Often I hear people say, "What's wrong with belief unsupported by facts if it makes someone feel better?"
Well, the explosive popularity of truthiness (way beyond Stephen Colbert, originator of the term) points to the common human propensity to believe that you know something even when you don't.
And there is indeed a lot wrong with it. This isn't an innocent frailty, though it's harmless enough when not taken to extremes.
I believe that some hair in my bald spot is growing back. I don't have any solid evidence for this, other than the feeling I have when I occasionally take a rearview glance at myself using a handheld mirror. But, hey, it's my head. My bald spot belief doesn't affect anyone else.
On the other hand, the Bush administration's belief that it's justified to trash the Constitution in the name of "war on terror" decidedly does affect other people. Like, every citizen of the United States.
Last night I read a Newsweek story, "The Constitution in Peril." I was struck by how similar blind belief is in both politics and religion. Of course, in Bush's brain there's a close connection between the two.
As in bin Laden's, Ahmadinejad's, and a disturbingly large number of other world leaders whose "reality is whatever I want it to be" attitude is a major threat to the rest of us.
Here's an excerpt from the story, which focuses on recently published books about the Bush administration's wars (at home and abroad):
In these books, apocalyptic delusions got us into Iraq and misjudgments have helped keep us there.
…And if there is a recurrent theme, it's that this administration set out to create its own reality, whether approaching the Bill of Rights like a classified document to be redacted or girding itself for war in Iraq with a steady diet of dubious intelligence.
The Bush and Cheney who emerge from these pages cherish secrecy, they deplore constraint and they sneer at dissent, so nothing and nobody can dissuade them from their chosen course. Reality checks are not allowed.
This is what blind faith, or belief, does. It splits the True Believer off from normal feedback mechanisms that could introduce a healthy dose of factuality into his or her truthiness.
Sure, secular blind believers can be as resistant to reality as religious types. I've given up trying to open the eyes of some people who keep telling me, "The Bush administration planned 9/11."
OK, dude. Whatever.
The difference between them and El Presidente, however, is that their ill-founded beliefs don't have major consequences for others, whereas Bush's do.
And secular blind beliefs divorced from religious dogmatism are more amenable to vision improvement. I know progressives who are unwilling to see anything positive in what the Bush administration does, they hate our president so much.
But they're not a lost cause, whereas Bush is.
When I point out to them that their leftish blind belief is similar to a neo-con's myopic view of the world, they usually agree that they're unwilling to look at any bright spots in the vast expanse of Bushian darkness.
Openness. Receptivity. Ever-fresh awareness.
Pretty tough to cultivate. However, the world desperately needs these qualities. Especially in national leaders. Where, in the United States, they're horribly lacking at the moment.