I’ve been noticing memes and links on social media as well as news stories about what appears to be a new phenomenon in American crazy. That is, more and more people are bleating that gravity, for chrissakes, is a hoax.
You may think I jest and all I can say is, I wish.
I posted something re: this a few months back when it became known that a passel of NBA players is proudly and loudly pushing the same line of dementia. Their “reasoning” is based on the truism that our schools for years (and, more likely, forever) have been pushing subtle untruths and outright fabrications about our holy land’s history. Example: the fairy tale that the northern states since the beginning of our nation were dead set against slavery and welcomed their black brothers and sisters with open arms. The truth was way more complicated and nuanced than that. A lot of black folks take that and extrapolate it to conclude that nothing we are taught in schools can be believed, to the point that when teacher says all things must fall down, why, it’s a dirty lie.
As Mark Twain once observed, when a cat learns the hard way not to sit on a hot stove lid, he resolves never to sit on a stove lid, hot or cold.
White people are jumping on the anti-gravity bandwagon for whatever bizarre reasons they have, including loads of Bible hokum. In both cases, the proponents of the gravity/hoax psychosis tie it into their assertion that — oh, yeah, it gets crazier — the world is flat.
The World As A Flat Disc Surrounded By An Ice Border
The weirdness is, none of these souls are saying, Y’know, we’ve looked into this and the theory of gravity just doesn’t work out for us. There must be something better. We as a nation must fund research on it. Or some such thing.
No, it’s never that simple. There must always be an arch-villain — or, better yet, a sneaky cabal of them — out to screw us all over in the worst way possible. The physics establishment, in collusion with the federal gov’t (natch), and a compliant mainstream media all are participating in this elaborate psy-op designed to trick us into believing the world is round.
Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea and, try as I might, I can’t find any cogent argument other than the world is full of bad guys who are dead set on screwing us all over by making us believe in gravity and a round Earth.
This all brings to mind that think piece that’s been going around, the one written by a guy who says he grew up in white, Christian, rural America and who says it’s not the Democrats’ or the Left’s misunderstanding of those people that drove them to Li’l Duce, it’s simply the way those people think. They cannot be reasoned with. They are immune to argument or evidence. They are rock hard in the assurance that they have the answers. This fellow writes:
In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.
At some point during the discussion, “That’s your education talking,” will be said, derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts.
And it ain’t just the Christianists who distrust education. Throughout America’s history, there’s been that strain of anti-intellectualism. Mostly it had been contained within the non-urban, plow-pulling precincts as HL Mencken documented in his 1924 essay, “The Husbandman“:
The same mountebanks who get to Washington by promising to augment [the farmer’s] gains and make good his losses devote whatever time is left over from that enterprise to saddling the rest of us with oppressive and idiotic laws. … There is the reservoir of all the nonsensical legislation which now makes the United States a buffoon among the great nations. It was among country Methodists, practitioners of a religion degraded almost to the level of voodooism, that Prohibition was invented. … What lies under it is no more and no less than the yokel’s congenital and incurable hatred of the city man—his simian rage against everyone who, as he sees it, is having a better time than he is….
With Genesis firmly lodged in the Testament of the Fathers, [the country man] will be ten times as potent as he is now and a hundred times as assiduous. No constitutional impediment will remain to cripple his moral fancy. The Wesleyan code… will be forced upon us by the full military and naval power of the United States. Civilization will gradually become felonious everywhere in the Republic, as it already is in Arkansas.
You’d have thought this willful ignorance, etc. would have pretty much disappeared in this enlightened day and age. If you do think that, think again. Take, for example, the ridiculously titled book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum. Released in 1988 it ascended to the New York Times bestseller list and remained their for two freaking years! I suppose if the sum total of your life’s education is confined to the knowledge of which two Crayola colors combine to make green, Fulghum’s book is the ticket for you. Otherwise…, well, y’know.
See, Fulghum’s literary ditty is full of cute, trite truisms but underneath its popularity is the seemingly unshakable assurance on the part of your and my national sisteren and brethren that lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity are somehow untrustworthy.
There’s something within us Americans that makes us not want to learn.