Archive for August, 2009

Just Say No To Groups!

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Liberal, conservative, communist or libertarian.  Democrat or Republican.  Catholic, Jewish, Born again Christian, Muslim or Hindu.  Millions of Facebook members unabashedly advertise their affiliations.  What are you?

This question is inherently offensive because of its implicit assumption that I would mindlessly associate myself with a group whose members share common opinions on a smorgasbord of topics.  Such wholesale acceptance of a canon without critical evaluation is intellectual atrophy.  Each group has plenty of dogma that is downright silly, so I refuse to join.

Take conservatives who are against giving girls human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccinations, which prevent cervical cancer.  The reason: HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse, and virtuous young woman should abstain from sex.  Is getting cancer a just punishment for promiscuity?

Liberals are no better.  Anti-smoking zealots used reports of the dangers of second hand smoke to push for legislation that bans smoking from public places.  When those studies were shown to be flawed, the liberals resorted to ad hominem attacks on the scientists who pointed out the errors in the methodology.  Though I am not a liberal (nor anything else), I support a ban on smoking in public places based on my own selfish reason that smoke literally makes me sick.  I don’t need a flawed study to validate my cause.  We should all be honest about our motives, and judge issues solely on their merits.

Rather than seek the truth, groups fervently bend and remold the facts to further the cause.  Rather than consider each issue logically and unbiasedly, group members are energized by their unquestioned faith in the broader agenda.  It’s comforting to associate with a group whose members share the same viewpoint.  Our minds conveniently filter out conflicting data and uncritically accept group dogma – a sure recipe for belief in the absurd.

Imagine all of the resources that would be set free to combat killer diseases if we didn’t waste money on homeopathic cures and alternative medications that are known to be ineffective.  Imagine all the time wasted debating ideology when we could be solving real problems.  Reason and honesty, applied to one issue at a time, would lead to sensible ideas and efficient solutions.  Real progress requires that we divest ourselves of our present group membership, and start fresh.

You’ve probably heard, “I am a pro-choice Catholic who really doesn’t believe in transubstantiation.”  “I go to Synagogue for cultural reasons.” “I’m liberal but understand the benefits of capitalism.”  You might as well be a vegetarian who eats meat.  Just say no to groups!

MGK