Friday, August 26, 2011

Respecting Reality

There was another opinion post in the Washington Post yesterday that touched on the idea that we should not elect an idiot - or anybody with a tenuous grasp of reality - as President.

Paula Kirby wrote:

In the real world, facts are stubborn beasts. They are supremely unmoved by whether we like them or not. We may sternly disapprove of the idea that stepping off the window ledge of an apartment on the 14th floor will result in our death; we may go further, and resolutely contradict all claims to that effect, clinging religiously to our belief that such activity is nothing more than an enjoyable and exhilarating way to spend an afternoon; but neither our disapproval nor our disbelief will make the slightest difference to the real-world splat.

See: Evolution Threatens Christianity

This is a very apt description of the dangers of electing somebody who cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction to the office of President.

It is one thing for a person, either disapproving of gravity or disbelieving in its power, to step off of a ledge. The only people he harms are himself and the potential person he might land on below.

But it is simple insanity to put the fate of the United States - and, indeed, the fate of the world - into the hands of such a person. When the splat occurs, do we want the person to take the whole nation - and the whole world - with him.

So, it is of utmost importance that the office of President be given to somebody who knows that there is a real world out there that does not yield to a person's blind faith. We survive by knowing about and understanding the world around us, and we depend on beliefs that we adopt independent of that reality.

Sorry, I do not want to see the U.S. or the world go 'splat' against the pavement.

This means that I do not want to see anybody in the office of President who does not fully respect the fact that "neither our disapproval nor our disbelief will make the slightest difference to the real-world splat." He or she has to respect the fact that reality is something out there to be studied, learned, and understood - and cannot be whatever that person wants it to be or decided it to be on the basis of faith or wishful thinking.

Oh, and the instrument by which we observe, measure, explain, and - most importantly, particularly for those who do not want to experience a splat against the pavement - predict real world events is that instrument known as 'science'.

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