Thursday, February 8, 2018

Kurt Andersen Gets It Entirely Wrong Even As It Seems He Gets A Little Of It Right

Someone called my attention to this piece at the frequently counterproductive, atheist propaganda outlet, Alternet (originating at Raw Story) about a piece that the . . . "journalist" Kurt Andersen did at "Big Think" or, as I think of it, even-stupider TED Talks for the even more attention deficient.   I'm going to give you the whole thing because I want to point out something you need to have read the whole thing to see.

Can Religion Explain Why Americans Are So Easily Duped by Fake News?
Novelist and journalist Kurt Andersen offers a compelling theory.

Writer and reporter Kurt Andersen, in conjunction with Big Think, walked through the ways in which the United States has entered a kind of post-truth era.

I would stop just to say that, looking at Kurt Andersen's bio, I think it's a serious and somewhat dishonest inflation of his CV to call him a "reporter."  What he is is an opinion "journalist,"  who, considering the content of the piece, was one of the creators of the hilarious and not infrequently welcomed but hardly reportorial "Spy" magazine.

In a video, the linguistic expert [?] on President Donald Trump’s speaking style explained that people seem to be losing IQ points year after year and it’s all due to a slow decline in truth. He explained that in 2012, the Republican candidates who agreed in the scientific theory of evolution had dropped to one-third of the field. By 2016, just one candidate, Jeb Bush, believed in science. Even George W. Bush said that the cornerstone of biology shouldn’t be taught in schools, and if it was, it should be taught along with the religious belief of creationism.

Andersen explained that he doesn’t think the Republican Party is growing stupider each year; rather that they’re fearful to challenge the chosen reality of their voters.

“I don’t think all of them disbelieve in evolution – some of them – but they were all obliged to say yes to falsehood and magical thinking of this religious kind, and that’s where it becomes problematic,” he said.

Already, Andersen's premise and showing that he, himself, sees the issue as more complex than the Alternet-Raw Story headline says.

“America has always been a Christian nation,” Andersen quoted. “That had always meant a different thing 100 years ago or even 50 years ago than it means today… Christian Protestant religion became extreme. It became more magical and supernatural in its beliefs in America than it has for hundreds of years or for any other place in the world.”

As Protestant Christians became more extreme, the Republican Party was similarly becoming more extreme.

Is a change in Protestant Christianity in the past 100 or 50 years what produced this?  Did it become more "magical and supernatural" in its beliefs?   Having read more Protestant writing in the past ten years than I have in my entire life before then, I don't think that's sustainable as a blanket characterization.  Most American Protestant denominations are far, far more liberal than they were fifty or a hundred or even twenty-five years ago.   I don't think it's even true of evangelical Protestantism which was in the past, in many places, bound to the American Apartheid regime which was fought most successfully by such religious groups as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the participation of many Christian individuals and groups elsewhere.   I think what Andersen is doing is holding up an easy target for dishonest purposes by ignoring the fact that many, probably most Protestants are not as he characterizes them.

“So, one thing that has happened, and one thing that has led the Republican Party to fantasy and wishful untruth more and more into its approach to policy…are now in the Republican mainstream,” Andersen argued.

Falsehoods like President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim or climate change is a Chinese hoax are all issues that are easy to believe if “fantasy and wishful untruths” are the norm. That makes it easier to accept conspiracy theories or fake news.

By now, if you read much of what I write, you will not be surprised that I'm going to call Andersen out for letting a far more pervasive, far more powerful and far more dishonest force in American life entirely off the hook, TELEVISION.  The average American watches and has watched television many, many more hours every week than the far less than one hour a week the"average" American spends in a church or doing religious activities.   The very same medium that pipes fantasies and propaganda into American's households and minds for many hours a day is what sold those fantasies with the cooperation of other media, hate-talk radio and movies and print media given a Supreme Court carte blanche for telling any lie as long as it was told in language that the lawyers might falsely argue, in the extremely unlikely event that a liberal politician or political or cultural figure would go through the expensive and likely unsuccessful attempt to get a lie retracted by the very media that Kurt Andersen has made a  very good living from.

Anderson explained that he doesn’t care if people believe what they want to believe in private. However, when religious belief “bleeds over into how we manage and construct our economy and our society,” there’s a problem that will cause lasting trouble for the country.

Oh, really.  Recall that mention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference above?   That was a religious organization which had and has the goal of having an influence in changing "how we manage and construct our economy and society."   The Nuns On The Bus campaign to organize people and pressure politicians to change the structures and laws and policies to make the economy and society and the government more equal, more just.  And the Nuns on the Bus was supported by NETWORK, a larger Catholic social justice advocacy group that was also begun by Catholic Sisters to do what Kurt Andersen says causes "lasting trouble for the country."  I could probably come up with a list of scores and hundreds of such organizations and tens of thousands of individuals, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, etc. which I think even the semi-pro atheist Andersen would be hard put to squeeze into his blanket categorization.

I would contrast that to the frequently counter-productive, often aggressive insertion of ideological atheism into American politics and economics and society, one of the most counter-productive of those presences is in people and groups and publications like Alternet and CFI and, now Kurt Andersen, which have duped liberals into carrying their water even as that was a guarantee to lose voters and support among the huge majority of Americans who are not atheists.  Quite often that is done even as the atheists supported attack and undermine the basic beliefs in the reality of morals, the rights that are held to be an equal endowment of everyone on account of that morality, the obligations that morality places on individuals, societies and governments and everything that makes liberalism a rationally coherent position.  And atheism continues in that undermining and caving in of liberalism,  up to and including the atheist debunking and denigration of free will and free thought on the basis of "science", by which they really mean atheist ideology inserted into science,

Atheism is not an inherently liberal ideology, if by "liberal" you mean the traditional American liberalism that was based in those moral obligations which are a direct result of the far higher view of individual People that must come if you really, truly believe that People are all equally made in the "image of God" and that you have an absolute obligation to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that you are to do to the least among us what we would do for God - and in fact how we treat the least among us IS how we treat God - that even your enemies and the other, many very hard teachings that abound in the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and other religious Scriptures, but are found nowhere in materialist-atheist ideology.   Atheism is inherently antagonistic and destructive of that kind of liberalism.  It is, though, totally compatible with the vicious "liberalism" that we now more identify as "neo-liberalism" in which the powerful and able have an equal opportunity to grab everything for themselves and to cheat, lie, and destroy whoever they need or want to get it all for them.

What Kurt Andersen is doing is what Nietzsche called "worshiping the shadow of the Buddha" asserting things that materialist-atheist scientism can't contain and which it will, unchecked, destroy, the vestiges of an emotional desire by even atheists to retain a sense of moral obligation even as their ideology undermine and erodes that.   THAT IS WHAT THE INFLUENCE OF THE CONSUMERIST MAMMONISM OF TV AND OTHER MEDIA IS DOING, EVEN THE HALLELUJAH PEDDLERS WHO APPEAR ON IT AND AS THEY, ALSO, SUPPORT THE VULGAR MATERIALIST TRUMP AND THE SERVANTS OF MAMMON WHO SERVE THE BILLIONAIRES, NOT THE GOD THEY PRETEND TO PROFESS.  That and the freedom to lie with impunity enjoyed by the pervasive media for the past fifty years, the very same period that Andersen identifies as the period when things really went to hell, is what really "will cause lasting trouble for the country,"  But as a professional member of that media, Kurt Andersen has a professional interest in placing the blame elsewhere than where it so obviously belongs.    So does Alternet, so does Raw Story, so does even-stupider-TED Talks, Big Think.


  1. Just starting with this premise:

    "In a video, the linguistic expert [?] on President Donald Trump’s speaking style explained that people seem to be losing IQ points year after year and it’s all due to a slow decline in truth."

    Except IQ is supposed to be immutable; that, or it changes with environmental factors, which means an individual's IQ can change over time, rendering it a completely useless measure by its own definition. And people "seem" to be losing IQ? What does that mean? Something appears to be so? That doesn't mean it is so. And this is due to a decline in "truth"? As Pilate asked: what is "truth"?

    And it just gets dumber from there. Vague and glittering generalities ("Protestants" are more superstitious than ever? Really?). I saw this at Raw Story. The funny thing is, Trump has ruined the party for everybody. He's so obnoxious, so extreme, so obviously unfit for human company, he's a parody of the movie/TV villain business man/high roller we all expect to see brought low because of his arrogance and abrasiveness. The difference is Trump has invaded the real world, broken through the 4th wall, slipped through the TV screen, and is the monster on Main Street who is only supposed to exist in CGI.

    Charlie Pierce's metaphorical explanation is closer to the truth than Anderson ever gets: the GOP has eaten the monkey brains and now is infected with a prion disease that's destroyed the higher brain functions.

  2. Here's a clue, shithead. Right wing religious assholes are still religious. You can't read them out of religiosity just because what they profess to believe may be dishonest by your standards.

    1. So, what you're saying is you've got a lot in common with them. If you'll remember our interaction of last night, I made the point that all assholes have that in common.

      As to your comment in regard to what I wrote, I also wrote last night that you a. share a reading deficiency with such people, especially Trump, b. that you can not only not read what I wrote for comprehension, you'll inevitably misrepresent it, as well.

      I think instead of the Mardi Gras route, I'll go Orthodox this year and begin Lent on Clean Monday, only a week early. Mardi Gras always looked like a really awful time to me.

  3. you've got a lot in common with them.


    1. You're an habitual liar, you misrepresent what other people say, you appear to be reading deficient - generally to distort things you stupidly figure makes them mean what you want them to instead of what they say - you don't own up to what you say, you're an asshole . . .

      Simps, I think if they were honest, which, by and large, they're not, even your fellow Eschatots would recognize you in that description. I mean, if they come here and read you denying you use sock puppets, they certainly know that's a lie.

  4. You fucking moron. Disqus makes it totally difficult to use sockpuppets, which is why I haven't in ages

    Just bite me.

    1. I wonder when the last time you posted at Duncan's den of dithering dolts as "Slutty Jewish Girl" was. Though not enough to wade through the sewage to find out.

      You do know you just admitted to doing it, though I wonder if you realize you just did that.

  5. That would be a couple of years ago.


    1. You do realize that you admitted to using sock puppets again, don't you?

      And Duncan started using Disqus a lot longer ago than that, I checked, he was using it when I exposed you as "Lubypaulanka" which you, at first, denied. You didn't seem to have any trouble using it for that.

      I'm ignoring you, paying attention to you isn't good for my character. Lent starts early this year.