If there is one thing that unites both ends of the American political spectrum today, it is their capacity for hypocrisy and deceit, including self-delusions. Their tendency to defend religious faith is a close second-even though we may be talking about different faiths, depending on which end of the spectrum we are talking.
And recent events have raised this “division in oneness” to comical levels.
I recently wrote about the wrong headed left wing pundits and journalists, the allies of Islamic organizations in echoing the latter’s mendacious and presumptuous claim that Islam should not be blamed for atrocities committed by ISIS. As it happens, even I had underestimated the size of these leftists’ egos, and the reinforcement power of their echo chamber.
In the sciences, consensus tends to be built on overwhelming evidence. There are journalists and scholars who take a similar view of the idea that religious faith does not drive Islamic extremism. Bobby Ghosh, the managing editor of Quartz and a former editor of Time International, compared calls for a discussion of whether Islam has lent itself to extremist interpretations to “requiring discussion on ‘intelligent design’ as the basis of the universe.” In other words, absurd. When I asked Marc Sageman, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, if he thought it was worthwhile to debate whether the causes of Islamic extremism were ideological, he said, “I do not. I really do not. And I stress that.” Sageman argues that political violence, from the French Revolution to modern jihad, is essentially the same: a kind of “ritual,” not dependent on ideology, that people act out to earn “a sense of legitimacy within the ‘in’ group.”
There are more than a few things that these egomaniacs have gotten wrong about how science works. The scientific process involves observation, analysis, forming a hypothesis, and then testing the hypothesis. The testing can be made in the form of predictions, which need to be confirmed if the hypothesis is valid, or “post-dictions”, that is, the hypothesis, while assuming little, being able to explain a lot of information already available, in the absence of a simpler explanation. This ability of a hypothesis to withstand trial is called “falsifiablity”. It is only after a hypothesis goes through the grinder in this way-time and time and times again-that it becomes a matter of “consensus”. A hypothesis that is consistent with any outcome-that human beings commit violence for the sake of gaining approval from other human beings makes no falsifiable predictions. And when a bunch of bigwigs making a living telling us what their gut tells them agree on something, that is not the exact same thing as the scientific consensus.
What is noteworthy, however, is that it hasn’t been all so long since the days that these same leftists were laughing their collective heads off-and rightly so-at the grotesque and transparent Fox “News” lie that Anders Behring Breivik, the self-identified Christian crusader turned mass murderer, was not a Christian at all. So where is Jon Stewart today, poking fun at those who view belief in existence of Islamic extremism as on par with creationism? Does he lose all his talent and humor when silliness comes from his own side?
So here is the question. Do I think you need to be anything but both dumb and arrogant in the extreme to become a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute? I do not. I really do not. And I stress that. (I have no position on whether saying that the atrocities committed by the Nazis had no ideological basis will be a bonus.)
Update: Cross posted on Debunking Abrahamic Religions.