Posts Tagged With: red herring

The Psychology of Modern Political Stupidity Part II: Hobby Lobby

With the recent Supreme Court case, in which it decided that Hobby Lobby, a corporation, can refuse to pay for their employee’s access to birth control on the grounds  that Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs would be violated by doing so, people are upset and confused.

Confused because Hobby Lobby is a corporation, not a real person. How exactly does a legal entity have religious beliefs? How does a Corporation have a soul? What is the type of afterlife the Corporations prepares for?

Confused because preventative birth control is not the same as abortion. After all, preventative birth control prevents pregnancy, not terminates it. And also, while it opposes female birth control, it still supports vasectomies.

Confused because the decision seems to target only a woman’s reproductive choices. Arguments involving all the other medical conditions covered by the hormones in birth control were discarded.

Confused because it all just sounds really stupid.

I’ve discussed the origins of political stupidity before. It lies in the general human existential crisis. Man is terrified of death, creates symbolic structures to defend against that terror, and then enacts a series of well defined behaviors in response to those structures being threatened. I’ve also discussed the effect of role strain and its connection with misogyny, and how  people adopt  rigid gender roles  because of this existential crisis, an react reflexively and often violently when  those subscribed roles are “threatened.” These factors create a picture to explain how this all comes together. Corporations are a artificial entities created as an extension of the symbolic structures that man uses to defend itself against the fear of death. They are our golems,  created by our prayers and faith in those symbolic structures. To challenge their reality is to challenge those protective structures and leave us vulnerable to our terrors. The traditional gender role structure (as subscribed to by those with rigid gender hierarchies), is that of the man being the working bread winner, and the woman being the mother/ home maker. When you look at most of the gender based political stupidity, it usually takes on themes of defending this role structure.

Using this context, here is the the subconscious reasoning behind the (stupid) arguments made in this case, and the subsequent ruling. Corporations are avatars, and therefor are real people. To deny that is to attack the structure of our society. They are protective entities, and are therefor play an important role in our created social structure. Abortion prevents women from taking on their roles of motherhood, so it is a rebellion against the social structure. Contraception also prevents women from taking on that role, so it represents that same rebellion and there for becomes equated as being the same as abortion. Vasectomies are different, because they aren’t the decision of the woman, and therefor are not an act of rebellion against the social structure. The Corporations protect us from our terrors. women seeking birth control attack our structure and betray us to our terror. Because of this, the Corporation must champion over the rebellious women, and so Hobby Lobby had to win the case… Or so goes the stupidity of this decision.

And what role does religion play in this? As usual, religion is just a red herring. People may be making a religious argument, but it’s not a sincere argument, and the reason it is brought up is also the reason why modern political stupidity propagates. You see, humans feel first and then reason second. All human decision are based in emotion. Remove a person’s ability to experience emotion, and you remove their ability to make any decision whatsoever. One can use logic and reason enable better decision making, but only because they help us to train our emotional responses, they don’t supersede them. In regards to political stupidity, the decisions are first made to stave off the subconscious terrors (illustrated above) and then reasoning is applied afterwards. But because the reasoning is an afterthought, it is full of contradiction, misinformation, hypocrisy, and stupidity.

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Religion, Spirituality, Red Herrings, and Milgram

Religion is much maligned these days. Now I can’t deny that there have been religious groups who have caused great harm in the world, but there is a question as to if  Religion itself is causal to the harm, or if Religion is just taking the blame for a cause we are hesitant to admit. What if Religion is really just a Red Herring?

Religion, for instance, has been blamed for wars throughout history. However, actual research (and here) has found that few wars can truly be said to have been caused by religion. Many have tried to relate religious belief to mental illness, but actual research has found the opposite to be true. Many have tried to create a split between religion and spirituality, demonizing religion and clinging to spirituality, but this division is academic and not strongly grounded in actual research. Finally, there are a lot of people who try to portray religion as being antithetical to science, but actual science says differently, as research has confirmed that many scientists hold religious beliefs while still being scientifically literate and accomplished, and the National Academy of Sciences explicitly denies any inherent conflict between science and religion.

But despite the fact that most claims against Religion are not found to be true for Religion as a whole, the accusations continue with vehemence. So the question has to be asked, if the accusations are untrue, why do they persist? What psychological need is being served by blaming religion despite the facts showing otherwise? What aren’t we willing to face that causes us to distract ourselves with the false claims against religion?

Maybe Milgram has the answer. The infamous Milgram Experiment was designed to figure out why millions of Germans were complicit with the atrocities of Hitler and Nazi Germany. In the study, subjects were asked to administer electric shocks to people when they got certain questions wrong. Each time a shock was administered, it increased in intensity. If the subject was hesitant, the researchers would strongly insist they continue, and many would, even as the person being shocked screamed in pain and begged for it to stop.

Oh, and it was all staged.

What the study found is that people are obedient to a fault. All it took was a four verbal prompts, and people were willing to do the horrific even when it was against their better judgement.

And maybe that is what we are trying so hard to hide.

When you look at the majority of claims against Religion, they focus on how Religion causes people to fall into line, surrender their rational thought, and blindly follow the leader into death and destruction. But what Milgram found is that it doesn’t take Religious dogma, it doesn’t take threats of punishment or bribes with eternal rewards, and it doesn’t take the gaze of a quickly-angered deity. All it took was a man in a lab coat, and the majority of people fall into line. Within each of us is that weakness, and we loath it. Blaming religion just allows us to deny that truth. Because if we can make religion the reason for the problem, we can place the fault on something other than ourselves. All we have to do is deny our internal predisposition by blaming something externam and we are free of the knowledge that when we are pushed by any authority, we are more likely than not to fall into line and commit atrocious acts.

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