What gets us into trouble is not so much our ignorance. It's what we know that just ain't so. -- Mark TwainThe regrettable reality is how many of us are susceptible to group think – the consensus understanding of anything that “everybody knows.”
We in the west like to think of ourselves as more civilized, more advanced and all that, but we’re just as capable of refusing to acknowledge reality and looking at facts placed in front of us. We’re not very different from the barbarians of old believing in potions, chicken bones and whatever hocus-pocus is shown to them. We’re susceptible to the same stupidity. -- Mathew in comment at Crusader Rabbit
I like Mathew's observation of our civility. Particularly our "intelligentsia" thinks themselves more civilized; they will see that there is hell to pay for anyone who dares suggest they’re not. Burn the evidence and the detectives who dared dig it up.
And it is not just our wannabe rulers.
Most of us react instantly negatively to anyone who dares violate our consensus. The reaction has been been described as having ones world turned upside down. Nausea is not an uncommon result. So it is not abnormal when all of us, as a general rule, hate to fight the consensus we find surrounding us lest we find ourselves on the receiving end of that reflexive negativity and emotional outbursts. That is tragic; only made more so by those who exploit it. Sociopaths are tremendously successful in tiptoeing past that minefield while condemning most of the rest of us to the mines they themselves placed. Yet even the harshest of realities may never burst the illusions in some people. The proof of that is found in the reports of the last words of communist true-believers as they died in Stalin's Gulags: "If Stalin only knew [what a faithful comrade am I]." It is quite apparent that consensus and the fear of transgressing is so strong that, were zombies real, it would be manifest in its victims after death.
If I ever stop procrastinating I will complete the series of screeds I've begun about how consensus has been a terrible factor in why we are so divided in how we perceive our troubles and our enemies.
Although there are many national stories and news outlets and major talk show hosts who traffic heavily in fostering and maintaining consensus views, I have a couple of anecdotal examples of defense of consensus views. One is from the Left. It is the rabbi with whom I differed over his new-age take on Genesis 22. He censored my rejoinders, and eventually deleted from his site that portion of our interchange he originally posted. However, his efforts are foiled by the wayback machine and copies of what he refused to publish. The second is from the Right. Tam did not delete our discussion, but her manner provides a fine demonstration of why the Right is no home for either principled conservatism or classical liberalism.
Neither example is of people influential enough to be considered significant members of the Downers. But their type sure as shooting aids the Downers by being so damned closed-minded and fearful of climbing out of the pit of despair and joining the Upsiders. That both will blindly continue what they've been doing and expecting different results is sad. That they are not alone is tragic.
More anon. Soon I pray.