Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

An epistemologically dangerous man

That would be Mike Huckabee. I don't know if he really has any chance to become president, but he obviously thinks he does. It will be bad enough if he becomes the nominee of a major party and his world view becomes further legitimized in our political discourse.

You have no doubt heard about his fictitious biography of Barack Obama. In Huckabee's alternate universe, Obama grew up in Kenya, raised by his father and grandfather who taught him to hate the British. This was not a "gaffe" and it did not cost him any support among his target population. Here's why.

Huckabee has often said that the country wants someone like him, because he is a "vertical thinker." Follow the link to learn more about vertical thinking, but here's what it means in a nutshell.

I'm a horizontal thinker. Horizontal thinking is the procedure of science. We observe the world and based on what we see, we create theories to explain associations and causes. Then we test those theories, using experiments or further observations to see if they continue to explain what we see, or if they need to be corrected, augmented, or replaced. We keep going around and around like that until we understand more and more about the universe -- and we also find ourselves rewarded with ever more and more mysteries to solve. It's fun, but it's also scary and disorienting as we keep finding out that we used to believe is wrong.

Vertical thinking goes like this. The truth has been revealed. You already know it. So you just have to fit whatever you observe into your framework. If it doesn't fit, you didn't really see it. If you are a Christian fundamentalist, like Huckabee, that means that cosmology, biology, geology, and climatology are all false, because the Bible has already explained all that stuff and that sciency stuff doesn't fit. QED.

The alternate universe Obama biography was generated by the same process. Dinesh D'Souza had revealed the truth about Obama, that he hates America because of his African ancestry. That doesn't actually make any sense if you know that he met his father only once. In fact he wrote a whole book about not knowing his father. He actually grew up in Hawaii, raised mostly by his white grandparents, and in Indonesia, with his white mother and Indonesian step-father. Indonesia, by the way, in case you didn't know, is a former colony of The Netherlands. That biography doesn't fit with the vertical thinking, so another was required. QED.

So it isn't just that I don't like Mike Huckabee's policy proposals. I don't like his mind, at the most fundamental level. The 12th Century is so over.

1 comment:

Ferdzy said...

"The 12th century is so over."

You wish.

Me too, for that matter.