Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Almost two years ago I wrote this post about a group of people who reject logic, common sense, and three millennia worth of collective human knowledge.  I'm talking about the people who believe the earth is flat. 

It's hard to say how many people actually believe this, harder still to determine if they are serious or are just pulling our leg. But an article from Forbes suggests only two thirds of American millennials believe without question that the Earth is a sphere. 

Here I'm reproducing a chart from the article which breaks down a 2018 YouGov poll into age groups and the degree to what people believe, or don't: 

There are lots of things to get out of this, the most striking for me is that the older the you are, the more likely you are to believe the earth is a sphere.  

One explanation is that the oldest demographic on the chart, those of us 55 and older, lived through the era of the race to the moon. Many of us were watching TV on Christmas Eve, 1968 as the crew of Apollo 8 became the first people to circle that desolate planet (as it was classified by the ancient Greeks). As they came around the far side of the moon for the first time, they caught their first glimpse of earthrise. In doing so, those astronauts became the first human beings to view our beautiful planet in all its spherical splendor from outer space. And living vicariously through the eyes of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, we earthlings sitting at home upon terra firma, also bore witness to that unforgettable sight, looking at ourselves from some 300,000 miles away.  

Through all of the turmoil of the sixties those space launches captivated the imagination of a generation, well a good number of us anyway, as each mission had truly gone to places "where no man had gone before." 

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that only six percent of us who lived through that time have any question about the shape of our planet, after all, six percent probably equals the number of our fellow Americans who either figuratively or literally live under rocks. 

My guess is that subsequent generations who were not inundated by a daily dose of space news as we were fifty plus years ago, focused on other things, and a lot of them simply didn't spend time thinking about the true nature of our planet and its celestial neighbors.

Nonetheless if this poll is to be believed, 34 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 not being absolutely certain about a fact that educated human beings across cultures have accepted and understood for nearly three thousand years is a staggering number, one that depresses me to no end. 

Of course, believing the earth is flat does not make it so. I suppose the earth really doesn't need to be round for most folks unless their work depends on it, such as airline pilots looking for the shortest distance to get from Point A to Point B. That's why you fly close to the north pole when you travel from say, Chicago to Dehli as my wife did a few years ago, rather then over Africa as a standard Mercator projection map would suggest.*

And believing that space travel is a hoax as many flat-earthers do, isn't going to make things such as the internet, GPS, trans-oceanic TV broadcasts, or ATMs go away, even though those things we've all come to depend upon and take for granted, would be non-existent without satellites orbiting around a spherical earth, 

So I guess one could say that people being ignorant about something as esoteric as the shape of our planet really isn't that big of a deal.

Or is it?

The troubling part of all this is the means by which these global agnostics have come to their opinions. It's not just them, there has been a disturbing trend of late to jettison critical judgement in favor of motivated reasoning to come to all sorts of conclusions that have no basis in reality. As we'll see, this can have terrible ramifications for our civilization.

For starters, I believe wholeheartedly that a skeptical mind is a healthy mind. I come from a generation whose mantra was "Question Authority" and for a while in my teens I even sported a button that said just that, By authority I don't just mean the powers that be like parents, teachers, school principals, bosses and politicians, but also folks in fields of endeavor that normally command high levels of respect such as doctors, scientists, historians, journalists, and so on.

Learned and dedicated as they may be, all of these are human beings capable of error, and merely having their imprimatur upon something, regardless of their standing in their particular field, needn't or shouldn't be taken as gospel truth. Any good scientist will tell you that science doesn't have the definitive answer for anything, rather it settles on the best answer until a better one comes along. 

As I pointed out in my earlier piece, the idea of questioning scientific facts, even ones that have been understood for quite some time isn't by itself a bad thing. Asking ourselves something like, "how do we actually know the true shape of the earth?" and then honestly addressing that question is quite useful as it forces us to ahem... think.

Which is exactly what I attempted to do in my piece, going step by deliberate step through some of the process of how we came to know, and yes I mean to know beyond any doubt, even without the benefit of the testimony and photographs of people who witnessed it first hand, that not only is the earth a sphere, but that it is a planet just like Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the rest, revolving about the sun, which is historically an even more controversial subject. 

Not surprisingly. the flat earthers have rebuttals, proposing alternate explanations that contradict a plethora of logical conclusions made over the millennia.

As for what should be the slam dunk empirical evidence of the true shape of the planet, the eyewitness accounts and photographs of our planet made from space, flat earthers have no real explanation. Instead they pull out what has become the all too prevalent method these days to explain the unexplainable, the conspiracy theory. The eyewitness accounts and photographs they say are all fake because the space programs that several nations have participated in, both independently and collaboratively for well over sixty years, are all hoaxes. 

Now I don't flat out reject all conspiracy theories. For example, while I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of JFK, I don't completely rule out the idea that someone may have helped him carry it out. However I don't believe there was any deep seeded conspiracy involving organizations such as the KGB, CIA, FBI or the PTA, all of whom (well almost) have been accused at some point or other as having conspired to kill the president. 

Why don't I believe that? Certainly not because something like that couldn't happen, but because nearly 58 years after the event, not a single credible person involved in any conspiracy has come forward to come clean. The likelihood of all that time passing after one of the most publicized crimes of the last century without someone, anyone of the multitude of people who would have had to have been involved in the kind of conspiracy people suggest coming forward, is evidence enough for me that there was no conspiracy, beyond perhaps a very small handful of individuals.

By the same token, at least tens of thousands of people of many different nations directly involved in the various space programs over the years would have had to have been in on the space hoax. The fact that not a single one of them has stepped forward to fess up since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, should make the whole idea of this particular conspiracy a non-starter to any reasonable person.   

So why do people cling to conspiracy theories when they're improbable like the Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory, or preposterous like the space hoax theory?

I have a simple answer, because they want to believe them. In the case of the former, people find it existentially unacceptable that the course of human history could be so drastically altered by the act of one person, a solitary gunman. I get that.

Perhaps similarly, the image of our world becoming smaller and more insignificant as scientists discover the universe as being more expansive by the minute, is equally unacceptable to some. I get that too. It's difficult and sometimes painful to have your world view shattered before your eyes.

All of us at some point have had our world view shredded to pieces. Some of us get over it and move on while others, not so much. 

The latter are the people for whom facts tend to be what they want them to be, not necessarily what they are. 

As I said above, believing the earth is flat does not make it so. The laws of nature, that is to say physics, chemistry, biology and the other natural sciences, could not care less what we think or what we do. So there's no real harm in lay people believing the earth is any shape they want it to be. 

On the other hand, there are serious consequences if we go on believing for example that our actions regarding the environment will not have drastic implications for life on this planet. Nature does not care one iota about what we think, it doesn't care about about protecting life, it's not sentimental, it has no morals, ethics or value system. Nature simply reacts.

We have empirical evidence of this, real life models such as our closest planetary neighbor Venus, on the effects on the environment of greenhouse gasses which are increasing on this planet at an alarming rate. That planet is shrouded by an atmosphere consisting of about 95 percent Carbon Dioxide which permits the heat from the sun to penetrate it, but not escape. Consequently the surface temperature of Venus is around 900 degrees F. The atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is about ninety times that of the earth's at sea level. We know this because the several space probes Soviet scientists sent to Venus over forty years ago, sent back valuable information about the planet for a few minutes until they were crushed by the Venusian atmospheric pressure and melted by the intense heat. Some scientists believe Venus was not always this way, that perhaps at one time eons ago, Venus had an environment much like that of the earth's, including oceans of water.

We may never know exactly what happened to make Venus such an inhospitable place, but we do know conclusively that its extreme temperature is a direct result of the overabundance of CO2 in its atmosphere. On earth, nature has provided a balance that keeps our CO2 levels in check. If you recall your high school biology, animals consume oxygen and release CO2 into the atmosphere while plants do exactly the opposite. In the last centuries, one of the byproducts of human industry has been the production of copious amounts of CO2, while global deforestation on a massive scale has removed much of the planet's capacity to keep CO2 in check. It doesn't take a brilliant mind to put two and two together to understand that if left unchecked, this is a recipe for disaster. Given the extreme weather events we've been experiencing of late, we are at this moment are more than likely reaping what we have sown, but as yet, only on a small scale.

These are not opinions, but verifiable facts we have known about for a long time. I first learned about the threat of greenhouse gasses on our environment way back in high school in the mid-seventies.

Yet climate change deniers abound, contradicting the conclusions of the vast majority of the world's scientists, simply because they want to.  

Since I wrote my original piece on the flat earthers, two events have taken place that dramatically illustrate the very real dangers of rejecting critical thinking in favor of motivated reasoning and its first cousin, willful ignorance. The first was the COVID pandemic. Despite dire warnings of the devastating effects of the virus in Asia and Europe in the first months of 2020, the US under the so called leadership of its former president, did nothing to prepare the American people for what was coming. That president even referred publicly to the virus as a hoax, long after knowing not only that COVID was very real, but that it could be spread by airborne particles, making it far more contagious and deadly than originally thought. Then after the spread of the virus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and people started to get sick and die in this country, that president and his minions continued to downplay it, fighting tooth and nail against common sense life saving measures such as social distancing and wearing masks, claiming those to be violations of personal freedom. Consequently, the United States had one of the worst COVID responses anywhere, including the highest number of fatalities of any country in the world, a dubious distinction which continues to this day. 

The irony is that the one thing regarding the pandemic the former president did do while he was still in office, was tout the eventual rolling out of a vaccine. Once the vaccine came out, the by then former president got himself at the head of the line to receive a shot, but did so in private, (unlike other former presidents), presumably so as not to draw attention to his successor's efforts to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Up until recently, that former president had not lifted one finger to try to convince his supporters, many of whom still believe his original claims that the virus is a hoax, to get the shot, leading to even more unnecessary suffering and death. When he finally came out at a rally in Alabama last week and sheepishly suggested the crowd get vaccinated, they booed him, so he backpedaled.

The other devastating event inspired by willful ignorance that caused people to lose their lives and threatened to tear apart our democracy to boot, was inspired by the former president's erroneous claims about the last election. It's likely that the majority of the people who broke into the Capitol Building last January 6th, really believed that the November 3, 2020 election was "stolen" from the man who goaded them on before their deadly rampage on our nation's most sacred monument to democracy. So their presence and their violent actions to prevent Congress from certifying the results of a free and fair election were an attempt in their eyes to protect the integrity of the electoral process. Their supporters consider them heroes. 

The problem is their beliefs were based upon a lie, nothing more than the baseless claims of the defeated president and only a small handful of his minions (as the majority of his minions abandoned him on this issue).. There is not one shred of evidence that votes cast fraudulently had any effect on the outcome of the last election. Then why did the insurrectionists believe the president and not the hundreds of boards of elections across the country, many of them overseen by Republicans who made it abundantly clear that this was one of the cleanest presidential elections in history, not the courts, many of them overseen by judges appointed by the exPOTUS who determined there was no legitimacy to the former presidents claims, or even his ever faithful Attorney General who knowing a lost cause when he saw one, decided to preserve the last milliliter of integrity he had left? 

They believed the president because they wanted to. 

Just the other day, months after the election, I read an interesting question on the web: It was this:

 Where is the evidence that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election?

To me that is very much like the question "where is the evidence that the earth is round" in that it questions something we have taken for granted for a very long time. I can't remember a time in my life which has seen a good number of elections, where someone would have sincerely asked that question nine months after an election. Still like the flat earth question, I believe it's one worth addressing, if only to set the record straight.

Since 1789 when George Washington was first elected president, Americans by and large have put trust in an election system where citizens cast their votes in a secret ballot, other people count those ballots, tally them, then declare a winner based upon the candidate who received the most votes. Still other people check the work of the vote counters. It's not a perfect system to be sure, such as system does not, nor will never exist. 

After the declaration of a winner, the loser has the opportunity to ask for a recount. If the result is close enough, the candidate does not even have to pay for the recount. Beyond that there are other resources available to the loser of an election, most of them involving the courts. 

But very rarely does it come to that, candidates traditionally have excepted the fact that there can only be one winner of an election. Losers are expected to be gracious, if not magnanimous in defeat, which they usually concede when it looks like they no longer have a chance of winning, more often than not, the evening of the election. Moving forward they encourage their disappointed supporters to get behind the winner for the good of the nation.

The 2020 presidential election was not a close one, Joe Biden won the popular vote by ten million votes. In the real arbiter of presidential elections, the Electoral College, Biden won that by exactly the same margin that Donald Trump won in the previous election. If you recall, Trump claimed his electoral victory in that election to be a massive landslide.

Despite losing handily in 2020, the exPOTUS has refused to this day to concede defeat, going to extraordinary lengths to hold onto power, long after all the legal measures available to him ran out. That includes several investigations, recounts, and lawsuits, all of which failed to turn up any evidence of the kind of irregularities that would have made any difference in the election. 

The bottom line is this, as we can't have every single voter publicly declare his or her vote live on TV to be viewed and counted by all, we need to put some trust into the election system and the people who manage it. Otherwise no one will accept the outcome of any election, and our Democratic Republic system of government will grind to a halt. What will replace it is too ominous to think of. 

People acting in bad faith, and among those I include the exPOTUS, know full well that casting serious doubt in an election system gives them the opening to cause all kinds of mischief as they have already done and will continue to do if they are not stopped.

Even before the ex president, mistrust of authority of all kinds was at an all time high. Thanks to his herculean efforts to do cast doubt among his supporters, it has risen astronomically since then.

The good news is that because of technology, never in history has access to information been more readily available for just about anybody to form reasonable, sound and rational opinions. 

The bad news is that never before has there been more access to dubious information that can be used to justify and promote any cockamamie belief known to man.

It's that last part that has emboldened many thousands individuals who have viewed a YouTube video or two about a particular subject, to claim their opinion on the subject is on a par with that of someone who has spent a lifetime studying that subject. then boldly going to places no one has gone before, proudly declaring their willful ignorance to anyone willing to listen.

And it turns out there are plenty of listeners. That doesn't bode well for our democracy, our planet, or maybe even our species.

As I said above, it's useful to question everything, even theories put forward by learned experts in any field of endeavor. But that is where critical judgement, the mortal enemy of motivated reasoning comes in.

They say the true sign of intelligence is not how much we know, but appreciating how much we don't know. Just as it's important to question everything, it's also critically important to give people who know more than us, their due.

As anyone who has ever tried to speak to someone in a foreign language they hardly know finds out, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

At some point, we all have to put at least a modicum of trust in the "experts", because questioning authority is not the same thing as rejecting authority. 

Otherwise if we don't, we're all in a heap of trouble.

* Ah but wait! Here's one version of the flat earth proposed by its advocates which places the North Pole at the center of a disc from which the lines of longitude radiate. On this map the shortest distance between Chicago and Dehli indeed takes one over the North Pole. But my question is this, what if you wanted to fly from Rio to Sydney? On this map, the shortest distance between those two cities in the Southern Hemisphere also takes you above the North Pole!


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Life Imitates Art

I don't have to tell you that the one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has been erased like a blackboard, only to be rebuilt and then erased again. But baseball has marked time while America has rolled by like a procession of steamrollers. 

This quote comes toward the end of the novel Shoeless Joe, written by the Canadian author W.P. Kinsella

It's a delectable couple of lines, I especially love the bits about the blackboard eraser and the steamrollers. One certainly cannot deny those are apt metaphors for describing the history of this country. 

But what about the baseball part? Those of us who are devotees of the game certainly believe that too. 

In the book, those words come out of the mouth of J.D. Salinger, yes that one, who is sucked unwillingly at first, into a cockamamie scheme (as it seems on the surface) of the book's protagonist Ray Kinsella.

That scheme is for Ray to devote a few acres of his Iowa farm, which he can ill afford to give up, into a baseball field which he builds by hand, by himself, in order to attract the spirits of long departed ballplayers to play upon. In the book they're not just any dead players, but players who in life, for one reason or other had not completely fulfilled their ball playing dreams. The first group of spirit players to show up were the eight members of the Chicago White Sox who were banned from the game after they took money from gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series. That group includes the title character of the book, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, one of the greatest hitters the game has ever known. Jackson serves as the go-between for Ray and his fellow players. 

The real J.D. Salinger who had nothing to do with the creation of the book, was replaced by the fictional author Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) in the movie Field of Dreams which is based on the novel.

In the climatic scene of the film, against the strains of inspirational music, the character of Mann reciting a cropped version of Salinger's inspiring soliloquy from the book, is crosscut between the disdainful words of Ray's brother-in-law Mark who is trying to buy the farm. The scene is set on the ball field that Ray has tirelessly worked to build. The ballplayers are all there, visible only to the audience and to those in the film who believe. 

As Mark is an agnostic, he walks through the field completely oblivious to the action going on around him. While the killjoy relative tells Ray that he'll be ruined by the next sunrise if he doesn't give up this godforsaken nonsense and sell the farm and all his dreams along with it, Mann, a true believer, tells Ray that people will come to his field, other true believers who will hand over their hard earned money for the privilege. 

You can watch the scene here.

It's the classic struggle between the heart and the head, between hope and despair, dreams and reality, a purely cinematic moment designed to pull every ounce of heart string out of the viewer, as is just about every other scene in Field of Dreams.   

Evoking one of the  indelible scenes from the movie,
members of the White Sox and the Yankees
enter the "Field of Dreams" before their game in Dyersville, Iowa,
August 12, 2021 - Reuters

The population of Dyersville, a town of about 4,000 in northeast Iowa, tripled last week as it hosted the first of what promises to be many "Field of Dreams" major league baseball games. The game was played upon a field constructed especially for the purpose, adjacent to the original field built to be the set for the 1989 movie, which has since become (to some folks anyway) a classic.

Fittingly, the teams chosen to face each other in the first major league baseball game ever to be played in the state of Iowa, were the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees, the team whom we learn in the book, was particularly despised by Ray's dad, John. The senior Kinsella, was himself once an aspiring ballplayer whose spirit ends up playing on his son's field of misfit athletes.

Part of the inspiration for the event was the tradition begun over a decade ago of playing selected National Hockey League games outdoors in baseball parks and football stadiums. 

Much of what turns off people to professional sports these days is the crass commercialism and ungodly sums of money involved in the games. Beyond the novelty factor, the idea was to strip away much of that, well the appearances of it anyway, and bring the sport closer to its roots. By that I mean play the game in its purest form, as it once was played by children, or adults pretending to be children. Anyone who has ever played pickup hockey on a frozen pond knows exactly what I'm talking about. 

Same with baseball. It doesn't have to be a pristine field carved out of a cornfield, the game could be played in a schoolyard, a city park, a vacant lot, or just about any space big enough to contain most of the balls hit by the strongest hitters will do. Here in Chicago where there was limited space available for ball fields, they made the ball ridiculously big so it wouldn't travel too far. If you couldn't come up with enough players to field two teams, the game was adaptable for any number of players. And if you could only come up with two players, you could just play catch, an infinitely satisfying activity and bonding experience, especially between a parent and child.

That, is baseball at its purest. 

These days it's rare to see kids in the schoolyards, parks or streets playing improvised games like New York stickball or pinners and fastpitch in Chicago. Many kids prefer to stay inside and play baseball on the computer. Those who do play real baseball, play the organized variety, complete with coaches, umpires, uniforms, and well tended fields. Don't get me wrong, in the right hands, that kind of baseball is most satisfying both to watch and to play. In the wrong hands, that is to say, when adults get too much in the way, it can become a nightmare. 

That's especially true in the more competitive travel leagues where parents expect a payoff for their efforts, at the very least getting their kid good enough at the game to earn them a free ride in college through a sport's scholarship. For their part, many of the coaches at this level care more about winning than anything else, including the health, well being, safety and sanity of their players. 

The sad truth is, unlike what Terrence Mann says in his soliloquy, baseball and other sports do not represent all that is good.

That's just a myth. 

In his novel, W.P. Kinsella takes great pains to compare baseball to a religion. And like any religion, baseball is filled with myths, including its own creation story.

The location of the most significant temple to the game, The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, is a testament to the power of baseball mythology. 

Comforting as the image may be, baseball was not born in the idyllic little town in upstate New York in 1839. That was a story based on scant evidence concocted by the powers that be in the game at the turn of the last century who wanted to make it be known far and wide that baseball was purely an American game, born and bred in the USA. 

The reality is that baseball was around far longer than that, having evolved from an English children's game called rounders which was itself a spinoff of cricket. It has no particular ties to rural life, it was played in big cities, small towns and down on the farm alike.

But there's a history in this country of disdain for cities and a romanticization of rural life that goes back to Thomas Jefferson and beyond which is what makes carving a baseball diamond out of a corn field so appealing to many Americans. In the novel, Kinsella the author paints a bleak picture of urban life. During his namesake character's road trip to New Hampshire to find J.D. Salinger, he stops in Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to go to ballgames, and has nothing good to say about any of those places.

Would Field of Dreams have been so heart warming had Kinsella the character built his ball field upon a weed strewn vacant city lot with ghost players materializing out of abandoned buildings? Perhaps, but it would have been a much different story.

I find it ironic that in the movie, the character of Terrence Mann as played by a black actor tells Ray that baseball represents our past and reminds us of all that once was good, while standing in front of a field populated by only white players, which reminds us that all was not good with our country and with baseball. In their time of course, black players were not allowed to play "organized baseball".

As an aside, my major criticism of both the film and the movie is they dropped the ball in that respect by not addressing the issue of the color line in baseball. All they had to do was introduce a few black players from the era into the mix. After all, they more than anyone, were denied the right to fulfill their baseball playing dreams.

Perhaps the game played last week in Iowa was sort of a redemption for the movie and the novel as many of the players on the teams appearing on the field through the cornfield just as they did in the film, would not have been allowed to play in the big leagues one hundred years ago because of the color of their skin. 

As far as baseball as a religion goes, strange as it may sound, I kind of buy into that. Back when I was involved in the Catholic Church, I spoke with several people who lamented the fact that they never felt the rapture as many Christians do, of being swept away by the Holy Spirit. I never felt it either but frankly the very idea scared the pardon the expression, bejeezus out of me. But several times in my life, I have been swept away in pure rapture by the game of baseball, especially when it involved my son.

After not taking the game seriously for years, baseball was reborn for me while sitting at the ballpark with my pregnant wife and it dawned on me that one day I'd be playing catch with my boy. It came to full fruition fourteen years later when as a coach, I witnessed him pitch the last inning of his house league team's championship season, retiring the side in order. It happened again when together we watched the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. And again when he rode upon the shoulders of his best friends after he won the home run derby at a picnic commemorating the end of their last baseball season together. And yet again when toward the end of our best summer ever of playing and watching baseball together, on a perfect evening after a ballgame at beautiful PNC Park, we stuck around after the game as parents and kids were invited to go onto the field to play catch. We didn't bring along our gloves so we just stood there and watched. I'll never forget the look on his face as we caught a glimpse of each other. No words were exchanged at that moment but I know we were both thinking the same thing: 

Is this heaven? No, it's Pittsburgh.

A lot could have gone wrong with the game last Thursday night, it could have rained. Or a player could have been seriously injured as happened last night in a game here in Chicago. Or it could have been a lousy game. Or a bull could have gotten loose and started charging the players. Fortunately none of that happened, although the bull might have been kind of cool. 

The Sox got off to a big lead which they held until the ninth inning with their closer Liam Hendriks coming in. But the damn Yankees staged a two out rally in the top of the inning and took the lead. Then it was the White Sox turn and catcher Sevy Zavala coaxed a one out walk. Up came Tim Anderson to the plate and he took Zack Britton's first pitch on the outside corner to the opposite field for a walk off home run. Redemption indeed as well as sweet justice as Anderson is the only US born black player in the White Sox starting lineup. In his typical fashion, he stood there and admired his drive disappearing into the corn stalks in right field, then went on to celebrate as he rounded the bases. 

The traditionalists may have not been happy by that display of pure joy but all in all, I think the baseball gods were pleased.

The next day my boy and I talked about the game. I mentioned that Kevin Costner (the star of Field of Dreams who was instrumental in the conception of this game) looked a little lost to me when he came out onto the field before the start of the game, as if he got off the wrong exit on I-80, looking for the Farm and Fleet. 

But then I said when the players began appearing from the corn field out in center field, I got a little misty eyed. 

"So did I" said my son.

We're obviously both true believers.