How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic


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7 hours ago by therealdenatale
How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic http://ift.tt/2wqgdnC
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2 days ago by ldodds
"For a while, Republican leaders effectively encouraged and exploited the predispositions of their variously fantastical and extreme partisans. [...]

But over the past few decades, a lot of the rabble they roused came to believe all the untruths. “The problem is that Republicans have purposefully torn down the validating institutions,” the political journalist Josh Barro, a Republican until 2016, wrote last year. “They have convinced voters that the media cannot be trusted; they have gotten them used to ignoring inconvenient facts about policy; and they have abolished standards of discourse.” The party’s ideological center of gravity swerved way to the right of Rove and all the Bushes, finally knocking them and their clubmates aside. What had been the party’s fantastical fringe became its middle. Reasonable Republicanism was replaced by absolutism: no new taxes, virtually no regulation, abolish the EPA and the IRS and the Federal Reserve."
america  politics  culture  paranoid-style 
2 days ago by arsyed
“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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4 days ago by pwarnock
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.
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5 days ago by rchrd_h
Listen and subscribe to The Atlantic’s podcast, Radio Atlantic. This week: Kurt Andersen on How America Lost Its Mind. Click here for more . “You are entitled…
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5 days ago by loganrhyne
I'm often asked why I don't live in the US. This has something to do with it:
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6 days ago by purcell
I'm often asked why I don't live in the US. This has something to do with it:
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6 days ago by alpinegizmo
"Smog of subjectivity."
Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of objective truth.
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6 days ago by vimoh
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. When did America become untethered from reality?
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6 days ago by brokenrhino
How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic
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7 days ago by davidflo
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. When did America become untethered from reality?
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7 days ago by jeffhammond
"Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts." via Instapaper https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/how-america-lost-its-mind/534231/
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7 days ago by robknight
“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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7 days ago by fogus
Fascinating read: How the U.S. Lost Its Mind
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7 days ago by kcarruthers
How America Went Haywire Very good analysis!
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8 days ago by nwhyte
How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic via Instapaper http://ift.tt/2vJAG9O
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8 days ago by ejmurray72
Very good analysis!
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8 days ago by nwlinks
“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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8 days ago by louderthan10
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. When did America become untethered from reality?
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8 days ago by bunch
How the U.S. Lost Its Mind
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8 days ago by tjweir
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.
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“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic
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8 days ago by jonathanpoh
How the U.S. Lost Its Mind
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8 days ago by Gleonhard
How America Went Haywire.
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8 days ago by jpendry
“You are entitled to your own opinion,
but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

— Daniel Patrick Moynihan



“We risk being the first people in history to have been
able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive,
so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

— Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to
Pseudo-Events in America (1961)

When did america become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

Whoa, yes, I thought: exactly. America had changed since I was young, when truthiness and reality-based community wouldn’t have made any sense as jokes. For all the fun, and all the many salutary effects of the 1960s—the main decade of my childhood—I saw that those years had also been the big-bang moment for truthiness. And if the ’60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.

FROM OUR SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE


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Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

Much more than the other billion or so people in the developed world, we Americans believe—really believe—in the supernatural and the miraculous, in Satan on Earth, in reports of recent trips to and from heaven, and in a story of life’s instantaneous creation several thousand years ago.

If the 1960s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.
We believe that the government and its co-conspirators are hiding all sorts of monstrous and shocking truths from us, concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of aids, the 9/11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more.

And this was all true before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality.

We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.

How widespread is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think. But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, don’t believe that the tale of creation in Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that “angels and demons are active in the world.” More than half say they’re absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal God—not a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy. A third of us believe not only that global warming is no big deal but that it’s a hoax perpetrated by scientists, the government, and journalists. A third believe that our earliest ancestors were humans just like us; that the government has, in league with the pharmaceutical industry, hidden evidence of natural cancer cures; that extraterrestrials have visited or are visiting Earth. Almost a quarter believe that vaccines cause autism, and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in 2016. A quarter believe that our previous president maybe or definitely was (or is?) the anti-Christ. According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, 15 percent believe that the “media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals,” and another 15 percent think that’s possible. A quarter of Americans believe in witches. Remarkably, the same fraction, or maybe less, believes that the Bible consists mainly of legends and fables—the same proportion that believes U.S. officials were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

When I say that a third believe X and a quarter believe Y, it’s important to understand that those are different thirds and quarters of the population. Of course, various fantasy constituencies overlap and feed one another—for instance, belief in extraterrestrial visitation and abduction can lead to belief in vast government cover-ups, which can lead to belief in still more wide-ranging plots and cabals, which can jibe with a belief in an impending Armageddon.

Why are we like this?

The short answer is because we’re Americans—because being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned. Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible.

Video: America's Departure From Reality


Author Kurt Andersen describes how the 1960s and the internet gave rise to the current political climate.
The word mainstream has recently become a pejorative, shorthand for bias, lies, oppression by the elites. Yet the institutions and forces that once kept us from indulging the flagrantly untrue or absurd—media, academia, government, corporate America, professional associations, respectable opinion in the aggregate—have enabled and encouraged every species of fantasy over the past few decades.

A senior physician at one of America’s most prestigious university hospitals promotes “miracle cures” on his daily TV show. Cable channels air documentaries treating mermaids, monsters, ghosts, and angels as real. When a political-science professor attacks the idea “that there is some ‘public’ that shares a notion of reality, a concept of reason, and a set of criteria by which claims to reason and rationality are judged,” colleagues just nod and grant tenure. The old fringes have been folded into the new center. The irrational has become respectable and often unstoppable.

Our whole social environment and each of its overlapping parts—cultural, religious, political, intellectual, psychological—have become conducive to spectacular fallacy and truthiness and make-believe. There are many slippery slopes, leading in various directions to other exciting nonsense. During the past several decades, those naturally slippery slopes have been turned into a colossal and permanent complex of interconnected, crisscrossing bobsled tracks, which Donald Trump slid down right into the White House.

American moxie has always come in two types. We have our wilder, faster, looser side: We’re overexcited gamblers with a weakness for stories too good to be true. But we also have the virtues embodied by the Puritans and their secular descendants: steadiness, hard work, frugality, sobriety, and common sense. A propensity to dream impossible dreams is like other powerful tendencies—okay when kept in check. For most of our history, the impulses existed in a rough balance, a dynamic equilibrium between fantasy and reality, mania and moderation, credulity and skepticism.

The great unbalancing and descent into full Fantasyland was the product of two momentous changes. The first was a profound shift in thinking that swelled up in the ’60s; since then, Americans have had a new rule written into their mental operating systems: Do your own thing, find your own reality, it’s all relative.

The second change… [more]
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8 days ago by walt74
“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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How America Lost Its Mind
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KURT ANDERSEN: How America Lost Its Mind... http://ift.tt/2vJAG9O
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9 days ago by johnrclark
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. When did America become untethered from reality?
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9 days ago by jasonpackham
Libertarianism, remember, is an ideology whose most widely read and influential texts are explicitly fiction. “I grew up reading Ayn Rand,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said, “and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.” It was that fiction that allowed him and so many other higher-IQ Americans to see modern America as a dystopia in which selfishness is righteous and they are the last heroes. “I think a lot of people,” Ryan said in 2009, “would observe that we are right now living in an Ayn Rand novel.” I’m assuming he meant Atlas Shrugged, the novel that Trump’s secretary of state (and former CEO of ExxonMobil) has said is his favorite book. It’s the story of a heroic cabal of men’s-men industrialists who cause the U.S. government to collapse so they can take over, start again, and make everything right.
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9 days ago by sampenrose
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9 days ago by jrdodds
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. When did America become untethered from reality?
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9 days ago by rwhe
“When did america become untethered from reality?” https://t.co/U7NLnj4oNv http://pic.twitter.com/kEm5idh0oG

— Will Richardson (@willrich45) August 8, 2017
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9 days ago by willrichardson
Here it is, the overriding problem of our age. Good luck solving it.
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“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — “We risk being the first people in history to…
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9 days ago by alphex
Being American means you can believe anything you want.:
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9 days ago by jcoffey42
The short answer is because we’re Americans—because being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned. Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible.
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9 days ago by leolaporte
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9 days ago by davegullett
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. When did America become untethered from reality? via Pocket
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9 days ago by tayhatmaker
How the U.S. Lost Its Mind read this and decide to go hug your math book or put tin foil on your head....
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How America Lost Its Mind, by
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