Nine-sense (1,232)

August 8th, 2011

Nine out of ten dentists recommend Trident gum for their patients who chew gum”. So proclaims the advertisement. We are supposed to be impressed but I have some questions: (1) is it ANY sugarless gum or just Trident? (2) Are dentists experts on taste? (3) how many dental patients actually ask their dentist about gum? And finally, (4) what problem does the tenth dentist have with Trident?

This is what happens with all statistics when they are thrust into the light of day. They illuminate and they melt. Yet America is obsessed with polls and statistics. It seems that all we have to say is “nine out of ten Americans believe…” and that makes it so. Let’s take a look at history:

· Nine out of ten Americans in Salem, Massachusetts, believed that young women could be witches.

· Nine out of ten Americans in the early West thought that American Indians were savages.

· Nine out of ten folks living in the South in 1855 thought slavery was not only acceptable, but essential to the economy.

· Nine out of ten Americans in 1833 would have believed it was utterly ridiculous to allow women to vote.

· Nine out of ten Americans might easily have believed that World War I was actually the “war to end all wars.”

· Nine out of ten Americans living in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1960 would have said that segregation was a successful policy.

· Nine out of ten Americans in 1966 would very likely have called the Vietnam War a “noble patriotic effort.”

· Perhaps even nine out of ten Americans in 1955 would have called rock and roll the devil’s music.”

Of course, I can go one and on—because most populist opinions are based on a fear over what might occur instead of a reality over what we have already learned. It is “nine-sense” –the contention that if nine people out of ten are moved in a particular direction, then that direction is probably correct. Of course, nine out of ten people standing around the Praetorium of Pontius Pilot two thousand years ago thought it was for the good of the nation to crucify Jesus of Nazareth. A bad choice, don’t you think?

So since we do live in a society that touts the authenticity of the plurality and majority of opinions, what must we do to make sure we don’t become part of the “nine-sense” that ends up on the wrong end of history—not to mention, outside the true will of God?

My suggestion is to always evaluate your decisions based upon getting rid of the “Ex Brothers”—a dastardly pair who imitate anything from religious fervor to nationalistic pride, but actually lead us down a backwards trail to stupidity instead of forward to discovering more reasons to get along with one another.

The first brother is “Expect.” The more you remove expectation from your lifestyle, the greater satisfaction you will have from the results your own efforts and those of others. There is nothing wrong with setting goals as long as you realize they are aspirations instead of a given. There is nothing unrighteous about explaining what needs to be done as long as we comprehend that life offers no support to our agenda, but only pursues its own. “Expect” is a nasty thing when it is used to prove the inadequacy, disloyalty or genetic inferiority of any human being.

I would suggest that we replace “Expect” with a good dose of “Appreciate.” Isolating off what works from what doesn’t work may be the true definition of genius. Insisting on pursuing expectations that are unrealistic could be the source of all evil.

The second brother is “Exclude.” Any doctrine, policy, law or mob-motivated thrust that has a desire to exclude someone or some group from the mix is never going to be historically sound or sane. I’m sure the American Indian at one time or another was considered to be a “terrorist” by white settlers who wanted to take the land, but history moves along and has to admit that the Native Americans were freedom fighters, trying to keep the integrity of their homeland. You have to be careful. “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end of it is destruction.”

I am not perfect, nor would I even try to attain such lofty heights. But I know when I find myself excluding people from the mix of anything, I will soon find myself at the short end of God’s stick. God is no respecter of persons, and certainly promotes that ideal in everything He does. It doesn’t mean there aren’t things in the Bible that encourage people toward greater wisdom in their choices of daily activities. But the Bible never gives us permission to judge and exclude people from the main flow of life at any point.

Beware of these two sinister brothers: Expect, which makes us believe we deserve more than our talent can muster; and “Exclude,” which causes us to evaluate others unfavorably because they don’t conform to our thinking.

I pay no heed to polls—because such a tiny thing can affect them and because the fickleness of mankind is probably best exemplified in his changing opinion.


Beware when someone tells you that “nine out of ten people” believe in something. Is it motivated by expecting or excluding?

Then it’s best not to join in and be the tenth to agree.

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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