Our Modern Soma

Theodore Dalrymple (tweeted by Gerard):

It is curious how, when it comes to rape, the liberal press, and presumably liberals themselves, suddenly appreciate the value of punishment. They do not say of rape that we must understand the causes of rape before we punish it; that we must understand how men develop into rapists before we lock them away, preferably for a long time; that prison does not work. It is as if, when speaking of rape, it suddenly becomes time to put away childish things, and to talk the only kind of language that rapists understand.

They quiver with outrage when they learn that the clear-up rate for rape cases is only 6.5 per cent, though this in fact is very similar to the clear-up rate of all crimes. They are appalled at cases where rapists are left free to commit more of their crimes because of police and Crown Prosecution Service incompetence, which is itself the natural result of the policy of successive governments. But it is important for their self-respect as liberals that their outrage should not be
generalised, that they should not let it spill over into consideration of other categories of crime, where the same bureaucratic levity and frivolity is likewise demonstrated. For, as every decent person knows, there are far too many prisoners in this country already, and prison does not work. [emphasis mine]

JohnJ:

It’s a shame that so many Americans reject the idea that knowledge is necessary for making decisions.

The Wikipedia article on False Consensus Effect:

The false consensus effect is the tendency for people to project their way of thinking onto other people. In other words, they assume that everyone else thinks the same way they do. This supposed correlation is unsubstantiated by statistical data, leading to the perception of a consensus that does not exist. This logical fallacy involves a group or individual assuming that their own opinions, beliefs and predilections are more prevalent amongst the general public than they really are.

This bias is commonly present in a group setting where one thinks the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. Since the members of a group reach a consensus and rarely encounter those who dispute it, they tend to believe that everybody thinks the same way. [emphasis mine]

Me:

Thing I Know #129. Leaders; votes; clergy; academics; pundits; prevailing sentiment; political expediency. Wherever these decide what is & isn’t true, an empire will surely fall.
Thing I Know #230. We’d call them “rationalists” if they thought things through rationally; that’s why they’re called “socialists.”
Thing I Know #300. People talk a lot about “coming together” to do vague, undefined things, when they want to present those things to outsiders as creative efforts, but what they’re really trying to do, is destroy something, or destroy the people who would be building something.

What is & isn’t true.

What is & isn’t right.

JohnJ’s nailed it here, folks. People are in solitude, flying blind. Then they get together, dish out some bromides to impress each other and all of a sudden they “know” things. Without having gathered any concrete information about anything, other than what other folks in earshot & line-of-sight happen to think.

Almost as if someone yelled “Abracadabra!” — a convicted murderer who butchered a fifteen-year-old girl in a field somewhere, has a “right” to his life, and an unborn baby who has never had a chance to breathe air, and therefore to do anything of the sort, doesn’t have the same right.

A terrorist helps to plan a devastating strike with some other terrorists, and before the plan can be put into effect, we catch just that one but not the others. Waiting around passively for him to spill the details of the plan, and then allowing hundreds of innocent people to die in a horrible death when that doesn’t happen…that’s a morally superior decision. Doing whatever it takes to make him talk, so that those people can end up alive, and the terrorist can also end up alive and in custody where he belongs — that is supposed to be an ethical stain.

We’re long past the point where we should be asking:

What have groups of people, sacrificing their individual sensibilities for the more refined wisdom prevailing over that group setting — ever done to advance civilization? What decisions have groups of people ever made to preserve those who would create and preserve, or to destroy those who would destroy?

Seriously.

I see the military get together to do things. That doesn’t count; that involves a rigid command hierarchy. That kind of thinking is vertical, nothing horizontal about it.

I see the United Nations issue their strongly worded letters.

I see Congress get together and vote away trillions of dollars on what, here, I shall politely term “nonsense,” although I clearly have a different noun in mind.

These are all the fulfillment of the prophecy of Thing I Know #300. They are presented as creative efforts, and they look like creative efforts. But what they’re really trying to do, is destroy something, or destroy the people who would be building something. Every little thing we’re using here — just me, let’s say — the text editor into which I type these words, the protocol by which my laptop communicates with the wireless router, the beer I’m sipping from the bottle, and the bottle that envelopes it. They were all given to us by individuals. If they were made available to us by groups, then all the group ever did was vote the money in to produce what an individual somewhere figured out could be produced. Individuals create, groups destroy. Life teaches us this over and over and over again. It wears away on us with this lesson, like water upon the rock.

And yet the rock that is our ignorance, endures. We do not listen. We think groups create things…realize things…show moral consciousness that each individual in the group somehow cannot show. Where do we get this? Is it just a bad habit we carry forward from kindergarten?

We get together with others of like mind, repeat a few platitudes that mean nothing, and suddenly we think we “know” things. We don’t know anything in that setting, except how to deflect blame. The group settles on a plan doomed to fail, and when it fails, nobody is at fault because nobody’s name was attached to it. It was simply “decided” that this was the best plan. The inevitable consequence is that another bad plan will rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of the previous bad plan, and then the group will get behind that just like they got behind the previous plan.

But the group also thinks convicted killers are innocent and deserving of life, and babies are guilty and deserving of death. So what individual man of sane mind, would expect any results but the most dismal, from such an environment?

And yet, in 2009, that is how we decide everything that really matters. Nothing is fit to be translated into action, unless & until a committee has blessed it. The committee that takes responsibility for none of its mistakes, and is oh-so-certain we should keep our fuel in the “pristine” ground and burn food instead.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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