Ideology, Religion, and Respect

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

My former student Carolyn Homer has written a characteristically thoughtful and passionate post arguing that Trumpism is akin to a religion. Others have argued that Wokeness is essentially a religious movement, or that both Evangelicalism and Wokeness are. And one can find critiques arguing that economics is a religion or that libertarianism is a false faith. Secular humanism can be a religion too. These arguments do not all claim that ideologies are religious in the sense that they take positions on the superhuman power of God, but that ideological movements are often similar to religious movements in their organization and in that their belief structures ultimately reduce to assumptions that are matters of faith in the relevant communities.

Humans use essentially the same cognitive processes to derive their religious beliefs and their ideological views. Because individual experience is limited, many of our beliefs are based on decisions to place faith in the conclusions of others. Often, we believe that groups of thinkers are worthy of epistemic deference because we know people in these groups and believe based on our first-hand experience with them that their beliefs are genuine and that they are unlikely to be trying to deceive us about their views. This helps explain why people often have views similar to those of other people in their community. It is not just that we are more exposed to the views of our friends and neighbors (though that is surely important as well), but also that we tend to trust our friends and neighbors. It also helps explain why individuals who feel less comfortable socially in a community are more likely than others to reject that community's ideological or religious beliefs.

I do not mean this merely to be a claim about other people's beliefs. It is very much a claim about my own beliefs. For example, I have great confidence in my own views of climate science, specifically that the best evidence indicates that anthropogenic global warming is occurring. But that is not based on any detailed study of the models that climate scientists use. Rather, it is based on an assumption that climate scientists are unlikely to be engaged in a global hoax. This is a belief that I can hold with great confidence even though I also think that there is probably some incentive for conformity and groupthink within the relevant community and that it may be more difficult to publish research suggesting that climate change is a little milder than feared than researching suggesting that climate change is a little worse than feared. If I engaged a climate change skeptic whose knowledge level was similar to mine, we would probably deadlock in arguing about the incentives of the scientific community, more than on the actual science, since neither of us has much more than a superficial knowledge of the scientific studies on this issue. I would like to think that if I devoted sufficient time to educating myself, I would be able to explain in clear detail how the climate change skeptics are misusing evidence, but I must confess that if I today watched a 10-minute video by a climate change skeptic citing various studies, I probably would not know enough to lay out the counterarguments.

When one recognizes that one's own views inevitably depend on matters of faith, should one discard those views? Consider Aumann's agreement theorem, which shows that if rational agents have common knowledge of each other's beliefs (meaning that each believes that the other believes that the first believes what the other's beliefs are and so on to infinite regress) then they cannot agree to disagree. Imagine, for example, that in thinking about some ideological or religious issue, I could place all the parts of my brain that form my reasoning on that issue into a box, which I could then interrogate for the answer to what I think about that issue. For example, I can't remember what I believe about climate science, but my box tells me that I believe that anthropogenic global warming is very likely. But I can see that your box says that you believe that anthropogenic global warming is very unlikely. Assume that I think that the brain in your box is mechanically every bit as good as the brain in my box. In such circumstances, it's easy to see that I should be no more disposed to think that anthropogenice global warming is very likely than than that it is very unlikely. There is no reason that I should favor the answer from my own box than from yours, any more than I should assume that my computer is giving me the correct result if your computer and mine surprisingly give different answers to a particular floating point operation.

But I can't place the parts of my brain that resolves particular issues in a box (at least without doing considerable damage), and more importantly, I cannot verify when you tell me your view on a particular issue that you are honestly reporting your view on that issue. When I interrogate my own view, I may recognize the possibility that my views are the result of subconscious psychological processes and self-deception, but at least I know that my views are not the result of conscious deception. Thus, I should have at least some greater confidence in my own views than in the views of any other person, all else equal, particularly if I believe that my views already place appropriate epistemic deference on the views of others. That is enough to save each of us from paralysis; I can hold beliefs, even beliefs that a majority of others reject. But it should reinforce that each of us is using a remarkable but imperfect machine to generate our beliefs, that we are all motivated reasoners who do not understand our subconscious motivations, and that many people are probably genuine in holding beliefs that we think are clearly wrong or even evil.

All of this analysis extends to my religious beliefs as well as to nonreligious ideological views. I belong to a Jewish congregation that emphasizes egalitarianism, and I do not believe that God intended for women to be excluded from positions of power either in religious organizations or in secular society. But of course I have friends who are adherents of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths that insist on different roles for men and women in at least some domains. I respect these friends and their beliefs, even though I do not agree with them. Most of us, I believe, are inclined to respect those of other religions, not only those who engage in different faith traditions (do you give presents for Christmas or Hannukah?) but who actually have different beliefs (do you believe that Jesus is the son of God?). Many people today accord more respect to those of other religious faiths than to those of other ideological beliefs, even though one might argue that the range of religious beliefs is much greater than the range of ideological views.

So, yes, ideology is like religion, and it may be worth pointing this out as a means of encouraging those on both sides of an issue to introspect about their assumptions and about whether they have arrived at their views largely for social reasons. But ultimately, the similarity of ideology and religion should be cited as a reason to respect the views of others rather than to condemn them. It may be appropriate in deciding whether to grant credence to others' views to assess whether they arrived at those views through some process of isolated impartial reflection or through social processes. But we should resist the temptation to conclude that our views reflect impartial reflection while others' views are the product of social processes. We should explain when we believe our opponents are wrong and why. But our politics and our society would be better if we recognized that our own views are fallible and that even those we regard as fundamentally misguided may be genuine in their views and may even be employing reasoning processes that foundationally are similar to those that we ourselves are employing.

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  1. An excellent essay and a clarion call for intellectual humility. What the essayist dances around and doesn’t quite get to, is the values can’t come from facts. I probably won’t do anything, because the problem of demonizing the opposition as illegitimate has gone to far. I am still glad he wrote it and I read it.

    I’m interested in the comments. I challenge everyone to name a topic, like the essayist did with climate change, that they admit that they haven’t done the work themselves and are relying on, for lack of a better word, faith. For me, I’ll say it’s globalization. I used to be much for “free market” and less into protectionism because I listened to Austrian/Chicago School economics, but now I’m not so sure that international trade is a win-win in all cases. I now think that NAFTA was a sellout of the middle class in America and of the maize farmers in Mexico. An almost unthinkable position for me a decade ago.

    1. “I challenge everyone to name a topic, like the essayist did with climate change, that they admit that they haven’t done the work themselves and are relying on, for lack of a better word, faith.”

      m_k, I hope that you don’t mean to suggest that there isn’t a huge and important gulf between “done the work themselves” and “faith.” For example, I believe that the cosmos is more than 100,000 years old though I haven’t done the work myself, but I don’t believe it based on faith, either. I believe it because I’ve read about complex webs of evidence of processes which couldn’t have produced what we see now without having operated over longer time periods. The evidence is due to investigations by huge numbers of people powerfully motivated to question assumptions and find each others’ errors because they operate within a culture of institutionalized humility which over long timescales converges on ever more reliable representations of reality by pretty much any measure you can come up with. The intellectual contortions one would have to engage in to believe in a cosmos just thousands of years old is as a result truly staggering.

      If instead I came to you simply professing faith that the cosmos was >100k years old, you’d have no rational reason to believe me on that basis. For starters, lots of folks believe just the opposite on that same basis. A mode of belief such as faith, which can be used to justify any belief whatsoever (including contradictory ones, sometimes within the same skull), can have no independent credence; beliefs which must be justified in this way (however much one respects the believer as a person) simply don’t merit epistomological respect.

      1. You’re taking it on faith (by the terms that the OP alludes to) that the cosmos is indeed ancient, unless you’re an astrophysicist yourself.

        1. Sheesh. Do you really see no important distinction between someone giving credence to a hypothesis because it is buttressed by fundamental findings surviving withering scrutiny in numerous branches of science (astrophysics, geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, physics, cosmology) vs someone who just believes something because they deeply feel its truth?

          If so, I can see why you are willing to subsume both of these modes of belief as just “taking it on faith”, and talk about those two approaches in the same breath. But in that case I think that, while you are *in* this century, you are not *of* this century.

        2. “You’re taking it on faith (by the terms that the OP alludes to) that the cosmos is indeed ancient, unless you’re an astrophysicist yourself.”

          Or, you learned WHY the astrophysicists have an opinion showing more than 6000 years of creation. History of science is an important subject that most students neglect.

        3. If you understand the process and institutions that give rise to a conclusion, you don’t need to understand the ends.

          It’s not some mere appeal to authority.

        4. No. If an astrophysicist says, “X is true; trust me,” and you do, that would be taking it on faith. But that’s not how it works. The only thing you’re taking on faith is that it isn’t a massive conspiracy of scientists all lying about their work. If you dismiss that possibility, then you understand that an astrophysicist follows a particular methodology, that his results and conclusions are published, and that other astrophysicists review that work and build on it, and that if he just made something up and said “Trust me,” the other ones would call him on it.

    2. Actually the writer is full of crap.

      People use the same cognitive processes to choose which sports they like and which team to root for as they do their political affiliation.

      And that tendency is rooted in our anthropological development in bands like chimps and gorillas and tribes of hunter gatherers in competition for resources and mates with other bands of chimpanzees gorillas and hunter gatherers.

      Democrats and Republicans hate each other just like Yankee fans and Red Sox fans. Not like how Catholics hate Buddhists.

      1. “how Catholics hate Buddhists”

        On matters of religion, the most heated arguments come between people whose beliefs are the closest to each other. See, e.g., the near endless conflict between Catholics and Protestants, and between Shi’a and Sunni. then of course, the Jewish religion gave rise to two other world religions, and all of them get along with each other like balloons and cactuses get along.

    3. International trade is a win-win at the macro (country) level. That much is a fact, proven over a century ago. However at the micro level there are a huge number of individual workers and companies that lose. That is also a fact.

      The solution is for the winners to share some of their gains with the losers, in that way at the macro level a nation gains while at the micro level those who suffer are taken care of, at least in the short run.

      See, this is an example of reasoned, logical argument with respect on both sides.

    4. What the essayist dances around and doesn’t quite get to, is the values can’t come from facts.

      An excellent point. In particular Abramowicz seems to overlook the concept of risk. Even on a subject which is apparently a matter of fact rather than of value – eg whether anthropogenic climate change is a thing, and if so how big a thing – the question of risk, ie the range of possible outcomes, leads us to a value question.

      If I am offered a stock for 100, and all experts predict that it is likely to be somewhere in the range 50 to 175 at the end of next year, there isn’t a single fact based number that tells everyone what value to put on “50 to 175 at the end of next year.” My next door neighbor, possessed of exactly the same facts as me, and equally trusting of expert opinion, can easily value the stock differently from me, because he has a different appetite for risk.

      The same point obviously goes for the “risk” in expert opinion. Experts frequently get things wrong – and in a predictable direction. They are the possessors of hammers and when they see a problem, they naturally see a nail, and recommend taking a swing at it. They very seldom recommend leaving it alone.

      True experts on humanity – that is to say conservatives – know from experience that the best solution to a new problem is almost always “Do nothing.”

      They are sometimes wrong, of course. But they know that.

    5. To your challenge, I was utterly convinced 10-15 years ago that NFL was better than college football, which was better than college basketball. Now I am convinced that it goes college basketball>college football>NFL.

  2. One heartily agrees with the basic tenet of this post, but it does address the basic question, which is ‘how can a person respect the views of a person who views are not only not based on science and empiricism, but are based on blind faith, ignorance and prejudicial hatred.

    For example, as an economist I have certain beliefs about taxes, government spending, income inequality etc, and I not only respect but want to listen to those who have opposite views based on economic theory, data and political philosophy. But how can I respect and listen to an individual whose opposite views are based on concepts that my views are ‘evil’ or a ‘desire to destroy America’.

    And equally difficult is giving a person respect and tolerance is when their views are only supported by name calling. Name calling is the method people use when they have no basis for their positions. For example, as member of the Jewish faith I have been told many times that my positions are incorrect because I do not believe in the deity aspect of Jesus. I have been told that only Christians have rights because this nation is a Christian nation. I have been called a communist for arguing that government has a role to play in social organization, even in a capitalist economy.

    So yes, any person should tolerate, respect and listen to arguments that are in opposition to their own views, it is how we learn. But can anyone tell me how to tolerate, respect and listen to arguements like ‘Aids has been thrust upon us by God in response to us allowing homo-sexual behavior’ or that ‘by enacting fair housing legislation I want to destroy sururban America’. I don’t know how to respect those who say such things with respect to those and other issues.

    And if anyone doubts the above, go back and look at the response to my posts on previous posts on this site. A lot of name calling, not much logic or facts. And just to further prove the point, look at the name calling by many who post responses on this site.

    1. You’re illustrating why a multi-cultural society is a problem (not, I said multi-cultural, not multi-racial). Enlightenment liberalism is a rationalist system built on the premise that certain things are self-evident, when they are not, they are based on shared cultural understandings.

      Also, some ideas as expressed to you are insulting? I’m not talking about straight up names calling, but the idea that “fair housing legislation will destroy suburban America” is so outlandish that you feel no need to respect someone who makes such an argument?

      1. There’s a difference between “fair housing legislation will destroy suburban America” and “by enacting fair housing legislation [you] want to destroy suburban America”.

          1. There is a degree. For instance Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
            (AFFH) by requiring higher densities and public housing projects in suburban communities will change their character. That as opposed to anti-discrimination laws is quite a difference.

            Now I am against most zoning laws in both large multicultural cities and small insular ones, but I can recognize that not everyone would see the changes for the better.

            1. ‘Change the character of the neighborhood’ is just the liberal NIMBY version of maintaining segregation. Changing explicit racism for disparate impact.

              1. The very use of the word “destroy,” as opposed to “change,” very much suggests this.

                Why the assumption that the change will be for the worse?

                1. Why indeed?

                  1. Appealing to racism is recognized as uncool today, so the people who want to do it have to disguise what they’re saying.

              2. “‘Change the character of the neighborhood’ is just the liberal NIMBY version of maintaining segregation.

                You think rich white liberals want trailer parks full of white trash in their neighborhoods any more than other types of housing that would destroy the character of the neighborhood?

                1. White trash is largely rural. In suburb and cities, white liberals know what the people they’re railing against look like.

                  1. I don’t think this answers the point. The question is whether rich white liberals in burbs and cities, who object to the addition in their areas of dense housing for poor folk, are objecting to :

                    (a) the density of the housing and the poorness of the incomers, or
                    (b) the blackness of the incomers

                    TiP is arguing for (a) but you are arguing for (b). And arguing for (b) implies that you believe that the same rich white liberals would put up no objection to the density or the poverty of the incomers if only they were white trash.

                    Which is obviously absurd since NIMBYism is a universal phenomenon, even when there are no racial differences between poor incomers and rich incumbents.

                    You do not need to believe a word of the drivel that that old phoney Marx churned out, to appreciate that humans are perfectly capable of dividing themselves into Us and Them, without any need for race to pop its head up. Nor do you need a degree in economics to appreciate that the density of housing and the poverty of the inhabitants, never mind the leafiness of the gardens, has an effect on property values.

                    In short, you are puffing racism as the cause of all ills. Which is both good and bad. The bad is that by ascribing all ills to racism, you foster resentment. The good is that by crying racism where none exists, you demonstrate that the supply of actual racism is insufficient to keep the flames of resentment burning unassisted.

                    1. My point is that one is tied up in the other, one answers both.

                      Do I know how much would change if you change the race and keep the socioeconomic class? I do not. I don’t need to. Because operationally, that’s not going to happen.

                      Black. Poor. High-density. Those are all the same population. When you talk about ‘destroying the character of the neighborhood’ it’s all of that at once. Racism doesn’t need to be unalloyed to be in there.

                      Marx was wrong about a lot, but I don’t think he was a phony. It’s interesting how the right assumes those they disagree with are lying all the time. I don’t see that on the leftist boards I read.

                      I don’t think racism is the cause of all ills. I think it’s tied up in this ill.

                2. I’ve never seen a deed restriction against “white trash”.

                  1. I’ve never seen a deed restriction period.

                    1. Racial deed restrictions are unenforceable but common. A typical one prohibits either the sale or occupation of the property “by any person not of the white race”. The unenforced one in Shelley v. Kraemer prohibited “people of the Negro or Mongolian Race” from occupying the property. Justices Reed, Jackson, and Rutledge recused themselves because they had property with racially restrictive covenants.

                    2. Buy property in North Carolina where I live and it turns out you cannot find a deed that doesn’t have it.

              3. But explicit racism and disparate impact are very different things. I couldn’t care less about the race of my neighbors. I care very very much about increased traffic in my town, though. Just because blocking high density housing might make it harder for minorities to move into my town does not mean that it is the same thing to oppose high density housing and to support racial covenants.

                (N.b. As a libertarian I don’t think the government has any role to play in zoning out high density housing. I was talking about preferences here, not what I think government policy should be.)

    2. This is why freedom is key. Nobody gives a crap about your religion, or your quasi-religion of politics, until you try to control others and force them to kowtow.

      Science damn you!

      1. “This is why freedom is key. Nobody gives a crap about your religion, or your quasi-religion of politics, until you try to control others and force them to kowtow.”

        And the War on Christmas alights from the embers once again…

    3. “So yes, any person should tolerate, respect and listen to arguments that are in opposition to their own views, it is how we learn.”

      Perhaps. I don’t see the same expectation for tolerating, respecting , and listening to arguments that are in opposition to objective reality.

  3. mad_kalak hits the biggest nail on the head without so stating. “I used to be much for “free market”” is a subset of saying all individuals are not equal and should not be left to their own devices. There are certain people who know better how I should live than I do myself. That’s their belief when they make most laws controlling my life. I believe I should be free but there is no law of physics that says that is correct. Maybe we’ll get hundreds of years into the future and discover dictatorships are the “true” way the world should be run – all people are not equal and some should be able to tell me what the hell I must do. In the mean time I will decide where the line is between ignoring government and advocating revolution. All based on my box of beliefs.

    1. All people are not equal, in that we all have different gifts, abilities, weaknesses and strengths. I think that histories of cultures that gave into debauchery like Rome, and biographies of people with no guardrails their personal lives, show that some imposition by the state is necessary to keep order. Anarchy benefits only the strong. And at a point, maximum freedom for person X is an imposition into the freedom of person Y.

      1. Rome gave into debauchery??? How do you figure?

          1. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon (while the basis for a favorite Sci Fi work, the Foundation series by Asimov) is wrong in the conclusion threaded throughout the work that Christianity was one of the primary reasons that Rome declined and fell.

            1. I wouldn’t say that Christianity was one of the primary reasons Rome fell. I would say it was no damn help.

            2. Pre-conceived beliefs about history and the lessons it teaches actually fit in quite well with the paradigm presented by the OP. The Fall of Rome has been used by many later politicians and authors with particular axes to grind. The American Civil War is another example that comes to mind.

          2. Gibbon is awesome, I’ll grant you that. Such beautiful language. Not exactly the current state of knowledge on the Roman empire, though, is it?

            Also, I don’t recall any obvious examples of “debauchery”, at least none that was of relevance beyond some idle gossip to spice up the narrative. But then I might have forgotten something. Care to give me chapter & verse?

            1. Have you not seen the documentary Caligula?

    2. There may be people who know how you should live better than you do, but they’re never the ones who end up in charge in a society that implements such a belief. Indeed, if there are people with better judgment, they tend to be ones who *don’t want power* in the first place.

      The case for individual liberty doesn’t require complete equality. (In fact, all major liberty-focused thinkers have emphasized differences in ability). The only equality that liberty-focused philosophies recognize is *political equality*. Rather, it is about knowledge and motivation problems – no one person can have all the information necessary to micromanage decision-making (ie, Hayek’s information problem), and there’s no good method to select the person best suited to govern. (Philosopher king may be the best government when you get a good one, but what happens when it’s not a good one?)

      The history of government is almost universally a history of bad people gaining power. As such, the best system is one which dismantles as much government as possible, because it will almost certainly be run by bad people.

  4. There are two fallacies in your global warming beliefs:

    A: That the scientists aren’t simply *wrong* — not maliciously so but simply mistaken. It’s happened before — remember DDT, Thalomide, Asbestos, Lead Paint, Agent Orange, etc.?

    B: That it is man-made global warming. The last ice age ended without any human intervention, and the planet has been warming ever since. With exceptions.

    1. It’s not so much that man isn’t having an effect in making the earth warmer, the question is now *much* of the warming trend comes from us.

    2. C. It’s absurd to think that someone can produce a model to simulate something as complex as climate and then predict over decades and decades an incredibly precise, and micro, estimate of effect . 100 years from now they can model and predict how an enormously complex system will behave down to some tenth of a percent? It’s absurd on it’s face.

      D. Real science allows heresy and skepticism. There is none allowed in climate science, or any progressive science hard or soft for that matter.

      1. C. Fair point re: 100 years ago, since a model can’t possibly predict technological or social changes on that long of a time line. But there were a lot models and predictions decades ago that were close.

        D. There’s plenty of disagreement in climate science, among climate scientists.

        1. It’s true that science, collectively, tends to take some time to converge on truth. So, for example, science collectively rejected Continental Drift when it was first suggested, thought phlogiston might be responsible for combustion, and attempted the measure the tensile strength of lumeniferous ether. No scientist of any caliber claims that Science can’t be wrong. It gets better with passage of time, however. See, e.g. “The Relativity of Wrong” an essay by science-proponent Isaac Asimov.

    3. Response to point B – I work close enough to Lake Michigan that I can see it from my office window. When someone talking to me goes all ape-shit about man-made global warming, I point out the window and say “Doesn’t science teach us that there used to be a big glacier right there? How did man make that go away?”

      Similarly, if someone goes the other way and denies that anything is changing, I point out the window and say “Doesn’t science teach us that there used to be a big glacier right there? It must be warmer now than it used to be so I guess the climate is changing”.

      The global climate has continually changed for all of recorded history. Humans might or might not be making a big difference. Either way, I don’t believe that there’s some magic time in history that we can point to and say “That’s the right climate. We need to get back to that!”

      1. “The global climate has continually changed for all of recorded history. Humans might or might not be making a big difference. Either way, I don’t believe that there’s some magic time in history that we can point to and say ‘That’s the right climate. We need to get back to that!’”

        The first step in finding answers is figuring out what quesions to ask. You haven’t mastered that task yet.

    4. Completely and entirely beside the point of the OP, but you just couldn’t contain yourself, right?

    5. Odd that you think the history of Thalidomide for sale supports your claim that scientists were not just wrong but *wrong*. Hint: It was not approved by the FDA.

    6. ” The last ice age ended without any human intervention”

      check your math. The expansion of humans over the face of the Earth coincides with the end of the last ice age. Cause? Effect? Both?

  5. It’s great to respect views based on faith.

    But this is America and in America we have vast subcultures of people who don’t offer reciprocal respect. They bully and sneer instead. They condemn differences in the name of tolerance. They occupy positions of power and use that power against anyone who doesn’t share their tribal attitudes. They setup systems to exclude people and discriminate based on race in the name of anti-racism. They choose the wellbeing of animals over people. They cater to foreign interests and preferences to the exclusion of American interests and preferences. They intentionally tell falsehoods and hide truths and call it news reporting. They take a large fraction of GDP and use it to build governments that serve government employees instead of serving the public, leaving the people with meager and inadequate resources and no way to get the needed services we paid for. They posture and front, pretending to believe in values but never making any changes to their comfortable, self-serving institutional structures to help anyone but themselves. They wink at violence committed by their friends and turn a blind eye to the suffering of their victims.

    Views can be respected. But hostile actions call for a strong and tireless defense.

    1. Ben, I agree with you that the left is perfectly capable of excesses. Does it occur to you, though, that some of those excesses are overreactions to what are legitimate problems, and fixing those problems may be part of the overall solution?

      Yes, race hucksters exist, but they only exist because racism exists. None of those hucksters would have an audience if racism weren’t still a problem. Same with tolerance hucksters. Same with environmental hucksters. They may be hucksters but they’re agitating about real problems. Fix those and you put the hucksters out of business.

      1. Explain how a double income Federal Family is a top 5% household in terms of total compensation?

        Or how the average Federal worker earns 2x as much as the average civilian in terms of total compensation?

        Or how the Federal Class D.C. suburbs now comprise 10 of the top 15 richest counties in America, including spots #1, #2, and #3?

        Or how the less educated you are, the greater the Federal Government will reward you with respect to the private sector?

        What is that an over reaction too?

        “Yes, race hucksters exist, but they only exist because racism exists. None of those hucksters would have an audience if racism weren’t still a problem.”

        Explain the huge supply of race hoaxes? If so much racism existed, why are there so many creating race hoaxes? Why do race hucksters inflate the number of unarmed black men being killed police from numbers barely above zero to imaginary big numbers they won’t even state?

        1. There have been race hoaxes but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge supply. Do you acknowledge there is racism and it’s still a problem?

          Yah, some federal workers are overpaid but a lot of that suburban DC wealth is lobbyists and contractors. Who may also be overpaid.

          1. Where is racism a problem? Can you quantify it? Compare it against some baseline? If it is still a problem, what do you ascribe the cause to? Do 60 years of Democrat policies and governance have any part in that cause?

            “Some federal workers”? Did you see the comment about average?

            1. Where are race hoaxes a problem? Can you quantify them? Compare them against some baseline? If they are still a problem, what do you ascribe the cause to? Do 60 years of Republican policies and governance have any part of the cause?

              1. The book Hate Crime Hoax catalogs over a hundred recent ones. The lack of racism resulting from Republican policies directly contributes to the derth of racism and thus motivates mentally ill Democrats to concoct them.

                They are an ongoing problem with notable highlights like the Smollet hoax.

                Your turn.

                1. Your attempt to respond to a request for quantification by citing a narrative is a telling one.

                2. The plural of anecdote is not data. Sure you can cite individual cases, but with no baseline we don’t know if those cases are 10% of all reported cases, or 50%, or 90%. So we don’t know if hoaxes are a small percent of what’s reported or a large percent.

                  On the other side of the ledger, there are multiple statistical studies documenting that racial discrimination is still a real thing. Spend five minutes on google and you’ll find plenty.

                3. See? You don’t know the exact number of these hoaxes. Since you didn’t count them, they don’t count.

                  Victims can be hand-waved away due to lack of a precise tally. That’s how we know that some forms of evil are considered acceptable.

                  1. No, since we don’t know the baseline, we don’t know if they’re statistically significant or not.

                    1. George Floyd was only one man. Was he statistically significant?

                      How many victims need to be added to a pile for the hand-waving to stop?

                    2. You know, for all your hand waving, there actually is cold hard statistical data readily available via a five minute google search on incidents of actual racism. Have you actually taken a look at the data, or do you even care? Or would you just prefer to continue hand waving?

                    3. There’s zero doubt that racism exists. It’s actually 100% normal to instinctively not-entirely-trust people who look different than your family and the others you grew up with and are used to.

                      So no need to prove the obvious. Go ahead if you want though. It seems to be important to you to make some sort of show for some reason.

                    4. So since you acknowledge that racism exists, then why would you assume that racism hoaxes are the rule rather than the exception? And do you think racism is something that should be fought against or do you think it’s a good thing?

                    5. Who said anything about anything being “the rule”? Even if we knew the precise number of hoaxes, there’s no number for “the rule”. Why do you always setup strawman arguments?

                      Also, stop trying to change the subject to me. None of this has anything to do with me.

                    6. A paraphrase of what you said is not a straw man argument. And since you’ve chosen to be passive aggressive rather than actually engage, at this point it is about you.

                    7. ” Why do you always setup strawman arguments? ”

                      Chuckle. Get an ounce of self-awareness.

                  2. “See? You don’t know the exact number of these hoaxes. Since you didn’t count them, they don’t count.”

                    Since nobody counted them, we don’t know if they count.

        2. “Explain the huge supply of race hoaxes? If so much racism existed, why are there so many creating race hoaxes?”

          Demonstrate a huge supply of race hoaxes, first.
          Note: I’m not denying race hoaxes exist. I’m denying a “huge supply” of race hoaxes exist.

          1. Still waiting.

      2. Fix those problems and they move the goalposts and double down on evil behavior.

        Microagressions, “triggered” so-called PTSD sufferers, the words are violence nonsense, defund the police, trans activism, plastic straw bans, the ridiculous pipeline protests, tearing down statues of people who’ve been dead for 100 years, binders full of women, Etc.

        Got clean air? You can still bully people about plastic straws and pipelines. There will always be something. And even when there’s not, make up a story about bees or polar bears or some island that might have weather trouble in the year 2160.

        Got equal rights? You can still burn and loot and discriminate and murder and troll and agitate and divide as long as one person has a story about some event they were unhappy about. Not enough hate crimes to justify the evil you want to commit? Jussie Smollett and a hundred others will make some up.

        Some US kids escaped the public school system with an education somehow? They can be targeted in college where their parents won’t be able to protect them.

        Got a local underclass? Point out the problems and use them as an excuse to raise taxes. Then use the money for government salaries and pensions. Do nothing for the underclass. Wait three years while the problems with the underclass get worse. Repeat. Wait another 3 years. Repeat. Retire at 55 on a fat government pension, laughing at the sadness of the taxpayers and the suffering of the underclass.

        Did Obama help? Do all the Democrat mayors in all the urban centers help? Are the Democrat governors helping? Is the Democrat House helping? Why can they never accomplish anything that satisfies people? (One reason: because nothing will ever be even a tiny fraction of enough. It was never about satisfying, it was always just a way to move money into some people’s bank accounts. Those accounts never get full.)

        1. You should read this essay by Yoram Hazony on the challenge of Marxism…he says the same thing as you in a, um, more erudite manner.

          https://quillette.com/2020/08/16/the-challenge-of-marxism/

          1. I think my communications style is very clear. I have been known to over-argue the point though.

            The point is that real problems don’t justify escalating evil responses as those problems improve over time. But that’s what we are seeing. It leads to the conclusion that evil was the goal and the real problems were only the sales pitch to open the door to let it in.

            1. I disagree that that’s what’s going on here. But even if you’re right, that’s not a justification to not fix real problems. Unless you don’t actually care about fixing real problems and are using this as an excuse not to.

              1. Humanity can be improved over time but not “fixed”.

                Nice job changing the subject to me, BTW. No defense for escalating evil and no answers to any problems? Change the subject and go on the attack. Repeat the same old sales pitch that got us here, this time as an accusation. Everyone else is responsible, Dems are only entitled.

                1. All the points made in your original comment also fit as criticism of the right. Maybe for you some time for that introspection mentioned in the OP.

                  1. False. Also seemingly an attempt to change the subject. Turning a blind eye to victims’ suffering and vaguely referring to (imaginary?) wrongs committed by strawmen.

                    “The right” doesn’t actually do much of anything, and hasn’t for a long time. Very, very few actions means very very few victims of those actions.

                    1. “‘The right’ doesn’t actually do much of anything,”

                      Unless you count complaining that things have changed, and things used to be so much better in the “good old days”.

                      ” Very, very few actions means very very few victims of those actions.”

                      If the premise is false, then the conclusion is invalid.

                    2. Ben_ refuses to understand that there is any cost to maintaining the status quo in policy analysis.

                    3. The status quo exists with no active maintenance. No one is guilty of random happenstance.

                    4. What if the status quo is daily human sacrifices to keep the sun rising?

                    5. Why do you guys always have to make up ridiculous stories? What if you just paid attention to reality instead of asking dumb what if questions based your fantasies?

                    6. Yes Ben. I was trying in vain to change the subject to what was the actual topic presented in the OP.

                    7. “Why do you guys always have to make up ridiculous stories?”

                      Trying to respond to your arguments based on ridiculous theories.

                2. In my experience, when someone talks about why it’s pointless to work on fixing problems (you’re right that there is no such thing as a 100 percent fix, there is only improvement), usually it’s someone who at best doesn’t care if they get fixed, and at worst may even be benefiting from the status quo. So yeah, based on your comments I suspect you’re part of the problem. I’m happy to be proven wrong if I am.

                  1. No one said anything about it being pointless. You don’t have to make stuff up. The words are right there.

                    1. You did not actually use the word pointless, that’s true. But the argument that fixing problems will only result in the left moving the goalposts is the same bottom line.

                    2. If the left would stop moving goalposts, then the observation that they always move goalposts wouldn’t be so obviously and completely true.

                    3. Also, actually improving things and helping people is great, regardless of the left’s need to complain and escalate evil at every turn.

                      Equal rights was a good goal. That is achieved. The left can stop escalating. Or they could if equal rights were their goal instead of power, money, vengeance, and destruction.

                    4. “If the left would stop moving goalposts, then the observation that they always move goalposts wouldn’t be so obviously and completely true.”

                      Whereas if you didn’t label everyone who’s ever disagreed with you as “the left”, and you didn’t respond to every time you’re proven wrong by imagining that somebody moved the goalposts on you, the observation that the left always moves the goalposts would not be obviously and completely true.

                    5. And the point you still have not responded to is that even if the left moves the goalposts, which I have not conceded, that’s still not an excuse for not doing what can be done to fix problems.

                    6. Vengeance and destruction don’t fix problems.

                    7. So what would you recommend instead? If you were advising black America, what would you tell them to do?

                    8. “Vengeance and destruction don’t fix problems.”

                      Except when they do.
                      Destruction fixes a problem of “there’s something in the way where I want to build.” So, before you can build a house, you gotta knock down all the trees that are standing where you want to start building. Then, when you sell the land to someone else, and they want to build a newer, bigger, better house, they gotta knock down the old one to make room.

                    9. Number one thing I would advise them is to stop completely marginalizing themselves in elections by only voting for one party. Politicians can completely take black votes for granted and ignore the needs of black folks because they’ve made the mistake of always voting one way. As soon as they can go either way, politicians will have to step up and start treating them like real voters and actually try to deliver improvements.

                      For 40+ years, both parties have been able to tolerate racism against black folks and ignore their suffering. What are they going to do? Vote Republican?

                      We may see that finally start to change this election. The president has delivered at least some things for black voters while his opponent keeps telling black voters essentially to stay in line and do what they’re told. It’s respect and goodwill versus “you ain’t black”, with Kanye as the wildcard.

                    10. Except that voting Republican is voting for a party that empowers white supremacy. As stupid as Biden’s comment admittedly was, Democrats don’t tolerate open racists and Republicans do. Democrats don’t suppress the black vote and Republicans do. If I were a black conservative I have no idea how I would vote; I guess it would come down to how much tolerance I had for a party that welcomes overt racism.

                    11. Democrats tolerate overt racism more than a Republicans. And every other kind of overt bigotry.

                      You can look at the way Tim Scott is treated by Dems for an example. You can look at the racist attacks by Dems against Darryl Strawberry on Thursday. The way Clarence Thomas was and is treated. The recent bigoted attacks on Brandon Straka. The way Biden treats black votes as if they’re his property. The murder of Bernell Trammell.

                      I can keep coming up with examples.

                      Then there’s the DNC convention where negative skin-color based remarks were uttered 15 times.

                    12. I don’t think being mean to someone because of their political views is quite the same thing as being mean to them because of their race. And in every one of your examples, any perceived mistreatment is because of ideology rather than race.

                      Many blacks look at the Republican Party’s welcoming of open racists and see blacks supporting the GOP as analogous to Jews who collaborated with Hitler. Whether or not you think that’s a fair analogy, that’s how they see it. So it’s hardly surprising that they then treat Tim Scott and Clarence Thomas as collaborators.

                      And by the way, my question was directed to what advice would you give them to help ease racism. Sorry but I’m not seeing how voting for a party that welcomes open racists accomplishes that result.

                    13. They could choose to have meaningful votes. Or choose to listen to talking points and finger-pointing from people who take their votes 100% for granted. So far they’ve made the second choice. And they don’t have much to show for it the last 30-40 years.

                    14. The political reality is that one of two parties is going to win elections. One of those parties welcomes open racists. I have no problem understanding why most blacks would vote for the other one.

                    15. “They could choose to have meaningful votes. Or choose to listen to talking points and finger-pointing from people who take their votes 100% for granted. So far they’ve made the second choice. And they don’t have much to show for it the last 30-40 years.”

                      This criticism could be applied to evangelicals.

                    16. Voting one way gets them nowhere. Guilt by association and innuendo is hardly a reason for black folks to throw away their votes and all the influence that votes buy. They should stop doing it. Someone who cared about things getting better for them would agree.

            2. Less “strident” manner than.

              1. Then you only get BS like the above, where the clear incentive for people to engage in hate crime hoaxes is ignored and the subject turns to the precise quantity of them, as if it matters whether someone counted them all correctly.

                Anyone reading the article you linked would defend with “Marxism” is not a correct label. Victims ignored, evil covered over, entire message of the article thoughtlessly glossed over, let’s talk about words (and then let’s compare something to something else in history, because congratulating ourselves about our historical knowledge is gratifying). Seriousness averted, we can go on creating more victims now.

                1. Moving from numbers to incentives. And a heavy layer of redbaiting.

                  It’s like you don’t want to engage.

                  1. “It’s like you don’t want to engage.”

                    Further down, he says that he doesn’t.

                2. “the clear incentive for people to engage in hate crime hoaxes is ignored and the subject turns to the precise quantity of them, as if it matters whether someone counted them all correctly.”

                  It’s not like there’s any clear incentive to pretend that hate crime hoaxes are more common than actual hate crimes, or anything.

            3. “I think my communications style is very clear.”

              Simple, even.

        2. WRT clean air…The US has much cleaner air today in 2020 than it did 40 years ago in 1980. The Clean Air Act in 1970 (and attendant interpretative regulations) coupled with free market solutions were the reason.

          https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/19/climate/us-air-pollution-trump.html

          1. “The US has much cleaner air today in 2020 than it did 40 years ago in 1980. The Clean Air Act in 1970 (and attendant interpretative regulations) coupled with free market solutions were the reason.”

            YMMV.

        3. ” Is the Democrat House helping? Why can they never accomplish anything that satisfies people? ”

          In a word, Mitch.

      3. Did we need another example of fixing problems leading to the evil people moving the goalposts and doubling down?

        The very next VC post provides one. Referring to a word in an academic context gets a professor with a 35-year long academic career barred from teaching some classes.

        So many real problems are largely solved, this is what they are left with. They double down, no doubt reveling in the injustice they’ve successfully wrought.

        1. ” Referring to a word in an academic context gets a professor with a 35-year long academic career barred from teaching some classes.”

          You’re assuming this is a bad thing, but it isn’t necessarily. I spent ten years as an instructor and my field has its own questions to which some people cling to their preferred opinions with religious fervor. Windows’ advantages and disadvantages with regard to Linux. Holy Kirk vs. Picard can this discussion create heat among people who have opinions on the topic, while remaining a question of no significance to outsiders. If your faith in your preferred narrative causes you to say things that violate the preferred narratives of other people, too bad for them. On the other hand, if your faith in your preferred narrative causes you to claim “facts” that aren’t actually objectively true, that may indicate that you should not be teaching some classes..
          Say, for example that you teach history. If you teach that Columbus discovered North America, you may expect some pushback from people who argue that the Vikings got here first, and in any case, Columbus never reached North America but all the places he did find had people living there when he showed up. That’s an academic dispute. On the other hand, if you teach that Columbus sailed to India, you should not be teaching history, objectively.

          1. Punishment for quoting a word in an academic context isn’t necessarily a bad thing? You want to stick with that answer, or would you like to try something less Maoist?

            1. Can you read? Maybe try reading everything I said before you rush to comment on it.

              1. I’m about done reading your nonsense altogether.

                1. Sorry. I’ll use short words so you can keep reading.

    2. Competent persons neither accept nor advance supernatural arguments or positions in reasoned debate among adults, especially with respect to public affairs.

      Persons younger than 12 get plenty of slack in this regard, particularly if subjected to childhood indoctrination by the superstitious.

      People are entitled to believe and worship as they wish. They are not entitled to have superstition-based claims treated with respect in reasoned debate or discussions of public affairs.

      1. Then you missed the whole point of the OP, if you think that YOUR claims are all reason based when, they indeed, are not.

        1. And apparently you missed them as well, since you deny that his position is based on reason. You just disagree with him. Get it?

          1. Try reading the OP again, you still don’t get it. You apparently also missed the point about intellectual humility.

            1. Is this the point where you admit you might be wrong?

    3. “But this is America and in America we have vast subcultures of people who don’t offer reciprocal respect.”

      They’re called “Republicans”.

    4. But this is America and in America we have vast subcultures of people who don’t offer reciprocal respect. They bully and sneer instead. They condemn differences in the name of tolerance. They occupy positions of power and use that power against anyone who doesn’t share their tribal attitudes. They setup systems to exclude people and discriminate based on race in the name of anti-racism. They choose the wellbeing of animals over people. They cater to foreign interests and preferences to the exclusion of American interests and preferences. They intentionally tell falsehoods and hide truths and call it news reporting. They take a large fraction of GDP and use it to build governments that serve government employees instead of serving the public, leaving the people with meager and inadequate resources and no way to get the needed services we paid for. They posture and front, pretending to believe in values but never making any changes to their comfortable, self-serving institutional structures to help anyone but themselves. They wink at violence committed by their friends and turn a blind eye to the suffering of their victims.

      Wow. When you lay it out that starkly, conservatives do suck worse than I had thought.

  6. I agree with this – I often see on here that progressivism has become a religion, or abortion, or global warming. It is indeed a simplistic way to discard a point of view you have decided no one can hold in good faith. But what does that say about your own ideological priors?

    I don’t much like m_k’s example of globalism, because it tracks with the right’s general switch from neoconservativism to Trumpism. It seems more like tribalism than actual introspection.

    As for me, that’s what this blog brings to me. My opinions on the Second Amendment (as an individual right to self defense), and the First Amendment (a pretty strong libertarian legally; more mixed culturally), come from having to defend my priors and giving where my arguments were too soft to maintain.

    1. Oh, my switch was based on introspection combined with, admittedly, a bit of tribalism. Econtalk’s Russ Roberts had a series of podcasts interviews of respected economists who did work noting how the sudden rise of China, combined with the shifting of production to there, in a county by county comparison of industries, shows how those counties are worse off in the short run. In the long run, who can say?

      I found their arguments compelling, even as Roberts agreed with the data, but not the conclusion (he was saying long term we are all better off).

      https://www.econtalk.org/david-autor-on-trade-china-and-u-s-labor-markets/

      1. That’s my point – it’s too convenient to count as the humility you were talking about.

        1. If I was a fence sitter a few years back, I would say it’s likely that the wave of economic populism in the brand of Tucker Carlson, has made me at least leap down from the fence to the other side, even if I’m not running into the field.

          1. Which tracks the GOP almost exactly. Which should tell you something.

            Do you have another example of ideological heresy you might be willing to point out that is actual heresy and not just being part of your party’s reformation?

            1. Look, I don’t need to defend my intellectual growth to you, of all people. When the facts change, I can change my mind, said your fav dead economist.

              And if the non Koch brothers right is coming around to the leftist position that there is a difference between “free trade” and “fair trade”…there should be an embrace of the right on these issues from the left. There hasn’t been.

              That said, David Autor is hardly a right winger. Moreover, this is all wrapped up in a HUGE lefty debate about automation vs labor and the decline of unions. Essentially the tax rates are, in effect, a subsidy on automation.

              1. I gave a number of examples where I changed my own reasoning and went against the dogma of my party of allegiance. You don’t seem to be able to.

                Shouldn’t that tell you something about your own humility?

                1. Clingers gonna cling, Sarcastr0 . . . until replacement.

                  You can’t reason with bigotry or superstition. There are points regarding which reasoned debate with conservatives might be worthwhile, but bigotry and superstition-based positions are not among them.

    2. Lol the gasbaggery of this comment is matched only by its douchiness. The is how dukes and earls should talk not dudes from second tier schools lucky to clear 100K a year.

      1. It’s telling you assume how much money I make has much to do with my intellectual merit.

        1. Patrick Mahomes must be an intellectual giant. Look how much he makes!

  7. I agree that we should respect other viewpoints, but I am not on board with this lazy thinking, that everyone follows an ideology, and that nobody bases their opinions on empirical observations.

    1. Most people BELIEVE that their opinions are based on empirical observations. But people hold many many opinions, and surely they can’t have collected direct evidence to support all of them. A lot of these opinions must come from other sources.

      1. A lot, but not all. As with any theory this goes too far.

      2. Human cognition involves a great deal of pattern-matching. If the initial data-loading is accurate, the pattern-matching will produce accurate results. If the initial data-loading contains multiple errors, so will the final results.

        1. I agree, and I think that would qualify as “other sources.”

  8. I think the essence of whether a belief system is religious is its willingness to look at contrary evidence and consider the possibility that it may be wrong. If one of your presuppositions is that your belief system can’t be wrong, then it’s a religious belief system, and entitled to no more respect than any other circular belief system.

    And since nobody is an expert in everything, at some level one needs to trust people who do know more about something than I do. It’s why I go to the doctor rather than treat myself based on stuff I pull off the internet. But that’s not religion so much as a recognition that his years of study are worth more than my relative ignorance. My doctor isn’t always right, but that’s the way to bet, and he’s going to be right more often than I will.

    As applied to climate science, I’m not a climate scientist, but the people who are seem to have largely adopted the same opinions, and that’s worth something too. From my reading on the subject I think they’re right, but I’d be willing to be persuaded otherwise if better evidence comes in. That there are a few contrarians — there are always contrarians, we even have a flat earth society — doesn’t change the fact that most people who do climate science for a living have come to the same conclusions. So saying they’re probably right isn’t religious either.

    1. Even “reason” itself has presuppositions that are not based on reason.

      1. Right, they’re based on observation. Now, that in turn presupposes that my powers of observation are working properly, which may or may not be true. I can’t prove there aren’t leprechauns living in my sock drawer. But acting as if my powers of observation are working produces good result far more often than ignoring them does.

        1. Right, but to echo the debate between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris on this issue, you don’t derive values from facts, and what facts you focus on in exclusion to others, practically define your values.

          1. But thus far we have not been discussing values, only facts. Whether man made climate change is true is a question of fact, and your values have nothing to do with the answer to that question. They may result in confirmation bias that makes you more or less inclined to believe whether it’s true, but have nothing to do with whether it actually is true.

            And they do impact what, if anything, you think should be done about climate change. But facts and values are independent of each other.

            1. Whether or not climate change is occurring because of human action is a question of science, and has an objective answer.

              What, if anything, to do about it is a political question.

    2. “As applied to climate science, I’m not a climate scientist, but the people who are seem to have largely adopted the same opinions, and that’s worth something too. From my reading on the subject I think they’re right, but I’d be willing to be persuaded otherwise if better evidence comes in. That there are a few contrarians — there are always contrarians, we even have a flat earth society — doesn’t change the fact that most people who do climate science for a living have come to the same conclusions. So saying they’re probably right isn’t religious either.”

      Science has one fundamental difference from religion. It has to do with predictions. If you use science to make predictions, your predictions are more likely to be accurate than random chance suggests, whereas with religion, the predictions are less likely to be accurate than random chance. Note that thus far 100% of religious predictions about the return of Jesus and the End of Days made to date have proven incorrect. Whereas the National Weather Service has a fairly good record of predicting hurricanes, when freed of the need to assauge egos of elected officials who wanted a different prediction to turn out true.

  9. “My former student Carolyn Homer has written a characteristically thoughtful and passionate post arguing that Trumpism is akin to a religion.”

    I would posit that anti-Trumpism is more like a religion, in that it’s based on faith and doubtful tenets rather than fact, and its adherents are more willing to condemn those who are not true believers for apostasy.

    1. I would posit that you don’t understand anti Trumpism. Maybe not wanting to be governed by an incompetent, self absorbed narcissistic sociopath isn’t a bad thing.

      1. Then why do you people keep voting for Democrats?

        1. Because we don’t like bigots, religious kooks, and obsolete, poorly educated clingers.

        2. Because even if I agree with you that incompetence and narcissism are to be found in the Democratic Party, not like Trump. He’s elevated all of that to previously unseen levels, and the bottom isn’t even in sight yet.

          1. There once was a president that said his election would cause the oceans to stop rising and that he was a better speech writer than his speech writers (he wasn’t). You voted for that president twice rofl.

            1. I voted for him five times since I was also a delegate to the 2008 and 2012 Democratic national conventions, as well as in the 2008 Florida primary. And would happily do so again if he could run again .

              And while nobody ever accused him of humility, he mostly ran a competent administration, did not try to loot the treasury, and got us out of a recession, all of which are the total opposite of the current administration.

        3. “why do you people keep voting for Democrats?”

          They actually want government to work, and so do I. Whereas Republicans campaign on the notion that it doesn’t work, and when elected, set out to prove it.

          1. Maybe republican voters want a government that can deliver COVID responses that don’t rank among the worst in the world.

            1. Then why would they vote for Trump?

            2. “Maybe republican voters want a government that can deliver COVID responses that don’t rank among the worst in the world.”

              If they wanted that, they wouldn’t be Republicans. What Republicns wanted, demonstrably, is government leadership that doubled down on “coronavirus is not a big deal. Ignore it until it goes away by itself.”

        4. “why do you people keep voting for Democrats?”

          Process of elimination. The Republicans went all-in on the Trump Kool-Aid, and the Bull Moose party stopped fielding candidates around 1920.

      2. “an incompetent, self absorbed narcissistic sociopath isn’t a bad thing.”

        Rule not the exception.

        1. “an incompetent, self absorbed narcissistic sociopath isn’t a bad thing.”

          Unless he’s making decisions about anything you care about.

      3. There’s those who support Trump, and those who don’t. There’s those who are active against Trump, and those who are active for Trump. Probably a few levels all around.

        In a manner of degrees; Ultimately there are those who are all in for Trump and those who are all in against Trump. I would postulate that this last category are more akin to religion.

        I’ve seen folks who can’t see or say anything bad about Trump. I’ve seen folks who can’t see or say anything good about Trump. Just as I saw people who were the same way for/against Obama. That smacks more of religion than other degrees of involvement to me.

        1. But you’re assuming there are no objective standards that apply. I’m all in against Trump because he’s trashing democratic norms, is ethically challenged beyond anything we’ve ever seen before, and is gutting our standing on the world stage. That’s not religion; those are objective facts.

          1. No they aren’t they are figments of your abounding fragility exacerbated if I had to guess by sexual frustration (of the cant get any rather than it doesn’t work variety). Plowing your way through ten or so chicks over a two week period tends to add some perspective to life. At least for me it does.

            1. So you think it all boils down to how vivid an imagination a person has?

            2. “Plowing your way through ten or so chicks over a two week period tends to add some perspective to life. At least for me it does.”

              Put’s a hole in your bank account too, init.

        2. “There’s those who support Trump, and those who don’t. There’s those who are active against Trump, and those who are active for Trump. Probably a few levels all around.”

          Probably. Each category looks at the same facts and sees different things. I contend that being anti-President Trump is entirely rational, but concede that some people have gone beyond reason on the subject.

    2. “I would posit that anti-Trumpism is more like a religion, in that it’s based on faith and doubtful tenets rather than fact, and its adherents are more willing to condemn those who are not true believers for apostasy.”

      Sure, except that the facts fit the opposite assumption better.

    3. I would posit that anti-Trumpism is more like a religion, in that it’s based on faith and doubtful tenets rather than fact, and its adherents are more willing to condemn those who are not true believers for apostasy.

      Uh, it was the leader of the Trumpkin cult who bragged that his acolytes would continue to support him even if he shot someone on 5th avenue. That wasn’t a sneering comment by an opponent of Trumpism.

      1. Of course, when the time for shooting came, Trump the Hero was down in the basement, “inspecting” the shelter. It’s almost like there’s a history of him letting other people do all the fighting.

  10. Choose reason. Every time.

    Choose reason. Especially over sacred ignorance and dogmatic intolerance.

    Choose reason. Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then, childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for gullibility, ignorance, bigotry, and backwardness. By adulthood — even ostensible adulthood — it is no excuse, not even in the most desolate backwater Mississippi, Idaho, Alabama, Wyoming, or West Virginia offers.

    Choose reason. And education, tolerance, science, freedom, modernity, freedom, and inclusiveness. Avoid superstition, ignorance, backwardness, dogma, authoritarianism, insularity, and pining for good old days that never existed — not 50 years ago, not 2,000 years ago.

    Choose reason. Every time. Be an adult.

    Or, at least, try.

    Otherwise, you could become just another disaffected, stale-thinking, inconsequential culture war casualty reading a movement conservative blog and mistaking its content for the American mainstream or future.

    1. Can you reason why the people in government who already control 60-70% of our healthcare spending, through direct spending and regulatory control, and have ruined our healthcare system can somehow fix it if we grant them near 100% control?

      Can you reason why blacks who do the worse in Democrat strongholds, under Demoncrat governance and want change should vote for the same people and policies that they have lived under for a generation?

      Can you reason why every sector the people in government have a heavy hand in: banking, education, healthcare, is so bad?

      Can you reason how the people in government who control through direct spending or regulatory compliance over $1 in every $3 spent in the economy are not to blame for any systemic problems in our economy?

      Can you reason why your violent culture war rhetoric can lead people to commit real world violence in your name?

      Can you reason how the human is apparently the only mammal who can change sex and can do so by the power of thought?

      1. Man, the partisan propaganda really works on you, doesn’t it?

        1. And you can refute it, of course.

          1. Well, he says Demoncrat. Which kinda indicates he may not be making particularly careful points.

            But basically it’s one big correlation-by-association without any proven causal connection.

            And then devolves into wankery about trans stuff and other handwaiving.

          2. “And you can refute it, of course.”

            Why would I want to refute what I said?

  11. “My former student Carolyn Homer has written a characteristically thoughtful and passionate post arguing that Trumpism is akin to a religion.”

    And his number shall be six hundred, sixty, and six.

    1. Boomers just aren’t funny.

      1. i guess that’s just their problem. It’s not my problem to fix for them.

      2. “Boomers just aren’t funny.”

        Great news!

        The most sour-pussed among them will be taking their stale, bigoted thinking to the grave soon enough . . . and will be replaced by better, younger Americans in our electorate.

        Not all boomers are humorless, by the way. Look at Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, much of our high-quality movie and television comedy . . . all of the stuff that clingers hate (and envy, as they pretend that Greg Gutfeld, the Left Behind guys, and Joe Piscopo are hilariously talented).

      3. “Boomers just aren’t funny.”

        Nor Republicans. Or is that redundant?

        1. Lmao a four word comment generates three angry responses. Is that dick swagger or what?

          1. Rather limp response again.

  12. Not withstanding the above any belief system, deeply held, is equivalent to a religion.

    1. Was this meant as a joke? Because it’s pretty funny if so.

    2. “Not withstanding the above any belief system, deeply held, is equivalent to a religion.”

      Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.
      –Arthur C. Clarke, inventor of the communications satellite.

  13. It’s interesting what I associate most with middle class religion (the upper class religiosity of upbringing is almost perfect) is a pestering never ending insistence and a noticeable lack of social polish. I won’t name any names but there are a few posters here who resemble Jehovah’s Witnesses despite their own insistence on their rationality.

    1. Whereas you strike me as the type who sticks to his assumptions even after they’re demonstrated to be incorrect.

      1. I’m like Christ the demons can’t help but be agitated by my words. Rofl

  14. I mean, beliefs are like beliefs. And?

  15. I had trouble sleeping, so got up and read this thread, looking for somewhere to engage constructively. No luck, or maybe just too much work.

    I have a suggestion for all. Read Michael Oakeshott’s 1962 essay, Rationalism in Politics. It critiques most of the comments in this thread, whether from the left or from the right. Decades before it happened, Oakeshott seems to have anticipated much of what went wrong in political thought during the last several decades. Worth a look. Try also, The Activity of Being an Historian.

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