Magnus Itland (itlandm) wrote,
Magnus Itland

When fantasy worlds collide

As America slides ever so slowly toward a new civil war, it becomes painfully obvious that conservatives and modern liberals live in very different worlds. (That is to say, different consensus realities.) Each of them perceive the other as living in a fantasy world. That's actually pretty correct, in each case. It is not just the myths that have been replaced, but also some of the fact base. In the conservative reality, the climate has grown colder for a decade now, whereas on the planet of liberals, the Arctic ice is almost completely gone.

Generally, the more recently constructed worldview uses more recent facts. This goes some way toward explaining the animosity between the Bush government and the scientific community. As far as this raction of conservatives are concerned, we already know too much about the world. Learning more will only make things worse, as the new facts rarely fit too well into the existing foundation.

That is not to say that liberals won't reject science vehemently if it collides with their myths. I recently returned from an unfortunate discussion where a couple liberals expressed doubt that men and women have differently structured brains. You can barely pick up a popular science magazine without finding some new info on that. It seems that in fact even when men and women act in the same way - which we often do - the brain may light up in different places while doing so. For instance, women today suffer more from chronical pain than men, yet all research into painkillers has been mainly on male rats first and then, when safe enough, male students. (And then finally human subjects...) It turns out that some substances are much less effective in most women, even though they work in men. The opposite is probably true for others, but these have not made it into production so far.

Despite the obvious benefits of this branch of science, it is evidently taboo for certain groups of liberals, because their world does not allow it. This is not really any different from conservatives who insist that condoms cause AIDS. (Which they do occasionally, when they malfunction during sexual intercourse one would not otherwise have engaged in. On a society-wide level, however, it's the other way around.) When facts don't fit in, we discard them, even at the cost of human suffering.

I don't expect these fantasy worlds to merge, though I am sure they will continue to evolve slowly over time. Yet another fantasy world is being created even as we speak, with new myths (and some old) and incorporating newer science. It will no doubt also have some blind spots with the inevitable human suffering that follows from that. We can only hope, and contribute what little we can, that it will be as good as possible.
Tags: philosophy, politics
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