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A Less Rational Place

from David French at National Review, Post-Christian America: Gullible, Intolerant, and Superstitious

Although I’ve heard some variation on this argument countless times, as I grew older I noticed something odd. Many of the best-educated and least-religious people I knew weren’t all that reasonable. They held to downright irrational views about reality. I remember an elite-educated secular friend in Philadelphia who scoffed at my wife’s Christian faith; this friend was also convinced that her child had an “indigo aura” that imbued him with special gifts. I recall conversations with Harvard Law School classmates who laughed at the New Testament but thought reincarnation was “cool.” And how can I forget the strange sight of Harvard students walking in and out of the neighborhood witchcraft store?

Lest you think these are isolated and meaningless anecdotes, I’d urge you to read a fascinating article in this Sunday’s New York Times. It turns out that America’s less religious citizens are far more likely to believe in things such as ghosts and UFOs than people who attend church.

Here’s the core problem. In the United States we’re replacing an organized, systematic theology with basically nothing. Sure, there’s the moralistic therapeutic deism of the modern “spiritual” American, but its “God wants me to be happy” ethos isn’t quite up to the challenge of dealing with real life. So, we search and search, and in the immortal worlds of the philosopher Aaron Tippin, we learn the hard way that “you gotta stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything” — and “anything” can include indigo auras or the “vibration of a thought.”

The damage extends far beyond politics, of course. If there’s one abiding consequence of the shallow theologies and simple superstitions of our time, it’s the inability to endure or make sense of adversity. It’s a phenomenon that fractures families, fosters a sense of rage and injustice, and ultimately results in millions of Americans treating problems of the soul with mountains of pharmaceuticals.

The choice isn’t between reason and religion. It’s all too often between religion and superstition. Post-Christian America will be a less rational place.

Making Criminals of Us All

from Glenn Harland Reynolds Instapundit,  one of my favorite daily reads:

As Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged:

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against — then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Why We Are Privileged

from Sarah Hoyt, Poor Darlings:

Most of all you’re privileged because you can work and create and all the spoiled brats can do is take over an institution or an industry, gut it, then wear the skin demanding respect.

In the end, we win, they lose.  And that’s why we’re privileged.  The poor spoiled darlings never had the privilege of being told no and don’t know how to take being laughed at or even being argued with.  They need safe rooms, and for everyone to avoid the trigger words, and stop making them cry.  Because they’re not prepared to cry.  They were never told no.  And if they hold their breath and stomp their feet and come up with JUST THE RIGHT WORDS, we’ll give them what they want, won’t we?  It’s always happened before.

HKO

Great post. Read it in full.

Why the Working Class Rejected Marx

from Sarah Hoyt, Poor Darlings:

So the bright men and women who embraced Marxism for all things, particularly as a cure-all to the “greed” and “hatred” that had led to world war one were destined to be disappointed.  The working class they counted on to destroy the system were by and large sane people, with their heads on tight.  They knew that, harsh as the industrial revolution jobs were, they were better than looking at the South end of a Northbound mule or the other “earthy” jobs available back on the farm.  And they knew that things were getting better, already.  And they had ambitions, which didn’t involve giving jumped up intellectuals the right to dictate their lives.

HKO

Great post, read the whole piece.

Scientific Paradise

from Sarah Hoyt, Poor Darlings:

Back in the early twentieth century, when “scientific” everything was shiny and chrome, they were “scientific” governance.  All that bs about semantics, and psychology as a hard science you find in early Heinlein books?  Yep, that was loose in society at large.  We were going to deconstruct the “machines” that were humans, and from that organize society so “scientifically” it would be a paradise.

You still find that a lot in really early science fiction, together with the righteous indignation of “smart” people who knew they were right and couldn’t understand why people weren’t listening to Marx, a smart person, who was “obviously” right.

Of course, the reason they weren’t listening to him was that the little angry ink blot, stewing in his own juices in the library, had no clue what he was talking about.  The injustices that outraged them were already naturally mitigating, by the time he was writing about them.  He didn’t know distribution from a hole in his elbow, so his economic system would always end up delivering a million baby shoes for the left foot only, and his idea that without indoctrination people would naturally have free-love and no families was one of those ideas so stupid you have to be massively smart (and taught to ignore reality) to come up with.

HKO

A great post that merits a full read.

Sarah hits a point made by Dierdre McCloskey. Grand schemes are designed to solve problems that can solve themselves. They are reviewing the play only after the first act.

These premature solutions often instigate a whole new problem(s) and response(s).

The best solution to social problems like health care for the poor is direct- buy it for them.  The attempt to custom design or influence complicated systems in a complex society with so much knowledge so widely dispersed is doomed to fail.