Ben Carson

Ben Carson and the Politics of Fantasy

Not all surgeons are firmly grounded in the real world.


Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

If only Ben Carson had been in that classroom at Umpqua Community College, the outcome might have been different. The gunman reportedly asked several people their religion, only to be shot regardless of the answer. Carson said he would have been braver than they were. 

"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me," he said in an interview on Fox News Channel. "I would say, 'Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'" 

Carson has never had to face a homicidal maniac training a gun barrel on him, but he has no doubt that if he did, he would respond with courage and resolve. Maybe he would. Maybe the 18 people shot last week simply lacked his unflinching nerve in the face of death. Maybe if he had been there, he would have saved them. 

More likely, though, is that he's living on a different planet. Evidence abounds that Carson maintains only intermittent contact with reality. He resembles Lewis Carroll's White Queen, who told Alice, "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." 

Some voters think a Carson presidency is neither impossible nor undesirable. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in Iowa, he has 19 percent of the Republican vote, second only to Donald Trump. 

These supporters may like his story: a poor African-American—raised in Detroit by an illiterate single mother—who grew up to attend Yale and become a neurosurgeon, the first one ever to separate twins conjoined at the head. They may like that he embraces conservative themes without reservation. 

They may be pleased that as a black man who sounds just like a white tea party conservative, he absolves conservatives of any possible racial prejudice. Herman Cain filled the same role four years ago. 

But they may also like Carson for his habit of believing impossible things that validate their extreme ideology. Carson is proof that when it comes to Republican primary voters, ridiculous statements are the price of admission. 

He drew attention by saying he could not accept a Muslim for president, on the theory that Islam is incompatible with American values. This was too much for Lindsey Graham, who noted that 3,500 Muslim members of the U.S. military have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Carson apparently didn't notice that two Muslim members of Congress have taken the oath to uphold the Constitution—the same one Christian and Jewish members take. 

He earned his right-wing bona fides by saying that Obamacare is "slavery, in a way." Barack Obama's arguments about saving lives and ensuring access to care were lies because "it was never about health care. It was about control." But what would you expect of a president Carson regards as a "psychopath"? 

Central to his appeal in the GOP is his withering contempt for liberals—"the most racist people there are," in his view. He believes "political correctness is ruining our country." 

Carson is a Christian who thinks Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a fraud promoted by "the forces of evil." He likens same-sex marriage to legalizing pedophilia and bestiality and predicts it will lead us to "a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire." 

He said that homosexuality is obviously a choice "because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight—and when they come out, they're gay." He later apologized for his words, without abandoning his view. 

His comment was a reminder that he has strange views on penal issues. Carson said that when he visited federal prisons, he was "flabbergasted by the accommodations," and he worries that we are "creating an environment that is conducive to comfort where a person would want to stay." 

It's hard to imagine how someone so intellectually and professionally accomplished could utter such howling nonsense. But there is no real mystery. Great distinction in one field is no protection against unmitigated foolishness in another. Bobby Fischer may have been the greatest chess genius ever, but he ended up a paranoid anti-Semite. 

Carson is an exceptional surgeon who knows very little about public policy or history and has a habit of letting his imagination fill in the gaps. He can believe anything that suits his preferences, as long as it's impossible. 

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Carson also believes government is on par with God and that its ok to tithe to the state.

    He is yet another of the many churchgoers that sit in the church pews where they preach the 10 commandments, yet encourage the gov’t to extort and use violence against others. He is a hypocrite, and failed to even bother reading Samuel that is in the bible.

    Jesus labeled tax collectors sinners. He knew extortion, and the very state itself was a sin. The violent state nailed him to a cross, and the rest is history…….that folks blatantly ignore.

    “Thou shalt not steal.” That’s it! It doesn’t say Thou shall not steal, except if your’re a politician in a fancy suit that others vote for and advocate they rob people.

    1. Could not agree more with this.
      And the Pope falls into the same fallacious thinking.

    2. Because “if 10% is good enough for God then 10% is good enough for government” simply must mean “government is on par with God.”


      Newsletter, subscribed.

    3. Really that’s my biggest beef with him. I’d be interested in what he would say if I asked him “so Ben even though the theory of evolution isn’t accurate, will you so far as to say that it (evolution) is a complete fallacy?”

      I know several scientists, who also happen to be Christians and they all think the evolutionist vs creationist argument is stupid, because evolution does happen but it doesn’t disprove creation one iota.

      I do like that Ben is not P.C. and is less offensive than Trump, but he is not presidential material.

      1. Still much better than Kankles or Uncle Stalin.

    4. I’m only responding to the blatant misunderstanding of the Bible. Jesus did not flat out condemn the job of the tax collectors as sinful. True, most of them were performing their job in a sinful manner.

      Luke 3 Some tax collectors also came to be baptized; they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” He said…”Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”

      Luke 18 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners…or even like this tax collector…But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.”

      Mark 12 “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”…”Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”…he said, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

      Romans 13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. …For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God…Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed…

      1. Romans 13 is inappropriately ascribed to government and only government. Many of the passages you left out showed the reason you obey the “authorities”, that they have the sword (force) and for conscience’s sake (to be a good witness to those who don’t know better).

        Also, if the government actually acted like the authorities are described in Romans 13, few would have any issue with obeying them.

        1 Samuel 8 on God’s opinion on whether you should set up a big government or a small “government” (that Rothbard would have said is no government at all).

        1. I’m not saying Romans 13 is only government, but it definitely applies. Paul doesn’t say to only submit to governing authorities that we deem good (he is writing to Roman Christians, and I don’t think we would say Rome was a particularly wonderful government).

          Any government is better than anarchy. Even a dictator?as evil as he/she may be?is a better option than no government at all.

          And it’s also true that Christians should not submit to the demands of government if they contradict the laws of God.

          And I definitely agree that the warning to the Israelites against a King contains truths about the what governments will do; however, I don’t think that’s prescriptive Scripture, rather descriptive. I could be wrong, though.

          All that to say, the OP was wrong to say that taxation is wrong and that the state is not biblical.

          The fine points of how big or what form are certainly up for debate 🙂

    5. 1 Samuel 8 (for more proof of the evils of big government).

    6. Actually, it wasn’t the “violent state” that crucified Christ, but the state acting upon the absolute demand of the people against Pilate’s own personal convictions. So, democracy in action.

    7. Carson believes that the government is on par with God? Because he wants a flat tax?

      Where the fuck did you come up with that bullshit? Is this Gawker? Huffpo?

  2. At least half of what you mentioned as “fantasy” is either absolutely true, or arguably true. Concern troll is concerned.

  3. OK, Chapman convinced me that Ben Carson is worthy of my support for president of the United States. Now who will make the case against Dr. Carson?

  4. I see Reason had to get in on the fake outrage and publish an article based on twisting someone’s words. An article pulled straight from the Chicago Tribune, no less.

    As with all politicians, Carson manages to plant his foot firmly in his mouth sometimes but this is just fucking pathetic.

  5. Fuck you Chapman. Why don’t you just go ahead and make common cause with the progressive assholes who want to take our guns.

    Shit if the campus weren’t a gun free zone Carson could have been there AND been carrying. That would have made his proposed resistance much more effective too.

    But no, you have to play your snarky cool progtarian card.

    If you think your piece here is libertarian in any way your fucking deluded.

    As reason did so well pointing out just yesterday, the second amendment is in the fucking constitution, to get rid of it your have to amend the constitution.

    But you start your article with the same damn tropes all the progtards love.

    Shitty piece Chapman.

    1. It’s a shitty piece, Chapman’s a shitty human being, and Reason is slowly turning into a shitty website.

      1. Yeah, I really don’t see why they continue to post shit by Steve “Ready for Hillary” Chapman. It definitely doesn’t add anything to the overall quality of the site.

        1. I think we both know why they’re allowing it- they have taken a side and it isn’t Libertarianism. Just look at the tone of the articles critical of Dems versus the tone of the articles critical of Reps.

          The Dems are making mistakes or are innocently incorrect while the Reps are frothing at the mouth insane/stupid/evil. They’re pushing the Dem candidates while mildly criticising them with a wink and a nod.

          1. Looking at the top candidates its not difficult to make the case for insane/stupid /evil. The dems are just as bad but they’re more practiced at hiding it.

      2. I hear Chapman rapes kittens. FLUFFY kittens! Bastard!

    2. Beyond your well made points, JWW, the Chapster also doesn’t realise that what Carson described is what we are taught in the Marines -whether you’re a Navy medical support guy with them, like I was, or one of them-that this is exactly what you do. And I saw in combat in Iraq with my Marines that this is what happens, it works, and it’s one of the reasons that if our political bosses let us, we always win.

      And we all have seen cases, just like in this case Carson was talking about, where a guy did run at the shooter. The guy was shot several times but survived. Flight 93 on 9/11 is another famous example. The libs going nuts on this are from a different subculture than that which I and many other Americans do, where we either instinctively do this or when taught, understand it.

  6. Chapman’s sub headline continues Reason’s well established pattern of, not simply criticizing ideas or arguments, but actively characterizing republican candidates as mentally defective.

    Stay classy editors, stay classy.

    1. Reason is steadily devolving into another progressive shit heap. Someone needs to start a real libertarian website. Articles like this one are why I’m glad I’m NOT a paid subscriber.

  7. You may not agree with Carson, and you may think his ideology is extreme and dangerous or whatever… but polls show that he’s firmly in the majority of public opinion on most of it.

    1. The public is extreme and dangerous, hence the structures in place to keep the tyranny of the majority at bay. The structure does help somewhat, but the majority is slowly crushing the minority.

  8. Like pretty much all humans, Carson is part nutters and part spot-on. I find his nuttiness a bit troubling so I wouldn’t vote for him, but the bit about racists liberal ruining the country seems accurate to me.

  9. Most of this hit job article is “howling nonsense,” not Carson’s words.

    As most people here have pointed out, most of the Carson statements criticized here are clearly true or arguably true. Rational people are seriously concerned about the incongruency of Islamic beliefs systems with a free society, the negative impact of Obamacare on our medical system and health care, etc. Liberals are probably the most racist people and political correctness is ruining the country. These statements are demonstrably true. And then Chapman suggests Carson is somehow deranged for being a Christian and having Christian beliefs (skepticism toward the theory of evolution, opposition to gay marriage, etc.). Look, I’m not religious and I find some of Carson’s religious views to be irrational and wrongheaded. But there are probably close to half of Americans who are religious (and billions of people all over the world) and hold similar views. They doesn’t make half of society insane.

  10. Ben Carson said in a 2011 speech on the Adventist News Network that Charles Darwin was encourage by Satan when he came up with the theory of evolution:

    Carson rejects a theory that is solidly backed up by scientific evidence and is the foundation of biology in favor of the creationist mythology. And Carson’s a doctor? Glad I’m not sick.

    1. So if I’m having brain surgery, I want the surgeon to be flipping through Origin of Species?

      1. Apparently, he drank the creationist Kool-Aid after med school.

        Like the welfare state liberals, he can’t debate the merits of evolution over creationism. Since the evidence supports evolution, just like it supports the failure of the welfare state, Carson has no choice but to demonize evolution.

        According to Genesis, the Earth was created in six days by a male god. This god, not satisfied with his handiwork, committed mass genocide buy causing the rain to fall for 40 days and 40 nights, resulting in a flood that wiped out almost all life. The only survivors were a 600-year-old man named Noah and his family. Noah built an ark and saved two of every animal, but forgot about dinosaurs.

    2. Creationist here:

      I don’t care what you believe concerning where species or the Universe came from. In the political realm, I only care if you send me with guns to aggress against me.

    3. Sure. He’s only widely recognized as at the top of his field.

    4. Creationist here. I disagree with Carson politically, so I won’t be voting for him, but equating the idea of evolution to brain surgery is like…well, equating entomology and brain surgery. Two completely unrelated fields that have no bearing on how good he is (which, apparently he’s quite skilled).

  11. “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” he said in an interview on Fox News Channel. “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”

    I don’t see anything wrong with that plan, other than the whole “Hey, guys, everybody attack him…” part. I wouldn’t want my survival to depend on others, but at least trying to fight back sounds better than just standing there and going out like a chump. Sure you might get shot and killed, but at least you tried.

    I remember after the VA Tech shooting – when word got out that a professor had blocked the door to his classroom to keep the shooter from getting in – hearing someone say something like “That professor was so brave, I don’t think I could do something like that, I’d probably just give up and die.” It really bothered me so I asked them “Does your life really have so little value to you that you’d just give up that easily? Fighting back is risky, but wouldn’t you rather at least try?” The fact that I was the weirdo for thinking that way was really fucking depressing, and it still is.

    Furthermore, the fact that anytime anyone says they’d fight back to the end is dismissed as some kind of faux “tuff gai” as opposed to someone who sincerely feels that fighting for their life is better than just going out like a bitch is also very infuriating.

    1. I’d rather go out like an idiotic brave man than die like a sheep.

      1. I’d rather have a rational discussion with the psychopath to convince him not to hurt anyone until the police arrive to save us all.


        1. The prog can have the “rational” discussion while I slam my foot into the perp’s knee and introduce his face to the ground. Or get shot, if I’m not lucky.

          Actually, the prog could distract him with the discussion while we attack from the sides… or just be the bait and get shot while we take him out… Remember kids, no human is totally useless!

    2. I used to hate how everyone called Todd “Let’s Roll” Beamer a hero. Ditto with the professor you mentioned. I mean, who wouldn’t attempt to stop somebody from killing you/others? Looking at this article and comments from people like you mentioned I guess compared to most people in the US that is uncommon “bravery”.

  12. You do realize that Carson once defended his family with a baseball bat so no its not fantasy

  13. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  14. Anyone who is running for President and thinks they can do the job is living with some sort of fantasy. The question is how many ghosts and faeries may or may not be on hand.

    1. Seven. Three ghosts, four faeries.

  15. Other than the evolution position, the rest is just a different view of human nature and how the world works. Fortunately for Chapman, truth has been revealed to him from on high – so people who disagree are out of touch with reality.

    1. The “true believer” is attacking the true believer.

      Carson is wrong for wanting to send men with guns to aggress against people, any other issue a person may have with him is not a (libertarian) political one.

  16. So Carson holds some views which differ from those held by others? Well, by all means, let’s give Hillary the crown now then.

  17. This is a terrible, poorly written, and poorly cited hit piece.

    I just recently became of fan of Reason, but this piece really has me doubting this site for credible, bias-free information.

    Reason would do well to get rid of this Steve Chapman author.

    1. On the balance, this a good website but the writers and editors can be as biased, deceitful, and dogmatic as anyone you’ll see at Huffpo or National Review at times. Sadly it seems to be getting worse.

  18. So Carson is:
    Correct on the right to self defense
    Correct on Sharia law
    Correct on Obamacare
    Correct on racist progs and PC
    But has some weird religious beliefs that have no impact on me.
    And all this upsets Chapman a great deal.
    Well shit, I was kind of neutral on him before, but now I might actually vote for this guy if he’s the R. Thanks, Chapman!

  19. Ben Carson may be right that Obama is a psychopath and for all we know Carson is a psychopath. In the excellent read “The Wisdom of Psychopaths” by Kevin Dutton, a psychologist at Oxford, he points out that many world leaders and highly skilled professionals are to one degree or another psychopaths. He profiles a neurosurgeon whose blood pressure actually drops when he is in surgery because he is so cold and calculated. Psychopaths are also extremely utilitarian, which may be a good quality in a president, given our interventionist foreign policy. Collateral damage, the killing of civilians, children, would keep the average person up for days in emotional horror, but the psychopath looses no sleep. He knows that war is often the greatest good for the greatest number, especially when that number is, in this example, Americans and our allies. Check out the book. Not all psychopaths are serial killers or even criminals, although many are. They make excellent CEO’s, salesman, politicians, sappers, surgeons, military leaders, charismatic religious leaders (for better or worse). The latter half of the book is about qualities of Psychopaths that we can put to use for our own success without being psychopaths ourselves. I don’t think Steve Chapman is doing much to disparage Carson by sharing that Carson thinks that Obama is a psychopath.

    1. Sorry, Cambridge University

  20. Ok, I think Carson is a nutcase, but there’s nothing in this article that supports my position. I’m especially puzzled by the notion that fighting back in self-defense is something only a crazy person would suggest. I’m constantly surprised by the failure of those with numbers on their side to fucking take advantage of their numerical superiority. Even if all potential victims are unarmed, the odds are on the side of the mob; fully automatic weapons might swing thinge the other way, but since that seems never to be the case in mass shootings it’s beside the point.

    I admit, people act like i’m talking crazy when I bring this shit up, but that’s mainly because they attribute magical powers to guns. The simple facts are that most people aren’t particularly good shots, and even if they are they can only look in one direction at a time and shoot one bullet at a time. Being rushed by 5-10 people all at once is sufficient to disarm most gunmen. Yes, you might get shot and die in the process, but if you were already in line to be shot and killed, and taking action will almost certainly save lives, where’s the downside?


    1. Its not crazy to protect yourself and even if unarmed charge an armed attacker. The more people, the better the chance to disarm the attacker.

      There are many examples in history including the recent example of just this thing on a french train. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler were unarmed and disarmed an attacker who had an AK-47 and pistol.

  21. Apparently, Chapman has never heard of Chris Mintz.

  22. Let’s play a game – find the ad hominem argument!

    Answer: TRICKED YOU! It’s ALL ad hominem!

    Not that I agree with Carson on…well, almost anything…but for cripes’ sake let’s at least PRETEND we’re intelligent when we criticize people. I say the same thing about Obama. I have no idea what the man himself is like, so I don’t hate on him. I do, however, absolutely stomp on his policies because they’re ludicrous at best; god-awful shit at worst. Carson is much the same way – at least for consistency and public policy. I’ve never met the man so I have nothing to say about him personally.

    But I sure as hell won’t vote for him.

  23. Once again, Mr. Chapman provides us with irrefutable evidence of the Progressive bias at the Trib editorial desk.

    Kinda wish Reason had provided a disclaimer, instead of appearing to endorse this mudslinging.

  24. Kind of a liberal slant here but I can’t really argue with any of the points it makes. Although Rand Paul said basically the same thing about Obamacare, or of socialized medicine in general at any rate.

  25. Starting to find more of these pieces here. Sigh. His comments are not even remotely controversial. Not grounded in reality. What a hack.

  26. So Chapman is condemning Ben Carson for criticizing Obamacare and Obama? Obamacare is not about control? Obama is not a bat-shit crazy leftist?

  27. “Carson apparently didn’t notice that two Muslim members of Congress have taken the oath to uphold the Constitution”

    Just like the current Commander in Chief / out-of-the-closet Muslim took that same oath seven years ago?

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