Winter and the waxing Imbolc Moon
Wednesday gratefuls: Kate’s two good days in a row. Rigel’s head shaking cured with a single treatment. PSA blood draw taken. Chuck roast. O2 concentrator finally in the mail. Kate’s new meds. Her wine. Trash out. Beignets. Brie. Sleep. 0 days. In less than 3 hours the infidel to American democracy will be out of office.
Heard Ken Burns on NPR yesterday. He shook me. After all of his documentaries, the research for them, the interviews, he had concluded that America had undergone three grave crises: Civil War, Depression, and WWII. Now, he says, we are in a fourth. This one, though, may be the most challenging, he said.
Why? There are the 74,222,958 votes he got in the general election. The most ever for a Presidential candidate with the exception only of Joe Biden. Also, 70% of Republicans, including over a 100 in the House of Representatives and a few Senators, believe Biden stole the election. This means there is an enormous pool of American citizens who’s news sources feed them lies. And, that they believe them.
An interviewer on a later NPR program contacted a Wisconsin woman, a Trump voter. She didn’t like the violence at the capitol, but she understood it. It was people frustrated about the blatant election fraud. I see the news, I listen to the news. I see both sides. But I understand the anger. My whole family, all my friends feel the same way.
What are your news sources, the interviewer asked? Parler. Rumble. Gab.
After listening to Burns and to this interview, I had to agree with him. How do you convince someone whose “facts” come from folks who have allowed themselves to be deluded. Whose facts are the result of cynical spin? This is a problem of epistemology and it’s a tough one.
Again, why? Well, that 70% are solipsists. What does that mean? This wikipedia summary about Gorgias says it succinctly:
Solipsism was first recorded by the Greek presocratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC) who is quoted by the Roman sceptic Sextus Empiricus as having stated:
- Nothing exists.
- Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it.
- Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it cannot be communicated to others.
Much of the point of the sophists was to show that “objective” knowledge was a literal impossibility.
Let me put it another way:
Even if Biden won, we can’t know because of massive vote fraud.
But, we’ll never know because the people who do know won’t tell us.
This is a classic solipsism. It starts nowhere and ends nowhere; and, it is an impenetrable mobius strip of an argument because it denies the possibility of contradictory evidence.
Note especially that there is no evidence that can change this argument. No courts who investigated fraud and found none. No state officials who investigated fraud and found none. What about those, anyhow? Well, they’re covering up the objective knowledge of voter fraud. How do I know that? Because Trump lost.
No one wins an argument with a solipsist. Gorgias was the one who said: Man is the measure of all things. This makes social media and the partisan echo chambers it creates a clear and present danger to not only true free speech, but to accurate knowledge itself.
This is the big challenge facing American democracy. Though. It is not the biggest challenge facing all humans. That honor goes to herd immunity from Covid 19 and climate change. The challenge of our right-wing solipsists, however, stands in the way of both of those larger problems.