Conspiracy Voodoo — Two Cultures

Why do so many people believe such unbelievable things? How can anyone be persuaded that hundreds of people conspired to hide the Kenyan birth (and Muslim sympathies) of Barack Obama; that tens of thousands of scientists lie every day to prop up the liberal hoax of climate change; that the entire U.S. space program, including the moon landings, was faked to hide a Russian triumph; that childhood vaccinations cause autism; or that the Earth is flat.
 
We hear constantly about how deeply polarized our nation has become. I personally believe we're closer to 65%-35% on critical issues than the polarization pundits' imagined 50-50 split. But it's true that there are at least two major value clusters in our popular and political discourse. I think they  explain a great deal.
 
THE CONSPIRACY CULTURE
Ignorance
Denying the value of education, while celebrating the nebulous and often inconsistent “wisdom of the common man”
Superstition
Looking to unseen causes to explain anomalies, mysteries that puzzle the unreflective
Credulity
Being easily persuaded without proper reason to believe; lacking the ability to reason from evidence; using “shotgun” argumentation (in the fallacious belief that more arguments – no matter how ridiculous each may be – somehow make a stronger case)
Paranoia
Fear and resentment of hostile “others” and/or “elites,” a term much more likely these days to refer to “experts” than to the “wealthy”
The Mythos-Logos Error
Confusing humankind’s two great faculties, mythos and logos the inability to distinguish between “mytho-poetic” statements and historical/scientific arguments.

 
THE REALITY-BASED CULTURE
Education
Having the necessary information to understand a situation or an issue properly and to make deductive decisions
Critical Thinking
Recognizing anomalies – unexpected outcomes – as indicators of models and assumptions that need revising
Logicality
Drawing on healthy skepticism, considering all available evidence, and relying on logical reasoning and deductive analysis
Social Engagement
Respecting the intentions and opinions of others, while rationally assessing them; understanding and valuing expertise
Mythos-Logos Clarity
Appropriately employing the mythic and logical faculties; distinguishing between the rich content of song, story, poem, or dream and the logical structures of history or science.
 
I'm sure you've noted that the values and skills that undergird the Reality-Based Culture are those that make up the very fabric of a "Common Ground education." We're proud of that and grateful for the many supporters who prize it.