The banal news that Donald Trump Jr tried to get dirt on Hillary exposes Progressive delusions as a collective dementia unresponsive to actual facts.
In 1848, Charles Mackay published Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The preface to his first edition explains the idea behind the title:
THE OBJECT OF THE AUTHOR in the following pages has been to collect the most remarkable instances of those moral epidemics which have been excited, sometimes by one cause and sometimes by another, and to show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and gregarious men are, even in their infatuations and crimes.
Four years later, when a second edition came out, Mackay expanded upon the notion of collective delusions:
IN READING THE HISTORY OF NATIONS, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.
Having established his predicate, Mackay described some of history’s best known mass delusions, including “The Mississippi Scheme,” “The South Sea Bubble,” and “The Tulipomania.” Had Mackay lived long enough, he would undoubtedly have written about Florida’s land boom in the 1920s or Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds’ broadcast. I like to think, too, that had he lived into the 21st century, he would have written about Climate Change madness and, most recently, the Progressives’ Russia hysteria.
Before I delve more deeply into this subject, I need to make clear that I’m talking about genuine delusions, rather than mistakes, misunderstandings, or bias. A delusion is when an alternate reality occupies the brain and refuses to be displaced.
For example, whenever my mother was in the hospital, she suffered from “sundowning,” a common problem for elderly people in hospitals. (It’s also a regular problem for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.) For those who are hospitalized, starting as they are from a point of illness and, usually, fear, their older brains have a hard time processing the hospital environment.
Not only is the hospital an unfamiliar place, its rhythms are antithetical to natural biorhythms. Lights are on all the time, food appears at random times, patients are woken up at all hours of the day and night and, of course, there are drugs, lots of drugs. The elderly tend to hold things together during the day but, at night, their brains rebel and they start having serious hallucinations.
One of my mother’s hallucinations was that two German physicians came into her room to examine her. When they heard me coming, though, they quickly left through the other door so that they would not have to interact with me.
From my point of view, the beauty of this delusion was that it was provably wrong. The room had only one door. The “other door” to which she referred was a window that looked out over three stories. In this, the hallucination differed from some of her others, which involved nurses locking her in dungeons overnight or aliens taking over my body during the night. I truly thought that, armed with this indisputable fact, I could put to rest her fear that those German doctors were going to harm her.
What both fascinated and frustrated me was that no proof could dissuade my mother that the German doctors hadn’t been in her room and then left through a third floor window. It was as if a part of her brain had been hijacked by the delusion and was incapable of accepting countervailing data. For her, there was no mistake, misunderstanding, or bad dream. There was only a fact — an utterly wrong, easily falsifiable fact — but in her brain it lived and there it would stay, frightening her a great deal, until the day she died.
Is there any difference between my mother’s delusion and the Progressives’ Russia delusions when it comes to Donald Trump? I don’t think so. [Read more…]