Friday, October 29, 2010

A nation of cretins

Drifty claims that the majority of Americans are vicious, venal monsters and those of us who aren't vicious venal monsters should just secede. As much as I hate to disagree with the talented and beautiful Drifty, I have to. Because the majority of Americans, while certainly impossible to educate, aren't vicious and venal. Rather, they're willfully ignorant -- and proud of it.

They call it "faith" -- a rejection of all factual knowledge, logic and reason in favor of unthinking belief in nonsense -- and they become very upset if you attempt to use logic and reason to remedy their ignorance. They view it as a personal attack upon their core being, all of which is based around believing in nonsense with all their heart while rejecting anything that might contradict said nonsense, and wonder if the next thing you're going to do is come take their guns, Bibles, or make their kids gay marry. They literally cannot be reasoned with, because reason for the willfully ignorant is like water to a cat -- a substance which the majority of them find abhorrent and despicable. They cannot be educated because any facts which contradict their core faith in their Party leaders is rejected out of hand as "liberal lies", something which they apply even to core statistical measures of the state of the nation as published by the OECD or BLS. Your attempts to "convince" them are no more effective than attempting to convince a typical cat to walk on a leash -- it's simply not part of their core nature to listen to facts or reason, and they will fight it with every fiber of their being.

Now, granted, there are monsters out there, who joke about inflicting torment and pain upon others, who gloat when others are harmed, who view inflicting pain and killing people as fun, who laugh when they destroy something which others took years to build. And these monsters find easy pickings amongst the common people, the salt of the earth, you know, morons. But I think Drifty and many on the left misread the willfully moronic majority if they believe the willfully moronic marjority are inherently vicious. They're easy pickings for people like Bigus Dickus Cheney and their ilk. But it *is* possible for them to become embarrassed when they see enough outright brutality against fellow Americans. Otherwise the civil rights movement would have been doomed from the start rather than successful... the majority of Americans probably weren't in favor of equal rights for blacks in 1965, but the sight of all those well dressed black men and women being beat down by thugs wearing sheriff's uniforms, day after day on the evening news, simply was too appalling to ignore.

And that's the *only* way to reach the willfully moronic majority -- via their emotions. Unfortunately, the Rethuglicans have the advantage there, because their hate-filled spittle is pure emotion from the start, while those of us who try to fight hate with logic and reason... well. It just doesn't work. And the results on November 2 are likely to bear that out, sadly.

-- Badtux the Heartland Penguin

Below: A liberal tries to lead a conservative to facts and reason.


  1. I'm with you up to a point, but the reason these cretins are willing to take bullshit on faith is more to do with the state of the economy, & the govt's timeless tactic of giving them someone to blame, so as to deflect attention from the real culprits. In some places in history it was Jews, today it's Mexicans, or liberals, or whoever.

    If they weren't losing their jobs they wouldn't need anyone to blame for "taking" them. If the country was solvent (as a result of economic activity increasing tax revenues, not via austerity) they wouldn't be bothered so much by welfare queens & the like.

  2. I'm sorry, but I'm from flyover country, and guns, faith, and hatred of smart people have been core values there for a *long* time, long before the current economic troubles. You ain't gonna give the majority of Americans a pass by blamin' the economy, the whole record of the past 30 years of American life, starting with the election of Ronnie Raygun, oughtta put that lie to rest...

    - Badtux the Ancient Penguin

  3. Willful ignorance spans all stripes. I once had a unit in middle school about stereo-typing. This post is a textbook example.

    There are those who have a distaste for certain ideas no matter their belief system. When I was a missionary for my church (LDS) I found that most people would rather remain ignorant of my beliefs. You may find them irrelevant, but it is ignorance nonetheless. Do you read the same number of books by conservatives as you do by progressives? Again, there is a values bias that precludes wanting to investigate certain things. This is characteristic of all humans, not just people who believe in God.

    You have really made a value judgment here and have mistaken it as a superior grasp on reality. I would apply the same standard to people of faith. They too need to acknowledge that that non-believers are a source of truth.

    I believe in God. I also embrace science. To believe that the two are somehow antithetical is willful ignorance itself. I wrote a little about that here

    You give away your strong emotional ties to your values with epithets like "morons", "cretins", "idiots", "Rethuglicans", etc.

    Now all ignorance put aside, there are plenty people who strive to look at all facts and still come to different conclusions. Whether it be the effect of tax breaks, stimulus spending, or anything. All actions have negative side effects as well as positive ones. Based on your values, you're going to latch on to actions based on which side effects you value.

    Read my post here and you'll understand that you don't even have a monopoly on facts, it boils down to *values* yet again.
    See this

  4. Nathan -

    Here is where your argument is self defeating:

    Now all ignorance put aside, there are plenty people who strive to look at all facts and still come to different conclusions. Whether it be the effect of tax breaks, stimulus spending, or anything.

    There is real data on these things, and they point inexorably to conclusions that support the Librul agenda. To read them any other way is to deny reality. And denying reality is central and essential to conservatism. Don't take my word for it. go read the first few dozen Pages of THE CONSERVATIVE MIND, by Russell Kirk. BT has this exactly right - they are PROUD of their ignorance. It's the very first thing Kirk praises.

    All actions have negative side effects as well as positive ones.

    This is simply wrong. All - or at least most - action have UNINTENDED consequences. There is no law of nature or probability finction that says they have to (or are most likely to) be negative.

    There really are correct and incorrect ways of looking at the real world. the correct way relies on data, evidence, and logical thinking. The incorrect way relies on ignorance, prejudice, muddled mentality and magical thinking.

    Honest to god, I got all of this from Kirk.


  5. On the emotional side, conservatism is motivated by fear, progressivism by hope.

    Fear, ignorance, prejudice, magical thinking - the lizzard-brain foundation of a politics devoted to the god, gays, and guns agenda.


  6. Nathan, when the majority of people believe in "facts" that manifestly are not true by any measures or historical data that we have (see my second link above), when they dismiss as "liberal lies" (or, more rarely, "conservative lies") any data which contradicts their faith in what their Party commissars have told them, when they dismiss even the possibility of using the tools of statistical science to verify or validate whether their cherished beliefs are true... I'm sorry. There just isn't a word to describe them other than what Gene WIlder used in that YouTube clip.

    You talk about conservatives who are intellectual and interested in factual discussions that may sometimes reach differing conclusions but which are fundamentally based upon logic and reason. But Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley are DEAD. D - E - A - D. And they were never the majority in any event, remember how many states Goldwater won in 1964?! It wasn't until the Republican Party of Richard Nixon started pandering to cretin-Americans that it started winning elections... which says more about Americans than it says about the Republican Party, alas.

    - Badtux the Fact-based Penguin

  7. Jazz,
    Unintended consequences usually are negative. You seem to be conceding my point as you try to refute it. Ever hear about of Newton's 3rd law? Of course every action has at least some drawback depending on point of view and values. The act of killing prey for food for example: Definite drawback for the prey, definite plus for the predator.

    Hogwash on the notion that only conservatives depend on fear and ignorance and that only progressives are truly enlightened. Dems use social security as a tool to threaten seniors into voting for them. We are currently told to fear the outcome of the election. In Krugman's latest opinion he says the following:
    This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness... So if the elections go as expected next week, here's my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    And you tell me with a straight face that fear mongering is somehow unique to conservatives?

    I did in fact read both your links. The second link is a combination of anecdotes and distortions. Don't you think that some conservatives can support Soc Sec and simultaneously want a reduction in government? It is a false dichotomy that supporting a safety net == ever bigger government! If you don't see that, oh well, I don't want to go there again.

    Unless you are willfully ignorant you'd even know that Glenn Beck supports social welfare programs. What is being talked about is extent, not absolutes. Yes, in debates we tend to speak in absolutes (ala the Krugman piece) but we both know those are rhetorical flourishes. So you tore down a strawman, nice job.

    Give me a fact that conservatives won't own up to. Some incontrovertible fact, and I'll show liberal bias at work. Whether it be in the interpretation of the fact or in placing value on that fact relative to other facts. Please read my values piece linked above.

  8. Well, me and mom were trying to simplify our opinion on this and we decided that rich Republicans (and their political tools) were evil, but the poor people who voted for them and their interests were just stupid.

  9. Nathan, when 65% of Republicans think that Obama is a secret Muslim and a huge percentage don't think he was born in the USA (fuck, they can't find Hawaii on a map or somethin?), when a huge percentage of Republicans think Obamacare sets up "death panels" and beg Obama to keep government out of their Medicare, when the majority of Republicans think that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction despite the fact that President Bush's very own hand-picked weapons inspectors could find no such WMD, when righties insist that government budget cuts end depressions when every historical piece of data we have shows that government budget cuts deepen depressions... dude. That's willful stupidity to the nth degree.

    Yes, there are moronic lefties. I was particularly scathing of the "Bush = Hitler" crowd, it was clear that while Bush was a cruel immature little frat boy he was no Hitler, and I'm equally scathing towards both the lefties *and* the righties regarding their criticisms of the bank bailouts (while I think the bailouts weren't handled as well as they could have been, no bailouts would have meant no banks, and capitalism simply doesn't work without banks). But if you want to find pervasive moronic faith-based belief in utter nonsense today, it's very few on the left where you'll find such a thing... and virtually all on the right.

    - Badtux the Numbers Penguin

  10. In our family meeting today we discussed labeling, stereotyping, and the tendency to look down on people in outgroups. Thanks for providing this example.

    I would still like to see just one of the commentors here read my post on how values are crucial to interpreting facts. I can only assume that you are "willfully" ignoring me on that.

    Tux, you're trying to hard to vilify the outgroup. I'll just take one assertion of yours and show you how your values and group identification played into your views. You said 65% of Republicans think Obama is a secret Muslim. Let's take a look at the facts. I presume you're talking about a recent Newsweek Poll. The poll was only about 1,000 people. Despite the fact that I believe poll sampling is imperfect,(nothing was published about how the respondents where found) I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Well the actual question in the poll was this:
    "Some people have alleged that Barack Obama sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world. From what you know about Obama, what is your opinion of these allegations?

    A yes to this question somehow means "believe Obama is a secret Muslilm"? That is quite a jump. The Pew poll only had 30% of Republicans believing Obama was Muslim. Since it is easier to falsify this latter assertion, I can see how you'd want to build off that and increase the number to 65% by insinuating that someone who believes that Obama sympathizes with Islam would also think he is a secret Muslim. You're trying to maximize the amount of negative perception of the outgroup.

    This poll was taken just a week or two after Obama came out in support of the ground zero mosque. So it is pretty clear that Obama supports Islam in certain respects. So the first half of the question is easier to prove as true. I can see how the poll respondents might not have paid as much attention to the phrase "impose Islamic law". That latter phrase would be easier to falsify, but even then, when you look at Obama's less than warm relations with Israel, kid glove treatment of terrorists, etc. you can see how some Republicans will see a trend of implicitly if not explicitly supporting the imposition of Islamic law.

    Now look at even the 30% of conservatives who believe believe Obama is a Muslim and not just a secret one. Just read this. Most cultures tend to view the children as being the religion of their parents. Sure, depending on how you define things (based on values and viewpoint!) you can have a different view, but it isn't hard to see how some people might not take Obama's professed Christianity seriously and would see his Muslim heritage and mixed upbringing as playing a role in his beliefs. Not everyone is willing to take Obama at his word, they'd rather see actions that match. If he seems not to support christianity according to their values and viewpoint, they may believe he is only posturing when he says he is Christian. I personally think there is a good chance that his religious views are put out for political effect, not conviction. I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Others may not. You can't prove his Christianity objectively.

    See how hard it is to get to the bottom of truth? It took you a one line accusation "65% blah blah" to try to make an outgroup look bad, and it took me several paragraphs to delve into it to discover that values and viewpoint are crucial. You imbue your statements with them too! Again, I challenge you to read my post on this subject. I'm signing off as a follower. Thanks for all the learnings and insights.

  11. I've already seceded from the United States! A singular secession (actually, a dual one when you include my wife, but "singular secession" sounds more alliterative.) I seceded with my feet.

    My evil side is itching to see people like Nathan, and my mother, and all the willfully, proudly ignorant people in her circle, get the America that they're lusting for. They deserve to get it good and hard.

    Burn, America, burn! I won't be able to see the smoke and ashes from my house (we're near the base of a hill) but since I can see Mount Baker, Washington from my 10th-floor hospital ward, I bet I could see the pall if the looting and burning hits Seattle.

    Sorry it's going to take you and your many intelligent readers down too when America anarchizes, Tux. But I believe you intelligent people will fare better than the idiots in the coming chaos. Good luck.

  12. Nathan, you say "values", I say "unreasoning belief in nonsense", and we are talking about *the same thing*. The deal being that the vast majority of people's "values" are not arrived at via careful examination of reality and the place of human existence within it and your place within human society and how human societies must operate in order to survive, but, rather, are handed down unquestioned from authority figures at some point in childhood and accepted on faith. And any attempt to provide facts that contradict that unreasoned faith is ultimately doomed to failure. And this adherence to unreasoned faith rather than to logic and reason describes 62% of Americans -- Americans are the most "religious" (that is, most willing to believe in unreasoned nonsense) of any industrialized nation. And proud of that fact.

    That is the reality within which I say to liberals, look: It's futile to argue facts and figures with the right. Any facts and figures which contradict their faith will simply get rejected as false -- that's part and parcel of what they are, i.e., people of "faith", believers in unreasoned nonsense handed down from authority figures, and part of this "faith" is the rejection of all facts and figures which contradict their "faith". The only arguments that work with these people are emotional arguments. And unfortunately, the right wing is the most adept at those kinds of arguments, lefties who attempt to appeal to emotions tend to sound rather hysterical...

    -- Badtux the Practical Penguin

  13. Still haven't read my link obviously. You have just stated that there is only one valid prioritization of values: yours. Only one valid viewpoint: yours. There is no room for disagreement, no room to concede anything from the "evil" conservatives. The enemy is either stupid, ignorant, or evil, no other option can be possible. I've seen this for 15 years on both sides of the aisle and in war as well. If you won't read my post on values, there is nothing more to say.

  14. No, I am saying that what you call "values" are based upon unreasoned belief, that is, faith, rather than upon logic and reason, and thus any facts which contradict this faith will automatically be rejected as "liberal lies". I don't think we differ in what we are saying, you simply don't see anything wrong with it because you have faith that your conservative values are the correct ones.

    - Badtux the Reasoning Penguin


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