Monday, March 27, 2017

Or we could just use the signal!

This started out as a comment in the post below, but it went long:

My favorite part of that "story" is the idea the pizza parlor was conducting their nefarious business in the basement.

As the shooter who went there found out, the place doesn't have a basement.  None of this puts Mike Cernovich off the theory (I actually watched that '60 Minutes' segment last night).  He insists it is true because he thinks arguing is fun, or something.

I figured out that, on the internet at least, some people want to argue, and the classical argument meant to be a dialogue achieving some kind of Hegelian synthesis requires a willingness to reconcile.  Lots of barmy theories bouncing around the internet about how science "proves" "liberals" and "conservatives" (as if those were scientific categories, and not cultural/political ones) think differently, and that's why they can't agree.  Of course, such theories depend on oversimplification, vague and glittering generalities, and generally the kind of thinking usually properly labeled "racist" if not "elitist"; but they are popular.

The base line is:  people think what they want to think, and most people don't deeply examine their thought processes.  Self-examination is hard!  Far easier to adopt a position and then, if you are so inclined, defend it to the death. Or just keep it going because arguing is fun!   Does the pizza parlor where the sex ring is operating in the basement have a basement?  Doesn't matter!  Besides, who told you they don't have a basement?  The fake news media?  Liars!  They're covering for Clinton and the Democrats!  The guy with the gun was a false flag!

See how easy it is?  And frankly, if such people win the day and get like-minded people elected, it's Gresham's law applied to sociology (which probably has one of it's own that I don't know):  bad ideas drive out good.  The vast majority of people have never heard of "Pizza-gate," even after the arrest, and simply don't care.  If they do hear about it, it sounds completely nuts to them.  But even that doesn't motivate them to care.  It's Batman v. reality.  As Patton Oswalt noted recently, the tragic death of someone you love doesn't motivate you to travel the world seeking out fighting masters and to reshape yourself into the ultimate street fighter.  The effect of grief makes you sit on the couch and eat cookie dough out of a bucket and be really, really sad.  Sorrow is not a motivator to action.  Except we want it to be, so in fiction, it is.  Just as in fiction, good ideas enter the arena to fight bad ideas, and drive them out.  Hurray for free speech!  Good always wins!

It doesn't, of course,  In any group dynamic, like, say, a church, the nasty people can drive out the good people, if the good people don't really care and don't really oppose them.  And why should they fight?  Most people have better things to do with their time.  So in politics:  people have awakened to the horror of Donald Trump and repealing Obamacare and the general idiocy that has been on the ascendant in the GOP since Goldwater.  They will fight it now, but only for a while.    The true believers who truly believe because it gives their life meaning, or because it's what they care about, or because they think they're right, will keep fighting the other true believers.  But the reconciliation won't fail to come because conservatives are from Mars and liberals are from Venus:  it will fail because some people on both side refuse to be reconciled.

And the people in the middle aren't adult enough to take responsibility for the mess.  The real problem in American culture is that one:  there aren't any adults left in the room.  Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus have replaced LBJ and Sam Rayburn and people who ran for Congress to govern, not to establish ideological purity.

We're not really in two different universes.  We're just in a world where children have been allowed to take charge, because the adults can't be bothered.  Any government where Donald Trump presents the Chancellor of Germany with an "invoice" for what he thinks Germany owes NATO is not a government where maturity and adult thinking are running things.

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