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What Makes You Think You Can Think?

January 9th, 2013 - 12:05 pm

One New Yorker’s view on gun control:

“There’s just too many incidents that are happening that you think could be avoided if there were stronger regulations about it,” one mother from Larchmont said, adding when asked if her children’s safety is her motivation, “Absolutely, I mean you can’t even send them to school now. Now my kids have police in front of their school. I mean you wonder how far it’s going to go.”

Her cure for creeping statism is — wait for it — more controls.

I keep thinking that I despise the term “low information voter.” The problem is, I can’t refute it. The deeper problem isn’t just that people are un- or misinformed, however. It’s that they can’t or won’t think. The contradiction in this mother’s “thinking” is glaringly obvious. But you get the feeling trying to explain that to her would about as fruitful, to borrow Heinlein’s phrase, as trying to teach calculus to a horse.

I’m not saying she’s a stupid person, either. For all I know, her native intelligence is quite high. But the ability to reason is no different from tying shoelaces — it’s an acquired skill, not a natural act.

Reminds me of a bit from Michael Crichton’s Lost World sequel to Jurassic Park. The velociraptors (this is the novel, not the movie) didn’t know how to behave like proper velociraptors, because as out-of-time clones, they’d never had proper training from proper velociraptors. Even wild animals require training to achieve certain skills and learn certain behaviors.

The art of thinking is no more automatic for humans than proper group behavior is for pack-hunting dinos. And as you look around, you see that we’ve stopped imparting those skills onto too many of our kids — who then grow up to be accidental statists.

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