The left frequently complains that the right's incapable of fact-driven argument; they go on their guts, ignoring rational evidence and rejecting expert consensus. It's true, but, of course, the left does this, too. Vaxxers, gluten hysterics,and the taboo on gender and racial genetic differences are just a few of the more recent examples.
Needless to say, irrationality is nothing new. If it seems like the past was more rational,that's just because the voices which ring most loudly come from people like Voltaire and Hobbes, rather than bygone versions of our bloggers, petty politicians, and everyday shlubs.
But a new specific sort of irrationality is snowballing, characterized by disrespect for science (and experts of all stripes) and impatience with facts. Everyone in my family, for example, assumes, with great confidence, that they know more about medical science than any doctor. The knowledge of doctors is no match for their inner wisdom. It's not that they've made a deep study of some non-traditional medicine; it's just coming from an innate sense that they Always Know Better (AKB), period.
Again, irrationality is not new; spurning of established fact isn't new. But AKB as a worldview is, I think, unique to our time. And I have a theory about its origins.
If you travel most anywhere outside America, and someone in a shop or a restaurant makes an error of some sort, or treats you ungently, and you express exasperation with the poor service, you may very well find yourself - explicitly or not - told to go to hell. To the shock of any American, the exchange of money for goods or services does not place you in a position of unquestionable superiority. You can't speak to retail workers as if they're subservient. They don't need to make you happy. They're no more interested in coddling you than any other random stranger they might meet on the street.
This often sends American tourists into a sort of shock; an indignant sinkhole of pique. Observing this, it's hard not to conclude that American-style capitalism has extravagantly flattered the American consumer. And we've drunk the lemonade, coming to assume, with no evidence whatsoever, that we truly are that powerful, that superior, that awesome.
If you're continuously flattered with the unearned assumption that you Always Know Better, then, naturally, it sticks.
It's the ultimate "rich people problem". And this one's truly a problem.
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