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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: Are conservatives cynical about the truth?

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Are conservatives cynical about the truth?

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Read or download this essay as a PDF file at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4eNv8KtePyKRXJfRlpVaVUxUFU/edit?usp=sharing

Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

Are conservatives cynical about the truth?


I studiously watched all of the 2011-12 Republican primary debates. I wanted to expose myself to a variety of points of view. Although I expected that they might differ from my own current preconceived notions, the exercise left me shocked and appalled.

It was not just the remarkable certainty of the candidates’ conflicting assertions (they might have demonstrated more party and policy unity). But they freely engaged in the most egregious and transparent distortions of each other’s records and statements (and that was BEFORE their assertions about the incumbent President and his party who, by the way, had no immediate opportunity to present a defense or offer a rebuttal).

I know that politicians can play hardball and are prone to mudslinging, but I began to feel that there was something at work here that felt palpably evil. So I did some soul-searching and some research, and carefully selected
some quotes that support my point of view. Now, granted, there are certainly other points of view and I should be willing to consider them, but this is my blog and my outrage, so please feel free to publish your own and be aware that I moderate all comments.

"It's not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true."
Henry Kissinger

“A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth.”

“There's a lot of money with a lot of big law firms that have a tremendous amount at stake by getting the right language to convince the right jury that my client is either innocent or that the opposition is guilty.”

“We decide based on how people look; we decide based on how people sound; we decide based on how people are dressed. We decide based on their passion.”
Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and consultant on the language of persuasion.

“I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”
Adlai Stevenson, Governor of Illinois, (1949-1953) 

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken, or cease to be honest.
Unknown

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr.

The search for truth implies a duty. One must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.
Albert Einstein

And, don’t even get me started on the blind certainty displayed by individuals defending the “obvious truth” of their personal  convictions despite the existence of so many other earnestly-held faiths.
And, don’t even tempt me to start invoking George Carlin.