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September 19, 2014

Breaking: Cult of Intellectual Insecurity Reacts to Threat to Intellect in an Insecure, Cultish Way

Otto West: Don't call me stupid.

Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?

Otto West: Apes don't post .gifs of the Milky Way and "Like" articles about Mirror Neurons on FaceBook.

Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand them. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? The American government did not spend one million dollars on the Space Pen. The central mission of Science is not "to win fights on the Internet." And George W. Bush did not say that our God named the stars, but the Muslim's god didn't. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

-- Slightly altered dialogue from A Fish Called Wanda

Daily Beast: The Right's War on Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Despite the nicely-juiced headline, it's a fair enough article.

...

Tyson hasn't directly responded to the charges of inaccuracy, and his agent had no comment for this story...

But why do conservatives dislike Tyson so much to begin with?

The answers thus far have been unsatisfying. Amanda Marcotte, a Beast contributor, blamed the right's "anti-intellectual paranoia" in a story for Alternet, while a piece in the L.A. Times blamed political ignorance. One progressive blog said racism was to blame.

Obvs.

"The reaction that Sean Davis has been gotten... it's cult-like. It is to me the kind of attention Sarah Palin and Ron Paul receives. Neil deGrasse Tyson attracts the same sort of attention--you just can't criticize him," [Charles C.W.] Cooke said.

Robert Tracinski, also of The Federalist, sees the Cult of Scientific Self-Flattery as stemming from the left's traditional reactionary hatred towards capitalism (itself a barely-disguised religious impulse against materialism) as well as a yearning hunger for some animating meaning to the universe. Which is a tricky business, especially for someone who claims to be an atheist.

So you take your Higher Meaning where you can find it. Even if you only find it at $70-per-ticket Neil DeGrasse Tyson speeches.

The recent Neil deGrasse Tyson kerfuffle and the dogmatic defense of the global warming consensus raises the question: what's the impetus? Why do people feel the need to proclaim themselves so loudly as the pro-science side of the debate and to write off all opponents as anti-science?

...

Given the size, breadth, and intensity of the global warming vogue and the pro-science pose of its supporters, it must answer some profound need, some crisis of the soul....

You can see how this brings order and balance back to the left's universe. Their visceral reaction against capitalism is validated on the deepest, most profound level.

You can see how this would be almost like a drug or like an article of religious faith. How can you allow people to question and undermine the very thing that gives meaning to your life? Hence the visceral reaction to global warming skeptics.

I'm a fairly big believer in the idea of Questioning Everything, and the absolute first thing on the list of Everything to be Questioned is the self.

Why do I think the way I do? What bigotries lurk in my heart? What cheap rationalizations do I comfort myself with? What petty vanities do I sustain despite all evidence, and what contempts and condescensions do I offer others to sustain those vanities?

What myths and lies do I consciously believe in -- and which do I subconsciously believe in?

I don't want to be all Mr. Liberal here -- and I certainly don't want to lecture self-alleged Liberals on Liberalism 101 -- but I think those are reasonable questions that all thinking Men or thinking Women should ask themselves every once in a while.

Self-serving answers shouldn't be trusted. Self-serving answers may actually be correct, but they should never be trusted, and certainly never accepted at first blush.

We're taught to be suspicious of flattery from our very first Aesop's Fable. We know other people may flatter us in order to bend us to their own interests.

The most insidious flattery of all is self-flattery, because we never suspect ourselves of having any ulterior motives.

But of course we all do. We all want to feel superior to our fellow man, and especially those of Other Tribes.

And we will flatter ourselves until we feel just that.

Those who only question other people's notions are not really questioning anything at all.


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posted by Ace at 01:03 PM

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