Monday, February 6, 2017

When Did the Lying Start?

2/6/2017--Charles Sykes, former right-wing radio host, has written an impassioned plea in the Sunday New York Times about our current malaise--"The battle over truth is now central to our politics." Sykes writes this about false claims from the Administration, such as about crowd size at the Inauguration or the number of illegally cast votes in the 2016 election.

But where did all this start? Nor with Trump. The distrust of all institutions, especially science, the romance with alternative facts and free-floating skepticism is no different from the teachings of the Republican Party for years about global warming. It is no coincidence that that is a lie that President Trump repeats as well. We can't know about global warming--well we can't know about illegal voters.

But it did not start with the right and the Republican Party. It absolutely started with the left. Who taught the incommensurability of different scientific paradigms? The right for years resisted the skepticism of the Philosophy of Science crowd. The left denies any truth of human nature in the belief it is the only way to defend gay marriage against the Catholic Church--not so. The left denies any truth of the universe in order to deny God.

Even today, the secular left does not understand that it is not reason, but faith, that grounds progress. In reason we trust, says the left. But that is not the case. For someone like me, acceptance of the truth of global warming is entirely--or mostly anyway--a matter of faith, faith in science as a discipline. If tomorrow scientists told me that after all, it was sun spots or natural variation, that is warming the world, I would accept it. I trust scientists. I cannot really decide such a technical matter for myself. The scientist may verify, or try to, but I must rest on trust.

The slogan really has to be In trust we trust. Or even in faith we trust. But the left cannot accept this because then someone might return to belief in an unseen God. When you claim that we should only believe what we can see or touch, then the next step is the chaos of skepticism, where we find ourselves today.

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