Looking For A Reason to Believe: The Benefit Of The Doubt Is Cracking
by Paul Rosenberg, Casey Research Those of us who pursue positive change are very often frustrated. We see the necessity of change all too clearly, and we can explain how it should come about, but it never seems to happen. It’s a discouraging situation. The truth, however, is that change does come; it just comes more slowly than we’d like, and in ways that differ from those we imagined. One real change I like to point out is the passing of blind trust in politicians. In the 1950s and ‘60s, most people spoke of politicians with respect and even with reverence. Now it’s almost standard for people to agree that they’re liars and thieves. That’s a very significant change, even if it did take several decades to unfold. I’ve tested this change, by the way, on taxi drivers worldwide; I’ve yet to find one that defended politicians to me. So, a significant change has occurred in our time, and over a very broad base. Still, most people are hanging on, and often desperately, to old ways that should really be abandoned. The Automatic Benefit of the Doubt It’s a bit troubling to see how blindly, and for how long, people give the benefit of the doubt to hierarchy and its operators. They can know that a system is abusing them, and they can complain about it at length, but still they grasp at reasons to keep believing in it. Here’s what I mean:
- During the bad spots of the Middle Ages, people would be abused by clergymen but say, “If only His Holiness knew!”
- During the reign of the USSR, people in the Gulag would often say, “If only Stalin knew!”
- In our time, people hold Political Party A or Political Party B as grave evils, while pretending that the combination of A + B is good and noble.
Still, such blind biases do eventually break. Stalin, after all, is gone, along with his USSR. The Protestant reformation broke the domination of the Church. And our modern delusion that groups of thieves acting together work righteously will die too. And today I’m pleased to tell you that the political idolatry of our time—giving every benefit of the doubt to the same people we condemn as liars—is cracking. “Still, I look to Find a Reason to Believe” If there were such a competition, I’d nominate Rod Stewart’s song, Reason To Believe, as the Anthem of the Age. Regardless of how badly they are abused, people have a very hard time letting go of their hierarchies; they’ve taken emotional refuge in them, after all. Even when sharp pain forces them to examine hierarchy, the impulse to maintain belief erupts. Here’s how the song expresses it: If I listened long enough to you, I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true. Knowing that you lied, straight-faced while I cried. Still I look to find a reason to believe. Humans have a real problem with that last line: looking for reasons to believe. It flies in the face of both logic and honesty, but people both do it and defend it. As for specific reasons to believe, they’re endless. Seldom are humans quicker and cleverer than when justifying their previous actions. Continue Reading>>>