Putting on my engineer/scientist hat…
Why do so many of the people on the political left make such outlandish claims that no rational person could believe them?
Bush derangement syndrome describes some of the symptoms in general terms. It does not explain why it occurs and hence is of little use in prevention and cure. Other, more specific, examples of irrational beliefs include:
- Grumpy Old Man–How the next election will be won
- Michelle Malkin–I CALL IT “HATE COUTURE”
- Expose the left–Nick Berg’s Father Blame Bush For His Son’s Beheading, Not Zarqawi (VIDEO)
- It’s hopeless
- Elections, Cease Fear, and The Pink Pistols
- The Gallery of “Bush = Hitler” Allusions
- Barking Moonbat Early Warning System
The best explanation to date is, in the simplest possible words, When Prophecy Fails. This isn’t a perfect fit but the underlying mechanism appears to explain the symptoms. Let me explain. When people commit to a political viewpoint they frequently don’t just adhere to a set of beliefs they claim are “good” they also frequently claim their opponents are “evil”. This is, in almost all cases, not true. Because I am so familiar with the issue of gun control I’ll use examples from that particular public debate to illustrate. Without any data to support one side or the other there are two hypothesis that, at face value, appear to be worth exploring:
- Easily available weapons is good public policy because they enable innocent people to defend themselves against violent criminals.
- Easily available weapons is poor public policy because they enable violent criminals to commit violent acts against innocent people.
Some people promoting hypothesis 1 go beyond claiming they are trying to save lives by enabling self-defense. These people may claim their opponents have the intent to enable evil acts (socialism, communism, genocide, etc.) Some people promoting hypothesis 2 go beyond claiming they are trying to save innocent lives by removing weapons from potential criminals. These people may claim their opponents do not care about the loss of innocent lives and are motivated by money from gun and ammunition sales or the mere enjoyment of their hobby.
In the process of promoting their beliefs both sides will make predictions (prophecies) about the consequences of agreeing and/or not agreeing with them. When those predictions fail to come about they are in the situation of a failed prophecy as described by the book. Those people, given certain conditions, will not admit they were wrong and change their beliefs but will instead increase their promotion (proselyting) of their belief system and make new, typically even grander, predications of the adverse results if people fail to adhere to their belief system.
Hence, people opposed to the Bush administration end up claiming President Bush is the equivalent of Adolf Hitler and the gun controller types ban certain types of clothes when gun bans fail to reduce crime.