The Kids Aren’t Alright

The Kids Aren’t Alright

The other day Spotify asked if I wanted to listen to a Throwback playlist it created for me. That’s how I ended up jogging to The Offspring and having the best hate-run ever. Why is it so easy to run fast when you are angry? Is it because “war is a force that gives us meaning“?  The next thought that went through my mind is “Paul Ryan and Donald Trump and all the stupid Republicans would feel so much better if they could run to The Offspring and work out their aggressions.”

But of course that’s silly. Paul Ryan probably DOES work out to some form of angry music, and Donald Trump… well, self-discipline isn’t his thing.

My mind can’t stop puzzling over what on earth is happening to the US, and what we can do about it. Luckily almost everyone else in the US is puzzling over this too – from the people in my family who keep spamming me with alt-right propaganda emails, to the center-left journalists trying to find answers… in a hostile working environment, no less, and for digital news agencies reportedly struggling to stay solvent.

I have read a few articles that seem to shed some light into what is going on… although it is increasingly difficult to understand if I’m asleep in the echo chambers (in the words of John McCain). Oh well! I’ll share anyway.

Why Conservatives are More Susceptible to Believing Lies by John Ehrenreich

Holy incendiary article title, Batman! I felt a little guilty even clicking on this article. But the main points are pretty fascinating and don’t seem to be horribly derogatory to conservatives, namely:

– Finding facts and pursuing evidence and trusting science is part of liberal ideology itself. For many conservatives, faith and intuition and trust in revealed truth appear as equally valid sources of truth.

– Freud distinguished between “errors” on the one hand, “illusions” and “delusions” on the other. Errors, he argued, simply reflect lack of knowledge or poor logic; Aristotle’s belief that vermin form out of dung was an error. But illusions and delusions are based on conscious or unconscious wishes; Columbus’s belief that he had found a new route to the Indies was a delusion based on his wish that he had done so.

Although Freud is out of favor with many contemporary psychologists, modern cognitive psychology suggests that he was on the right track. The tenacity of many of the right’s beliefs in the face of evidence, rational arguments, and common sense suggest that these beliefs are not merely alternate interpretations of facts but are instead illusions rooted in unconscious wishes.



Well, there you go. These two points, for me, solve a big part of my personal quandary: “I used to love my Republican relatives, but now they seem evil. Were they always evil? How can people spout a never-ending torrent of bigoted lies, and not be evil?”

The answer seems to be… “Your Republican relatives (and mine), have a faith-based operating system that might be described, using the language of tech, as more susceptible to an Illusions Rooted in Unconscious Wishes Virus.”

I’m not saying that I’m immune, or that all Democrats are. I’m also not saying that this explanation for Republican zombiehood is an excuse for it, or that it mitigates the real evil their party is wreaking upon our planet.

However, I do feel a LOT better now that I’ve come across an explanation other than:  “People are just naturally bad”  or  “Your relatives were always evil”!

I wanted to talk about a few more articles here, but this blog post is already way too long. So I’ll just link to one more:

America is Facing an Epistemic Crisis by David Roberts

Here’s a sample:

“The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.”


Take it from Dexter Holland of The Offspring:
“The cruelest dream: reality.”

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