Irrational Anger

Listening to a podcast about Shakespeare, one of the speakers made the statement that theories of the person Shakespeare not being the true author of the plays attributed to him “made him angry.”

Since I was walking across country with lots of time to think, I allowed my mind to wander. Why should one become angry by a theory of history or science or medicine or a cultural problem. 

For example, had I lived several hundred years in the past I might have theorized that the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around. Why should the response to that idea be anger?

I may have theorized that bleeding sick people to release the bad humors from their body was a bad medical practice. I’m sure some would have been angry at that idea, or angry with me for thinking it. But why?

I may have theorized that the plague was spread by unseeable organisms carried by fleas on rats rather than evil Jews casting magic spells. I’m sure there were people would have been angered at that idea. 

So when an intelligent person such as Joseph Sobran posits, with evidence and well-reasoned arguments, that the personage of William Shakespeare did not in fact author the plays and sonnets attributed to him, should we not look at the past and consider that there were things we knew for certain—historical, scientific, medical, cultural—that turned out not to be true? And even if we ignore past lessons, why allow ourselves to become angry concerning ideas, theories, or concepts with which we disagree, no matter how strongly?

We allow emotion to enter into our lives in matters where it is detrimental to our scientific, cultural, mental, and emotional development.

For example, in the eighties, a set of disease symptoms was identified as “acquired immune deficiency syndrome,” or AIDS. Without the standard research or peer review, an immunologist claimed publicly he had found the source of the disease. Immediately, the government, eager to appear active and concerned, jumped on the bandwagon and began funding research into the cure for this new disease. The problem was not in funding research into the proposed source of the syndrome; the problem arose when all alternative theories of the source of the “disease” were not only ignored but there was an immediate and lasting cumulative anger toward anyone who posited an alternate theory of the source or the syndrome. Research into alternate hypotheses was completely shut down. Decades later, when thousands of scientists and doctors still express an opinion that AIDS should be looked at from a different direction their concerns are met not only with derision but with anger. 

If someone were to say that the underachievement of blacks in society is not the result of racism, but is the result of a lower average intelligence level, that person would be a social outcast. Literally millions of people would become uncontrollably angry at the very mention of the thesis. Perhaps the idea is completely baseless. Perhaps the thesis is the fruit of nothing more than racism. But how are we to know as long as anger stands in the way of rational discussion?

If it can be shown that black underachievement is due to an intelligence deficit, would it not be better to research and propose methods for eliminating that gap rather than continuing to blame all black social problems on racism? If it could be determined that lower intelligence is the cause, which approach would help blacks the most? If appropriate research shows that intelligence deficit is not the case, then we could redouble efforts to discovering and eliminating the effects of racism or look for other causes.

Anger at an idea or those who propose the idea, when the proposal is simply a matter of research and rational discussion, is a completely inappropriate and counter-productive reaction.  If it can be shown that William Shakespeare did not author the plays and sonnets attributed to him, would it not benefit us to know who, in fact, did author them? What is the use of believing something simply because that’s what we’ve thought for centuries?

If research into alternative causes of the disease known as AIDS reveals a different source and therefore, a resultant cure, would that not be better than continuing to bark up the wrong tree? But if literally thousands of scientists believe we’re ignoring evidence of an alternative source of the disease, is it not worth at least looking into?

Critics of that idea might say we don’t want to divert scarce research funds. Last Government could easily find the money if they diverted some spending from these projects (from https://commercialobserver.com/2013/10/heres-a-list-of-stupid-things-the-government-spends-money-on/):

  • The government spends about $100 million every four years to subsidize parties at the political conventions.
  • The Department of Agriculture spent $2 million to fund an internship program. Last year the program hired one full-time intern.
  • Last year, $120 million was paid to dead federal employees.
  • A total of $146 million was paid for federal employees to upgrade their flights to business class.
  • The government spent $2.6 million to encourage Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly.
  • The National Institutes of Health has given $1.5 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to study why “three-quarters” of lesbians in the United States are overweight and why most gay males are not.
  • The U.S. government spent $505,000 “to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs” last year.
  • NASA spends close to $1 million per year developing a menu of food for a manned mission to Mars even though it is being projected that a manned mission to Mars is still decades away.
  • Over the past 15 years, a total of approximately $5.25 million has been spent on hair care services for the U.S. Senate.
  • The U.S. government spent $27 million to teach Moroccans how to design and make pottery in 2012.
  • Vice President Joe Biden and his staff stopped in Paris for one night back in February.  The hotel bill for that one night came to $585,000.
  • The National Institute of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is conducting a study on the benefits of watching reruns on television.
  • The National Institute of Health also spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.
  • Last year, the government spent just under $1 million posting snippets of poetry in zoos around the country.

This is just one list from one web site. The Internet is replete with other examples of foolish government spending. Surely there is enough money to fund serious research into a deadly disease. 

The Shakespeare expert in the above-mentioned podcast is representative of our current culture. Not having the education in logic and debate as previous generations had, the people who have come into adulthood, and I use that term loosely, during the past thirty or forty years are incapable of forming a rational, thoughtful response to ideas that conflict with their dearly held beliefs. That’s why we see Antifa acting like spoiled five-year-olds in response to ideas they don’t like. Unable to form a reasoned, rational, response they behave as undisciplined children. Their anger is a response of ignorant people of centuries past. Intelligent adults have grown past that. Why haven’t they?

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