Is there hope for reality?

Shrinkwrapped provides the psychoanalyst’s perspective of intellectual integrity that is a primary theme of this blog. A recent entry asks What is Reality and Why Does it Matter?. He starts with Senator Moynihan’s famous quote “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”

This quote from the late Senator (D-NY) reflects a core tenet of Western Civilization since the enlightenment and has been under siege for the last 40 years by the forces of Post-Modernism, Leftist ideologies (including National Socialism which perfected the “Big Lie”), and contemporary Political Correctness. Many Conservatives believe that eventually facts, and reality, will assert themselves, yet there is reason for great concern.

In this, he ties in the worries about culture in the U.S. in general. It is not only in matters of international politics but also in our local environments. The example of the Shrinkwrapped post is the war against terrorist tactics and how it is reported in the MSM. This is the season for many others, including the assault on Christian expression.

People have complained that terror is a tactic and you cannot wage war against such a thing. But if terror is seen as an expression of culture, then a war for self preservation of identity might become a bit easier to grasp. The reality is that the skirmishes in Iraq, or activity by the armed forces in general, is only a small part of this war. Glen Reynolds worries about another facet in his TCS Daily column A Second American Civil War? Shrinkwrapped worries about the implications for our sources of information and what their behavior means and how we can qualify or vet such sources.

For the psychoanalyst, a first key is in the discoveries and development of discriminating between perception and reality. In science, this is the recognition of the need to assess the precision and the accuracy of any measure.

“the recognition that rationality is a thin construct, of very recent evolutionary vintage, which rests upon a foundation of instinctually driven irrationality.”

Then we look at how we are presented with perceptions of news and what we are learning about the veracity of those perceptions in recent history.

“Some of our present difficulties in the Middle East are being compounded by the behavior of those who we have always relied upon to inform us of the “facts.” That the MSM has been failing for a long time is not news, but the levels of dishonesty and dysfunction are only now, in the age of the Blogosphere, becoming clear.”

There has always been a human tendancy to believe authority. A major civic reason to support education is to instill an appropriate skepticism of the information we receive from all sources so we can make reality based decisions. Another resource is becoming available and it is showing that education alone will not work for this purpose. It even seems that education provides an isolation of ideas contrary to its ethos that fosters the problem rather than reduces it. Another manifestation of this isolation is in the MSM.

“It is sadly becoming apparent that when people need reality to support their unconsciously or ideologically driven world view, they will often do grave damage to reality. The fact that this is often done on an unconscious basis is bad enough; when done with full awareness, it is even more execrable.”

To this point there has been very little accountability, very little visibility, for any measures of the reality behind what we see as news. This is changing and the question is if such change is sufficient and timely to continue the advance of Western Culture and its demonstrated benefits.

ALSO: Victor Davis Hanson has a related column in the Opinion Journal. Losing the Enlightenment: A civilization that has lost confidence in itself cannot confront the Islamists.

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