Saturday, July 08, 2006

Healthy Child-Rearing and the Ideocide of the Left

In Chapter 3 of The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself, Harrison gets into the question of how culture influences behavior, how cultures change, how cultural values are transmitted from generation to generation, and how we might intervene to promote positive cultural change. You might say that it addresses the question of how we might perform psychotherapy on a pathological culture.

It has always surprised me that more historians and anthropologists don’t look at child-rearing practices to try to understand the basis of cultural health, pathology and change, and why some cultures are so much sicker than others. But hardly any do, mainly because of the dominance of the politically correct view that no culture is better or worse than any other--except for Western culture, which is the worst. And yet, how could it not be? If you have a culture that systematically abuses children in the most grotesque way--say, the Palestinians--why should anyone be surprised that they are arguably the most comprehensively depraved people on earth?

Likewise, being that Jews have been practicing more humane child-rearing for millennia, why should anyone be surprised that, pound for pound, they have contributed more to human excellence than any other human culture? How is it that Jews, who represent two tenths of one percent of the world’s population, have won 15 to 20 percent of the Nobel Prizes, and perhaps constitute an even higher percentage of the world's greatest comedians? On the other hand, the Palestinians have won exactly one Nobel Prize, and it was given to one of the most depraved monsters who ever drew breath. And the Palestinian contribution to comedy has been negligable, or at least unintended--e.g. the wild-eyed imams with their crazed Friday evening sermons, the comical s'alapstiq "work accidents" in which they accidentally blow themselves up, Arafat's sham marriage to a goy named Suha, etc.

Harrison cites a couple of scholars who have attempted to quantify the link between child-rearing practices and cultural progress, in particular, progress toward democracy, economic prosperity, and social justice. As I noted in my own book, the further back in history you go, the more evidence there is of abominable child-rearing practices--what we would now call outright abuse. Perhaps this is why, as Harrison notes, “Early humans were neither democratic nor egalitarian during the first 80-90 millennia of human existence.” Instead, we see ceaseless war, violence, oppression of women and children, and frankly crazy cultural beliefs and practices. The romantic idea that humans were ever peaceful “noble savages” has been thoroughly debunked by anyone who cares to actually look at the evidence.

One of my problems with contemporary liberalism is that around 40 years ago it lurched into romantic irrationalism--cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and the like. For example, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously identified the pathologies of African American culture in the late 1960’s but was absolutely pilloried by the irrational haters of the left. If only his ideas had been put into practice then, millions of black lives would have been materially and spiritually improved, and saved from prison, poverty and early death. But instead, the left adopted the ideology of victimhood to explain black cultural pathology, with disastrous results.

I don’t think we should shy away from calling this leftist philosophy what it is: child abuse. For to indoctrinate a child with a victim mentality is to murder his soul. Here is what psychologist Jerome Kagan says all American children should be taught in order to grow up psychologically healthy (and remember, this book was written by an avowed liberal--my kind of liberal--Lawrence Harrison):

1) First, children should be taught that “it is possible for every person to improve his or her economic or social position through education and the conscientious application of individual talents.” Conversely, backward and pathological cultures “hold a fatalistic belief that they are passive victims of social forces they are unable to change...” As a result, “improving one’s talents in order to work toward a goal is unlikely to result in a better life; this attitude might be called the ‘helplessness ideology.’”

Thus, when I say that a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Ted Kennedy or the whole intellectual apparatus of the left are child abusers, I am not being polemical or bombastic. I am being completely literal. I can’t even imagine indoctrinating my child with such a psychologically crippling ideology. As a matter of fact, the black middle class continues to grow so rapidly precisely because so many blacks reject this self-defeating ideology of helplessness. They teach their children that, while there are always individual racists of all races, America is not only not a racist country, but that African Americans are more prosperous and wealthy here than blacks anywhere else on earth. Not only are most whites not neutral about race, but they actually want to do whatever they can to assist blacks, short of being coerced at gunpoint by the government. In other words, there is still an enormous reservoir of good will toward blacks in this country because of past racial injustices, despite the damage that has been done by disreputable racial hustlers such as Jesse Jackson and his ilk.

2) Kagan writes that all children should be taught that “the political and judicial system is generally fair and just and, therefore, conformity to the law is expected and violations are punished.”

Here again, black scholars such as Thomas Sowell or Shelby Steele fully understand this. If there are a disproportionate number of blacks in prison, it is simply because they commit a disproportionate number of the crimes. It’s as simple as that. And crime is not caused by poverty. Again, this is one of the most persistent and seemingly ineradicable liberal beliefs. Black crime only took off in the 1960’s when they became far more affluent. There was far less black crime prior to the 1960’s. Much of the problem flows from number (1) above, in that, beginning in the late 60's, so many blacks were inculcated with a victim mentality which essentially teaches them that they are entitled to a life of crime because the entire American system is racist, corrupt, illegitimate and rigged against them. In this view, crime almost becomes a moral imperative. If I believed it, I would probably become a criminal. Why not?

3) Kagan writes that “individual who are members of a social category that has experienced prejudice are entitled to dignity, freedom from bigotry, and an opportunity to improve their lives. The [leftist] belief that members of some social categories are inherently less talented or less virtuous than a majority” is “a formidable obstacle to the goals being sought.”

This is why racial quotas are such a pathological and self-defeating policy. If you impose a racial quota, the culture in question cannot receive the vital feedback it needs from reality in order to self-correct. It amounts to punishing Asian or Jewish culture for its success and rewarding black culture for its lack thereof. This most certainly does not help black culture--quite the opposite--and it’s questionable whether it even helps individuals without robbing them of their dignity. Imagine, for example, that your child needs a lifesaving operation. There are only two doctors, one of whom was admitted to college and medical school because of considerations of “diversity.” I don’t care what your race is--which doctor are you going to choose?

Harrison writes that children must be taught from the outset that they are not primarily members of a “race.” Rather, “identification with the nation must be stronger than identification with tribe, clan, or region.” I have always believed this, which is why I used to be called a liberal, whereas now I am called a conservative. I haven’t changed. It’s just that liberalism has been hijacked by illiberal leftist ideologues.

4) Lastly, Kagan notes that children should be taught that “the accumulation of wealth, which usually brings status, is a virtue; it should not be assumed that a person has violated some ethical standards simply because he is more advantaged....”

Of course, denying the Left its envy and class warfare would mean an end to the Left, so it is unlikely that they could ever accept this prescription. Instead, they will continue to teach their children that America is unfair, that it is controlled by a wealthy few, and that no one can get ahead without Democrats and a large, intrusive state.

Kagan concludes that it is every family’s responsibility “to praise perseverance, academic achievement, and autonomy in its children and to chastise the avoidance of responsibility, school failure, excessive dependence, and passivity.”

Wait a minute! This kind of healthy child-rearing, er, right-wing propaganda, would amount to cultural genocide--the complete elimination of an entire primitive people--the Left!


Tomorrow: more on ancient child-rearing practices, both in antiquity and today, in the Muslim Middle East.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Child is the Father to the Maniac

Reader Mary asked the question, “Would you develop your thoughts on the vertical evolution of child rearing? You mentioned awhile back that the amazing accomplishments of the Jewish people throughout history stem from their ‘scandalous’ ways of raising their children. As a parent of teenagers, any insight to help understand parent/teenager relationships would be appreciated.”

To answer the last question first, I’m not sure I can help with the teenager business. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a child relatively late in life, as I did. One of the advantages is that, by the time my son is a teenager, there’s a better chance I’ll be dead.

The latest research on the subject shows--as if we didn’t know--that the adolescent brain literally disassembles and rewires itself during the teenage years. Obviously this is more problematic for some teens than others... such as, I don't know, me. The psychoanalytic idea is that we go into a relatively conflict-free period from around five or six until adolescence. But when adolescence hits, there is an idruption of all of the unresolved, unconscious psychosexual, developmental attachment issues from the first few years of life. In other words, if the teen had an insecure, ambivalent, chaotic or abusive attachment as an infant, it’s going to come roaring back in adolescence, as the adolescent looks for situations and relationships in which to act out their infantile emotional conflicts.

This is an especially dangerous time for boys, because the rewiring of the brain literally disrupts the ability to understand the consequences of danger. Teenage boys often engage in impulsively risk-taking behavior for this reason. For girls, it’s apparently more of a hormonal problem. From what I understand, the surge of hormones is so overwhelming that it can often cause a kind of sudden moodiness that almost looks like bipolar or borderline personality disorder. Now I understand 1) why my first girlfriend treated me the way she did, and 2) why I was attracted to her.

Having said that, I don’t treat adolescents. My wife actually knows a lot more about the subject than I do. Perhaps she’ll chime in later.

Looking back on my own extended adolescence, I’m not sure how I survived it. Things were relatively tranquil until 17, when I discovered beer. When you toss drugs and alcohol into the brain-dismantling and general impulsivity, predictable consequences ensue. Which is to say, unpredictable consequences. I suppose you could say I was crazy, but it didn’t feel like it at the time.... jumping out of moving cars, drinking and driving so frequently that I got quite good at it, getting drunk twice a day on special occasions, like New Years... This period of time didn’t last all that long--couldn’t have lasted that long--but it was enough for a lifetime.

I know it probably sounds disingenuous, but even then I am quite sure I was searching for the vertical, for some sort of extraordinary, liberating experience. It is not so much that I felt oppressed by life, but I definitely concluded quite early on that there was nothing of much interest in the world as such. Instead, I was quite sure that the key to life was in our relationship to the world, and that we could alter this relationship by altering our consciousness. Of course, I was steeped in the ethos of the 1960’s, which maintained that an alternate reality was always just a few microns away.

For whatever reason, I was always very susceptible to a kind of uncontainable joy or exhilaration--even ecstasy--that had nothing to do with the outward circumstances of my life. For this reason, I never developed the idea that outward circumstances mattered--grades, college, career, etc. I never thought for one moment that any kind of worldly accomplishment would alter the basic existential equation of my life. If anything, I always suspected that deeper entanglement in the world would only lead me away from the liberation I was seeking. I’m not even saying that it’s a good or bad thing, but I could never have tolerated an ordinary life with an ordinary job, no matter how extraordinary. Even now I long for the day that I can fully commit myself to nothing, the operative word being commit. That's when this blog will take off into hyperspace.

Where were we? Oh yes. Vertical child rearing. One of the problems here is that the vast majority of parents throughout history--and certainly in the world at this time--are completely clueless about the horizontal aspects of parenting, let alone the vertical. In other words, it has only been in the last 50 years or so, specifically in Western Europe and America, that we have realized the critical importance of early attachment, and how this shapes the personality for the rest of one’s life. Even in the West, studies routinely show that about a third of mothers and infants are securely attached, about a third ambivalently attached, and about a third insecurely or chaotically attached. You can see videos of this, and if you are remotely sensitive about what it’s like to be a helpless, preverbal infant, they are quite heartbreaking. Frankly, the mothers are so clueless that you want to just shake them. (Hasn't that ever happened to you in a store, seeing how some mothers treat their children?)

One of the key ideas in attachment theory is that, from the moment they pop out of the womb--and even in the womb--you must treat your infant as a fully human subject with all the rights and dignities we give to any human being. You don’t treat them as an object or an extension of yourself. You explain to them what you’re doing, respond to their vocalizations, and even give words to the frustrations they are feeling. It’s amazing how this calms them down. And although I enjoy playing “rough” with my son (and he loves it as well), I never do so in such a way that he feels out of control of the situation. I’m always sensitive to his reaction, so that he can feel that he has control over things--even when I'm dangling him over the balcony.

Of course, there’s always a random element to child rearing, if only because of genetics and basic temperament, which is apparently not subject to change. Furthermore, one of the biggest challenges is that for any life trials must come, and it is through trials that our character is revealed, tested, and developed. So you cannot shield your child from pain and suffering, although naturally you try to shield them from meaningless pain.

One of the biggest conundrums for me is in fact how to formally introduce the vertical into my son's life when the time comes. Frankly, I’m still working on this. I have to allow for that fact that his basic temperament and orientation to the world are most likely going to be completely different from mine. In my case, I was as close to a “natural mystic” as fate and temperament would allow, so my basic orientation was always to the vertical--to such an extent that the formal religious involvement of my childhood only interfered with it.

But I am assuming that most people require the formal introduction of a specific religion in childhood in order to give shape and structure to the vertical.

There is also the issue that, by the time a man is 40 years old, he has pretty much “seen it all.” I don’t mean to say that I am jaded or disillusioned in a bad way. But I am definitely disillusioned about the world as such, especially given my temperamental head start. As they say, “it is not I who have left the world, it is the world that has left me.” Nor is this to say that I have lost my passion for life, much less become cynical. It’s just that a proper human being naturally turns to more inward and upward things at around mid-life. I am never bored unless someone is boring me--usually a horizontal someone.

This puts me on a rather different developmental track than my son. I can hardly tell him not to devour the apple, even though the consequences are preordained. Like God, I have to even provide him with the forbidden tree with all the trimmings, knowing full well that he’s going to fall under its hypnotic spell and go in for the whole beautiful catastrophe. I suppose you can only hope that your prodigal son will be like the prodigal son.

I’ve rambled on for too long. In the book we have been discussing, Lawrence Harrison’s The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself, he gets into the specific parenting skills that differentiate progress-prone from progress-resistant cultures. I had wanted to get into that, but now I’m out of time. If anyone’s still interested, perhaps I can do so tomorrow. I had also intended to touch on the child rearing practices of ancient peoples, including the Jews, so if anyone’s interested, let me know.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Today's Score: Conservatives 25, Progressives 0

My dear cosmonaughts, we’re still discussing all the central conservative truths found in Lawrence Harrison’s new book, The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself. On pp. 36-37 of the book, Harrison lays out a helpful summary of those traits that are characteristic of the “progress-prone” culture vs. the “progress-resistant” one. They fall under four main headings: “Worldview,” “Values and Virtues,” “Economic Behavior,” and “Social Behavior,” with a total of 25 subcategories, or "factors."

Beginning with Worldview, it seems to me that the characteristics of progress-resistant cultures are almost an exact description of modern liberal victimology. Regarding the subcategory of “destiny,” the liberal victim is beset by “fatalism and resignation.” With respect to “time orientation,” their obsessive focus on past or even present grievances discourages working hard for the future. Under the heading of “wealth,” liberals clearly regard it as a “zero-sum” enterprise, which lies at the heart of their income-redistributing policies. Likewise, knowledge is “abstract, theoretical, cosmological [hey! I heard that], not verifiable.” Exactly. As we have had occasion to discuss many times, liberal academia (specifically, the humanities) is filled with deranged, kooky, abstract, unverifiable and utopian cranks. The rest are just crazy.

The one last subcategory for Worldview is religion. Here you might think that the left has the upper hand, and in most contexts you might be correct. But Harrison makes no distinction between pre- or irrational religiosity vs. the type of sophisticated religiosity we discuss on this blog. Thus, there is no question that the secular left is more rational than primitive African animists or practitioners of Haitian voodoo (even if they themselves would deny that fact because of their PC belief in cultural relativism). But I don’t believe for a moment that modern secularism is more rational than my transrational religious philosophy. In fact, by comparison, merely secular philosophy is a sophisticated child's game. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if the secularized, hyper-rational societies of Western Europe will even be able to survive their irreligiosity. By and large American religion hardly dismisses the world--rather, it promotes achievement and material pursuits. It is probably too material for my tastes.

So for the category of “worldview,” conservatives trounce the left four to one or possibly even five-zip.

The next heading is Values and Virtues, which has three subcategories, “ethical code,” “the lesser virtues,” and “education.” Here again, I don’t see how any intellectually honest person can give the nod to the left. Progress-resistant cultures have “elastic” values, while progress-prone ones are “rigorous within realistic norms.” Progress-prone cultures emphasize small virtues that actually end up making a huge difference, such as tidiness, courtesy, “a job well done”.... to which I might add, politeness, not cursing in public, and being free of off-putting tattoos, tongue piercings, and pagan "body art." To the progress-resistant culture, these small virtues are unimportant. (The thing that most strikes me about dailykos or huffingtonpissed, aside from the shrill adolescent anger, is the constant, unnecessary profanity. I'm all for the necessary kind.)

The last subcategory is Education, and here again you might think that progressives are at least in the game. But just look what the progressive educational establishment has done to our educational system. They have been in complete control of lower and higher education in this country for at least 50 years, and it is a disgrace. Furthermore, they are specifically opposed to truly progressive policies that could turn things around, such as fostering competition by introducing vouchers into the system. And let’s not even talk about what progressives have done to the university in my lifetime. For one thing, I don’t have enough time. I have to be out of the house in 45 minutes.

The next main factor is Economic behavior, which has seven subcategories. This one is so self-evidently in favor of conservatives that it’s hardly worth debating. Progress-prone cultures believe that competition leads to excellence, that advancement should be based on merit, and that work is one of the primary purposes of life (the “protestant work ethic”). They try to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, innovation and investment.

Conversely, the progress-resistant are suspicious of prosperity--it is a threat to equality because some will get rich, thus provoking envy. They are uncomfortable with competition, as it is a sign of aggression and a threat to both equality and privilege (such as the privileges enjoyed by the teachers union or by tenured wackademics or New York Times editors). And, of course, they are constitutionally opposed to the idea of merit, and instead believe that the government should get involved in giving special privileges to different racial, cultural and gender categories.

So for economic behavior, it’s conservatives 7, progressives bupkis.

The last main factor is Social Behavior, which has the most subcategories, ten. Some of these are frankly rather bland and neutral, and it is fair to say that most Americans of whatever political stripe share them: belief in the rule of law, a belief in checks and balances and dispersed authority, and the responsibility of elites to society. Others are a bit misleading, for conservatives clearly believe in gender equality, they just don’t believe in gender equivalence.

Other categories that are less innocuous fall clearly in favor of conservatives. For example, the progress-resistant culture has a much stronger identification with the narrow community--i.e., multiculturalism. Progressives believe in dividing the country along racial and gender lines, so that one’s primary identification is not, say, “American” but “African American.” Likewise, the progress-resistant culture emphasizes the collectivity rather than the individual (except when it comes to the right to show your breast on TV or ride a bicycle naked in public to protest the war).

The last category is Church-State relations. According to Harrison, the progress-prone culture is “secularized” and believes in a “wall between church and state,” whereas the for the progress-resistant culture, “religion plays a major role in the civic sphere.” How true. The adverse impact of mixing church and state is never more clear than when the religion in question is “Progressivism.”

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Progressives: The Hurrier they Go, the Behinder They Get

In Chapter three of my book I survey history and culture, looking for evidence of what I call “mind parasites” that are ultimately rooted in different different styles of child rearing and which are responsible for so much cultural pathology, including the pathology of Islamism. Although my ideas may appear somewhat speculative, I believe that they cannot not be true once you understand the underlying principles involved.

I just finished a new book that confirms many of the things I wrote in that section, The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself, by Lawrence Harrison. Although Harrison calls himself a liberal, the book absolutely demolishes many ideas that are central to contemporary liberalism--most particularly, multiculturalism, cultural relativism, and any kind of liberal victimology, for the book demonstrates with hard data how cultural beliefs, attitudes and values are the key to understanding the evolution of society. The book is actually somewhat shockingly--but thoroughly refreshingly--politically incorrect, and says some things that even Petey would probably hesitate to blurt out in public.

In the preface of the book, Harrison--a long time USAID director--notes that all of the underdeveloped or underprivileged countries or cultures he worked in were plagued by the same things--disrespect for law, lack of cooperation with one another, acquiescence to (and extertion of) unbridled authority, passivity when encountering problems, lack of civic consciousness, lack of trust, and pursuit of narrow personal interest. It is much easier for scholars such as Jared Diamond to blame geography, insufficient resources, or “guns, germs, and steel” for the failure of so many cultures, but this entirely begs the question of why certain groups--most notably, the Jews or East Asians--thrive wherever they are allowed to take root. In each case, they have a "portable culture" of extremely healthy and adaptive values that stand them in good stead.

Harrsion approvingly quotes the great scholar of Islam, Bernard Lewis, who wrote that “When people realize that things are going wrong, there are two questions they can ask: One is, ‘What did we do wrong?’ and the other is ‘Who did this to us?’” The latter question leads to paranoia, conspiracy theories and liberal victimology, which is why the Islamists and international left share a common cause--they have the same underlying assumptions about reality and about who is at fault for it.

The book shows how deeply rooted are some of the pathologies of the left. I did not know this, but even in 1948, the American Anthropological Association opposed the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that each culture must decide for itself “what is true, good, beautiful, and efficient,” and no cultures were any better or worse, just “different.” Thus, “liberals” found themselves at odds with a document calling for such things as the right to life, liberty, and security of person, equality before the law, and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The more things change....

It never ceases to amaze me that liberals think they are doing these people a favor by supporting their cultural pathologies. As is always the case with leftist thought, it is a monstrous arrogance and condescension masquerading as compassion. Harrsion quotes a brilliant African scholar named Daniel Etounga Mangelle, someone I relied upon in my book. At a conference, he responded with sarcasm to such liberal nonsense:

"I am going to tell the truth. We Africans really enjoy living in shantytowns where there isn't enough food, health care, or education for our children. Furthermore, our corrupt chieftaincy political systems are really marvelous.... It would be boring if free, democratic elections were organized all over Africa. Were that to happen, we would no longer be real Africans, and by losing our identity--and our authoritarianism, our bloody civil wars, our illiteracy, our forty-five year life expectancy--we should be letting down not only ourselves but those Western anthropologists who study us so sympathetically and understand that we can't be expected to behave like human beings who seek dignity.... So let us fight with the full support of those Western scholars who have the wisdom and courage to acknowledge that Africans belong to different world.”

It is so glaringly obvious to me that the vast majority of really destructive racism comes form the left, not the right. Undoubtedly individual racists exist, but they are nothing compared to the institutional and ideological racism of the left. Professor John McWhorter, who happens to be black, describes in the book the devastating impact of liberal racism on African Americans. He writes that since the 1960s, the core of black identity has been “rebellion and disaffection.... Misbehavior and criminality are not the only ways this is expressed. Even the most educated blacks with the most assimilated demeanors get their 'black authenticity' stripes to the extent that they subscribe to the notion that being black remains a battle forty years after the Civil Rights Act.”

McWhorter writes that young blacks are indeed “victims”--not of what they call “racism” but of liberal ideology. This pathological and self-defeating world view would have utterly perplexed “the black Americans who worked so hard before the 1960s to pave the way for blacks to make the best of themselves in an imperfect world. Realizing that culture is the main problem now rather than racism or societal inequity, our task is to pull black America out of [its] detour, freeing us from self-fulfilling prophecies of recreational racial indignation and returning us to a clear-eyed, proactive race leadership that will allow us to truly 'get past race' for good."

As I said, I can't believe this book was written by a so-called liberal. It actually gives me hope for the future.

I’m running a little bit late, so this will have to be a two- or three-parter. I especially want to get into what the book has to say about specific child-rearing practices that are at the root of cultural pathology--of what I call collective mind parasites--and 25 specific attributes of progress-prone and progress-resistant cultures. Ironically, you will learn that at least seventy five percent of the “progress-prone” attributes are what we would call patently conservative ideas, while ninety percent of the “progress-resistant” ones are--you guessed it progressive. As always, the hurrier progressives go, the behinder they get.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

If Only Mustachiod Homophobic Terrorists Drove Gas-Guzzling SUVs into Buildings In San Francisco, The Left Would See the Threat

What the heck... I guess I'll post something anyway. Don't worry--I can stop blogging any time....

Psychology is such a stupid field. You have no idea. A while back I read something to the effect that there were around 250 distinct schools of psychological thought, and my guess is that perhaps 240 of them are utterly frivolous, shallow, and generally silly.

This is especially true of academic (as opposed to clinical) psychology. The adult playground of academia generates kooky ideas in every field for the simple reason that it is so insulated from reality and from the implications of its ideas. This is why, for example, the only place Marxism is taken seriously is in academia. If a small business owner were to toy with the idea of running his business along Marxist lines, he would receive immediate sharp and corrective blows from economic reality.

Today’s L.A. Times features an editorial by a Harvard psychology professor, Daniel Gilbert, entitled If only gay sex caused global warming: Why we're more scared of gay marriage and terrorism than a much deadlier threat.

In it, Gilbert begins with the logically self-refuting claim that “NO ONE [emphasis his] seems to care about the upcoming attack on the World Trade Center site. Why? Because it won't involve villains with box cutters. Instead, [cue Simpsons anchorman Kent Brockman--ed.] it will involve melting ice sheets that swell the oceans and turn that particular block of lower Manhattan into an aquarium." Fully accepting the most hysterical prognostications of agenda-driven weathermen at face value, Gilbert says “The odds of this happening in the next few decades are better than the odds that a disgruntled Saudi will sneak onto an airplane and detonate a shoe bomb. And yet our government will spend billions of dollars this year to prevent global terrorism and … well, essentially nothing to prevent global warming.”

This is the first time I've ever heard someone refer to terrorists as merely "disgruntled." Obviously they are far from gruntled. That goes without saying. But they are also hideously evil beasts of depravity bent on destroying civilization as we know it. For starters. And I'm sure they don't give a hoot about the weather. They're obviously used to warm climates.

In any event, let’s try a little thought experiment. Let’s announce to the world that we are immediately suspending all efforts to stop terrorists from hijacking airplanes. It’s too expensive. It’s just not worth the time and trouble, considering Professor Gilbert's reasoned assessment of the incredibly low odds of an attack. Let’s stop airport security, baggage checks, profiling of any kind. You aren’t a sophisticated psychology professor at an elite university, so you’re probably too stupid to ask, but what do you think would happen? For that matter, what do you think would happen if Israel made no effort to stop suicide bombers from crossing its border?

Gilbert, the brilliant psychology professor, wonders “Why are we less worried about the more likely disaster?” Don’t worry, he has the answer: “Because the human brain evolved to respond to threats that have four features--features that terrorism has and that global warming lacks.”

In other words, we really don’t have free will--except for Gilbert. Somehow, he managed to overcome natural selection and see beyond his genetic programming. Not so the rest of us trousered (as opposed to tenured) apes. We are just Darwinian machines, programmed to see enemies where they don’t really exist.

Professor Gilbert explains. You see, “global warming lacks a mustache. No, really. We are social mammals whose brains are highly specialized for thinking about others.” So the reason why we are concerned with terrorism is simply because it has a human face (although technically it is an inhuman face). On the other hand, global warming has no human face, so we don’t worry about it.

Except for all of the hysterics who do, including Gilbert. Indeed, they even try to give it a human face, a face that looks just like George Bush. And we are presumably "frightened" of gay marriage because it too has a human face and mustache, although in fairness, not all lesbians have mustaches. Hasn't he ever seen Tammy Bruce?

Gilbert claims that “The second reason why global warming doesn't put our brains on orange alert is that it doesn't violate our moral sensibilities. It doesn't cause our blood to boil... because it doesn't force us to entertain thoughts that we find indecent, impious or repulsive. When people feel insulted or disgusted, they generally do something about it, such as whacking each other over the head, or voting. Moral emotions are the brain's call to action.”

Again, this is demonstrably false. Global warming is a highly charged moral issue to the left. Can anyone listen to Al Gore and not tell in an instant that his blood is boiling and that he's hoppin' mad? Gilbert writes, “Yes, global warming is bad, but it doesn't make us feel nauseated or angry or disgraced, and thus we don't feel compelled to rail against it as we do against other momentous threats to our species, such as flag burning.”

What? Has this man never heard of dailykos? When have they not been angry and nauseated by some abstract fear that somehow never materializes, like the imminent takeover of the country by homophobic gaia-hating theofascists?

Gilbert writes that “The third reason why global warming doesn't trigger our concern is that we see it as a threat to our futures--not our afternoons. Like all animals, people are quick to respond to clear and present danger, which is why it takes us just a few milliseconds to duck when a wayward baseball comes speeding toward our eyes.” But this simply contradicts his earlier statement that we are obssessed with things that pose no real or immediate threat at all, like terrorism. Which is it?

Finally, the fourth reason we don’t care about global warming is that “we barely notice changes that happen gradually, we accept gradual changes that we would reject if they happened abruptly.” I don’t know about that one. I’m not sure if I would notice the one degree increase in global temperature if it had happened in one minute instead of the one hundred years over which it has occurred. Then again, maybe Gilbert is more sensitive than I am.

Oh my: “The human brain is a remarkable device that was designed to rise to special occasions.”

What kind of nonsense is this? It’s the kind of nonsense that is taught in elite universities. The brain is a fancy gadget or “device.” It was “designed,” but not really, because there was no designer. Rather, it’s just a random reflection of the environment it evolved in. And it “rises to special occasions.”

Which begs the question. For me and for approximately half of the country, September 11 was a “special occasion.” But somehow, we are unable to convince the other half of the country--including Professor Gilbert--of its specialness. We see the evil as clear as day, while the other half--including Gilbert--doesn’t see the evil at all, regardless of whether or not it has a human face. Instead, they focus their attention on obscure and abstract future threats from the weather.

I am not an academic psychologist. I am a clinical psychologist. We have a well-worn word that applies to both Gilbert and his kind: denial. It is at the basis of the “culture of conniption,” that is, the hysterical left that is always having a conniption about some vague threat that never materializes, because it is much more comforting than having to face the real thing.

Lileks said it best:

“ABC news has asked viewers to send in evidence of global warming. How is it affecting your life? ABC news wants to hear from you. This is like Life magazine asking readers in 1952 to describe the communists under their beds. Bald?  Slavic? Ruddy? Drunken? Well, I can help. Naked hairless blistered ocelots prowl my yard; mutated day-bats flutter around the eaves, and the other day a polar bear got up on two legs and pushed around a fume-belching two-stroke-engine lawn mower as some sort of ironic protest....

“I am not susceptible to disaster scenarios. I do not believe we have ten years to prevent the inevitable collapse of civilization. As long as I can remember I have been fed end-times scenarios--death by ice, death by fire, death by famine, death by smothering from heaps of clambering humans scrabbling for purchase on an overpopulated world, death by full-scale nuclear exchange, death by unstoppable global AIDS, death by a two-degree rise in temperatures, death by radon, death by alar, death by inadvertent Audi acceleration, death by juju. Doesn’t mean we won’t die of juju. But somehow we survive. The only thing I take away is a vague wistful wonder what it would be like to live in an era when things were generally so bad that the futurists spent their time assuring us it would be better. Say what you will about the past, but at least they had a future. All I’ve ever had, according to the experts, is a grim narrow window of heedless ignorance bliss followed by a dystopian irradiated world characterized by scarcity, mutation, and quite possibly intelligent chimps. You have no future. Oh, and don’t smoke!”


“I’m a stupid optimist. Either the vehicle that takes me to the boneyard will get six miles per gallon of processed dinosaur, or it will run for ninety days on a milliliter of Sea-Monkey urine. Either way, all in all, we’ll make it.”


Here's an idea for Professor Gilbert. Write an article about why the disgruntled Islamo-fascists are more worried about infidels than the weather. They're almost as crazy as us!

Part 2: Write an article about what motivates an, ahem, sane and sober man such as Al Gore to produce a propaganda film about the weather that contains so many easily verifiable distortions and exaggerations that almost seem calculated to alarm?. Why does the left habitually sacrifice truth to activism? Is this distortion consciously or unconsciously motivated?

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