Question Everything, Except…
- 1 January 2012 by Author 0 Comments
Question Everything, Except…
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 01/01/12
The renowned iconoclastic atheist of the left, Christopher Hitchens, before graduating from mortality last week declared, “I have to say that I appear as a skeptic who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel of all inquiry, of all discovery, and innovation.” His Washington Post Obituary said of him, “Mr. Hitchens was a self-styled contrarian who often challenged political and moral orthodoxy.”
Nearly everyone could find something to both love and hate about the man. He was a hero of the left as long as he was launching polemics against Republican presidents from Nixon to George Bush. To the anti-religious left he was a veritable “god” for his scathing diatribe against religion with his Book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” He remained a darling to the progressive crowd even after he declared that Bill and Hillary Clinton were “liars,” and only lost some of the liberal adulation after he defended the Iraq War.
Hitchens arguably epitomized what all cognitive and rational human beings should be, whether we agree with his personal conclusions or not. For is not our ability to reason, to self-examine, and to explore rational alternatives what separates us largely from the rest of the animal kingdom?
The intellectual challenge issued from Euripides to the great black author, Ernest Gaines to “question everything” resonates with the rational man. An old Irish saying seems to bring this inquisitive cognitive function back to where we started with Hitchens, “Questioning is the door of knowledge.”
But we see all too clearly in society today that we cannot truly “question everything.” One would think there is nothing more sacrosanct than questioning God, but apparently there is. There are sacred cows, messianic figures, hallowed ideologies, and quasi-religious belief systems that are not to be questioned. And what may be surprising to some, this strict orthodoxy of what is not to be questioned is imposed from the “progressive” left. And they use tools of intimidation, logical fallacies, and bigotry to enforce their version of intellectual orthodoxy, with the full participation and support of the mainstream media.
One of their most effective tools of intimidation they utilize against any heterodox questioning is the use of labels. For those who are non-conforming enough to question manmade global warming, they use pejorative monikers like “deniers” or “flat-earthers.” And for those who have the audacity to question the validity and authenticity of the president’s birth certificate, they employ the dastardly title of “birthers.” The disdain and bigoted loathing ooze menacingly from their lips and keyboards as they invoke their pejorative labels.
But it’s not enough to ascribe such nefarious titles to these heinous “questioners.” They invariably take it one step further by employing one of the most common logical fallacies so loved by those of specious thought; Appeal to Motive. The “deniers” must be anti-science, because they possess the temerity to question the validity of the pseudo-science behind the global warming advocate’s conclusions. And the “birthers,” well, they must to be racist to question anything produced by “The One.”
These methods, universally applied against heterodox “questioners” raise a host of questions. Why is skepticism so politically incorrect these days? Is not skepticism a healthy and logical subset of the critical thinking process? Is skepticism a casualty of an educational system that teaches people what to think rather than how to think? Can people now only question claims or information if they comport with a political correctness litmus test?
What makes James Hansen’s conclusions on global warming so sacrosanct that they are to be no longer scrutinized? Is it because Al Gore declared, “The science is settled?” What makes a digitized image of a birth certificate immune from expert scrutiny? Is it because of a cult-like devotion to the one whose citizenship is in doubt? Is it because one must be a racist since Obama’s the only one for whom the issue has arisen?
Perhaps even more troubling than the consequences of possible man-made global warming or an ineligible president, is the fact that people who would otherwise be considered intelligent and astute, would be so ideologically motivated as to not only fail to question such things themselves, but to intimidate others into not questioning them; that they would be so ideologically motivated and intellectually disingenuous as to be willing to ignore material facts and data which would not hold up in a court of law. That they would be so willing to “believe” that they will ignore substantive evidence that any objectively thinking person would find cause to be skeptical.
If you are a practitioner of these tools of intellectual conformity, you’re part of the problem. If you’re a questioner who seeks the truth in spite of efforts to quell or stifle your inquiries, congratulations! You still have a mind and have the courage to use it.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.