Our Twitter account has relatively few followers and retweets, and this blog nets even lower quantity results. People blame an unappealing style.
But philosophers note a bigger reality: humanity holds reason in great contempt. Why?
Perhaps foremost, informed rationalism conflicts not only with some of our conditioning, but also with the secure feeling of belonging to large groups with the same view.
It’s also no secret that apathy and intellectual laziness are major components of the human condition: it’s easier to support or just go along with popularity. Even though large groups, like nations, promote destructive policies to attract as many illogical individuals as possible.
“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.” – Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) Homogeneity puts people at ease, but dulls intellect.
We commonly avoid those who point out conflicts with reason as unpleasant, and anoint those who avoid or reinforce them as optimistic “leaders”. Or at least show by their history or affiliation that when they do address some issues, their words are mere tokens.
Indicative: in his 1980 presidential campaign, Republican Ronald Reagan promised to balance the budget by the end of his first term. After elected, he never once sent a balanced budget to Congress. In fact, deficits grew much larger. How did the public punish him and his party for such disingenuous irresponsibility? We re-elected him. With 525 of 538 electoral votes.
During that period, I asked Democrat Representative Norm Dicks why he himself voted for red ink budgets. ‘Because Reagan never sends us balanced budgets.’ How did the public punish Mr. Dicks and his party? We re-elected him. 17 times.
Notice when our federal government merely reduces borrowing, a lot of anger and blame is displayed on social media. Including plenty from purportedly rational social liberals.
So imagine the great strife when we not only don’t borrow anymore, but actually begin repaying our centuries of folly. Witness the violent – even murderous – riots in recent years when conditions finally forced some European nations to minimize or stop borrowing. No wonder politicians are loathe to be financially responsible!
Only a miniscule percentage of the u.s.a. public actively supports Fix the Debt or The Concord Coalition. Or alternative political parties at election time. But great gnashing of teeth and much blaming of others when it’s time to be responsible.
These examples are merely symptoms of humanity’s disdain for rationalists and reason.
When plainly more logical and beneficial – but not popular – options are available, the common false dichotomy of “the lesser of two evils” exhibits both a lack of imagination, and intellectual dishonesty. People want to behave the same, and group with the same. But “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Reason holds minimal appeal because it requires caring. Time, effort, and concentration to become well-informed. Overcoming fear of change. And painfully isolated dissent. So choosing large crowds is quicker, easier, and more comforting. Lao-Tzu (B.C.E. 570?-490?): “A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”
Humanity avoids becoming quietly informed and reflective, and also avoids supporting those who do. No boring paragraphs of rational print: we enslave our minds to the razzle dazzle of brevity, lights, colors, motion, pictures, noise, and cheering crowds. Mass delusions.
The Sage of Baltimore, Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956): “The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice, and truth.” “It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage, and honor.”
© Hyper Intellect 2013