Letter to the editor: Administration placing knowledge, truth under attack

While the ethical fraudulence of this “President” is obvious (his “university” scam, multiple bankruptcies, screwing the federal government out of taxes for two decades, grotesque misogyny, racism, mocking the disabled, etc., etc.), what most concerns me is the wholesale attack on knowledge. Perhaps the most striking example in this year of “post-truth” is the bad faith of his cabinet appointees, none of whom has any business doing the job they’ve been asked to do. As Americans witness the triumph of intellectual fraud on an unprecedented scale, we need to arm ourselves with a few basic conceptual tools.
We must insist on the necessity of impartial evidence. Turning questions of evidence into matters of belief is a dangerous and intellectually fraudulent tactic, as it allows facts, science and the truth to be dismissible as “one side of the argument.” The most glaring example of such fraudulence at work is climate change denialism, a collective lie that unites the presidential cabinet currently being assembled. Deniers simply refuse to acknowledge that climate change is occurring, willfully ignoring the mountains of evidence that contradict what they wish to believe.
Climate change deniers closely resemble Holocaust deniers, who argue in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the Nazi atrocities of World War II never in fact occurred. Often they are one and the same. Intellectual fraud is the vanguard of fascism, the basic operating principle of the “Alt Right” and its enablers, particularly media corporations that are nothing more than propaganda outlets for intransigent far-right political forces.
Beware of crackpot explanations. The fundamental alt-Nazi unit of “argument” is the conspiracy theory. Those vulnerable to this kind of “thinking” ignore actual evidence in preference for baseless theories and red herrings.
Trump is the King of Crackpots, having come to political prominence by perpetrating the canard that his predecessor was not born in this country and thereby energizing racists and xenophobes of all stripes, who turned out for him. Amazingly, this con-man and serial liar was not held to account in the primaries or the general election. Now we are living with the consequences.
Lead with your head, not your gut. Our government was created by a group of rationalists, mostly deists and atheists with names like Jefferson, Franklin and Hamilton. Their intellectual strength lay in their ability to separate belief, which is fundamentally irrational, from knowledge, which is rational. If we fail to defend the role of evidence-based thinking, then our environment, rights, and security will continue to be destroyed by unscrupulous ideologues who cannot separate rational thought from faith.
Insist on necessity of evidence. We must all become familiar with the evidence for climate change, from ocean acidification to melting glaciers and ice caps to rising sea levels and megastorms. We should all study the metrics of the election and note well that the Democratic candidate won the popular vote by about at least 2.9 million. Widespread voting fraud is a ruse.
Finally, bear witness. Remind people of what the GOP candidate has said and done. Remind yourself who he is: a rich, vicious, exploitative spoiled brat who has never done an honest day’s work in his life. Ask pundits where their evidence comes from. Burn every wooden nickel you’re handed. Better yet, throw it back in the faces of the fraudsters peddling their grotesque and destructive “alternative facts.”
Dan Brayton

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