On Optimism

I often hear the claim that, because someone is being “too” ridiculous, then they must not mean what they say. For example, in the case of Rush Limbaugh, or Ann Coulter.I post on a forum and one poster claimed that they believe it’s likely that Ann Coulter is “just a performance artist”. Every time I see this claim, I roll my eyes. I have come to the conclusion that these claims are due to  optimism. People don’t want to believe that other people can really mean what they say,because what they say is so ridiculous. People want to believe that people are “more intelligent”, in the sense that they’re not mindless ideologues who don’t question their beliefs, or authority.

I think it is also an issue of underestimation- people underestimate just how ridiculous human beings can be. They forget that there have been two world wars,a Holocaust, and that most if not all developed countries have nuclear weapons, not to mention countless atrocities committed by human beings throughout history. We are capable of many things. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that a particular person actually means what they say when they are being ridiculous. Of course, they could always be faking, but I don’t see how it is unreasonable to assume by default that someone who claims ridiculous things is in fact meaning what they say.

This may seem like somewhat of a cynical post, but I am only attempting to state the situation as it is. Perhaps it is different in other countries, and I’m sure it is, that people are more reasonable than in the U.S., and/or in some other countries people are more likely to resist authority, question their beliefs, as well as be more comfortable with critical thinking, self correction, etc. I would like to know exactly what causes them to be more reasonable, if they are in fact more reasonable, and if the U.S. would be able to change along the same lines.

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~ by theuncynic on July 3, 2012.

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