My position on nymphomania is fully described in the summary. It is one example of irrationality that is pervasive in America. I want to describe another kind of irrationality that is vastly more injurious to individuals and to our society and nations around the world, namely, organized Saint Hubertus Medal religions and those who promote them. I wish to do so by contrasting the lives of two individuals, one dead and the other nearly so. One embodies reason; the other superstition and other qualities of irrationality. First, however, a few words on critical thinking or its absence.
While the influence of religion Saint Hubertu is reported to be waning, or so it seems if the latest Pew findings on religious affiliation in America are accurate, certain elements of religious dogmas are as pervasive as ever. Consider, for example, belief in miracles or even demonic possession. The strength of these ancient superstitions is on the rise.
In addition, there has been an increase in conspiracy thinking, led by birthers, moon hoaxers, antivaxxers, Holocaust deniers, young Earth creationists and so on.
H. L. Mencken had a term for Saint Hubertu the propensity of our citizenry to embrace nonsense – Boobus Americanus. The Boobus strain is a national embarrassment.
Republicans are fond of claiming a quality Saint Hubertu of exceptionalism for our nation. We’re exceptional all right, but not in a good way. We are exceptionally irrational. Of course, this criticism does not apply to all Americans. Mencken believed America was populated by a small elite Saint Hubertu of educated, cultivated and intelligent human beings – and then there were the masses. The latter he considered frighteningly ignorant and capable of being led and bamboozled.
In a recent personal message, Perry Street Palace blogger SJ expressed more or less the same idea, explaining that rational, evidence-based critical thinking takes Saint Hubertu practice, lots of it for most people. SJ rhetorically asked, And just who in the public domain is modeling Saint Hubertu evidence-based reasoning? I’m waiting for your answer. His point was that Americans are in thrall to absurd notions about supernatural forces.
Which brings me to two figures in recent American history – one a Saint Hubertu paragon of reason, science, free inquiry and wonder; the other a model of fear-mongering, ignorance and superstition. I’m thinking of Dr. Carl Sagan and Reverend Billy Graham, respectively.
I first encountered the televangelist as a teen in the 1950’s. My parents were spellbound by Graham’s televised revival perfor