Thursday, August 20, 2009

Politics and Irrationality

Johann Hari considers the relationship between Republicans, religion, and unreason, over at The Independent. From the column:
How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality? It begins, I suspect, with religion. They are taught from a young age that it is good to have "faith" – which is, by definition, a belief without any evidence to back it up. You don't have "faith" that Australia exists, or that fire burns: you have evidence. You only need "faith" to believe the untrue or unprovable. Indeed, they are taught that faith is the highest aspiration and most noble cause. Is it any surprise this then percolates into their political views? Faith-based thinking spreads and contaminates the rational.
Not that theistic belief compels one to hew to one side or the other of any political divide... we all know intelligent and contentious people who vote for the other party. If you don't, then you should get out there and make some more friends. Political miscegenation saves us from putting on blinders ourselves, and means we're doing our part to mitigate the influence of The Other Team on its adherents.

Given the tenor (read: venom) of the ongoing town hall events, I think this is a good time to affirm the utter rationality of abstaining from prejudicial political denouncements of those with whom we disagree. Has anyone else been struck sober and cold by the fury -- formed by and fed by irrational beliefs -- shown at these recent political events? Just goes to show how valuable critical thinking can be, if its absence can lead to such derangement.