Republicans mistake critical thinking for mind control. Um…

This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard yet. After sitting through the “rape caucus” remarks and Mitt Romney’s binders full of women and 47% and the party’s complete denial that numbers might be involved in determining quantities, the Republicans have managed to top themselves.

A bunch of them spent tax dollars going to a forum in Georgia where it was explained to them that Obama was using mind-control techniques to push a UN plan called Agenda 21. Now, Agenda 21 is a plan for making the world and its human population more sustainable. Why Obama would supposedly want to use mind control to push it is unclear. The main point of it that Republicans object to is something about people moving from suburbs to cities. As far as I know, the actual reason people are moving into cities is that, thanks to Republican deregulation of banking in the previous decade, nobody could afford that nice house in the suburb, so if you’re going to rent you might as well rent close to work, which is usually in the city.

But that’s just the background. The wackiest part is the alleged mind control technique they accuse Obama of using. It’s called the Delphi technique:

Delphi is based on the principle that forecasts (or decisions) from a structured group of individuals are more accurate than those from unstructured groups.[6] This has been indicated with the term “collective intelligence”.[7] The technique can also be adapted for use in face-to-face meetings, and is then called mini-Delphi or Estimate-Talk-Estimate (ETE). Delphi has been widely used for business forecasting and has certain advantages over another structured forecasting approach, prediction markets.[8]

Basically, it’s a structured form of debate where you aggregate expert opinions and data and keep crunching them down, and it tends to yield more accurate forecasting conclusions than, you know, just asking a few people what they want to see happen. It’s not dissimilar to the idea of poll aggregation a la Nate Silver, which everyone now knows correctly forecast the election to a T. No one has ever construed this to be a form of mind control – until now.

This is what the Republicans have mistaken for mind control. Using data and critical thinking to figure things out is so foreign to them that they think it’s magic. And probably wicked. It would be sad if I could muster any sympathy for 21st century Americans, with access to at least some schooling, being this willfully ignorant. Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in cold blood for wanting girls in her country to have the schooling Americans take for granted.

The worst part is that these people are in the business of problem solving! That’s what government does, and somehow they’ve managed to wiggle into public office without even the ability to recognize problem solving when they see it, let alone do it themselves. This is horrifying.

To those Republicans who attended this conference: this seemingly magical data-crunching and structured debate you’re witnessing? That is what thinking looks like. It’s what it looks like when someone is actually doing the job you’re supposed to be doing. And it is actually the best protection against mind control, because once you learn to filter ideas through logic and data instead of just agreeing with whichever ones grip your emotions, it becomes really difficult for others to manipulate you into believing complete twaddle. I can see you need some help there.

That, not mind control, is why Obama and so many Democrats won their elections. They offered actual solutions to problems while you offered dogma. They showed that they can deal with the problems faced by various types of Americans while you showed you could only fail at dealing with the imaginary White Male worries about the brown people crawling over the immigration fence and those women aborting their babies and those welfare people and rich people having to pay taxes.


  1. SunlessNick says

    Using data and critical thinking to figure things out is so foreign to them that they think it’s magic.

    I wish they were irrelevant enough that I could find that funny.

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