Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Interesting Reading

Here are some recent blogs and articles I've read recently and like. Check them out if the excerpts interest you. I want to read that book reviewed and mentioned in the last two.

"Trying to Understand the Illogical" in Nutwood Junction
The mind is an amazing thing, but what energy it must take to constantly try to rationalize mistaken beliefs, whatever they happen to concern. I would think that would be a full-time job, and would lead to further psychological conflict. I'm sure we all rationalize our behaviors to some extent ("I'm going to eat that extra doughnut because I had a bad day," or "I'm not going to get lung cancer because I don't smoke as much as some people do"), but when you ignore clear evidence, that seems to go a little beyond simple rationalization and into the realm of delusion.
"The Dunce Confederacy" in the New York Observer

In a review of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce, Stephen Amidon wrote:
Although Ronald Reagan was an important champion of Idiot America, particularly in promoting his loopy “trickle down” theory of economics, the dunce confederacy really came into its own when George W. Bush took the helm. This is hardly surprising, given that a senior member of his administration (rumored to be Karl Rove) once famously expressed the Bush White House’s contempt for “the reality-based community.” Thus, we were given a chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, Dr. Leon Kass, who “opposed—in no particular order—in vitro fertilization, cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, contraception and the public eating of ice cream cones.” Or a head of FEMA, Michael “Brownie” Brown, “who’d been dismissed as an incompetent from his previous job as the director of a luxury show-horse organization.”
"Dumb is the New Black" in Young Australian Skeptics
There is a great discussion going on in another post regarding textual discrepancies in the Bible. It certainly brings the theists out of their hidey-​​holes to stick up for the Big Guy. But it also makes me realise that there is an even bigger group out there that too often get ignored in blogs and podcasts. They are the airy-​​fairy spiritualists. These are the people who don’t believe in organised religion but believe in just about everything else if it fits their world view. This group like to think of themselves as somehow more ‘in the know’ than the churches, like they have evolved past the dogma and rely purely on their own (very special) personal experiences, opinions and intuition. But what does this say about us as a modern community? When did the phrase “everybody is entitled to their opinion” become a valid argument for establishing the fact of a thing? When it all comes out in the wash it is still a belief based on no evidence and a lack of critical thought on the subject. I’m reminded at this point that Charles Pierce has just released a new book titled Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. In it he responds to this very thing -“You’re entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts”. His book highlights how it has become a frequent phenomena that “everybody is a historian, or a scientist, or a preacher, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert”.


Beth said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Joy!

That book does sound fascinating. I've been wondering lately (and lamenting) why some seem to wear their ignorance like a badge of pride. "I didn't get no fancy shmancy Harvard degree...but I know what I know!" Huh? As I've often said, it's not cool to be stoopid.

Hugs, Beth