Friday, September 23, 2005

The power of belief.

One of the more amusing (and disturbing) things about the worldview of George W. Bush is how often he prefaces something he's about to say with qualifiers like "I believe" or "I'm firmly convinced" or "I have no doubt" or "I'm absolutely certain". Witness, for example, the following meaningless bit of dialogue from 2004, when Bush is discussing Saddam Hussein's (mythical) weapons of mass destruction (emphasis added):

We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time. However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today, just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually -- not only had weapons of mass destruction -- the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm, or paid people to inflict harm, or trained people to inflict harm on America, because he hated us.

In a 2005 interview with Matt Lauer, Bush is again dead certain:

Lauer: Iraq was the turning point — wasn't it, really?

President Bush: Well, it depends on what country you're talking to. But yes, the decision in Iraq was a hard decision. There's no doubt in my mind we made the right decision, and there's no doubt in my mind the world is better off with Saddam Hussein in a prison cell. When Iraq emerges a free society, the people will see the wisdom of the decision we made.

So what does this mean? It means that, in George Bush's world, actual facts and evidence are not really that important. Both of those take a back seat to the strength of your personal belief. It doesn't matter whether you're right or wrong. Rather, what matters is the intensity with which you hold any given belief, despite it being based on the flimsiest of evidence (or no evidence at all).

And how does one end up living in this world of self-delusion and deception? Well, perhaps the same way Weasel Boy does -- by observing, taking a single example in our recent discussion regarding Wal-Mart and generalizing it to one's entire universe, as he does in the comments here. In responding to the claim that Wal-Mart "is absolutely devestating to local economies and tax bases," WB counters with:

I live in a small city that is quite vulnerable economically. We had a Wal-Mart move in a number of years ago and many people voiced the same opinion. To this day, none of the gloom-n-doom predictions for this town ever materialized. In fact, this city is growing.

See how that works? What you do is you ignore the numerous examples where Wal-Mart did damage the local economy, and concentrate instead on the the isolated instance where it (allegedly) did not. (I write "allegedly" since, given WB's track record, one can generally safely assume that what he writes is total swill, anyway.)

One wonders if this is how George Bush maintains his hallucinatory world view: "Well, that invasion of Grenada seemed to go well, so why shouldn't it work for Iraq, too?"

What do we call this? "Proof by carefully selected example." Sure, that'll work.

1 comment:

huitzilin said...

W's "I-have-no-doubt" comments, plus the one about how the world will one day see the wisdom in his decision to invade Iraq, all smack suspiciously of a ripoff... of his sworn enemy! Remember when Castro defended himself on the radio at his trial after the 1953 attacks on the Moncada Barracks (trying to topple Batista)? What was that famous line?

"Condemn me -- it does not matter. History will absolve me."

Sounds like W should attribute his quotes from now on.