BLUF:

The United States makes up less than 5% of the global population, yet we Americans hold nearly 50% of civilian guns worldwide.
With all these guns, you’d expect America to be at the top of the charts in gun violence and deaths, right?

When you dive into the statistics, past the fear and the headlines, you find that the U.S. doesn’t even crack the top 10 globally for gun violence or deaths per capita.
“The U.S. has the 32nd-highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world: 3.96 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.”

Most gun violence in our nation isn’t scattered randomly across the vast landscapes of America.
No, it’s concentrated in just 2% of our counties.Over half of all our murders happen in these small pockets.

This isn’t just about advocating for the right to bear arms. It’s about advocating for the right to live in a society that tackles the root causes of its problems

Federal Court Rules Maryland Parents Can’t Opt Kids Out Of Classes With LGBT Content.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 against Maryland parents who sued their local school board for not letting their children in grades K-5 opt out of reading books supporting transgender ideology and gender transitioning.

The Montgomery County Public Schools board denied the parents their request to be notified when the books would be read to their children and the opportunity to opt out.

“The Board is violating the parents’ inalienable and constitutionally protected right to control the religious upbringing of their children, especially on sensitive issues concerning family life and human sexuality,” The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, litigated the lawsuit, stated, explaining:

In fall 2022, the Montgomery County Board of Education announced over 20 new “inclusivity” books for its pre-K through eighth grade classrooms. But rather than focusing on basic civility and kindness, these books champion pride parades, gender transitioning, and pronoun preferences for children.

For example, one book tasks three- and four-year-olds to search for images from a word list that includes “intersex flag,” “[drag] queen,” “underwear,” “leather,” and the name of a celebrated LGBTQ activist and sex worker. Another encourages fifth graders to discuss what it means to be “non-binary.” Other books advocate a child-knows-best approach to gender transitioning, telling students that a decision to transition doesn’t have to “make sense” and that doctors only “guess” when identifying a newborn’s sex anyway.

A district court ruled against the parents, prompting them to appeal to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied the parents’ request for a preliminary injunction but allowed the possibility of changing its position once the classes have already been taught, writing:

We take no view on whether the Parents will be able to present evidence sufficient to support any of their various theories once they have the opportunity to develop a record as to the circumstances surrounding the Board’s decision and how the challenged texts are actually being used in schools.

At this early stage, however, given the Parents’ broad claims, the very high burden required to obtain a preliminary injunction, and the scant record before us, we are constrained to affirm the district court’s order denying a preliminary injunction.

Judge Marvin Quattlebaum dissented, writing, “I disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the parents have not produced enough evidence to establish that their free exercised rights have been burdened. The parents have met their burden. They have produced the books that no one disputes will be used to instruct their K-5 children. They produced declarations explaining in detail why the books conflict with their religious beliefs. They have produced the board’s own internal documents that show how it suggests teachers respond to students and parents who question the contents of the books.”

Boy Scouts of America changes name after 114 years to ‘boost inclusion’

“Scouting America”

Comment O’ The Day:

BSA was worried about losing donations and membership because they weren’t “inclusive” enough.

As a non-secular organization God was at their core belief. The BSA was totally inclusive provided you believed in God. Didn’t matter which one, as long as you believed. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., all at a place within BSA. That was why Boy Scouts is a world wide organization.

But then atheists decided to tell what was essentially a religious group that they had to put aside their religious beliefs. That’s like atheists telling the Roman Catholic Church they had to accept non-believers and accommodate them, altering sermons, Bible studies, etc.

Then came allowing homosexual scout leaders. What a recipe for disaster, especially after the BSA already had a lot of baggage with male scout leaders molesting male scouts. Which no matter how much spin you put on it is homosexual pedophilia.

Then they had to allow girls and LBGTQEIEIO.

Somewhere along this slow motion train wreck the LDS, who were a huge subset of BSA, decided to have the its church form their own scouts. They up and left and took about 1/6th of all BSA revenue with them. Which ironically is what those trying to morph scouting to fit them should have done – form their own groups.

Now the perplexed leaders of BSA are renaming it to ‘Scouting America’, in order to further alienate their membership and donors.

This is nearing the end. Only a matter of time before they auger in. Another classic moral institution destroyed by the Church of Woke, Altar of Inclusiveness and Temple of Moloch.

This is what happens when you compromise your core principles. Pretty soon, you have no principles left.

The Age of Lawlessness

Violent crime peaked in 1993 within the United States. Since then, it has trended downward due in great part to the “broken windows” style, proactive police work, video surveillance everywhere, and the increase of concealed carriers. In 2020, the year of the Covid 19 lockdowns, crime spiked again in the wake of the rioting surrounding a particular incident of police action.

What has followed since is an increase in lawlessness. The combination of police being afraid to do their jobs due to progressives seeking to prosecute them even when they do everything right, along with progressive prosecutors who confuse justice reform with simply not prosecuting violent offenders, has led to a complete breakdown of law and order in urban areas.

Police retirement is at an all-time high, and recruitment is at an all-time low. The movement to defund and hamstring police while simultaneously not prosecuting violent offenders is a social suicide pact that is gleefully embraced by large cities, so here we are.

For many years, the leaders in the self-defense community have warned, “You are on your own; nobody is coming to save you.” While it has always been true in the sense that the police simply cannot arrive on time to stop an in-progress assault, now it is quite literally true that police may never come at all. Response times are at a low, and many departments are running on skeleton crews, so depending on where you live, you may get no response, no matter what the situation is.

Ironically, most who have driven this political agenda of defunding the police are also entirely on board with civilian disarmament. Make no mistake, this faction wants you unarmed and helpless and wants to ensure that there are no police to protect you either, from the criminals that they intentionally set loose on your streets.

Those who support such policies remain willfully foolish until the point that their own door gets smashed in or they get carjacked, personally, even though they think such things only happen on the other side of town, not in their gentrified neighborhood.

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Why Self-Defense Is The Only Type Of Violence The Left Won’t Endorse

After years of anti-cop rhetoric, violence is out of control in America’s cities. Smash and grabs, sidewalk attacks and old ladies being mugged in broad daylight — all just factored into the cost of living a metropolitan lifestyle. But these are not simply passive inevitabilities that somehow come to pass. They are active policy choices of a revolutionary left, firmly in control of every major city, that sees violence as a tool toward its political aims. In fact, there is only one type of violence the left will not condone — and the key to understanding it lies in these political aims.

The radical left may talk often of high-minded goals, but their ultimate goal is to eradicate hierarchy — the central push of the “equity” agenda. All must be made equal in order for all to be equally free. For classical liberals, this meant equal treatment under the law, unaffected by circumstances of birth. Yet for the radical outgrowth, this now means leveling all aspects of genuine human diversity. However, they do not truly seek egalitarian reforms, but merely to rejigger any form of traditional hierarchy (much of which had already been dismantled by their liberal forebears) and instead place themselves at the top. So the attack on hierarchy really becomes a spiteful, resentful attack on any form of tradition. This is the true nature of the radical left.

Traditional morality posits that the criminal is the “oppressor” of the “victim,” whom he victimizes with his crime. This has been the basis of virtually every legal system throughout human history. Yet radical left morality flips this notion on its head. The new “victim” becomes the criminal himself, victimized by the injustices of a hierarchical society that drives him to desperation: the thief stealing to feed his family or violence as the “language of the unheard.” The person on the receiving end becomes merely a casualty in the putsch to upend traditional morality, while the priests of the new morality consolidate their right to rule.

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American Refugees: The Untold Story of the Mass Migration from Blue to Red States.

“Roger Simon is among the many refugees fleeing blue state neoliberalism, and he’s written the best account of our generation’s greatest migration.”
Tucker Carlson, fired Fox News host

“As a citizen of Tennessee, I can attest to the fact that there is a great migration happening from blue to red states. When people have had enough tyranny, they search for freedom elsewhere. This book captures a pivotal moment in time for our nation.”
John Rich, country music superstar and owner of Redneck Riviera Brand

“Roger’s analysis in American Refugees provides great evidence that America isn’t in some inevitable national decline, we’re just young. We’re going through our own version of adolescence as a nation.”
Vivek Ramaswamy,  Republican Presidential Candidate

A net exodus of Americans from blue to red states has been in progress for several years now. This is largely a southbound movement, and perhaps some migrants are “running from the cold up in New England,” as the song goes. But mostly they are leaving states that are too far gone into woke socialism to recover anytime soon—in favor of states with more conservative governance.

The conventional wisdom, or fear, among red state locals is that these newcomers, despite having “voted with their feet,” will continue to vote for the same policies that ruined the states from which they are fleeing. Roger Simon argues that the reverse may be more accurate: blue-to-red migrants tend to be serious constitutional conservatives, and they might be the cavalry that rescues the red states from their own problems.

With the possible exception of Florida, the red states, too, are in trouble. Like California, long-term one-party rule has corrupted them, but in a different way. Their political leaders have become disconnected from the conservative values of their constituents. Migrants from blue states, however, are likely to be highly invested in saving the red states into which they are moving.

American Refugees is the story of how a culture clash precipitated a great blue state exodus, and what it means for the rest of America. Focusing particularly on Tennessee, Simon contends that only the red states can preserve the constitutional republic envisioned by the Founders. Only they can save America for our children and grandchildren. The struggle will be great, but the story will ultimately have a happy ending.

BLUF
There is a lot more corruption than I have space for here, but I do sense the worm turning.  We’ve had enough time to assess the damage the left has done, and we abhor it.  We will rise up.

The Corruption of Everything

As we survey the American landscape, we cannot help but notice that just about everything has been corrupted by the left.

The justice system has been corrupted by partisan politics to the point where Republicans and conservatives are persecuted and prosecuted at a level far higher than anyone else.  We on the right can reliably depend on being prosecuted for “misgendering,” contributing to conservative causes, being a Christian or a Jew, speaking out against the barbaric transing of children, defending ourselves with a firearm, and not being a Democrat.  We can depend upon getting arrested for protesting peacefully as the corrupt “Justice” Department singles us out for jail, bankruptcy, or keeping us off election ballots, while really destructive rioters go free.

Medical research has been corrupted by the deliberate downgrading of meritorious research that just so happens to be at odds with the latest leftist perversion du jour.  For example, there are research grants for hamster fights.

Elections have been corrupted.  Mail-in ballots, demonstrated to be extremely susceptible to fraudulent inflation of Democrat votes, are ready for the next fraud.  Dead people vote; people vote multiple times; non-residents vote in other states; and phony ballots are printed and signed with the same handwriting, then run through counting machines multiple times.  Computer problems pop up so as to skew the vote.

Education has been corrupted.  Universities do not teach students how to get a job, be prosperous, and succeed.  Instead, they teach antisemitism, anti-white racism in the guise of “systemic racism” and “anti-racism,” identity politics, and sexual deviancy.  Everything on the left is about cultural identity matters: Are you gay?  Are you black?  Are you trans?  Are you non-binary?  Are you a Jew-hater?  A Christian?  It seems as though the left has an aversion to other people being happy, and so leftists tear everything apart in their insecurities and unwarranted anger and envy.  They are despicable people.

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BLUF
Like spoiled trust fund babies living an opulent lifestyle off the profits of a company grandpa built, but they don’t understand, many Americans (including many Americans with power) simply have never put any thought into why our society has succeeded or what makes it work.

How Many Load-Bearing Walls Have to Come Down Before America Collapses?

My friend Glenn Reynolds, who also has an excellent Substack you may want to subscribe to, just released a piece called Civilizational Jenga. The main focus of it was the Colorado Supreme Court’s foolish decision to pull Trump’s access to the ballot in Colorado over his supposed “insurrection” on January 6, 2021.

Setting aside the fact that a large percentage of the country, myself included, doesn’t believe the Jan 6. riot was an “insurrection,” it puts the cart before the horse. Trump has yet to be put on trial for insurrection.

For a handful of leftwing judges (and yes, they’re all Democrats) to just arbitrarily decide that he committed insurrection without him being convicted of it at a trial is not much different than deciding he committed murder without proving it at a trial. It’s an obvious attempt to misuse the court system for political reasons and if it were to stick and Trump were to become the nominee, it would practically demand that Republicans pull the same dirty trick against Joe Biden. Does it seem like a healthy precedent for political parties to be trying to win elections by default by illegitimately kicking their potential opponents off the ballot? No, it does not.

This column is not going to attempt to litigate Trump’s various court cases and rule on which ones may be justified and which ones may be political, but there is a very good reason that Americans have diligently avoided charging former presidents with crimes. That’s because it’s inevitably going to be highly controversial, polarizing and it’s dangerous to a Republic for a political party to believe that the only way they can get justice is to be in charge.

If one political party in a country concludes that their choices are to be in charge or be in jail, democracy suddenly becomes a very secondary concern. As Glenn Reynolds notes in his column, Abe Lincoln was kept off the ballot in 10 states back in 1860. Of course, that year is best remembered as the year before the Civil War.

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Not just theirs, I think

The Death of Democrat Jewish Innocence.

Jewish conservatives, while considered a bit of an oddity despite growing numbers, are commonly asked Why are so many Jews liberals?

From conservative luminaries like Norman Podhoretz and Dennis Prager to B-team influencers like me, Jewish conservatives have struggled to provide a satisfactory answer. Like any other group, we do not march in lockstep, certainly not when it comes to our religion and definitely not politically. Still, Jewish conservatives readily acknowledge that, like Black Americans, most of us tend to be liberal if not downright progressive and, regrettably, sometimes Marxist.

Books and articles have been written, and theories abound as to why this is, including, among others, the idea that Jews are liberal out of residual devotion to FDR and his pro-unionism; as pushback against the brutality they suffered under right-wing totalitarians like Hitler; and because, when Jews became secular, they replaced their religion with progressivism.

None of these quite hits the sweet spot, but they all resonate to some extent.

Image: Jews for Palestine by Alisdare Hickson. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED.

I long ago abandoned any hope of uncovering the definitive reason for this phenomenon but, in thinking about the strong reaction that many liberals and Jewish liberals had to the October 7th Hamas Pogrom, I had a revelation. Bear with me.

In Konstantin Kisin’s must-read article The Day the Delusions Died, he notes that some Americans woke up as liberals on October 7th and went to bed that night as conservatives.

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The new, and dangerous, ‘greatest possible threat to our Republic’

It’s not Hamas, it’s not ISIS, it’s not China and it’s not Russia.

It’s not even the fact that Americans now have widely divergent views on the direction the nation should be going.

It’s that the trust in the Constitution is gone, and now an “increasing number of citizens … view violence as warranted to silence those with opposing views.”

That is, in fact, the “greatest possible threat to our Republic,” according to George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who has not only testified on the Constitution before Congress but has represented members in court.

He cited a recent University of Virginia Center for Politics poll that delivered astounding results: “Fifty-two percent of Biden supporters say Republicans are now a threat to American life while 47 percent of Trump supporters say the same about Democrats. Among Biden supporters, 41 percent now believe violence is justified ‘to stop [Republicans] from achieving their goals.’ An almost identical percentage, 38 percent, of Trump supporters now embrace violence to stop Democrats. … Some 31 percent of Trump supporters believe that the nation should explore alternative forms of government. Roughly a quarter (24 percent) of Biden supporters also question the viability of democracy.”

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The Day the Delusions Died 

A lot of people woke up on October 7 as progressives and went to bed that night feeling like conservatives. What changed?

When Hamas terrorists crossed over the border with Israel and murdered 1,400 innocent people, they destroyed families and entire communities. They also shattered long-held delusions in the West.

A friend of mine joked that she woke up on October 7 as a liberal and went to bed that evening as a 65-year-old conservative. But it wasn’t really a joke and she wasn’t the only one. What changed?

The best way to answer that question is with the help of Thomas Sowell, one of the most brilliant public intellectuals alive today. In 1987, Sowell published A Conflict of Visions. In this now-classic, he offers a simple and powerful explanation of why people disagree about politics. We disagree about politics, Sowell argues, because we disagree about human nature. We see the world through one of two competing visions, each of which tells a radically different story about human nature.

Those with “unconstrained vision” think that humans are malleable and can be perfected. They believe that social ills and evils can be overcome through collective action that encourages humans to behave better. To subscribers of this view, poverty, crime, inequality, and war are not inevitable. Rather, they are puzzles that can be solved. We need only to say the right things, enact the right policies, and spend enough money, and we will suffer these social ills no more. This worldview is the foundation of the progressive mindset.

By contrast, those who see the world through a “constrained vision” lens believe that human nature is a universal constant. No amount of social engineering can change the sober reality of human self-interest, or the fact that human empathy and social resources are necessarily scarce. People who see things this way believe that most political and social problems will never be “solved”; they can only be managed. This approach is the bedrock of the conservative worldview.

Hamas’s barbarism—and the explanations and celebrations throughout the West that followed their orgy of violence—have forced an overnight exodus from the “unconstrained” camp into the “constrained” one.

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I think that if we had to fight WWII today we would not win.

I believe that, were we to fight a war like WWII today, we would not be able to win. I don’t say that because we lack the weapons or the skills. I say it because I believe that we would fight with our hands voluntarily tied behind our backs. I base that on a few things.

One is the chart that can be found here. I can’t seem to copy it, so you’ll have to follow the link to see it, but it shows the results of a poll that demonstrates enormous generational differences in the answers to the question of whether Israel’s military response to the Hamas attack is fully justified. It goes from 81% agreement from those 65+ to 27% agreement from those who are 18-34 years old.

And then of course there is the woke agenda of so much of today’s military.

Another reason I doubt we could fight WWII today is that our young people no longer believe in evil – unless it’s the evil of those who would oppose abortion, or misgender someone, or have the gall to be white and not apologize in the required manner for their privilege. That is, they cannot recognize true evil when they see it, because the principles that have been drilled into them are as follows:

(1) Privileged people are guilty and the oppressed – as defined by the left – are always innocent no matter what they do.

(2) One cannot and should not judge a culture – except the culture of the West.

(3) History itself doesn’t need to be learned; just leftist ideas and principles.

(4) Well-meaning elite people can fix anything without bloodshed.

(5) All killing is bad unless it’s done by the underprivileged, in which case it’s a shame but understandable. Or maybe not even a shame.

(6) War never solves anything (see this). They don’t understand that some wars are for survival against an enemy bent on your subjugation or obliteration, and that those wars sometimes are – very very unfortunately – total wars. In total wars innocent people die, but something is indeed solved.

NOTE: Please also see this relevant piece.

Democrats now want US split into ‘blue’ states and ‘red’ states

Liberals laughed when conservatives, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), called for dividing the United States into red and blue states because of national disunity and partisanship.

But they’re not laughing now. In fact, about a third of Democrats believe a political break from conservative-leaning states is needed.

In a survey of 2,008 voters conducted by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, 31% of “Biden supporters” want Democratic-controlled states to secede from the U.S. to form their own country.

Among voters who back former President Donald Trump, 41% support secession.

What’s more, large groups of both think it’s time to end democracy.

“Disturbingly, nearly one-third (31%) of Trump supporters and about a quarter (24%) of Biden supporters at least somewhat agree that democracy is no longer a viable system and that the country should explore alternative forms of government to ensure stability and progress,” the analysis from the center said.

Backing up reasons for secession, the analysis found that people generally are becoming more politically divided despite an inauguration promise made by President Joe Biden to unite the country.

Consider these results:

  • A majority of both Biden (70%) and Trump (68%) voters believed electing officials from the opposite party would result in lasting harm to the U.S.
  • Roughly half (52% Biden voters, 47% Trump voters) viewed those who supported the other party as threats to the American way of life.
  • About 40% of both groups (41% Biden voters, 38% Trump voters) at least somewhat believed that the other side had become so extreme that it is acceptable to use violence to prevent them from achieving their goals.

The survey found that on most topics tested by the center founded by Larry Sabato, people are split, as they are on the choice of Biden or Trump in the 2024 campaign. The center said that in a head-to-head election, Biden leads Trump 52%-48%. A CNBC survey also out Wednesday found Trump leading Biden by 4 points, 46%-42%.

Why America is Still Great: More People Own Guns and Dogs Than Cats.

When something makes you smile.

According to the latest researdch, about 45% of American households have guns. With some fluctuation. that number has been fairly steady for decades. That, of course, dependent on people actually answering honestly when a stranger tries to find out if they own guns (so the actual number is likely more than 50%).

There are about 46 million households with pet cats in the United States, or about 37 percent. That’s a lot of murder kittehs running around. Bear with me here.

As for man’s best friend, about a 65 million households have a dog living with them. That’s about 52 percent of the total.

So what do I get out of this? Gun owners have good taste because more Americans households own dogs than cats. I suppose cat ownership might increase when you can train cats to retrieve birds and flush pheasants, but until then….. There’s nothing quite like the loyal habits of a 90-pound Lab lapdog.

Go team dog! Oh, and guns, too.

How about you? Team dog or team cat? (Because of course you own guns, right?)

 Social Justice Fallacies.

The quest for social justice is a powerful crusade of our time, with an appeal to many different people, for many different reasons. But those who use the same words do not always present the same meanings. Clarifying those meanings is the first step toward finding out what we agree on and disagree on. From there, it is largely a question of what the facts are. Social Justice Fallacies reveals how many things that are thought to be true simply cannot stand up to documented facts, which are often the opposite of what is widely believed.

However attractive the social justice vision, the crucial question is whether the social justice agenda will get us to the fulfillment of that vision. History shows that the social justice agenda has often led in the opposite direction, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

More things are involved besides simply mistakes. All human beings are fallible, and social justice advocates may not necessarily make any more mistakes than others. But crusaders with an utter certainty about their mission are often undeterred by obstacles, evidence or even fatal dangers. That is where much of the Western world is today. The question is whether we will continue on heedlessly, past the point of no return.

‘Whole families living in parks’: Christian volunteer says homelessness is out of control in Atlanta, even gang members live on streets

A Christian woman who volunteers to feed the homeless says that the number of people who live on the streets of Atlanta has grown exponentially, with entire families, gang members, and prostitutes all seeking assistance.

The woman, named Teresa Hamilton, who goes by the nickname Lady T, has volunteered to feed the homeless in Georgia for over 27 years, but in 2023 she says the situation is worse than ever. Previously, people seeking free meals were mostly limited to those with substance abuse problems, but the volunteer said the demographic has widely grown.

“The numbers are growing. It is a different flavor of homeless people now. Back in the day, it was just some alcoholics or somebody on drugs; now we have whole families living in parks,” she told Fox 5 Atlanta.

Lady T and her crew feed approximately 900 people per week, with different groups serving different types of homeless communities. The volunteer sends teams to provide meals to everyone from prostitutes to homeless gang members.

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“This is one set of people, and we have three or four other sets of people. We got tent city. We got prostitute lane. We got crack city. And we got gangland,” she said. “People don’t understand, even though they are in gangs, they are still homeless.”

“I have a heart for other people who are less fortunate. We need lots and lots of help. We need lots and lots of volunteers. We need financial support always,” she said.

Lady T began working as a volunteer in the mid-1990s after she shut down her successful catering business. The Chicago native said that God spoke to her and she immediately knew she had to shift her focus.

“It was a booming catering business. God woke me up at 2 in the morning and I said, ‘Yes Lord?’ And he said, ‘Feed my people,’ and I shut the catering business down the next day,” Hamilton explained.

“She treats me like a human being,” said Joel Kirkland, who has been homeless for three months.

Another woman named Tanisha Holcomb told Fox 5 Atlanta that she was robbed of all of her belongings in Cleveland, Ohio, before becoming homeless.

“As far as Miss T, she saved my life,” the woman revealed.


An Atlanta resident:

I’ve lived here since 2001 and until a few years ago I had never seen a tent under a highway overpass. Now they seem to be everywhere.

Not defending it, but being homeless is easier than ever because of technology.

With only a smartphone, one can have and manage a bank account, receive income (like public benefits), make online payments, communicate with friends and family, hire transportation to/from your location, schedule medical appointments, have food delivered to your location, purchase items on Amazon delivered to a nearby drop-off point, arrange drug deals, find customers for sexual services, etc.

A homeless person in America with a smartphone can shop, select, and have their preferred tent delivered to them from China to a nearby Amazon locker within a few days, as well as any other “camping” supplies they desire.

In balmy Georgia for 9/12ths of the year, that is a “home-free” lifestyle that is completely feasible from a tent under I-75.

Suspension of Disbelief
Experts and the Power of Self-Deception

Recently, a friend fretted about what she perceived to be the dismal state of the world, based on the pronouncements of “experts” but, anticipating my response, added, “But you tend to dismiss ‘experts.’” I said she misjudged my sentiments, and that:

“I don’t dismiss experts. I simply don’t worship them. I don’t wish to grant them authoritarian power. And, out of a sense of risk-aversion and a knowledge of history, I want them kept on short leashes. As I wrote sometime back, science is a fine expert witness and a bloody dangerous judge.”

Experts are ordinary human beings, with all the fallibilities that come with membership in our species. Like everyone else, experts sometimes suppress truth and disseminate falsehoods for self-preservation or personal gain. Sometimes, they do so in service to some larger cause. Experts, short on time or resources, may cut corners, publishing information they hope is correct, while knowing it may not be. In all these situations, the expert knows his or her information is or may be false.

More interesting, more likely, and more dangerous are those situations where the expert sincerely believes his or her falsehoods to be correct, owing to the lure of self-deception. Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” sings:

“I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest”

I don’t “dismiss” experts but am wary of their tendency to squander their resistance, hearing what they wish to hear and disregarding the rest. Such is the sway that the still small voice of self-deception holds over all of us. And that voice is not muted by a doctorate or academic chair. In Duck Soup (1933), Chico Marx asks Margaret Dumont, “Who ya gonna believe? Me, or your own eyes?” I know enough history (and enough experts) to know that one’s own eyes are often at a distinct disadvantage versus a thing devoutly to be wished.

Self-deception can be conspiratorial, communal, or solitary and can be remarkably persistent. Self-deceived expertise is extraordinarily dangerous when issued blank-check authority by governmental or religious authorities. In Bastiat’s Window, “1,600 Years of Medical Hubris” explored the groupthink that ossified Western medicine between the 2nd and 19th centuries, plus the collectively reinforced misinformation that impeded the proper treatment of autism, ulcers, and prion-borne diseases in the 20th century. In “When Sterilization Was Dogma,”

and I discussed groupthink, eugenics, and contemporary challenges. “Gloomy Saints and Wandering Virtues” recounted how Alexander Graham Bell dispensed nonsense about the heritability of deafness—contradicted by the genetic histories of his mother and his wife.

To illustrate the powers of self-deception, I’ll offer three stories:

  1. Anna Anderson, who successfully impersonated Russia’s Grand Duchess Anastasia for over 60 years,
  2. Harry Houdini, who persuaded thousands of viewers that he could make an elephant vanish from an open stage, and
  3. Scottie Ferguson, the fictional detective in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, who blindly missed the true connection between two women with whom he was destructively in love.

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