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12/22/2017 A Glitch in the Theocratic Matrix

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A Glitch in the Theocratic Matrix
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December 14, 2017 By Venkatesh Rao
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When I was a kid — I was about 12 I think — and relatively new to atheism and its
social burdens, I had a li le run-in with a sincerely religious classmate. He simply
Connect
would not believe that my non-belief in religion was even possible. He was sure I
was lying or being provocative for the hell of it. As a test, he pulled out a li le
picture of his favorite god from his wallet, and dared me to tear it up. I did, and he
was suitably shocked. After a moment of stunned speechlessness, he said
something weak, like “err… oh wow!”
Search this website … SEARCH

I was reminded of this li le episode when a li le clip from CNN did the rounds a
couple of days back. It features a religious conservative being visibly stunned Crash Early, Crash Often
speechless by the revelation that you do not need to swear on the Bible to assume
an elected office in the United States. Ted Crocke really appeared to believe that a
Muslim politician could not hold office because “You have to swear on a Bible to be
an elected official in the United States of America…a Muslim cannot do that,
ethically, swearing on the Bible.”

Be Slightly Evil

Like my old schoolmate, this guy was genuinely shocked to learn he was wrong in
a fairly trivial way. Unlike my old schoolmate, however, we’re not talking about a
12-year old boy. We’re talking about a man who appears to be in his late fifties or
sixties, and has held an elected office.

Like many others, once I was done chuckling, I found myself wondering: how is it
even possible to arrive at, and hold, this particular sort of bizarre false belief, about
swearing-in ceremonies being necessarily tied to the Bible in a non-theocratic state? Gervais Principle

The belief is not a trivial sort of false belief. It’s what computer scientists call an
abstraction leak, like the deja vu moment in The Matrix that reveals a glitch in the
simulation. A low-level, seemingly minor phenomenon that is not explainable
within the reality in which it is experienced.

The belief strikes a secular imagination as more than just false. It seems not even
wrong. It’s an unnatural sort of false belief that doesn’t lend itself to an obvious
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explanation. So to understand it, we have to ask, in what sort of reality would this
be a natural kind of false belief?

Let’s establish just how surprising this li le episode actually is, in a non-theocratic
political context.

It is easy to imagine a conservative Christian politician believing that all elected


officials should swear on the Bible.

That is not what happened here.


Tempo
It’s easy to imagine a paranoid ethnonationalist believing that all Muslims want to
impose Sharia on the rest of us and therefore should not be allowed to hold office,
if they’re allowed into the country at all.

That is also not what happened here.

I can even imagine not knowing the specifics of prescribed swearing-in procedures
(I don’t), but that kind of ignorance isn’t enough for this kind of mistake to be
natural. We all participate in a million mindless li le ceremonial rituals of various
degrees of sacredness to different kinds of participants, and we don’t generally
hold weird false beliefs about them, despite not being experts in ma ers of priestly
detail.

Every Cradle is a Grave


This is not a question of unusual ignorance about a ceremony.

Nor is this mere stupidity, or ignorance of the principle of separation of church and
state, or failure to correctly infer the implications of the principle.

In fact, earlier in the interview, Ted Crocke (the spokesman) spars briefly with
Jake Tapper (the anchor) on precisely that subject, and seems unfazed by it. He’s at
least heard the phrase. It just doesn’t fit into his belief system the way it does in
Tapper’s:

TAPPER: Does [Roy Moore] believe that the Christian Bible should be the law
of the United States of American
Your account
CROCKETT: This country was founded on the Christian Bible…[elaborate run-
Sign in
on assertion about English mosaic law and old and new testaments]

TAPPER: This country has a separation of church and state and we have laws
that are not rooted in the Christian Bible

CROCKETT: You don’t understand…

TAPPER: I think I understand…

CROCKETT: You don’t understand…

TAPPER: Here’s my question…

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CROCKETT: You do not understand…

TAPPER: Here’s my question for you…

[predictable exchange on homosexuality]

CROCKETT: …You people want to to take the whole… 2 or 3 thousand years


of history and y’all just want to throw it out the window as if you’re going to
make your own rules, your own man-made rules, and do whatever you
want…

What this exchange reveals is clear: Crocke is aware of the relevant political
context. He simply does not recognize the primacy of secular constitutional
authority over religious authority, and in fact believes the reverse pecking order
holds. And this isn’t a contingent, what-if belief about a hoped-for religious social
order. It’s the foundation of his active reasoning about the prevailing social order.

He has a coherent — to him — account of secular constitutional authority flowing


from religious authority. An account within which the separation principle is to
him a minor ma er of operating procedure, not a basic axiom.

Now for the part of the exchange that went viral:

TAPPER: Judge Moore has also said that he doesn’t think a Muslim member of
Congress should be allowed to be in Congress. Why? Under what provision of
the Constitution?

CROCKETT: Because you have to swear on the Bible — when you are before
— I had to do it. I’m an elected official, three terms, I had to swear on a Bible.
You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the United States of
America. He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that, ethically, swearing on the
Bible.

TAPPER: You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian Bible, you can swear
on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish
Bible.

CROCKETT: Oh no. I swore on the Bible. I’ve done it three times.

TAPPER: I’m sure you have, I’m sure you’ve picked a Bible but the law is not
that you have to swear on a Christian Bible. That is not the law. You don’t
know that? All right. Ted Crocke with the Moore —

CROCKETT: I don’t know. I know that Donald Trump did it when he — when
we made him President.

To an irreligious mind like mine, or even a socially religious mind, this sounds
completely insane. How do you even get to that kind of argument? And it’s not a
joke. It’s not a troll. He’s not hoping to bluff his way through with a belief he does
not actually hold. It’s not a belief about an abstract ideological position.

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He appears to actually believe it. It does not occur to him that a hostile television
journalist with an opposed ideological bias might challenge him on that particular
point (or he’d have been more prepared to counter it).

Because he is simply not even aware that it’s a weak belief, open to a ack, let alone
a demonstrably false one.

Secular versus Religious Induction


To understand what happened here, consider what it takes to reason from an
ordinary, low-grade knowledge of the law (say half-remembered high school civics
where you scored a C grade) to the conclusion that a Muslim would have an issue
with the swearing-in ceremony because the Bible is necessarily a part of it.

Clearly you’d have to answer the question, “How would a practicing Muslim be
sworn in?” with “using a Bible” before you even get to a potential conflict.

The secular among us would guess “using a Koran.” We’d never even get to the
apparent conflict. It’s a simple problem in inductive reasoning starting from the
axiom of separation of church and state, and the principle of freedom of religion.

With an ordinary amount of data about how political processes work and minimal
general knowledge of the sacred books of various religions, you’d get to “any book
or object that is sacred to the oath taker will do, so a Muslim would likely choose
the Koran.” The whole chain of reasoning would be almost subconscious.

The folk-legal theory intuited by a secular imagination is that the process is


designed to let people import ritual significance into a ceremony from their private
sacred belief system, whatever that might be. The ceremony has some signaling
utility among true believers, and is harmless theater if non-believers go through
the motions.

But if you are sincerely religious, your first axiom is that your book is objectively
special. Not just an ordinary thing of special subjective significance to you. Its role
is not empty and ceremonial. It’s not just an equal member of some largely
interchangeable set of books. For Crocke , replacing the Bible with the Koran in a
process changes the meaning of the process as surely as replacing gold with plastic
in a piece of jewelry changes its objective market value. It’s a kind of assumed-
universal functional fixedness.

My classmate in childhood made the same mistake. He assumed his picture I tore
up casually had objective significance for all, a sort of magical religious property
that would exercise its power over me whether or not I chose to believe in it. To me
it was just another piece of paper.

This explains the glitch in the matrix that Crocke experienced. What to a secular
imagination is a trivial ma er of inductive extension within a set of similar objects
(the set of sacred religious texts) would be a category error for a theocratic mind.
The Bible is sui generis. Other religious texts live in a different mental filing
cabinet. To even contemplate substituting another text for it as a source of religious

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authority requires a reboot and reification, and a different, meta way of thinking
about the ceremony.

For Crocke , the Bible is the active source of sanctity from which the swearing-in
process derives its fundamental authority. Crocke ’s earlier reference to “you’re
going to make your own rules, your own man-made rules” clearly reveals this
belief structure. The presence of the Bible in the “man-made rules” is not an
arbitrary thing, but essential to the idea of constitutional authority somehow
flowing from religious authority.

To him, the human constitution is a secondary source of authority. Note that we


don’t require him to be particularly devout, or a good Christian, or a saint. The
quality of his adherence to his faith is not relevant, only its existence. We just need
to assume his religiosity is not fake, and the false belief makes sense.

A different example might clarify this. You don’t need to assume I’m a racecar
driver to infer that I drive on the right side of the road in the US by instinct. If you
saw someone drive on the left side in the US, you’d assume they’re coming from a
left-side-driving country. It’s not a bad-driver mistake or a doesn’t-know-traffic-
rules mistake. It’s a glitch-in-the-matrix mistake. An abstraction leak. One caused
by inhabiting a subjective reality that does not match objective reality in some
critical ways that you haven’t yet noticed.

Crocke ’s use of confirmatory evidence is revealing. He cites his own 3 experiences


of being sworn in with a Bible. He cites Donald Trump being sworn in with a Bible.
His data set lacks disconfirmatory evidence, and like most humans, it is not
instinctive for him to seek it out. So faced with a belief falsification, he just piles on
the irrelevant confirmatory evidence.

That part is human. You and I would instinctively do that too if one of our basic
low-level beliefs were suddenly undermined. In the driving example, if I’m driving
with left-hand-drive instincts in a right-hand-drive country, and see a car
oncoming, I’d instinctively swerve to the left and expect the oncoming car to
swerve to its left, and a collision would occur.

Programmed beliefs are hard to resist.

I imagine that to Crocke , separation of church and state is a li le Santa Claus lie
(“Of course the constitution is real kid!”) you tell naive li le atheist children who
“don’t get it”, as he repeatedly asserts. From his point of view, Tapper is missing
something completely obvious, and perversely pretending Santa Claus is real.

Of course constitutional authority flows from Biblical authority. Of course we drive


on the left side of the road in the US. You don’t get it.

CRASHHH!

Reasoning from Certainty


Stepping back, the characteristic feature of the theocratic mind is that it reasons
from subjective certainty (on the validity of a text in this case) as a starting point.

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Start with what you viscerally feel to be the most true things you know, and then
tackle the problem of forming beliefs about new, uncertain, or ambiguous ma ers.

To reason from constitutional authority to the principle of subjective choice in what


text to swear on is not just an alternate theology. It is a different kind of reasoning.

For most of us, belief in the constitution is not a ma er of religious faith, but a sort
of pragmatic and contingent acceptance of a piece of human reasoning that is open
to critical scrutiny. The principle of separation of church and state is not a secular-
religious axiom but a political science proposition we are capable of bracketing and
debating (not necessarily well, but without undue reverence).

There are of course constitutional originalists to whom the constitution has


religious sanctity and the founding fathers the status of apostles, but that’s a
different ma er. Most of us don’t relate to constitutions that way.

The theocratic mindset reasons from certainty to uncertainty. The secular mindset
reasons from contingent belief to contingent belief.

Reasoning from certainty is actually a very odd and fragile mindset that can only
exist under conditions of extreme isolation, coupled with uncritical belief in the
validity of a textual source over empirical experience.

All humans suck at seeking out disconfirmatory evidence, and none of us deal
particularly well with it. But most of us have experienced it. It takes living in a
protected Alabama bubble, an escaped reality, to make this sort of mistake. And it
takes theocratic cognitive foundations in a book.

Most of us can think of one or more experiences of having a sense of absolute,


visceral certainty being invalidated by an inconvenient and undeniable fact. I
called this an UnAha experience in a really old (2008) post, The UnAha! Experience.

Your particular set of UnAha experiences may not include mathematical


counterexamples like mine, but I bet you’ve had several experiences of a subjective
mental bubble of absolute, visceral certainty being popped. And I bet you have
examples both trivial and deep. In some cases you probably figured out why you
were so certain but wrong (“Oh, I thought I was facing north, not south, that’s why
I was sure we had to turn left here” or “Oh, I forgot we drive on the left side here”),
and in other cases you probably never quite figured it out.

Whatever your particular set of UnAha experiences, it likely left you primed
to not entirely trust reasoning from certainty, particularly from textual certainty.
It’s easy, it’s quick, it feel solid, it feels reassuring. After all you start on firm
ground, you build stable inference structures based on internal logic, you ought to
get to equally stable new ground.

What could possibly go wrong?

It takes a few painful certainty crashes to learn the answer to that question.

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In a way, I have a certain amount of sympathy for Ted Crocke . His crash was
genuine, which means the underlying belief structure is at least sincere.

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Comments

DN3 says:
December 14, 2017 at 4:41 pm

I am reminded of this quote from Neal Stephenson’s Anathem – “the


difference between poets and mystics . . . The mystic nails a symbol to one meaning that
was true for a moment but soon becomes false. The poet, on the other hand, sees that
truth while it’s true but understands that symbols are always in flux and that their
meanings are fleeting.”

Reply

jmoney says:
December 14, 2017 at 8:04 pm

I usually have the opposite problem. I cannot trust logical reason from
collected facts about the environment. That may make me sound like an enlightened nerd
mage, but really what it means is that I must cope with what I’ll call an information
mania. Even with something as simple as counting, or copying numbers from one thing to
another, I instinctively mistrust my ability to see ‘truth’ and execute ‘correctly’ and
endlessly reverify the results. I have had to learn to relax a li le trust into these processes
that other people seem to be able to factor out to instinct without thought.

I had an interview recently where the interviewer asked me “what’s 34 times 34?” Rather
than resort to the long form algorithms everyone learned in elementary school and
compute the answer in seconds, I rather regressed into dithering about what method to
use and how to remember intermediate results, which took me over a minute.

Because fundamental uncertainty precludes knowing how or why, imperceptible to even


the most ideal, una enuated intellect, pedestal noise corrupts every physical law ever
wri en, epistemology itself is by definition unable to answer the distortion that figures
into the formulation of its own origin and purpose.

Reply

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mtraven says:
December 14, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Of course to be Ted Crocke you also have to be unaware that there are Jewish
members of Congress, or unable to make simple inferences from that fact.

You may be overthinking this, it’s possible that this person is just very, very stupid.
Certainly that’s the impression he gives off. Moore himself gives an argument that is
several orders of magnitude more informed and coherent, if still wrong in obvious ways.

Crocke seems to be unaware that there is any other frame of reference than his own,
while Moore is very aware and seeks to be in active conflict with them.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 15, 2017 at 12:14 am

The Old Testament is part of the bible so Jews are perfectly capable of
‘swearing by the bible’.

Reply

Yonah says:
December 15, 2017 at 11:45 am

That might be how Crocke could parse the situation, but it is not at all
true regarding the reality of how Judaism navigates the swearing of oaths or a
Christian bible which includes “the Old Testament.”

Reply

Nicholas Carter says:


December 18, 2017 at 10:48 am

I imagine he in fact makes the same assumption he does about Muslims:


That they swear a dishonest oath, borrowing biblical power insincerely, and are
basically lying.
He probably does not believe that it is ethical for any non-Christian to be an elected
official. But he also probably believes that most elected officials are not ethical to begin
with.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 15, 2017 at 12:56 am

“Like many others, once I was done chuckling, I found myself wondering: how
is it even possible to arrive at, and hold, this particular sort of bizarre false belief, about
swearing-in ceremonies being necessarily tied to the Bible in a non-theocratic state?”

8 American states have religious tests for office included in their constitutions.

“TAPPER: This country has a separation of church and state and we have laws that are
not rooted in the Christian Bible”

The United States was not founded on separation of Church and State. The Articles of
Confederation do not cover the topic.

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Until the bill of rights were incorporated against the states (in the case of religion it was
Everson v. Board of Education in 1947) this did not apply to states. That is why Thomas
Jefferson had to pass a statute of religious freedom for the state of Virginia and why states
were able to persecute the Mormons.

“He simply does not recognize the primacy of secular constitutional authority over
religious authority, and in fact believes the reverse pecking order holds. ”

Replace religious authority with ideology and you’ve just described civil disobedience.

“This explains the glitch in the matrix that Crocke experienced. What to a secular
imagination is a trivial ma er of inductive extension within a set of similar objects (the set
of sacred religious texts) would be a category error for a theocratic mind. The Bible is sui
generis. Other religious texts live in a different mental filing cabinet. To even contemplate
substituting another text for it as a source of religious authority requires a reboot and
reification, and a different, meta way of thinking about the ceremony.”

Religious believers are perfectly capable of understanding that religious believers of


different traditions think the same way about their tradition. I’m sure he would
understand people in Saudi Arabia swear on the Koran or understand the significance of
BANZAI (may the Emperor live ten thousand years!).

“So faced with a belief falsification, he just piles on the irrelevant confirmatory evidence.”

Someone telling you your beliefs are false is not ‘belief falsification’.

“I imagine that to Crocke , separation of church and state is a li le Santa Claus lie (“Of
course the constitution is real kid!”) you tell naive li le atheist children who “don’t get
it”, as he repeatedly asserts”

No, Crocke probably believes separation of church and state is a truce between different
Christian denominations. Just like most Americans believed for most of American history.

“It takes living in a protected Alabama bubble, an escaped reality, to make this sort of
mistake. ”

… right.

Reply

squiggs says:
December 15, 2017 at 7:26 am

Samuel —

A religious test for office would probably make those 8 states qualify as theocratic as
this article uses it.

Tapper didn’t claim that the country was *founded on* a separation of church and
state, only that it was a feature of the country.

Re: primacy and civil disobedience: it’s about institutions, not individual values or
behavior. Civil disobedience is when personal values, whatever their source, lead you
to defy secular authority from beneath, as a subject. The question of theocracy is
whether secular authority is fundamentally subordinate to or grounded in religious
authority.

Sure, many or most actual conflicts over church/state issues in American history may
have been among Christians, but turning around and imposing that particularity on
the principle–mentally substituting “Christian denomination” for “religion”–seems like

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pre y clear evidence of bubbled thinking. And even if one is the kind of originalist
who would claim that the writer(s) of the first amendment didn’t consider that
someone might not be a Christian, and that that is legally significant: the Treaty of
Tripoli happened less than a decade later.

(I’m not posting this like ~oh boy get dunked~, and I haven’t answered everything
you’ve said. But I think that the question of sources of authority is an important delta
between what you were responding to and what the article was ge ing at.)

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 15, 2017 at 10:43 am

“A religious test for office would probably make those 8 states qualify as
theocratic as this article uses it.”

Then essentially all states prior to the 20th century were theocracies. We should use
definitions that illuminate things, not that just a thousand different ways of saying
‘old’.

“Re: primacy and civil disobedience: it’s about institutions, not individual values or
behavior. Civil disobedience is when personal values, whatever their source, lead
you to defy secular authority from beneath, as a subject. The question of theocracy is
whether secular authority is fundamentally subordinate to or grounded in religious
authority.”

Civil disobedience is claiming your personal moral values are higher then secular
law. It is followed up by claiming current authority should be subordinate to those
values.

This is the exact same mechanism; the difference is one is tagged religion and one
isn’t.

“but turning around and imposing that particularity on the principle–mentally


substituting “Christian denomination” for “religion”–seems like pre y clear
evidence of bubbled thinking. ”

Not if it is the historical meaning.

“And even if one is the kind of originalist who would claim that the writer(s) of the
first amendment didn’t consider that someone might not be a Christian, and that
that is legally significant: the Treaty of Tripoli happened less than a decade later.”

Because regulation of religion was down to the individual states. The states had
religious tests for office. The states were the ones who a empted to liquidate the
Mormons.

Reply

static says:
December 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

“Like many others, once I was done chuckling, I found myself wondering:
how is it even possible to arrive at, and hold, this particular sort of bizarre false belief,
about swearing-in ceremonies being necessarily tied to the Bible in a non-theocratic
state?”

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An even easier explanation for this- I was explicitly told this by a teacher. It’s
historically shown this way on TV courtroom scenes. When I took up atheism, it was a
question of what does an atheist swear on and what does that swear entail? It’s not an
uncommon belief at all…

h ps://www.866ourvote.org/newsroom/news/state-voter-required-to-swear-on-bible-
when-confirming-identity

Pennsylvania law:
5901. Judicial oath.
(a) General rule.–Every witness, before giving any testimony shall take an oath in the
usual or common form, by laying the hand upon an open copy of the Holy Bible, or by
lifting up the right hand and pronouncing or assenting to the following words: “I, A.
B., do swear by Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, that I will , and that as I shall
answer to God at the last great day.” Which oath so taken by persons who
conscientiously refuse to take an oath in the common form shall be deemed and taken
in law to have the same effect as an oath taken in common form.

Reply

Marc Hamann says:


December 15, 2017 at 7:10 am

You didn’t go to the ultimate conclusion:

We all live in some escaped reality or another. Probably several layers of escaped realities.

Reply

Venkatesh Rao says:


December 15, 2017 at 8:49 am

Yes, this is a strong belief of mine, and I’m trying to develop a theory of this.
A sort of bubble relativism dialectic. We can only become aware of the illusions of
escaped realities that are more escaped than ours along some dimension of interest.

Reply

Marc Hamann says:


December 15, 2017 at 10:00 am

Hmmm. Isn’t it simpler than that? You become aware of a mutually


escaped reality when you come into conflict with someone on a substantive point.

Crocke has an escaped reality which says that de facto, if not quite de jure,
Christianity has a special role and place in American governmental tradition and
practice, and you and I live in an escaped reality where the modern interpretation of
a purely secular state is obviously the real and true state of affairs.

The objective current and historical evidence can very likely be marshaled to support
either interpretation.

Most of the time this is a feature, not a bug, in that different escaped realities can
look at the same thing and give their buy in. This works until someone demands the
exclusive, explicit dominance of their view for something practical, and this seems to
be happening more an more as the escaped realities diverge on more and more basic
“facts”.

Reply

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Jay says:
December 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

You might get some value out of A Field Guide to Earthlings: An


autistic/Asperger view of neurotypical behavior. Some humans are much less influenced
by socially constructed reality than others, and they’ve made an effort to understand
it.

Reply

Jay says:
December 15, 2017 at 6:16 pm

I’m pre y sure the Blue State version of this is the idea that America was
founded on the idea that “all men are created equal”. Since the guy who wrote that was
both a slaveowner and a politician, a realistic assessment would suggest that he was
insincere. But that’s the myth.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

He was perfectly sincere. Blacks are equal to whites in that they are not
endowed by God with a special position simply by their parentage (see-divine right
of kings); rather their position is set by the ability.

Reply

Jay says:
December 16, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Was there some sort of Slavery Aptitude Test that I’ve never heard of?
Because I’m pre y sure blacks got their position from their parentage.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 17, 2017 at 9:12 am

“Was there some sort of Slavery Aptitude Test that I’ve never heard
of? ”

Yes. If your parents were capable enough to buy your freedom, you would no
longer be a slave.

“Because I’m pre y sure blacks got their position from their parentage.”

I don’t think Jefferson was a believer in blank slate.

Fatman says:
December 21, 2017 at 10:48 am

“Yes. If your parents were capable enough to buy your freedom, you
would no longer be a slave.”

Which did not apply to whites, therefore blacks were in a special position
simply by their parentage, not because their own ability. So either insincere, or
confused by his own argument.

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Venkatesh Rao says:


December 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Classic case of “You decide what’s ‘equal’, I decide what counts as


‘human'”

Reply

Eric says:
December 15, 2017 at 8:36 am

Okay, I get it. And your article is a good one, in my opinion. You raise and
elucidate some very good points, and I like the idea of escaped reality. But I can’t help
thinking that the strength of your reaction to this interview only just shows that you have
lived on the coastal strip for a while. At this moment, I am si ing within easy walking
distance of at least 10 people who would accept Ted Crocke ’s argument as perfectly
reasonable. Such is Kansas.

It is not correct to refer to people like Crocke as theocrats, nascent or otherwise. What we
are seeing in American politics is not theocracy, and almost never has been. What we
have is ordinary kleptocracy with a religious frosting. Crocke doesn’t know what the
Bible says, and he doesn’t care. He has a feeling that he believes in some god or other, but
his true belief is in his cultural right to appropriate value from everyone else. This is the
entire history of European activity on this continent. Quote Crocke the bit that everyone
knows about the rich man being less likely to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel
fi ing through the eye of a needle, and he will just shrug it off. He and all his ilk don’t
believe in Christianity, they believe in money.

Reply

Venkatesh Rao says:


December 15, 2017 at 8:47 am

The 10 people who would accept his argument as reasonable are what I’m
ge ing at: the argument is *natural* for some types of people, and I’m trying to figure
out what kind. Certainly we on the coasts have our own escaped realities with different
religion-like basic beliefs, and we have our own matrix glitches.

I do think theocratic is the right term. Crocke explicitly makes the argument earlier in
the interview that religious authority has primacy. And as an elected official holding
that view, he’s a theocrat, even if a mistaken one (if ordinary citizens believe that, the
label doesn’t apply since it only applies to political office holders). As I said, he doesn’t
need to be a sincere or good Christian. He just need to argue for the primacy of
religious authority over secular. I agree he probably just vaguely feels he believes in
Christianity (not ‘some god or the other’ though… his earlier comments reveal he is not
an abstract thinker; his sense of his own religiosity is definitely grounded in Christian
history).

Reply

Eric says:
December 15, 2017 at 10:00 am

Hi Venkat, thanks, I appreciate the response. I am not sure I can


characterize ‘what kind of people’ think like Crocke in this example, but I am
pre y good at knowing them when I see them. Also to say ‘them’ is misleading,

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because we all have our ‘religion-like basic beliefs’ as you say. The beliefs on display
here are just different enough from the coastal beliefs so as to be surprising.

I am going to maintain my doubt about the theocracy part, even in the light of your
lucid explanation. The reason is that the people you call theocrats are citing a god as
their authority, but that god always seems to support things that benefit the
‘theocrats’ in the here and now, even though those things are directly opposed to the
published prior opinions of said god. This to me does not describe a theocratic
regime so much as a rule by force with god as a veneer of excuse. Or maybe that is
how you define theocracy. I am not sure there has ever been a ruling regime that
submi ed its power to the wishes of its claimed deity, but I am willing to allow for
the possibility.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 15, 2017 at 10:57 am

“The reason is that the people you call theocrats are citing a god as
their authority, but that god always seems to support things that benefit the
‘theocrats’ in the here and now, even though those things are directly opposed to
the published prior opinions of said god.”

Freedom of religion means over time people adopt the religious beliefs that tell
them to do what they desire to do.

” This to me does not describe a theocratic regime so much as a rule by force with
god as a veneer of excuse. Or maybe that is how you define theocracy. ”

That describes all states. They use force with ideology providing an excuse to
justify their rule; the Chinese were the most honest about this with the Mandate of
Heaven being ‘power legitimately belongs to those strong enough to hold it’.

“I am not sure there has ever been a ruling regime that submi ed its power to the
wishes of its claimed deity, but I am willing to allow for the possibility.”

Well, the best examples we have are organizations that did things catastrophically
harmful to themselves to show their devotion; the Shakers are an obvious
example. It is hard to find state level examples since nations with that level of
fanaticism tend to implode- think Khmer Rogue.

Reply

Fatman says:
December 21, 2017 at 11:15 am

“Freedom of religion means over time people adopt the religious


beliefs that tell them to do what they desire to do.”

That’s a very cynical view. But I can’t disagree that this is how fundamentalists
choose to interpret “freedom of religion”. I would try to argue that not all
religious individuals are fundamentalists.

Samuel Skinner says:


December 15, 2017 at 10:49 am

“the argument is *natural* for some types of people, and I’m trying to
figure out what kind.”
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It is natural for all people. His particular argument works for people that believe
‘label x’ means something is good.

“Crocke explicitly makes the argument earlier in the interview that religious
authority has primacy.”

Gavin Newsom believed the same thing only with different labels. Drop ‘religion’
and you get ‘people believe their group values has primacy over the law’. It is how
you organize in politics- you tell people you are powerful and proceed to
demonstrate that power and people flock to your banner because they prefer a
strong horse.

Reply

Liz McLellan says:


December 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

False equivalency is the bane of American political discourse.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 16, 2017 at 9:32 am

The bane of American political discourse is people who mouth


platitudes without thought. In their case no response other then to call out their
mindless is available because there is no substance to interact with.

Liz McLellan says:


December 15, 2017 at 11:10 am

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the
Christian religion.”
—John Adams

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the
womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain
of Jupiter. … But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these
United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding….”
Jefferson to Adams

“meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the
Christian and the Mohammeden, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”
Jefferson on religious freedom in Virginia and his intention in general…

“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed.” on where power is derived from…

“[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust
under the United States.” …period – end of sentence

….refer back to the Supremacy Clause

“The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2)
establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made

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under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. … Even state constitutions are
subordinate to federal law.”

The constitution was understood to be a document that would necessarily be tested by


legislatures in the following years and over and over again the idea that this is a nation in
which all other religions and non-religious believers are subservient to the 30,000 SECTS
of Christianity which like to pretend they were not at war with each other until ten
minutes ago….is on it’s face ridiculous.

I’d like to sign as a descendant of the Rhode Island Colony but, us Catholics weren’t really
considered fully human back then by the Baptists and Protestants who were duking it out
to create the separation of church and state. Heck…we got our first President only 60 or so
years ago and that shocked the shit out of people back then.

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Reply

Peter says:
December 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Jefferson was still a deist

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the constitution so it is unclear why you are
citing him.

“….refer back to the Supremacy Clause”

Look up incorporation. The Constitution was not interpreted that was until the late
19th, early 20th century.

Reply

Fatman says:
December 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

What does incorporation have to do with this, since the text of the
Constitution is quite clear, and the Supremacy Clause was interpreted “that way”
eventually, i.e. in the late 19th century? I thought the discussion was about people
being unclear about the separation of church and state in 2017.

Reply

Liz McLellan says:


December 15, 2017 at 11:15 am

I’d like to ad being mis-educated all your life in a sectarian religion which
distorts the actual truth and understanding of the law is an act hostile to the nation by
your educators. It does not make it a “valid” harmless belief just because you were
corralled before the age of reason and made a soldier in the army of a sectarian
general….see also radicalized madrassahs and nunneries that recruit unwed women to
wash the clothes of their be ers for life.

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Samuel Skinner says:


December 16, 2017 at 9:48 am

Nah, it is more ‘state within a state’; my understanding is there are two


history textbooks used in the US; the California version and the Texas version. No
prizes for guessing the content or which states use with textbook.

Yes, this is as stupid and dysfunctional as it sounds.

Reply

AlexV says:
December 15, 2017 at 7:13 pm

It’s a Friday and I’m very tired, but when I read (before ge ing to the point of
the blog post):

“It features a religious conservative being visibly stunned speechless by the revelation
that you do not need to swear on the Bible to assume an elected office in the United
States.”

I had to stop and reread that sentence—”what, obviously people have to swear on the
Bible…I mean they call these things SWEARING IN CEREMONIES, and every single one
that I’ve always seen, well it’s of course a Bible they are swearing on”.

1.5-seconds worth of thought and I was at “oh, yeah, I guess they don’t have to really
swear on anything and obviously it can be any religious book, or hey probably anything
really.”

In my thought stream, I conflated “swearing on the Bible” with “swearing in” with
“taking a public oath of office”, so of course the concept that there is no requirement to
“swear on the Bible” was initially one of shock.

This is probably a similar glitch in the matrix, but I think it is simply a semantic one. My
guess is this man was simply on-TV nervous, knowing he was talking to someone
obviously antagonistic to his beliefs, a bit discombobulated, and made some sort of
similar conflation that just got further confused by the combative nature of the exchange.

Or, you could be right—but please don’t generalize his confused ignorance to all
Christians. It is a historical fact and a deeply important one to conservative Christians that
(Judeo-) Christian ideals lied at the heart of the founding principles of the U.S. So his line
of argument was again probably confused and misplaced but not inaccurate or solely
theocratic-matrix based.

Reply

Bao Chen says:


December 16, 2017 at 8:41 am

It started as a nice essay but it quickly turned into self-congratulation. Rao,


something you should consider is that we all have what you call the theocratic mindset,
just about different things. Whenever someone’s behavior looks nonsensical to you it
means there’s something new to understand about human nature and if you’re earnest
and reflective, you’ll find it in yourself also.

As insightful as your essays are, I noticed a blindspot when you wrote about
cosmopolitans vs. the hinterlands and declared (with palpable belief) that the future
would belong to the former. That and technological determinism are part of your fabric of

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faith and I think that you might have trouble seeing discomfirmatory evidence in those
areas. To someone who can, you look exactly like the politician on TV.

I don’t say these things to pick on you. I say them to point out that we can each go down
our confirmation bias hole and we all react the same way to disconfirmatory evidence.
There’s no special class of experience that we can call religion or ‘theocracy’ that does not
surface as general mechanism in the psyche across all domains.

Reply

Venkatesh Rao says:


December 16, 2017 at 9:28 am

We do all live in our own bubbles of escaped reality, but it would be


incorrect to call all those bubbles theocratic. A theocratic bubble derives its blindspots
from very specific sources (the idea of primacy of a religious text or historicist
understanding of events) that make minds trapped within them more resistant to
change and evolution.

This is not the same as a bubble that might be sustained (for instance) flawed science,
or too much misplaced compassion, or simple ignorance of facts. And all sorts of
bubbles are not created equal. Some are much more capable of reacting to glitches in
the matrix with learning rather than denial. Differences in ‘openness to experience’ is
an actual thing and has consequences.

I’ve lived in flyover country, and I’ve lived on the coasts. I’ve also spent half my life in
a developing country (both small town and big city), and watched it evolve through a
much more extreme jump of progress and corresponding extreme reactionary backlash.
So it may be a viewpoint you find self-congratulatory and annoying, but it isn’t a
blindness.

My all-in bet on the open political culture of the coasts and tech determinism isn’t a
ma er of blindspots, but extrapolation from history. Both history I’ve personally lived
through and history I’ve read about. It feels nice and egalitarian to go, “ha ha, we’re all
equal in our blindness and stupidity and equally wrong” but it is simply not true.
There are arguments on both sides, but to be blunt, I find one set of arguments both
stronger and more supported by the data of history. To take a trivial example, by your
logic, belief in biblical creation in 7 days 6000 years ago and belief in biological
evolution, are both equally theocratic. No they’re not. One is vastly more theocratic
than the other, and in a very consequential way that affects how the respective bubbles
evolve/change (or don’t).

You see reactionary waves after every period of rapid progress, and during those
periods, it feels like forward and backward movements cancel out, but they don’t. If
they did, we’d still be living in the conditions of 1600 or so.

Under conditions of technological modernity, the choice isn’t between open progress-
positive culture and closed reactionary culture. It’s between open progress-positive
culture and collapse. A reactionary vision like MAGA is basically a false hope. History
doesn’t have that kind of rewind bu on.

So yeah, I’m going to trot out the tired phrase “false symmetry” and leave it at that. I
may be personally annoying and self-congratulatory in my manner of writing/talking,
but there is a real difference and asymmetry between how the Trump heartland and
the rest process and respond to reality, and real differences in outcomes that result.
There is a real difference in openness to experience. Sure we are all members of the
same species and have similar psychological mechanisms driving us. We are all living
in our escaped realities but they don’t all have similar effects. They are not equally
resistant to disconfirmation.

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There’s a reason California and New York have driven history for a century while
Alabama is most famous for trying to perpetuate the institutions of slavery. The fact
that Californians can be as annoying as Alabamans doesn’t mean both are theocratic
bubbles, or that choosing to believe in biblical creation over biological evolution is
consequence-free.

So no, we’re not all theocratic minds.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

I’m going to have to agree with Bao.

“And all sorts of bubbles are not created equal. Some are much more capable of
reacting to glitches in the matrix with learning rather than denial.”

Lying and rewriting history are always more efficient and are the preferred option of
whatever belief system is in power.

“My all-in bet on the open political culture of the coasts and tech determinism isn’t a
ma er of blindspots, but extrapolation from history. ”

For the former, look at demographics. Birth rates are below replacement (1.8 white
conservative, 1.4 white liberal, 1.9 3rd generation Hispanic, 2 African American) and
they get worse the more ‘open political culture’ you get.

“To take a trivial example, by your logic, belief in biblical creation in 7 days 6000
years ago and belief in biological evolution, are both equally theocratic. No they’re
not. ”

No, the comparison would be things that are FALSE in each ideology. You named it
in your enemy, but choose something true for your ideology. Are you unaware of
any false beliefs in your ideology?

“There’s a reason California and New York have driven history for a century while
Alabama is most famous for trying to perpetuate the institutions of slavery. ”

Yeah, Alabama has 5 million people while the other 2 states have about 60 million. It
is a bit like comparing Norway to France. Washington state is more ‘open to
experience’, but I can’t think of anything important or memorable from there off the
top of my head.

Reply

Venkatesh Rao says:


December 16, 2017 at 10:57 am

You’ve answered your own main question in 2 separate places:

“For the former, look at demographics. Birth rates are below replacement (1.8
white conservative, 1.4 white liberal, 1.9 3rd generation Hispanic, 2 African
American) and they get worse the more ‘open political culture’ you get.”

“Yeah, Alabama has 5 million people while the other 2 states have about 60
million. It is a bit like comparing Norway to France.”

Open culture does not reproduce through genetics. It reproduces through


memetics and human mobility. To put it bluntly, smart people born in Alabama

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are likely to seek out and be exposed to a broader set of ideas than their peers and
simply leave and opt-in to more open epistemic cultures, which thereby acquire
the human capital required to self-perpetuate. So birth rates are largely irrelevant.
If open culture depended on liberals reproducing to perpetuate itself, we’d be
dead in the water.

Simple example: Alan Turing was a persecuted gay man, yet the dominance of his
ideas and contributions in modern culture, including the medium we’re using
here to debate, are due to him. Despite the fact that he hasn’t left a Genghis Khan
size imprint in the human genome.

More germane to the American conversation: people like Robert Noyce leaving
places like rural Iowa to work in places like Silicon Valley. Migration from closed
to open cultures is the single greatest demographic trend in modernity. It swamps
birth-rate differentials. The only way to keep curious people from leaving is to
literally impose a Taliban-scale wall against the outside world, both physical and
informational.

Your comparison of textbooks is revealing btw. It is entirely irrelevant whether


Texas or California has more subversion of textbooks or whether either is worse
than Saudi Arabia on that front. What ma ers is: can curious people find an
encouraging atmosphere to go hunting for other information anyway?. I’ve heard
enough horror stories about how close-minded small towns treat bookish nerds
who want to read more and expand their headspaces. I periodically get an email
from some young kid who talks of being stifled with nobody to talk to or learn
from outside regressive schooling systems. Just adults and peers all creating an
atmosphere of contempt for learning all around them. Such kids invariably end
up moving to an more open culture the first chance they get.

As for “No, the comparison would be things that are FALSE in each ideology. You
named it in your enemy, but choose something true for your ideology. Are you
unaware of any false beliefs in your ideology?”

No, you compare bubbles on both confirmatory and disconfirmatory elements of


the belief system, because both affect how much you can progress. You need belief
in biological evolution to move on to work in genetics and modern medicine. You
need to uncover and drop falsehoods. The balance of those two processes
determines whether you thrive or die.

Sure, we can compare falsehoods, but the comparisons don’t mean what you
might think. For example, at a technical level, I believe support for net neutrality
is based on factual falsehoods among liberals. I think there’s potential factual
weaknesses in the case for climate change. I think ambiguity in biological gender
phenomenology has been overstated by far leftists.

But it isn’t the fact of the existence of potential falsehoods on both sides that
ma ers. What ma ers is how each side deals with its falsehoods. How it responds
to glitches in the matrix. There’s a basic difference in seeking resolution of glitches
in a fixed old text or a set of unchanging traditions versus seeking it in more
experiments, be er data, and arguments conducted without the hammer of
holiness hovering.

Yes, there are climate fundamentalists. Yes, untrained extremist liberals treat
climate scientists with something of the reverence bible thumpers accord to
priests. The difference is that climate science has a dialectical capacity for
absorbing new data and arguments based on them. However imperfect and slow
those processes may be, the dialectic is fundamentally not closed off to new
information.

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One clear sign of the difference is that open culture rarely has black-and-white
falsehoods. Most ideas are in the gray zone of perpetual beta, with true and false
parts, strong and weak claims. That’s the sign of an evolving idea. Only static
ideas can be absolutely true or false in a material sense.

By contrast, the falsehoods of closed culture fundamentally have nowhere to go.


There’s only so much you can mine from additional sources or new data to
support the biblical story of creation. It’s not just wrong, it’s a cul-de-sac: it cannot
get any righter.

Washington state: are you kidding me? Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, the base for
the Alaskan Gold Rush. And it’s a tiny state by the way. Only about 7 million,
barely twice Alabama. Yet it punches in the CA/NY weight class
technologically/economically. And it has the fastest growing airport for
international flights to Asia.

Reply

Samuel Skinner says:


December 17, 2017 at 9:45 am

“Open culture does not reproduce through genetics. It reproduces


through memetics and human mobility. ”

I try not to assume my opponents intended goal is to bring about the extinction
of the human species. You do realize that is what ‘my group has a TFR below
replacement and I want everyone to join’ means, right?

“To put it bluntly, smart people born in Alabama are likely to seek out and be
exposed to a broader set of ideas than their peers and simply leave and opt-in
to more open epistemic cultures, which thereby acquire the human capital
required to self-perpetuate. ”

Now apply this model to the USSR. People who leave small towns adopt
Marxism to get ahead in the party- same behavior and the same nonsense.

“No, you compare bubbles on both confirmatory and disconfirmatory elements


of the belief system, because both affect how much you can progress. ”

You are assuming members of a belief system hold the beliefs in question. They
don’t- most people simply parrot the phrases without thought.

“The difference is that climate science has a dialectical capacity for absorbing
new data and arguments based on them.”

So does Marxism. It doesn’t mean it will output accurate results, it just means it
will output results that tell people what to say.

“For example, at a technical level,”

A Young Earth Creationism who denies YEC is doing something considered


morally wrong by other YECs. Once again, none of the things you mention
come remotely close.

“One clear sign of the difference is that open culture rarely has black-and-white
falsehoods.”

Yes, it means it is full of bullshit artists who make claims that aren’t falsifiable.

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” Most ideas are in the gray zone of perpetual beta, with true and false parts,
strong and weak claims. That’s the sign of an evolving idea.”

That is a sign of a constantly changing party line where the in group knows the
current accepted answer and everyone else has to read tea leaves in order to
figure out what the accepted beliefs are.

“By contrast, the falsehoods of closed culture fundamentally have nowhere to


go. There’s only so much you can mine from additional sources or new data to
support the biblical story of creation.”

The falsehoods are flags. The stuff you are supposed to mine and improve on
are the stories and history in the bible. You can do archeology to look up the
background and understand it be er or you can study human behavior to try
to grasp the reason for the lessons and what they are trying to impart.

“Washington state: are you kidding me? Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, the base
for the Alaskan Gold Rush. ”

And the countries second largest book chain is headquartered in Alabama. If


your claim is high tech is dominated by a few small cities, no kidding. That is
what happens when you have massive fixed costs.

Fatman says:
December 21, 2017 at 11:07 am

“Birth rates are below replacement (1.8 white conservative, 1.4 white
liberal, 1.9 3rd generation Hispanic, 2 African American) and they get worse the
more ‘open political culture’ you get.”

This makes li le sense, provided that these numbers aren’t bullshit. People aren’t
born with political opinions. Political groups don’t rely on birth rates to sustain
themselves.

“So does Marxism. It doesn’t mean it will output accurate results, it just means it
will output results that tell people what to say.”

Marxism (and ideology in general) doesn’t “input” or “output” results. Science


does. Ideology is not science, inept a empts at drawing an equivalency between
the two notwithstanding.

“You can do archeology to look up the background and understand it be er or


you can study human behavior to try to grasp the reason for the lessons and what
they are trying to impart.”

Which is exactly what “closed culture” is trying to avoid, since fantastic belief
cannot survive contact with facts.

“And the countries second largest book chain is headquartered in Alabama.”

Terrific comeback. Because retail and high tech have the same kinds of fixed costs.

“Yes, it means it is full of bullshit artists who make claims that aren’t falsifiable.”

That’s a convenient out whenever you’re unable to argue a point. I’ll save that for
future reference.

Reply

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Aptenodytes says:
December 17, 2017 at 3:57 pm

I particularly appreciate this piece on the bunnytrail of open/closed


worldviews because I grew up in a fundamentalist church for most of my childhood.
I became deeply aware that what the teachers taught wasn’t just laughably wrong
(e.g Voltaire’s deathbed myth) but part of a womb-like bubble. I sought an
ideological exit through books, Wikipedia, and my a empts at fi ing into my largely
secular school. As I was greypilled by the steady stream of info about others’
worldviews, I began to develop from a fundie hedgehog to a secular hedgehog to a
fox.

As an aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to bestow part of the process of enlightenment on


Ribbonfarm, because the pessimism of works like the Gervais Principle and Be
Slightly Evil exposed me to a potential(ly invalid) vision of the world every bit as
grand as what I had imagined religion to be, but “be er” in that its pessimism fit
reality _more_ than the saccharine diet of self-help books and religion I had been fed
in my childhood.

Reply

Jay says:
December 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm

You might profitably study the history of the French Revolution, or


Maoism, or North Africa. There have been many confrontations between the
ignorant masses and the open-minded elites; they have rarely ended well for the
elites.

Reply

MichItaly says:
December 17, 2017 at 3:06 am

[The first two lines of what ensues are a direct reply to this post. The rest is an
excerpt from Singer’s collected works I like to think will motivate anybody who doesn’t
know them to… know them.]

Let’s assume that, God forbid, there is no God,” he had answered me. “So what? Then His
non-being itself is divine. Only God, the Cause of all Causes could have the power not to
exist.”

“(…) The smaller the greater, the uglier the pre ier. Their rule is: The closer one is to dust,
the nearer one is to God.”
[dialogo tra diavole o tentatore e intelligentissimo rabbi]
“He [God] is too exalted to notice these puny creatures who delude themselves thinking
that they are the crown of Creation”
”does that mean God did not give the Torah to Moses at Sinai?” Zeidel asked.
”What? God open His heart to a man born of a woman?”
”And Jesus was not His son?”
”Jesus was a bastard from Nazareth.”
”Is there no reward or punishment?”
”No.”
”Then what is there?” Zeidel asked me, fearful and confused.
”There is something that exists, but it has no existence,” I answered in the manner of
philosophers.
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”Is there no hope then ever to know the truth?” Zeidel asked in despair.
“The world is not knowable and there is no truth,” I replied, turning his question around.
“Just as you can’t learn the tast of salt with your nose, the smell of balsam with your ear,
or the sound of a violin with your tongue, it’s impossible for you to grasp the world with
your reason.”
”With what can you grasp it?”
”With your passions — some small part of it. But you, Reb Zeidel, have only one passion:
pride. If you destroy that too, you’ll be hollow, a void.”
”What should I do?” Zeidel asked, baffled.

He no longer had any earthly desire, but one yearning still plagued him: to know the
truth. Was there a Creator or was the world nothing but atoms and their combinations?
Did the soul exist or was all thought mere reverberations of the brain? Was there a final
accounting with reward and punishment? Was there a Substance or was the whole of
existence nothing but imagination? The sun burned down on him, the rains soaked him,
pigeons soiled him with their droppings, but he was impervious to everything. Now that
he had lsot his only passion, pride, nothing material ma ered to him. Sometimes he asked
himself: Is it possible that I am Zeidel the prodigy? Was my father Reb Sander, the leader
of the community? Did I really have a wife once? Are there still some who knew me? It
seemed to Zeidel that none of these things could be true. Such events had never
happened, and if they had not, reality itself was one great illusion. (…) Soon he tired from
too much thought. Only one question remained to perplex him: Are the Epicureans right?
Am I really dying without any revelation? Am I about to be extinguished forever?
Suddenly I, the Tempter, materialized. Although blind, he saw me. “Zeidel,” I said,
“prepare yourself. The last hour has come.”
”Is it you, Satan, Angel of Death?” Zeidel exlaimed joyously. (…)
”Where are you taking me?” he asked.
”Straight to Gehenna.”
”If there is a Gehenna, there is also a God,” Zeidel said, his lips trembling [di felicità!]
”This proves nothing,” I retorted.
”Yes, it does,” he said. “If Hell exists, everything exists. If you are real, He is real. Now
take me to where I belong, I am ready.”

Reply

Joe says:
December 17, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Folks: The following is from a, ordinary (often times simple) person. The kind
peopling our planet. “Rif-Raff”… as I call us. At the very least it will be short read in
amusement, at worst it will be a scathing indictment of the masters of fallacies. Both are
intended.
See, you all with the big, obscure, erudite words and excruciatingly crafted sentences
resulting from contemplation (navel or otherwise) expended over hours – days (lifetimes
even) of consideration, requiring lots of energy to arrive at philosophically festooned
answers intended to be universally applied to compliant Rif-Raff and which such
“answers” and “truth(s), in subsequent years, becoming reasoning to enslave some, and
kill others in wars all under your exquisitely valid justifications.

DON’T get me wrong, us ordinary Rif-Raff absolutely need your thoughts and answers
and tests for actions’ validities (past and/or intended.)
DO get me right. We need your contemplations to guide us for escaping our bodies’
imprisoning psycho-physical processes. We (you included) live at the mercy of hormones,
enzymes, nerve endings, pheromones and a panoply of autonomic (sorry for the big,
obscure words) bodily reactions, most made unconsciously and all made at 1000 miles per
second (mps).

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/12/14/a-glitch-in-the-theocratic-matrix/ 24/26
12/22/2017 A Glitch in the Theocratic Matrix

We Rif-Raff deal with life coming at us at light speed. The choices we make and the
actions we take are NOT based on the human ability to think, (which is shunted aside and
subordinated). Rather our consequences are based on easier and time-efficient body
“reactions” which “feel” right sans any of that excruciatingly crafted reason-based
contemplation. After the fact, is when some question, “Why did I do/say that?”

Even easier, Rif-Raff reactions rely on what was said by some priest, from some time ago,
in a different world than the one in which we live. – – No thoughts necessary, follow the
truth(s) here – – AND we do follow those truths because that path uses far, far less
resources than thinking for one’s self. Take my word for it, even this mini tome has taken
me 4 days to massage its message to a semblance of utility and only partly due to my
incompetence with a key board.

“Priests” and “Theocrats” help us withstand that 1000 mph life from shredding our
brains.”

Besides life at the speed of light, another reason why Riff-Raff are so easily deluded is
misunderstanding.

Look at the misunderstood assumptions in commenter’s shreds. So often, the answer is


dictated by the limitations built in the question.
Rao isn’t seeking a discourse about the specifics of whether the US was, was not, should
be, is not, has or needs documents establishing the Christian basic of the Nation or
providing validation for the exclusion of one sect or another, Blond over Brown haired
people or short vs tall people. Those are tactical “proofs”, temporary details serving only
to confuse the issue with facts.

Rao’s paraphrased post is about:


“… trying to figure out what kind of people think so as to arrive at believing fallacies”
But the pseudo “Intellectucrats” are ready to respond just like every other Rif-Raff.

Take the assumption phrase “people think” out of Rao’s quest. – leaves us with – –
I’m trying to figure out what kind of people arrive at believing in fallacies

Now we have a possibility of a satisfying, though none-the-less disagreeable answer.

People who believe in fallacies are:


3. Those spending huge time/a ention searching for answers, and subsequently must
prove (to themselves) their time was NOT wasted.

4. Those without ability-interest to deal with 1000mps life rely on Priests of the Church of
the Answers for what to think.

Here are 2 quotes to consider.


5. Before you agree to take anti-depression pills, make sure you are not in fact,
surrounded by assholes.
6. The biggest danger to lemmings are their leader’s fast approaching the cliff.

7. If by now I haven’t made myself clear.


People believe in fallacies because they:
7a. don’t think
7b. are assholes
7c. There is no amount of specific proofs in existing documents, didactics of reason
(sorry), or wisdom of long-past, currently irrelevant sages of the ages to help increase
accomplishment and enlightenment to drive humans to default to reason as the antidote
to 1000 mps life.

Finally (I apologize for this length – (even Rif-Raff’s occasionally have a need to show off
their stupidity)

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/12/14/a-glitch-in-the-theocratic-matrix/ 25/26
12/22/2017 A Glitch in the Theocratic Matrix

All the “crats” (what ever their stripes) must not stop at answers. They must include a
roadmap for arriving at Nirvana implicated by the convoluted (like these) answers
they’ve concocted. I have started a plan, but the comments section says it’s too long just
now.

Reply

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