Some upset folks: witch trials of the modern era

Luboa Motl wonders: Does ethics require us to believe in tornado witches? while Arnold Ahlert is wondering about the government.

for the first time in my adult life, I’m beginning to believe that government is my enemy. Not a nuisance, nor a necessary evil, but a conglomeration of self-absorbed, self-interested people working directly against the interests of the American public. People who, if Americans ever got the courage to openly rebel, would instinctively seal off Washington, D.C., rather than seriously address the source of the peoples’ discontent.

Motl takes off on a Anthony Watts posting a Penn State professor’s assertion about ethics and the causation of tornadoes. What the professor is doing is analogous to the accusations in the Salem witch trials and those trials are analogous to what Ahlert is upset about.

It’s kind of normal for the normal people to have crazy beliefs and it mostly doesn’t affect the functioning of the society. For centuries, sensible people were more likely to occupy more influential positions which is why the society could really make some progress despite the irrational beliefs of something that could be a majority of the world population. However, in recent years, much of this craziness started to be institutionalized in the very institutions that used to be associated with the scientific and rational evaluation of the evidence – such as universities.

The phenomena is dissonance and it seems events of the day are wonderful stimulants for such a state of mind.

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