beliefs, bible, critical thinking, dispensationalism, facts, fundamentalism, GOP, Politics, psychology, rapture, the big lie, truth
I don’t know what your experience with lying is, but I recall a few things that I’ve learned.
1. Parents tend to look with disfavor at lying and punish accordingly. It is seldom a rewarding experience to be caught in deliberate falsehood.
2. It is exceedingly difficult to never get caught lying. There are simply too many factors to be controlled, and some of them aren’t within your sphere. Again, consequences can be most distasteful.
3. Nowhere is it worse to lie and get caught than as a lawyer. Deliberately ignoring the case that destroys yours in the hopes that neither the opposing counsel nor the judge will come across it is risky. If they do, you have lost all credibility for mostly forever. You may face disciplinary action as well if your actions are deemed egregious.
4. Friends tend to disappear when you are caught lying to them. Honesty is a hallmark of friendship, along with loyalty, and dependability.
5. Jesus and God seemed mostly opposed to the idea. Enough said.
Therefore, I have continually scratched my head in wonder as I have watched for the past several years as the GOP and its members have lied in the most bold manner imaginable. And have gotten caught at it, and basically haven’t paid a penalty.
A few days ago, I linked you to an article on facts and how they are seemingly unimportant to some folks. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, or to refresh your memory, studies (many in fact) prove that even when people are presented with incontrovertible facts, they tend to believe what they did before. They in essence, ignore truth.
Sadly the more passionate one is, the more one is inclined to do this. This explains of course quite well such people as teabaggers and the whole Foxy Faux News thing. Conservatives oddly or not so oddly, ignore the facts when presented and apparently truth doesn’t even register. Liberals recognize the facts as such, but apparently argue around them to maintain their original belief.
The GOP, perhaps by hiring some “message” guys and gals learned that they could lie with impunity and still get their point adopted by those who were predisposed to believe their message. I recall a guy, whose name eludes me (he’s been interviewed and participated in public opinion discussions many times), talking about how he helped craft the GOP message. Word choice was critical. Certain words were deliberately chosen to evoke knee jerk responses and favorable images to the listener. This was coupled by having the party in general repeat the key words every chance they could. So there was a blitzkrieg of the phrase. It was eventually picked up by the faithful as truth regardless of the actual facts. (See death panels.)
Now, we have discussed many times what it is about some people that make them susceptible to messages that are illogical and ultimately harm their own economic position and even more so, cut across their supposed “Christianity.” The GOP has been able to delve into that deep place of anxiety, worry, and uncertainty, and present a message, much like biblical fundamentalism, that is simple, complete and “patriotic.”
Marrying fundamentalist notions of biblical literalcy, with patriotism, and with Founding Fathers revisionist history, has proved fruitful for some years now. Positions that seem racist, class oriented, misogynist, and otherwise unjust to the rest of us, are somehow transformed into Constitutionally mandated recipes for being a true Christian and a real citizen.
This is heady stuff, and as the study shows, most hard to combat. No mere presentation of truth will suffice here to dissuade such fervent belief. In fact, the “truth” is really just seen as falsehood and expected from the powers of evil sent by secular devils.
I think that from my reading and experience such types cannot be changed. I recently read a short paper on dispensationalism and the Left Behind series. The author showed, easily of course, the insane and silly biblical analysis that results in this kind of thinking. The very idea of being raptured into the clouds is a simple exegetical misunderstanding of the word apantesis, found in Thess. 4:17.
The author of the Boston Globe article finds that there may be only one effective solution. When the lies are stated, they must be immediately called out. This of course is what Media Matters and various fact checker sites attempt to do, but of course, you wouldn’t know that unless you follow those websites.
Joe Keohane, writing the “facts backfire” article, points to the moderators and interviewers as the place to start. Journalists used to, as a matter of course, know their subject, ask piercing questions, and point out weak arguments. They don’t any more. They appear to think their purpose is to give the interviewee time to make his case without comment.
The author argues that their feet must be put to the fire. There need to be consequences to what one says. Embarrassment on national television is a fine way to start. At least, it will impact the vast middle, who are not either rabidly left or right. They will register the correction, and be wary of such purveyors of untruth in the future.
One thing that was not stated in the article by Mr. Keohane, is that we can insist that our primary educational institutions do a much better job of teaching critical thinking and listening. That cuts neither for or against liberalism or conservatism. It makes everyone better at understanding truth. It helps to mold belief that is based on objective facts rather than “gut” reactions, and perhaps unknown personal bigotries that help support a comfortable worldview.
As to parents perhaps they need spend a bit more time trying to help their children develop such abilities while we await our schools to do their jobs. We need to start somewhere. We must start now. Unless you enjoy living in a nation that gets more and more schizophrenic with each passing year. Your choice.