Monday, July 04, 2016

The Rational Review

Okay, I know I've said this a lot lately, but on our nation's two hundred fortieth birthday, I will return to a favorite chorus: "We the people, in order to establish a more perfect union" do establish and ordain a more perfect union. A Rationalia. Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson has suggested a country with a one line constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence. If you want something to be a law, you have to prove it. Rationally.
What good are stop signs? Speed limits? If they are really going to work, they should work in all cases and should be proven to do so. Scientifically. I would love to hear the scientific rationale behind parking meters, but I suspect there is one and it may look very different from the "because I said so" model we have in place currently.
The good doctor is operating from a position that is informed primarily as global warming truther. He would rather that people not use anything but facts like temperatures and rising sea levels when discussing this event. Or its existence. Making choices or legislation that does not take the reality of how we are slowly turning our planet into that pot of water that will eventually boil a frog is not something up for debate. Find scientific proof that there is nothing to worry about, and a discussion can be had.
Parking meters? Still working on that.
Meanwhile, there has been plenty of pushback from more conservative minds, like those at the National Review. Coming up with a contrary position to Doctor deGrasse Tyson's isn't terrifically difficult. Kevin D. Williamson refers to Rationalia as a "pipe dream," and devotes a good deal of space and time discussing just what a bad idea it is, comparing it to "The Terror," historically connecting it to the French Revolution. This comes from a group whose semi-major-demigod once said that "Facts are stupid things."
Ronnie may have been edging toward quoting John Adams when he malapropped himself into history's quotebank, but no matter how stubborn facts are, they continue to vex those of us who would like to ignore them. Doctor Neil is a burr under the saddle of those who might choose to parse them or ignore them completely. The facts, that is. And the fact is that we are all subject to our own realities that come with buckets full of rationalization. Ask a room full of physicists if light is a particle or a wave, and you will see just how rational science can be. Newton was on to something, but Einstein improved on his model in ways that we are still trying to comprehend. Just like we are anxious to try and rewrite Thomas Jefferson for the twenty-first century. A world full of cars and planes and automatic weapons and Al Gore's Internet.
So I will let Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson enjoy his pipe dream, because it is that kind of dream upon which republics have been built, and if we all spent a little more time thinking about what sort of nation we would like to live in we might all like to live in it.

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