Good News and Bad News
All this: "An Interesting Observation About Conservatism In America" is 'spot-on' (Give it a read before proceeding). This post came out of my reaction to the article and could have been given the title: "An Explanation of the Conservative Train-Wreck". And to be fair the below content is not reserved for just conservative thought, progressives can also fall prey to the same problem.
This following quote in particular has what I think are many key phrases:
"... The publication, as a publication, creates this nation-wide imagined community that cuts across denominational lines ..."
The keywords are 'publication', 'nationwide', 'community', 'cuts across'.
It is my thesis that human intelligence is tightly coupled to our ability to communicate with each other. Out of this process comes the ability to exchange thoughts, to bounce them back and forth between individuals. What results is something that defines our abilities as what we consider 'intelligent beings'.
There is very good news about this and very bad news about this.
The very good news is that when done properly the exchange of mental models of reality by humans when mediated by something called "The Scientific Method" results in an almost unbelievable explosion of knowledge about ourselves, our immediate biosphere (our blue marble) and the cosmos in general. This explosion has given rise to what we call "Modern Civilization". Of course we have not actually created a Utopia and have many challenges ahead of us that were actually created by the same explosion of knowledge.
The very bad news is that when NOT done properly the exchange of mental models of reality by humans when NOT mediated by "The Scientific Method" results in fantastic, bogus, idiotic models of almost everything; including moral and philosophical codes of conduct that translate into the sickening frameworks that are held up as 'The Right Way To Go' by groups as diverse as terrorist and conservative political and religious leaders of all ilks. Additionally we even see folks who are responsible for making our economy run falling into many of the same quicksand pits that our minds are capable of constructing.
The emergence of "The Scientific Method" is a tribute to a basic built in behavior that our species evolved. Our minds are designed by Natural Selection to make 'Snap Judgments on Poor Data' and our minds will always 'Resolve Paradox'. And further "The Scientific Method" is not something that comes built in. This method is contemplative, to use it takes time for reflection, testing, modeling and constant tweaking. We are NOT designed to do this. We are designed to make quick decisions and stick by those decisions. One attribute of this is called "Confirmation Bias" which can even infect folks who are trying to follow "The Scientific Method" and most certainly folks who pay it no attention whatsoever.
We naturally form communities. We exchange our mental models of reality with our communities. When such an exchange of ideas is mediated by "The Scientific Method" things for the most part work just fine. When such an exchange of ideas is mediated by some other 'authority' who has spent many years (centuries) thinking and reformulating, testing, discarding it can also work out. When such an exchange is insular and NOT based on either of these two authoritative methods you get what I like to call "A Train Wreck". Modern conservative thought about such items as: Religion, Moral Codes, Economic Policy, Multinational Policy, Global Warming are for the most part sterling examples of just such a "Train Wreck".