The Retreat From Reason
From 'Signs Of Senility' a chapter of 'A Study Of Our Decline' by P Atkinson (1998 February)
"But the emergence of Hitler, the conditions for his rise and his triumph, depended on circumstances far beyond the narrower framework of conditions in Germany. We need not mention Versailles, nor Munich, nor Moscow. We may confine ourselves to the common inner characteristics of which these and countless other comparable stages on the road were only symptoms: The turning away of almost all European powers from reason and realism; the disenchantment with traditional values and ethical standards, accompanied by a lack of will to defend any moral and legal principles whatever; a short sighted striving for advantage and security as well as, in particular, a susceptibility to illusion —the fatal characteristic of the epoch." —J.C. Fest 'The Face Of The Third Reich'.
European Reason Failing In The 1930s
These sentiments not only applied to the European governments leading up to the Second World War, but naturally to the people they represented. The very rise of the Third Reich is the story of a Nation losing sense, for the people who flocked to the Nazi rallies demonstrated a complete and utter disregard for reason and morality. Nazism was never a concept, but a series of promises and slogans that were merely irrational excuses to indulge in prejudice and wishful thinking. The population of Nazi Germany had decided to give control of their actions to their feelings, rather than their intelligence.
Rise Of Nazis Still Not Understood
Fest's words make it clear that by the late 1930s reason was a vanishing quality in Europe. The subsequent judgement at Nuremberg by the victorious allies, which placed the blame for the Holocaust upon the shoulders of a few bad men in Germany, and has never been contradicted, is proof that comprehension has continued its sad decline. Our public inability to recognise that Germany had gone mad, and that nations do become gripped by lunacy, reveals significant shortcomings in existing communal awareness; we just can't grasp what really happened, for apart from a few unusual individuals, we have lost the ability to understand reality.
Intellect Is A Tool
Intelligence is the critical element that allows mankind to dominate all other species, and underpins the rise of civilisation. It allows the invention of tools, the development of technology that gives the all-important power to the community. It inspires our social organisation, allows the formation of complex communities, resolves problems and gives us purpose. Without it we would be beasts, merely another chattering ape. Nevertheless possession of the ability to reason does not guarantee reasonable results. Intellect is just like any other tool, it may be used or abused.
Application Of Intellect Depends Upon Character
Comprehension is a fruit of applied reason, but the quality of this product depends entirely upon the craftsman. If the wielder of the tool is lazy, ill-disposed, has a hidden purpose, or plain misguided, then the final result must be less than perfect. Knowing the chances of being attacked by a shark are remote can only be used by the bold. The cowardly will not be able to overcome their anxiety. The joy of diving off rocks into deep cool water will be denied to those incapable of overcoming the notion that a five metre white pointer may be lurking just out of sight. Conversely being aware the chances of winning the lottery are remote will not prevent the fanciful from purchasing tickets. The effective exercise of our special talent needs discipline and determination to resist the eroding influences of our hopes and fears.
Emotions Distort Understanding
The sight of a child's smashed body upon a roadway has a dreadful effect. There is a strong desire to blame someone apart from the victim, especially by the relatives, and this is irrational. An innocent driver could well have had no option but to hit the youngster running out in front of the car. The resulting horrific sight is no indication that evil was intended, but it takes self-control to accept this possibility. A fact advertised by motorists being advised not to stop after an accident in less civilized parts of the world, for here the necessary detachment needed for understanding is rare.
Understanding Requires Careful Consideration
Sober consideration is essential even when no strong feelings are present. Escaping being shot can leave the intended victim unmoved, just a little bewildered by the short sharp crack. Only by carefully considering the evidence will the dreadful motive of the attacker be revealed. In the former case the ghastly cadaver of the child will induce a strong demand for justice despite no crime occurring. While the latter relies entirely upon intellect to recognise a terrible crime has been attempted. Comprehension of events requires other faculties apart from an ability to understand cause and effect; control of emotion is an important consideration.
Example Of Distorted Understanding—Galileo
When Galileo asserted that the earth circled the sun, he was relating the evidence of his senses, however, such a claim contradicted official dogma that our planet was the centre of the universe and he was attacked by the authorities. The only way execution could be avoided by the scientist was to recant.
Prejudice Distorts Comprehension
The people who wanted to kill the enquirer of truth were clearly mad, they wanted to attack anyone who questioned their beliefs rather than consider the evidence. This irrational behaviour shows another difficulty involved with using intelligence. Both sides in the argument possessed the faculty, but one side were deluded and dangerous. Prejudice, a desire to accept a belief for personal reasons, is a very powerful threat to comprehension. It will not only prevent an idea being considered but also corrupt the ability of our senses to detect evidence to the contrary.
Distorted Understanding Of Football Fans
Many football fans seeing their side lose are convinced the referee was biased. They will often be incensed that such one sided umpiring is tolerated, though an impartial observer will witness a very different result. The official so maligned by the fans will appear as a sincere individual attempting to be scrupulously fair. Naturally the difference is not what happened but the partiality of the spectators.
Distorted Understanding Of A Professor
Professor McBride demonstrated his intelligence by discovering the connection between Thalidomide and birth defects, an admirable achievement. Then he destroyed his credibility by concocting evidence against another drug. This clever man could no longer be trusted, and in 1993 was struck off the medical register. Despite his mental prowess his stated conclusions were unreliable, for personal reasons he was unable to accept the results of experiments. (On November 9th 1998, he was reinstated as a doctor, but could not do research.)
Distorted Understanding Induced By Fear
There is no guarantee that homicidal maniacs clutching axes are not hiding throughout your residence, just waiting for their opportunity, but regularly checking under the bed and in the cupboards for such killers is not being careful but paranoid. The unlikely possibility of the threat is good reason not to worry about such a danger. Life is full of remote perils, they fill our imagination when tired, but intellect, properly used, allows us to separate real from imaginary. There is a fine but distinct line between rational and irrational fear, intelligence dictates the difference. Losing control of fear is succumbing to paranoia and losing the ability to think clearly.
Requirements Of Clear Understanding
Obviously the correct use of reason demands placing your personal concerns second to the aim of comprehension. Private fears and ambitions must be ignored if a right conclusion is to be reached. This disciplined and modest stance is in direct contradiction to contemporary attitudes. The explosion of selfishness in the community is the widespread preferment of self ahead of all other concerns, including understanding. When citizens discard restraint and embrace indulgence, they must also lose the ability to think clearly. As public selfishness increases, public intelligence must diminish, and the community inevitably becomes blinded by fears and fancies.
Paranoia Widespread (circa 2000)
The growth of irrational anxiety throughout the community is undeniable. Despite the rarity of death in ordinary lives, the media is dominated by fear. If an article in the media does not presume a world struggling to survive over-population, toxic wastes, and the greenhouse effect, it is issuing dire warnings about impending personal disaster. That mole could be cancer, so rush off to the doctor and check. A third alcoholic drink in two hours will have dreadful results. A slow death from AIDS is promised to all who do not practice safe sex—using a condom. Smoking is too dangerous to permit TV advertising, and every pack of cigarettes must carry a health warning.
Road signs (circa 1998) confirm our perilous existence with "Stop, Revive and Survive". Hoardings carry a tableau advertising the fate of those foolish enough to ignore cautions. In Queensland car registration stickers warn "Speeding Wrecks Lives." Car seatbelts are compulsory, and even cyclists must wear a safety hat. Food is no longer something to be consumed and enjoyed, but a source for concern. Fibre, the indigestible content of food, is to be sought, while fat and cholesterol avoided; otherwise that pain in your chest could be a heart attack, which can only be treated by immediately attending a hospital. Concerns about health and survival pervade every activity.
Sober Reporting Ignored
The occasional media coverage that contradicts popular paranoia is ignored. The Australian newspaper dedicated a whole page to explaining why there was no proven connection between AIDS and HIV and documented supporting evidence. The article pointed out that people had died of AIDS without showing any HIV infection, and vice-versa. These were the opinions of noted scientists (see "The Aids Mirage" by Professor Hiram Caton), whose claims were never refuted, only over-looked. The English TV Station Channel Four broadcast a program that comprehensively debunked the Global Warming theory. This was repeated in Australia by S.B.S., but had no impact upon the popularity of this myth.
Believing the planet is threatened by global warming could be the result of genuine scientific discovery, or it could be the hysteria created by the decay of intelligence. The lack of sober scientific justification for the theory, along with widespread expression of anxiety when life has never been so secure, must indicate the latter. Indeed delusion now dominates popular thinking.
More Evidence Of Corrupted Reason -Superstition Sells
In a nearby Townsville shopping centre (circa 1997) the presence of hard times is signalled by empty shops and offices. However this has not prevented the appearance of five new shops selling almost identical merchandise. Mystic Crystal, Rain Forest Magic, Perfect Potion, Ancient Wisdom and The Mystic Connection all sell products inspired by fanciful thinking. Statues of dragons and wizards are surrounded by joss sticks, aromatic potions, and crystal jewellery. Books, tapes and compact discs offer a wide range of personal improvements from Perfect Health to Extra Sensory Perception. None of these products can be used to obtain a sensible result.
It could well be that a particular crystal bestows unknown powers upon the bearer. A pyramid could induce marvellous effects in a way not yet explainable by science. The new Iridology clinic opened could be more than a placebo. Or it could be that wishful thinking has intoxicated our view of reality.
Clairvoyance In Popular Woman's Magazines
The popularity of such shops, along with the increasing importance given to clairvoyants in women's magazines, is solid evidence of the trend away from the influence of sober reason.
Palpable Lies In Media
"Economy left in good shape, says Treasurer" Headlines from the Townsville Bulletin on 18th December 1993. This was an outright lie, unemployment was stagnating the country, and overseas debt was enormous. It was an outrageous denial of reality made by a deluded politician to convince himself of his success. The media is now full of such statements; it is impossible to buy a newspaper without reading nonsense in every edition.
Deterioration Of Graffiti
Graffiti is private thoughts displayed in public. By its nature it represents complete freedom of expression as it is beyond official control. The walls of our cities reveal the extent of the decay of perception, for words have been replaced by scribble. These unintelligible murals are mute testimony to the death of public comprehension.
Community Unable To Solve Problems
A growing inability to solve even the simplest problems is demonstrated by our communal reaction to unemployment. By changing "Snowman" with "Jobs", the song "Where Did The Snowman Go" could be describing official policy on the recession. Our reaction to changing conditions in the work place is very similar to a child looking for his cold creation in the warmth of the sun. Who has taken them, and where are they hidden? The community has been looking for the missing jobs for over a decade, and is still no closer to understanding where they went.
Decay Of Scientific Thought
"Science And The Retreat From Reason" is a book by John Gillot and Manjit Kumar, which outlines what the title suggests. The authors explore three separate important instances of contemporary scientific theories corrupted by clouded reasoning. The examples they choose are Quantum Mechanics, Chaos and Complexity theories, whose popular interpretation defies rather than supports logic. A stance that is supported by a similar work entitled The Flight From Science And Reason edited by Paul Gross, Norman Levitt, and Martin Lewis. This collection of essays attempts to achieve the same purpose and reveal the retreat from reason implicit in the scientific theories now popular with the community, but it does this more by example rather than by argument. While some of the articles are lucid, others are merely ravings whose publication confirms that universities give degrees to people who write gibberish.
Courts Displaying Distorted Reason
Maintaining order is the prime concern of the courts, it is their single over-riding function. By announcing that Native Title to land survived the British Crown's acquisition of Australia, the High court in its 1991 judgement of Mabo v Queensland failed in its duty; it arbitrarily injected chaos into a system that had previously been ordered —the very antithesis of its purpose.
Courts Behaving Like Social Activists
In return for no tangible benefit to Australians, in a racially biased decision, the judges undermined certainty about land title. By edict the High court announced an imaginary form of land ownership — Native Title; an act which defied tradition, ignored precedent, breached legal procedures and contradicted reason. The most senior legal forum in Australia had become like any other social activist group, destroying tradition while mouthing slogans. The death of courtship wrought by the feminists is now being repeated with land ownership at the hands of the legal system. Eventually no one will be able to define what rights and privileges go with possessing real estate just as no one can now define the proper way for the sexes to interact.
Certainty Of Land Title Destroyed
Land title used to mean certainty, security and stability, now, thanks to the most senior of our judges, these qualities are irretrievably receding. Even if Mabo was reversed tomorrow, nothing can repair the damage to public confidence, the courts have proved they can no longer be relied upon. It is not hard to understand the pressure caused by populist feelings about Aborigines, but pandering to the feeble-minded is a denial of the purpose of the law, as well as justice and intelligence. If our most august institution has become the province of fools, which institution is not?
Absurd Results Of Silly Laws
On November 27/11/95, Samuels Real Estate Pty Ltd of Dubbo, central NSW, was ordered to pay $6,000 damages to an aboriginal woman who was told the firm had no flats available. This was moments before her white friend was offered a flat. In its decision the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal found that the firm unlawfully discriminated against 31 years old Jennifer Lamb on August 16th, 1993. This penalty is the result of the anti-discrimination legislation, the existence of which is undeniable evidence that the community is stupid.
Prejudice is part of the human condition; to attempt to correct it by legislation is to enter into fantasy. This is obvious to all; it is not a secret, or a truth that demands study. Attempting to compel people to do something they dislike merely increases resentment. Once the law denies landlords the freedom to refuse black tenants, the mild distrust or dislike inspiring this objection, becomes a loathing. Their reluctance becomes hatred, which fires a grim determination to never have such compulsory lessees. If traditional real estate agents refuse to co-operate, they will employ others who will.
Silly Laws Make Everything Worse
None-white renters will not find the law has magically made things better, they will still be frustrated, but they will also discover an increase in feelings against them. And having the ability to make profit by revealing such attitudes makes everything much worse. Whether Jennifer Lamb and her white colleague deliberately and maliciously used the law for financial gain is irrelevant, the impact is the same in either case; it inflames white outrage, while failing to improve black opportunity.
Silly Laws Reveal Judicial Delusion
Enacting legislation that has this effect can only be regarded as the actions of fools. There is nothing surprising in the public reaction to the law; the legislation could never achieve its declared objective of improvements for coloured tenants. It could and does (1998) only encourage racial resentment while increasing pretence; landlords merely dissemble their reasons for refusing some tenants. The enormity of the error, along with the time and effort involved in passing the law, make it deliberate lunacy. But this absurd statute is not unique but part of a worldwide trend called Political Correctness. Like McCarthyism, it is a form of hysteria where the most ridiculous arguments are invoked to justify compulsory imposition of a dogma upon the community. Adherents demand not only the framing of ludicrous laws, but also the complete acceptance of their views by every-one, with any dissent being punished.
Public Paranoia Creating Tyranny
This is a totalitarian approach, mirroring the oppression that was applied by the Soviet state under Stalin. Indeed "1984", George Orwell's satirical attack upon this tyrannical regime, now reads like a blueprint for Australia. Referring to this alarming similarity in the magazine Quadrant, May 1984, Professor Chipman stated:
"When a satirist provides an archetype for a social policy within our institutions of higher learning, retreat and withdrawal are very tempting."
Newspeak, the name used in "1984" to describe the manipulation of language to prevent dissenting thoughts being expressed, is almost identical to Politically Correct speech. A fact that has not prevented this grotesque perversion becoming officially adopted by Universities and the Public Service. Since 1995, handbooks on non-sexist language have been freely available at these institutions as guides for expression.
Disappearance Of Intellectual Magazine
In the early 1990's "Punch" magazine stopped publication. There was just no demand for this traditionally funny and perceptive magazine. Yet magazines have never been so plentiful, a stroll through any Newsagent (circa 1990s) reveals an abundance of glossy periodicals catering to all tastes — except intellectual. The high cost of production demanded is obviously borne by the advertisers appearing within the covers, a consideration which dominates every article. Each magazine is in effect a sophisticated promotion for a range of goods. This printed media has become another form of advertising, and precludes academic concerns.
Decline Of Reading
Punch is not the only casualty; newspapers throughout the world are suffering shrinking circulation. Reading itself is declining; Television, Videos, and Computers are displacing the habit. It is much easier and more entertaining to watch pictures than read text, however the value of the information communicated is very different. The difference between words and pictures is the difference between a book and a comic; words appeal to reason, pictures appeal to emotion. Anyone who wishes to understand this has merely to consider sending a letter full of pictures instead of words. "How are you?" and "I am well" are difficult for a visual medium. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but most of them will be irrelevant to the meaning the author wants conveyed.
Importance Of The Discipline Of Words To Understanding
Words are the building blocks of understanding, they may be assisted by pictures, but comprehension is essentially words. This is demonstrated by the existence and content of Helen Keller's autobiography 'The Story Of My Life' (1902). The author was rendered deaf and blind in early infancy, susceptible only to the discipline of words conveyed by touch, but this was enough for her to become an educated adult able to write of her experiences.
Impact Of Pictures Over Words
By placing an ever growing reliance upon visual media, our society is reversing the accuracy of communication and refinement of thought allowed by the invention of a written language. And not only is our community employing more imagery, but these pictures are becoming ever-more like comics: lurid nonsense. Contemporary films do not just retell comic book stories such as Batman and Superman, but their general depiction of events is becoming ever more unrealistic. In a recent (circa 2000) film Golden Eye, the audience was expected to believe that a man could jump off a cliff chasing a falling plane, then manoeuvre himself through the air into the cockpit of the aircraft and take control of the machine. The story was no more than an electronic comic, with a series of fantastic scenes connected by a trivial plot with the minimal amount of spoken words. The only concerns driving the creators of such nonsense are the popularity and profit of the finished product. The drift into fantasy now demanded by public entertainment receives little mention despite the obvious fact that our community must be losing contact with reality.
Decay Of Education
Perusing the courses offered by most contemporary tertiary institutions (1998) reveals a definite prejudice. The titles of many of the courses offered reflect the adoption of 'politically correct' viewpoints, attitudes echoed by the encouragement and support given to particular groups of students. The emphasis of university learning has shifted from free debate to compulsory adoption of a dogma. Any student who openly rejects Multiculturalism, None-Sexist speech and behaviour, or any other politically correct belief, risks almost certain failure, expulsion from the academy and physical persecution. This intimidation is the opposite of education, and can only be seen as the promotion of delusion, with its inevitable impact (see further reading on education).
Its Inevitable Impact
Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art director John Clark was reported in the Courier-Mail, 29/11/95 as being shocked by drama students' poor critical thinking skills and lack of general knowledge.
"many students, some from drama courses with feminist titles, were unable to discuss subjects they studied and were ignorant of issues affecting the Australian industry....Artists have to have the freedom to express themselves anyway they choose."
Denial Of Freedom Of Speech
Freedom of expression is not just essential for drama, but for everything; as Voltaire (1694-1778) said:
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
This is because spontaneous conversation, free from censorship, is crucial for clear thinking. Presumably Mr Clark will be replaced, and Voltaire will be added to the forbidden list.
The widespread decay of Language
The widespread adoption of the tyranny of Political Correctness (1999) with its attack upon plain speaking is just part of a general decay in the use of language. Simple expressions such as " he is fat, she is ugly, they are spastics" are being discarded. The sentiments printed by newspapers and magazines, broadcast by the radio and television and spoken in public and private, are no longer clear or sensible. The discipline of grammar is blatantly ignored as the use of language deteriorates from communicating ideas to communicating feelings. Our words are slowly becoming merely the noise of our emotions; our use of language is gradually returning to that of animals; which means so is our understanding—because language is understanding.
Intelligence is a fragile commodity; it can only be maintained by a sensible and disciplined society. Once citizens abandon themselves to selfish indulgence, they are discarding not only morality but intelligence, and surrendering themselves to chaos, misery, poverty and madness. http://www.ourcivilisation.com/signs/chap9.htm