Entries in reason (1)

Saturday
May262012

How politics escaped the clutches of reason

In a new essay I wrote with Joseph Heath, we try to explain how our politics came to be dominated by "truthiness", bullshit, and the rejection of facts. On the story we tell, our descent into unreason began with the confluence of two crucial events: The election of Ronald Reagan, the Great Confabulator, and the launch of CNN, which inaugurated the 24hr news cycle. Here's a snippet from the conclusion:

Reason is not neutral between civilization and barbarism, and neither is intuition. Some things can be “framed” more easily than others. Tax resistance can be framed in a number of highly intuitive ways -- “They’re taking your hard-earned money!” being the most obvious. The case for paying taxes, on the other hand, is difficult to frame in an intuitive way. This is not an accident. The logic of taxation — the reason why markets fail to provide public goods, so that the state must intervene — is slightly counterintuitive. It’s not beyond the capacity of the average citizen to grasp, but it takes at least five minutes to explain — a lot longer than the current environment tends to allow.