RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! The un-thinking have come to eat your brain
We’re no longer talking about the guy in his wife-beater regurgitating white pride memes to his family at a dinner table. Nor a group of buddies at the local bar venting about how they have to get us back good old days. Nor a lone pamphleteer scribbling that FEMA is really a secret UN organization of international communists who want to force everyone to cross-breed to eradicate racial discrimination.
No, we’re talking the wholesale abandonment of fact, evidence, and expertise for the Cult of Gut: “I don’t care what the facts are: I know it’s true. My gut tells me so,” leading to a time when a celebrity can tweet that the earth is flat and get any response other than derision.
A time when people start dying of measles in the US again (where it was eradicated in 2010).
When government employees demand special privileges to refuse issuing marriage licenses and business owners can forbid employees’ access to complete medical insurance simply for worshiping the ancient sky god of illiterate desert nomads.
To when a major party’s candidate for president of the United States can vomit naked bigotry, and then point to the number of likes and re-tweets he gets as further proof it’s true because it affirms what he feels is true—“I just know it.”
Yes, bigotry has been around since there has been an Us and Them. Willful ignorance has plagued us since Conventional Wisdom gave humans an easy way to avoid the work of thinking or the trouble of changing. Prideful stupidity has clogged thinking since one guy learned that shouting louder than the other guy can win an argument regardless of who is actually right.
But, the Enlightenment gave us the tools to keep these social cancers, more or less, in check. The tools acted both as a shield from these treacherous diseases of thoughtlessness and as vaccination against contracting them in the first place.
If and when we use them.
Here in the US, these tools had been showing real promise, especially in the twentieth century—once herd immunity started working—though not perfectly and certainly not everywhere equally. At least in public, those infected with the diseases of mindlessness were not taken seriously and mostly left to wallow in their own medieval imaginations, impotent to spread their infection, with McCarthyism an ominous exception.
But ever since I was old enough to care about such things—roughly when Ronald Regan was first elected—I’ve watched as the infected have crawled out from hiding. Worse yet, they started appearing on national TV and in mainstream print,
shibboleths dripping from their lips,
memes where their minds once were,
carrying a contagion that kills humanity’s greatest asset: the ability to think.
Crushing evidence under their many thousands of mindless feet, the infected thoughtless carry pre-form realities with them. These do not depend on what could be seen or shown, only on what someone believes is right.
Contrary facts are dismissed or twisted to fit these private worlds. They brought moral panics to spread their disease, such as the nationwide terror of satanic ritual abuse of children, fears that games of imagination were actually devil worship, and confidence that making the rich richer helps the poor by trickling money down to them: the Voodoo economy of the Invisible Hand of the Market guided by True Belief. It feels right, so it must be right—one has only to believe strongly enough to make it real.
Regan’s Neocon revolution was the first wave of the actual zombie apocalypse, and they fed on mind after mind.
And it’s only gotten worse as the infected have hauled their gut trusting anti-Intellectualism into the mainstream.
It won elections.
It defeated people who knew things.
It now appears regularly on network news, in major newspapers, and in the mouths of political figures—
the zombies are taking over.
This should worry the hell out of everyone, and frankly, piss more of us off. Yes, us: we who share Enlightenment values like
- individual liberty
- ending the collusion of church and state.
We who value using reason, empiricism, and scientific rigor, and who reject received truth: truth with a capital T, the absolute, unalterable truth, which past Zombie masters have always twisted to fit their needs.
One Candle in the Darkness will test drive ideas to fight off this mass brain death.
Not to cure the infected, as that won’t happen, at least not often enough to be worth spending the time and energy. Why? Because the irrational cannot be reasoned with, and the faithful cannot be swayed by facts contrary to what they already believe: they will accept only evidence that fits their own personal realities.
Our goals must be different:
- quarantine the brain-dead
- inoculate the vulnerable
- rescue the not too far-gone