Proof

If the third temple is built, and nothing changes, the devout will immediately produce a watertight explanation – and continue praying.

I say this because I’ve been thinking about ideas from an on-line psychology course I’ve been auditing. I didn’t study psychology in college, since it seemed obvious to me we exist only as composites of the groups which surround us. I’ve been enjoying the sensation of receiving a variety of pop-culture truisms as something more ‘meaningful’ – as ‘scientific findings.’

We’re all quite aware we’re not going to change our opinions. Not for nothing, really – and we don’t. The ‘why’ from cognitive science is that it’s difficult to incorporate contradictory information into a ‘successful’ world view. This is a brain function. It’s just really hard for us to do it. On the rare occasions we do, it seems, it’s because someone congenially offers the info as part of a more attractive viewpoint itself. We might accommodate our prior errors if we’re given a more productive forward story line.

So, the temple failure won’t change opinions because it isn’t part of a better story. So, too, people in the U.S. won’t modify their views of government – because they know we have a Constitution, they know we hold elections, and they know the law is the will of the people. If they observe the rich getting away with murder it doesn’t matter – that evidence is too difficult to incorporate into the ‘fact’ we’re all equal before the law.

My son participates in a belligerently atheistic pop culture which seems to be growing in the country. Being human, adherents look for the ‘true’ story of their experience, and often seem to counterpose ‘evolution’ and ‘science’ against the larger frameworks of ‘religion’ and ‘democracy.’

There’s now science (of a sort) which proves the U.S. is not a democracy at all. I haven’t paid much attention to this, but it may be transformative.  In the new social psychology, ‘effective’ truths are derived via rational method and conclusion. So the ‘scientific’ declaration we are not a democracy (call it ‘oligarchy’ if you must, but a better label must be waiting) – appears final and meaningful. The declaration is part of a new description which is powerful and predictive. It will be personally useful to recognize you’ve been dis-empowered. It’s part of a more accurate (better) world view.

Over the last decades, the story unfolded in bits and pieces, developing its own cohesion. It’s no longer my primary interest: may the winds of history continue blowing far overhead; may I be left in peace until I am gone. But historically, societal transitions have rarely been comfortable.

Since I do celebrate, today, the return of an original social revolutionary, I’ll just quote him.

‘There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’

 

 

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