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A Case of the “Lazy Reason”: Behind Americans’ Rebellion Against Science and Authority

A Case of the “Lazy Reason”: Behind Americans’ Rebellion Against Science and Authority

July 2 – Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH has recently been hammering away at what he has described as an anti-science, anti-authority problem in the American population, which has gotten in the way of taking the needed measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. In congressional testimony earlier this week he stated: “I think the attitude of pushing back from authority and pushing back on scientific data is very concerning. We’re in the middle of a catastrophic outbreak and we really do need to be guided by scientific principles.”

Examples abound. Take the case of a group of students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama who were just diagnosed with Covid-19 after attending “Covid parties” as part of a contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on July 1. Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said the organizers of the parties are purposely inviting guests who have Covid-19. “They put money in a pot and they try to get Covid. Whoever gets Covid first gets the pot. It makes no sense; they’re intentionally doing it.”

Nor can this be written off as “just kids.” In Rockland County, NY, so many residents have flat-out refused to cooperate with authorities on contact tracing, that the county has been forced to use subpoenas to enforce the process. NBC New York reported yesterday: “Health officials are investigating a new cluster of eight or more COVID-19 cases in Rockland County tied to a large party earlier this month, but they’re running into trouble with contact tracing because people refuse to cooperate. The county plans to resort to subpoenas, as it did during its measles outbreak some years ago, to compel people to work with contact tracers as they work to contain a new potential outbreak… That party linked to the new potential cluster was the first of three large parties in Rockland County in the last two weeks. It was hosted June 13 by someone in New City who was sick with coronavirus at the time, sources say. County officials said Wednesday that the host knew they were symptomatic and held the party anyway.”

Insight into such problems, which affect both “left-wing” radicals and “right-wing” libertarians in the country, was provided 310 years ago by Gottfried Leibniz in his {Theodicy} (1710):

“Men have been perplexed in well-nigh every age by a sophism which the ancients called the `Lazy Reason’, because it tended towards doing nothing, or at least towards being careful for nothing and only following inclination for the pleasure of the moment. For, they said, if the future is necessary, that which must happen will happen, whatever I may do…

“The false conception of necessity, being applied in practice, has given rise to what I call {Fatum Mahometanum}, fate after the Turkish fashion, because it is said of the Turks that they do not shun danger or even abandon places infected with plague, owing to their use of such reasoning as that just recorded…

“It is true that they are not inactive or negligent when obvious perils or great and manifest hopes present themselves; for they will not fail to abandon a house that is about to fall and to turn aside from a precipice they see in their path; and they will burrow in the earth to dig up a treasure half uncovered, without waiting for to finish dislodging it. But when the good or the evil is remote and uncertain and the remedy painful or little to our taste, the lazy reason seems to us to be valid. For example, when it is a question of preserving one’s health and even one’s life by good diet, people to whom one gives advise thereupon very often answer that our days are numbered and that it avails nothing to try to struggle against that which God destines for us. But these same persons run to even the most absurd remedies when the evil they had neglected draws near…

“One will employ the lazy reason, derived form the idea of inevitable fate, to relieve oneself of the need to reason properly.”

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