reaction to the cover has been overwhelmingly positive. Comments have included variations of, “Now that’s a book I’d like to read!” and “Wow! That looks really interesting!” and even “He’s cute! What high school does he go to?”

Interestingly enough, these comments have come without me telling them anything about the book. It’s just from showing people the cover.


Despite the old saying of “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” I think it is human nature to do so. (A more correct statement is “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.)

I was having lunch with my daughter Kelley recently. We talked about she and I being picky eaters. She said something pretty profound: “I’m expanding the types of foods I’ll eat. When I was younger, if something looked yucky, I wouldn’t even try it.”

And it makes sense. Even if you tell me octopus legs are the most delicious things in the world, I just can’t get passed that they look really gross.

Because we, as people, are quick to judge things strictly by appearances, I have made it a point to hire professional graphic designers to make the covers of my books.

As for the three covers listed above, what if I were to tell you that the contents inside were exactly the same. The author just used different titles and covers for the same book. And what if once you got passed the cover, you found that it was the best book you’d ever read.

Of course, we’ll never know because I created three covers for a book that doesn’t exist.