Rational thought is becoming rare.
It is strange how selective people can be. The same people who will believe in the wildest exaggerations about President Trump, in America or Mr, Boris Johnson, in Britain; will not believe even the mildest suggestion that the very left wing politician, Mr. Corbyn, has any faults or ever drops short of perfection.
This ability to accept one set of things as truth and reject another set; appears to be increasingly strong among all social groups. Even when both sets of information are equally suspect, people take as truth one that matches their existing conceptions, and reject the other, simply because it does not agree with their preconception. Unfortunately this failure to rationally appraise information, appears to affect even those claiming science as their strength. When it comes to deeply held beliefs, such as causes of climate change. All the evidence shows that climate change has always been part of planet Earth's behaviour, from before humans evolved, through all the thousands of pre-industrial years and on to the present day. Rationally this suggests that while human activity may change the speed at which climate changes, it is not the only cause of that change. Rational appraisal suggests humans should attempt to stop polluting the planet, but should also use their science to find ways of accurately predicting the changes that will occur, and then find acceptable ways of dealing with them. Claiming human activity can stop climate change is irrational.
Some TV adverts reach almost political levels of misleading people. One current at time of writing, in Britain, is a car manufacturer advertising that they will pay £3,000 more than listed trade in price, for any car traded in when buying a new one from their range. The obvious inference is that they are charging £3,000 too much for the cars in the standard list price, but they must believe enough people will not see the rational of this, and so they can justify the huge expense of a TV advertising campaign.
Politics and even science, appear to be following the path set by the religious fanatics, where acceptance without examination is demanded. Where believing without evidence is demanded. Where “faith” without question, is the rule.
This is no way to govern millions of people, especially in an age where mass communication is all pervasive, even invasive. Blindly following a dogma set by the most ardent followers of a doctrine, is not going to satisfy large portions of any electorate, especially a doctrine established many years ago, and one that does not take account of any of the social and economic changes that have occurred since its foundation. Since it can not appeal to large sections of an electorate the activists who promote such doctrines, know they will have to use subversive means to come to power, and once in power they will have to change the electoral system to preclude those opposed to their way of thinking, the pursuit and retention of power, becomes far more important to these people, than any human rights or welfare of the population.
While such anti-democratic and subversive groups can be recognised, and if there is a willingness on the part of the authorities to do so, they can be nullified, reduced to being a possible threat, but never an actual one. What is more difficult to understand and deal with, is the apparent willingness of large proportions of the population to abandon rational thought, to not bother to question political statements. In the “western” nations we have ever greater efforts at universal education, while a few remain illiterate, nearly all people now undergo some form of education. This should have led to larger proportions of the people being rational and questioning. It seems the more universal the education, the less effort to think about political rhetoric is applied. Blind acceptance of what is said by politicians claiming to be “on their side” has become the norm in huge numbers of homes. They then switch to the latest “reality” TV show. Even these shows which claim to be reality, yet can switch locations and time parameters in a way that real life never can, are still accepted as real.
It has been suggested that the teaching of young people has become a profession for those who have a left of centre political view point. This may be why young people tend to believe comments from left wing political groups and refuse to even listen to any other views. But this can not be the whole cause, when even scientists abandon questioning in favour of “sound bites” and slogans, when the supposedly, well education people claim some one's opinions are truth without doubt; then something else is producing this situation. The teachers, we assume, have to be reasonably well educated and so should have formed intellects that question and doubt all that is said to them, all political utterances should be examined against history and potential consequences should be thought through, no matter who is saying it. It is an old saying but still meaningful, that only through doubt comes certainty. Yet the media is filled with examples of teachers and advanced level education students, claiming “no platform” to views they have not heard but refuse to accept.
Rational thought amongst senior politicians would appear to be for private consumption only. The spin doctors rule and they admit to having a very low opinion of the general public's intellectual capacity. So they rule that public utterances should be appealing to feelings, never thoughts. They demand their puppets mouth only things which are later deniable. Rationality and constructive appraisals, of any situation, have been abandoned. The bureaucrats, who are supposed to enact the decisions of the politicians, support this avoidance of constructive debate. They support the avoidance since they then have control and have the power to increase their own empires without restraint. They can then “fudge and fiddle” for years over projects that should be dealt with in days, if only rational clear thinking was allied to decisiveness.
Rational thinking must be returned to governance, or democracy will die.