Paul Rosenberg explains pervasive illogic in US pundit conversation. Since Gingrich we've substituted cognitive tricks for problem solving. Using the fallacy of equivocation, a form of fallacious reasoning, we use one word, such as "serious" with two different meanings, switching inappropriately. By insisting that a political solution to a problem isn't serious unless it could pass, where an irrational majority controls a legislature, we rule out all proposals with an actual chance of solving the problem. This is a form of suicide.
How rational problem-solving has ceased to be "serious" among US elites.
The United States is on the verge of committing suicide. Slow suicide, perhaps, which may take decades to fully play out, but suicide nonetheless. The proximate event is the sequester...
Republicans are obstinantly demanding deep budget cuts that will inevitably slow, if not cripple the already weak economy - as well as debilitating or destroying vital government functions in the long run.
This comes at a time when there's actually a staggering need to vastly expand the scope of government action to deal with multiple looming threats of environmental catastrophe ...
Slates's Matthew Yglesias has recently captured the essenial cognitive trick...[S]eriousness can refer both to the merits of an initiative or to its political viability.
Once you embrace the Principle of Seriousness,... If the parties fail to agree because one party is being unreasonable and the other party is failing to cater to their unreasonable demands, then the apparently reasonable party is in fact failing to be serious. After all, a serious proposal is one that stands a chance of passing. Reasonable proposals will not pass a Congress in which one party is being unreasonable, ...
... he's described is a form of fallacious reasoning, specifically, the fallacy of equivocation, in which one word is used with two different meanings. In its most basic form, one meaning is replaced by another: "Feathers are light; black is dark; therefore no feathers are black". Or "Nothing is better than eternal salvation. A ham sandwich is better than nothing. Therefore, a ham sandwich is better than eternal salvation".
But what Yglesias is describing is a less patently ridiculous form, in which the two different meanings are essentially welded together - without, of course, acknowledging what has been done.
The realm of conceivable alternatives is heavily skewed to the unreasonable side, for at least two main reasons identifiable as distinct forms of bias. First off, there's an enormous gap between what sounds reasonable initially and what can actually work - as any inventor, engineer, or even songsmith knows. If there's no workability test, then the fantasy-based side can crank out alternatives far faster and more easily than the reality-based side can ever dream of. Secondly, because of the bias against "politically unviable" ideas, there is a prohibitive bias against reasonable alternatives ...thus exert[ing] pressure on them to respond, change, or even yield.
So why is the discussion dominated by a non-solution while a real solution can't even be discussed? It's because the "politically viable" sense of serious totally dominates over the "pragmatically effective" sense of the word, and because what is politically viable is circularly defined: extremist Republican non-solutions are politically viable because Republicans adamantly insist that they are, no matter how laughable they may be... [emphasis mine]
Duh! Religion is at least partly to blame for this cognitive disaster. It teaches people it is all right to be irrational. If people exercised the power of reason, fully, they would see that The Priesthood has been lying to them since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of the species. Right there the problem is illustrated, as many of the religious believe man is only 7 to 8,000 years old at most and that our species was created by an imaginary friend in six days and that, like him, we should rest on the seventh, when they can't even get that straight, many worshiping on Saturday, others on Sunday, and even the Order of Martians only on Tuesday. Can you believe that one version of the GOP platform this last time actually called for abolition of "critical thinking" in our schools. My goodness, but for that very process, there would not be chemo to keep a leukemia survivor like me alive. And even if it be argued that my atheism can at least in part be attributed to my diagnosis in 2000, it was only critical thinking that fully convinced me that belief in God is the biggest con of all, and that Christianity, as Nietzsche put it, is the worst calamity to befall mankind in its history. Thanks for bringing this important article to our attention, Ruth.