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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Crime Bulletin: The Death of Logical Thinking and Common Sense in America

     In an era in which we are overwhelmed with information, Americans are losing the ability to draw logical conclusions, apply common sense, and distinguish what is real from what isn't. We live in a culture of magical thinking devoid of objective truth. One plus one used to be two. Now it's two if you want it to be. It could be three, or 714. Insisting that one plus one is two is considered mean-spirited, and discriminates against people who aren't good at math.

     If you follow the news, you realize that state and federal legislators are saying really stupid things, and passing laws that don't make any sense. In the Executive Branch, White House tours are closed at a time the federal government is wasting billions of dollars on programs that are, by any standard, idiotic. (Speaking of idiocy, on Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Europe in March 2013, taxpayers were billed $585,000 for his one-night stay in Paris. In London, Biden cost the U. S. government $321,665 for limousine services, and $459,338 for his overnight hotel suite.) These new laws, Executive Branch decisions, and mindless government spending sprees reflect a degree of governmental irrationality that is alarming.

     When I taught criminal justice, I had college students who insisted that O. J. Simpson was innocent. But when I asked these students to identify the exonerating evidence in the case, I realized they didn't know anything about the double murder. That lack of knowledge, however, did not discourage them from having strong opinions. They didn't know that O. J. was innocent, they believed it. What you believe has become more important than what you know.

     Recently several people in Florida were bilked out of a lot of money by a couple of psychics. The fact that fortune-tellers can make a living in modern America is disturbing. No one should believe in psychics. Again, we are losing our ability to separate reality from fantasy.

     The loss of common sense and logic to irrational, magical thinking is perhaps one of the greatest dangers facing our country. A nation that can't think straight, make rational decisions, and apply common sense solutions to problems, is doomed. 

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