Homo Pragmaticus

It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory. — W. Edwards Deming

Homo Pragmaticus here.

We must first recognize that we owe being named “Homo sapiens” (wise man) to long-ago Linnaeus, who perhaps suffered from delusions of grandeur about his own species. But if, sometime later, we may prove worthy of the designator after all, it will be because, having become practical, we also became wise. For the moment, however, we must acknowledge that our most-appropriate moniker must be “Homo decipere” – man the deceiver – because of our astounding ability to deceive, first and worst of all, ourselves. (See Robert Trivers’ Folly of Fools. Please!!) If we perish from the earth soon, this will be the proximate cause.

I find that if I keep parting surface foliage long enough, I am often able to see under it eventually to what’s beneath. I consider the leaves for a long time, until they vanish and I am allowed to see the roots. I have done it, for example, with child-rearing, which eventually yielded its secret, that doing it best simply requires steady respect for the child; then rules are unnecessary because the respect dictates the behavior. And I’ve done it for human relationships, which I found to rely absolutely and essentially on knowing whom to trust – a rare and valuable art that leads reliably to true friends, which at long last are all that matters.

When I was young I subscribed to an ideology. In due time I was predictably disillusioned, and rather than pick a new party line I resolved to try to discover what was empirically valid; and that if any part of it later proved wrong as far as I could tell, to jettison it – and in any case to permanently shun all ideology, and try diligently to cleave to reality. To do this requires strong self-reliance, and the humility of the mouse’s persona I choose for myself. (I live in a teacup on the top shelf of the pantry.)

Now, turning the spotlight on the political rage once focused on ObamaCare, the first thing I want to know in thinking about what’s actually good for us, pragmatically, is which countries are happiest. (Readers can do this web search on their own.) And then, what do they have in common? It’s a sturdy safety net. So put aside all that double-damnable ideology once more. Simply strengthen the safety net!

Going forward, there is recent information from the field of neuroscience that helps us understand the conservative temperament: most exist somewhere along a spectrum that runs from anxiety to fear to, at its extremity, paranoia. When fear is dominant, critical thinking hibernates. It’s called “amygdala hijack,” and it’s highly predictable; so it behooves anyone seeking a rational exchange with a conservative to first do what he can to damper that fear.

It makes more sense than they know, though, that conservatives should oppose this scare-word “socialism” of ObamaCare, because a strong safety net almost automatically causes two other social forces to recede: conservatism, and orthodox religion! The co-variance is as predictable as a see-saw. In  Faith No More Phil Zuckerman recounts his experience living with his family among the Scandinavians for over a year, often discussing religion and ethics with them. Certainly because of my own perversity, I found the description of Jesus hilarious: they thought he was “a nice man who taught some nice things.”

“Nice”?! Wait ‘til I tell the Catholics and Baptists I grew up among! While ObamaCare makes the Teabags nuts, however, it’s good to remember that Social Security and Medicare once had the same effect on Teabags’ predecessors, who somehow survived their arrival. And one more thing: all the evidence indicates that eventually they will be happier too, whether they like it or not – sort of like the pain of an inoculation.




One Response to Homo Pragmaticus

  1. cathy becker says:


    made me smile. so true.

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