Recently there's been a disturbing increase in the amount of wacky rhetoric on US political issues. As columnist Tunku Varadarajan says in [1], "The Silly Season ceases to be 'silly' when what passes for political debate in America turns not merely stupid or witless, but certifiably demented." And Bob Herbert in a thoughtful New York Times op-ed column notes [2], "We've forgotten many of the fundamentals: how to live within our means, the benefits of shared sacrifice, the responsibilities that go with citizenship, the importance of a well-rounded education and tolerance."

One hesitates to speculate as to why the situation is so extreme. What's different now? An obvious factor—the race of the President—suggests a discouraging root cause for at least some of the population.

On a lighter note, however, is Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury cartoon of 6 Sep 2009. A "conspiratologist" being interviewed on the radio describes the current climate:

"It's quite remarkable, Mark. Americans believe in many things that can't be verified. For instance, almost half of us believe in ghosts, and 40% in alien abductions. And that availability to alternative reality is reflected in conspiracy theory, from Truthism, which holds that Bush was behind 9/11, to Birthism. And of course we still have many legacy fringe groups like the JFK Grassy Knollers, the Staged Moon Landingists, etc."

"Professor, is there any counter to these powerful theorists?"

"Not really, Mark. Only the Reasonists."


"They believe in an evidence-based world. Something called Rationalism. But it's a tiny group, not so influential."

^z - 2009-09-09