Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Betrachte die Herde, die an dir vorüberweidet[...]"

Herd behavior: people tend to believe all of the official stories about Roswell, the JFK assassinationor 9/11, or to disbelieve all of them. Actual independent thought, it seems to me, would have produced more people entertaining conspiracy cases involving the Federal government in some of these cases, and not in others. But the great majority of people, seeing Federal conspiracies either in all of these cases and in other cases, or in none of them, seem to be choosing sides and following party lines more than thinking.

In politics, similarly, people tend to think that their side can do no wrong and that the other side are horrible people. This applies to independents too, from whom one might expect more nuanced thought. Instead, one encounters the stereotype of the independent as the lone voice of reason, with fanatical ideologues both to his left and to his right.

Even more so with agnostics and Buddhists under their simpleminded banner; "Everybody Else is Wrong." Recently I read an article, written by a Buddhist, under the title "Is Buddhism Agnostic?" I thought about that for a while and had to conclude that, yes, it is, and that that's why I dislike it so much. Like agnosticism, Buddhism is primarily concerned with smugly pointing out the misconceptions of others. What do they themselves believe? Weeeeelllll... certainly not what is usually said that they believe. And straight back to the everybody-else-is-wrong hobbyhorse.

Human minds are so complex. Almost everybody is actually right about a great deal. Even, say I through clenched teeth, those damned agnostics and Buddhists. Even when they're following a herd and so are only right by default. You may know someone for decades and never once see them make sense, but don't assume because of that you know everything about what they know.

Christopher Hitchenswas a dingbat, but he was undeniably and admirably his own dingbat, clearly thinking for himself. (Did anyone else on Earth both support W's Iraq war and campaign for Ralph Nader in 2004? If so I'll give you good odds that they were just following Hitch.)

Anyway: follow me and help re-elect President Obama.

No comments:

Post a Comment