First Principles

Is Half of the Country Crazy?

When the only seemingly possible solution is using the power of the government to crush those who disagree, it is time to rethink the entire paradigm.

Is half of the country crazy? Regardless of which side of the political divide you happen to be on, at least half the country appears to be crazy. And they probably think the same about you.

Can this be true? It is difficult to believe half our country—which half doesn’t really matter—is unmoored from reality.

Thomas Kuhn in his revolutionary book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, noted that the common belief of science as a steady cumulative flow of one idea built upon another is simply wrong. Kuhn, who coined the phrase paradigm shift, argues that in reality science moves ahead in intellectually violent revolutions when one world view, or paradigm, is completely tossed aside and replaced by a superior paradigm.

Confronting Unreconciled Anomalies

What leads to these intellectually violent revolutions and subsequent paradigm shifts is the accumulation of “unreconciled anomalies.” These occur when the actual results don’t fit with the expected or predicted results. Sooner or later unreconciled anomalies are either somehow explained away—often just ignored for as long as is possible—or they accumulate until they force a break with the underlying theory their very existence proves to be wrong.

Of course, it is always easier to see these revolutions in the rearview mirror where one can think, “of course it is that way, how could anyone have believed anything else?”

But being in the middle of one of these revolutions is quite a different experience; and that is where we find ourselves today.

No, half the country isn’t crazy. The growing frictions we experience everyday—regardless of your political position—are simply the symptoms of the present failing paradigm.

Discarding the Failed Paradigm

And just like science, the only way to address these “unreconciled anomalies” is to abandon the present thinking which has led to the crisis and discover a deeper, more fundamental truth.

To do so requires the discarding, at least for a while, the left/right, conservative/liberal, and most certainly Democrat versus Republican lens. It is not possible to explore a new paradigm unless one can mentally discard all aspects of the old paradigm.

Until we are willing to do so, the unreconciled anomalies will only continue to grow as will the friction and anger they feed. And of course opportunists will use these frictions to gather power and enrich themselves and their friends. It is a certainty, as any halfway honest analysis of our present political situation reveals to be true.

The left versus right, liberal versus conservative paradigm is failing because it doesn’t overlap with reality. It is based far more on tribal thinking than an analysis of facts.

There are two ways to analyze and rebuild a system:

The wrong way is to analyze the present system(s) focusing on problems and where things don’t work very well. This is “problems-based” thinking and it generally leads to fighting, finger-pointing, and even more friction. It seldom, if ever, works very well with the odds of failure being far greater than those of success.

Unfortunately, this is how most people attempt to address the present impasse. At its core, our political discourse is flawed because it remains mired in the same paradigm that caused the problems in the first place. In practice, it often means communication-based on “if I just repeat myself a little slower and a lot louder those dumb SOBs will finally understand!” thinking.

The other way to analyze and rebuild a system is to mentally toss it and all it was built upon in the trash and to start anew with a completely blank slate. With this thinking, one doesn’t focus on problems since there are none yet. This might sound counterintuitive but it leads to far better results.

How did we do it in the past? Who cares? The issue is how do we want to do it in the future and for that the past is generally irrelevant. And quite often all of those “problems” that seemed so insurmountable, those issues which simply don’t seem to have a solution other than the “other” side pulling their heads out and seeing things my way, simply fade away. They are problems created by the system.

Look at the World Anew

Our political, economic, and cultural wars are all based on these insurmountable problems. Look at the present political situation. Half the country seems crazy and people sincerely speak of a coming civil war as they see no realistic way to solve the arguments other than the physical annihilation or separation of the entire “other” side.

When it seems the only possible solution is using the power of the government to crush those who disagree, it is time to rethink the entire paradigm which at its core creates these realities. If we insist on keeping the present failing paradigm, the unreconciled anomalies will sooner or later be the end of us all.

We can take this step. At least momentarily, toss all your preconceived notions in the trash and look at the world anew. You will find a very simple truth waiting. Individual freedom is the key. Not the powerful organizations we call government. Not the various tribes. Individual freedom and the forces it unleashes is the solution.

The transformative power of individual freedom is based on science and reality; it will always work. Take the leap or stay where you are while you ponder how to destroy the half of the country that seems crazy to you. The choice is yours.