Have you ever heard of the Ice Age? Or perhaps the Middle Ages?
Of course, the Ice Age was that period of time when temperatures on the earth dipped so low that polar ice sheets and glaciers took over. It started about 2.6 million years ago and, at least in places such as Greenland, the Arctic and Antarctica, it has never left.
The Middle Ages is a European thing, used to describe that time between the fall of Rome in 476 A.D. and the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century. It was labeled the Middle Ages because it was nothing short of a historical lull, when no scientific accomplishments were made, no great art was produced, and no great leaders were born.
Apparently, the people of the Middle Ages wasted the advancements of the people before them and wallowed in an existence somewhere between complete barbarism and ritualistic religion.
All of which begs the question: What age do we live in now? Most people refer to it as the information age. I prefer to give it a different label. I call it the age of conjecture. Mostly because that’s almost all we spend our time doing. We like to guess about things. In fact, we like to predict and pretend to be experts on almost everything. We are “conjecturists.”
Mr. Dictionary says that conjecture is an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information. In other words, it’s a guess implemented with few, if any, facts.
It is exceedingly addicting. It must be, because we seem to have to predict and appear to be in the know about everything from sports and election results to stocks and the possibility of rain or snow.
When it comes to conjecture, its first cousin, prediction, is really the only valid member of the family — especially when it comes to predicting weather because, after all, that can save lives.
But if you think about it, when it comes to conjecture, isn’t most of it just a waste of time? After all, if we’d quit over-debating about it and just do it, we’d get so much more done.
I drove from Dickinson to Cheyenne, Wyo., on Wednesday. Besides driving, that time consisted of eight or nine hours of listening to the results of the mid-term elections, the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and an overabundance of jousting between attention seeking so-called journalists, who are really “opinionists,” and our president.
And what was the result? It evolved into an onslaught of conjecture and opinion. Every topic simply acted as seed and what popped up was a massive crop of conjecture.
When did Sessions actually write his letter of resignation? Did he write it today or months ago? Why did the president appoint who he appointed to take his place? Will the president try to take control of the Russia probe? On and on it went with every Tom, Dick, Alice and Harry offering their expert conjecture.
OK, enough already.
I think it was Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, who said: “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”
Of course, idealism is just another one of those cousins of conjecture.