Home
Loading
  Contact Us    
A Question of Values

Why people stubbornly hold on to their beliefs.

by James Leroy Wilson
July 14, 2005

Bookmark and Share
A Question of Values

Anyone who holds a religious faith, or an ideological or philosophical position, is rarely proven wrong. That's what having faith is. For religions make claims that are outside the scope of conventional scientific investigation. Also, behaviors of religious adherents that may demonstrate the undesirability of the religion are always disowned. Thus, Arab terrorists aren't "real" Muslims, "Islam" means "peace," etc. And both history and the present is full of Christians accusing other Christians of doing unchristian things. But somewhere in there is "real" Christianity. Honest. Have faith.

Often it is the case, that anything can prove anything. In developed countries, religious conservatives tend to have far more children, less likely to practice birth control. Liberals do not propagate as many children with liberal values, and thus may become extinct. Does this prove that God blesses the faithful, or does it prove Darwin's "survival of the fittest?" Just asking. And just because we don't have, for example, Communism, doesn't mean we won't; we're just in a stage, a stage that Marx could not have predicted. Liberalism proves that government can make economies grow -just ignore the deficits and inflation. Constitutional democracy is the greatest form of government - which is why the "greatest" one, the USA had to be held together by force and a cost of 600,000 lives. Americans are a peaceful people - which is apparently why the USA has fought countless big and small wars even though it's been nearly 200 years since there's been a serious threat to her security.

If the superstar athlete's team wins several championships, then he's not the greatest of all time because obviously he had a lot of great teammates helping him. But if he never wins the championship, then that also proves he's not the best ever. The homogenization of America - identical strip malls and radio play-lists all over America - proves that America is in cultural decline. But so does the opposite - the creation of diverse niche markets means that America is losing her common cultural heritage. If drug use goes down, that proves that the War on Drugs is successful. If drug use goes up, that proves we're not doing enough.

If you want to believe something, you will always have enough evidence and you'll never be proven wrong. Two major terror attacks in the past two years - in Madrid and London - can be interpreted as proof that we're winning the War on Terror - "only two attacks, none on American soil." Or, it can prove that we are losing the War on Terror and that we can't win it. Terrorism can also prove that the terrorists hate us, our civilization, and our freedom - or it can prove that they just want us to end our occupation of their countries - the terrorists aren't attacking Sweden!

Look at it from the other perspective. Moderates are frequently wrong, and they often freely admit it. "We were lied to about the WMD's." But libertarians, conspiracy theorists, and the far left weren't. "I had high hopes for [Bush or Clinton] and I am really disappointed." But those with low expectations can not be disappointed. The problem with the moderate is that he doesn't have vision, no understanding of the world. Which is better, of course, than having a false view of the world: I read one blogger claim that the "culture war" is just conservative bitterness over Watergate, as if abortion Roe v. Wade nothing to do with it. But the problem, as the old saying - once sung by John Mellencamp on his Scarecrow album - goes, "You got to stand for something, or you're going to fall for anything."

So we have a dilemma. A stubborn belief is dangerous, because even contrary evidence can be interpreted as confirming evidence. But on the other hand, a moderate, undecided, "searching" position makes one easily misled, seduced by trust in authority or a smooth argument.

The resolution lies in values. We must separate that which we genuinely love, our values, from the utilitarian means that supposedly protect and serve them. Do we love the Constitution, or do we love the things that the Constitution was meant to preserve and advance? Is the scientist committed to Darwinism, or to the unbiased discovery of knowledge which he believes Design scientists do not share? Do we love social democracy, or do we want people to live in a tolerant society free from economic monopolies? Do we want a libertarian government, or do we want, well, a tolerant society free from economic monopolies?

Those of us who hate the extension of violence and coercion in society, hate the extension of violence and coercion in society. Thus, if socialism could make us rich and the free market would make us poor, we would still hate socialism. If we can gain a better position through aggressive war, we would still reject those means. Our values rule out initiating force. Others hold on to different values - and find no moral problem with coercing or inflicting violence on other people to advance their them.

Advocates of a free society can not use utilitarian arguments to make their arguments. Some dwell on the good that emerged from a war, and thus believe war is legitimate; I look instead what could have been had the war not been fought (and the tax not imposed, and the censorship not imposed, etc). The reason dialog and persuasion is often impossible is that the gulf between the values the two sides hold is too wide. People can not dialog when they do not understand each other.

In a society and world where people hold fundamentally conflicting values, we should not place our hope in coming to an "understanding." Perhaps negotiated settlements is the best we can hope for.

This is what politics is about.

(0 Comments)
Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*


Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Location:


Comments:*
Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.



Verification:
Please type the letters you see above.

  Printer-Friendly

Bookmark and Share


PO BOOKS BY JAMES LEROY WILSON
Ron Paul Is a Nut (and So Am I)
Published September 10, 2008

Forget about red states and blue states. Wilson's unique take on political topics is refreshingly not politics as usual.

» Buy Now
» More Information
RSS FEED
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson
EMAIL ALERTS
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by James Leroy Wilson
47 for 46 for 45
My favorite movies since when I was born
by James Leroy Wilson, 3/15/16
Hired Gun Quarterbacks
They rarely win the Super Bowl.
by James Leroy Wilson, 2/9/16
Fixing Football's Overtime
Get rid of the coin toss!
by James Leroy Wilson, 1/19/16
Solving the NBA's Conference Imbalance
Get rid of them!
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/26/15
The Problem of School
We develop differently, but arbitrary age rules punish us.
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/19/15
Deflating and defaming Tom Brady
Punishing without evidence
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/12/15
Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?
The Nevada Athletic Commission is wrong, but not for the reason you think.
by James Leroy Wilson, 4/28/15
» Complete List (565)


RSS FEED
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson

Recently Published
View Article May I Be Frank, Mr. President?
Challenging a double standard in the Oval Office
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/15/17
Salvator Mundi
Not the painting but the Person
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/7/17
When the Newsman Becomes News
Lamenting yet another fallen hero
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/1/17
Let's Hear It for Moms and Pops
Celebrating Small Business Saturday in a very personal way
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/22/17
An Earthquake in La La Land
Examining what's been exposed in the rubble
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/17/17
Where is God?
Reflecting on the tragedy in a little Texas town
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/10/17
An All Saints Day Tribute
Remembering those who left us
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/3/17

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.


RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?
Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2017 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top