“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”
“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”
– George Orwell, 1984
There’s a concept in the sciences called “regression to the mean”. In statistics, regression to the mean is a phenomenon whereby as you add more observations to a sample, the values will tend to fall around the average (mean) value. In science, this effect is seen in the form of extreme observations moving toward the average the more frequently or longer they are observed. In medicine, we see this phenomenon in sick people who spontaneously improve in a non-intervention (or a placebo) control group.
This somewhat overlaps with the “relative frame of reference” idea from physics – that is, that a stationary object appears to be moving towards you at the same rate you move towards it. As such, spontaneous regression to the mean, seen from an outside perspective, appears to be a move either up or down toward the average. However, if your frame of reference is one that views things from the perspective of an observation that lies far above the mean, regression toward the mean appears to be a move downward.
I’ve also spoken before about the completely false picture of Christianity that some Christians like to paint – that of poor beleaguered misfits just trying to practice their own beliefs in peace. It’s a complete lie, and thanks to the Pope, I have evidence:
The Pope said: “I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.”
Yes, Mr. Ratzinger (which sounds, incidentally, like a really unpalatable flavour of tea), from your privileged perspective high atop the social ladder, it would appear that Christianity is being “marginalized”. However, you betray your own ridiculous level of special pleading in your own words. The advocacy of moving religion out of the public square into the private sphere is not marginalization. Nobody is forcing Christians to stop believing what they like – they’re just not allowed to make decisions on behalf of other people. And yes, the people who argue against Christmas have a point – namely, that a specific religious belief system is not representative of the population at large.
The reason for the Orwell quote at the top is that the Pope spends the first 7 minutes of his address talking about the need for freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. He then pivots (on the head of Sir Thomas Moore) to talk about how religion should be more involved in political life. It’s not hypocrisy to him, it’s doublethink. He holds the ideas of freedom of religion simultaneously with the idea of greater church control of public life.
He also pulls the ‘lack of moral fundamentals’ card, a personal favourite of mine (so brazen is its hypocrisy). He talks a good game about the need to use reason, but in true Catholic style, he makes the Augustinian provision that reason should be subject to religion. He actually encourages more religiosity in the body politic, as though places like Iran, Somalia, the USA and Malawi aren’t warning signs that religion is a lousy way to run a country.
It appears to be Ratzinger’s intent to smear secularism, asserting repeatedly that it is somehow comparable to fundamentalism. Please show me one fundamentalist secularist. I’d really be curious to see one.
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