Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Denmark, Medicare........Soup

I think it's in the Second Amendment. 
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then does knowledge. 
Charles Darwin

My American friend who has lived a dozen or so years in Denmark wrote today on her blog moments of perfect clarity of the rise of conservative political thinking in Denmark. I was so surprised and alarmed by this that I have thought about it throughout the day. Denmark? Really?

In my thinking I remembered the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Basically a study that concluded that people who perform at a lower standard overestimate their own abilities and cannot discern the difference when shown evidence of higher performing results on the same task.

This is brief synopsis from the study:

"The skills needed to produce logically sound arguments, for instance, are the same skills that are necessary to recognize when a logically sound argument has been made. Thus, if people lack the skills to produce correct answers, they are also cursed with an inability to know when their answers, or anyone else's, are right or wrong. They cannot recognize their responses as mistaken, or other people's responses as superior to their own."

This is why the old women at a Tea Party rally holding a sign exclaiming "Keep Government Out of My Medicare" does not and will not understand the disconnect in that statement. This is why there are no arguments that can be made which will convince adherents of our strange political right there is tremendous hypocrisy in anti-government rhetoric coming from people whom have made a career of government. The inability to believe a birth certificate which states a US birth, or a decades old membership in a church may preclude being a Muslim, or not recognizing a very pro-business administration operating before their very eyes while crying out about anti-business policy. A preconceived belief will override reality every time. I have, in my unintellectual way, simply said "you can't argue with stupid". This is not to imply intellectual inferiority, as my PhD neighbor is proof, but rather a lack of, in my opinion, curiosity and holding onto beliefs which are not rooted in fact.

Which leads me back to Denmark. The US is not the patent holder on this effect, so it stands to reason that it is in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, et al. The difference will be, will the Danish people recognize what is happening and react before there is a toehold in the political system? The liberal establishment in the United States viewed the radical right and religious right as outside the mainstream, and they were, but a slow, steady crawl into the consciousness of people who were open to the mindset moved it into the forefront of American politics and therefore American society. The result is where we are now.

I have faith. I must, as I want to believe in the Scandinavian democratic vision of a benevolent and civil society.

Lest you think I have spent all morning ruminating over the politics of Denmark, here is my soup-of-the-day. I have been renamed the Soup Goddess. You may address me as Her Soupiness.

Lentil & Sausage Soup


  1. the soup looks lovely and is a much nicer thought than that it might already be too late...which i fear it is. even in denmark. this whole "standard-bearer of the christian cultural heritage" thing in the media package (as they call it), was sneaked in by right-wing politicians and there was no outcry. no one even cared. or looked into it. as i said to you in an email, we on the left have done ourselves a disservice in refusing to engage in the arguments against the ridiculousness of the extreme right. and now we're all going to hell in a handbasket. so we might as well make soup!

  2. I have always found Europe on the whole politically conservative & what I know of places like Belgium & Sweden [people control freaks extradordinaire] scares me far more than your political right ever could. Far as I'm concerned Most of Europe is blindly moving towards political unity of a sort that should scare the life out of every right thinking individual ~ but my politics are shonky at the best of times. Maybe I suffer from too much imageanitis. I do better with soup.

  3. Ha! Her soupiness! You know me and politics, we don't mix well. But have to tell you your soup looks fantastic and I miss Calvin and Hobbs so much! Sigh! Where's Bill when we need him?

  4. Dear Soup,

    Anyone who writes about Dunning-Kruger Effect in a blog gets my vote.

  5. Her Soupiness is spot on as usual. I'd have to disagree, though, with your statement that the liberals have long thought the far right a fringe element. This country has ALWAYS had a vocal far right that has morphed and receded and gained power and lost it -- since the very beginning. Think Puritans; think John Birch Society; think the Mormon movement; think the evangelicals, the McCarthyites, the Ku Klux Klan -- the list goes on an on. We are a peculiar country with wildly divergent views -- and always have been --

  6. julochka, I hope you are wrong about Denmark. The country got so much right. People are quiet because they don't think it means anything, what could go wrong in Denmark?

    Ganeida, I don't think you know our rightwing! Europe has traditionally had a very strong and nasty anti-Semitic tendency, but there have been a lot of societal advancements in the past 30 years. I think because of Europe's history it does not do well under conservative governments.

    Deb, I have not been mixing well with politics myself lately! Thank you for the soup recipe.

    Bill, I am a wealth of limited knowledge.And usually uninspired, except by soup lately. And cold. And snow.I live in a very conservative district in MN, so I get firsthand experience with the Dunning-Kruger Effect and cognitive dissonance on a daily basis. Although not my Rep., I cringe every time I see Michelle Bachman's heavily made-up face saying something extreme on the TV. We really are the land of loons.

    Elizabeth, you are correct. The difference was, except perhaps with McCarthy, is the ideology was not mainstreamed into the general consciousness. After Barry Goldwater lost his presidential bid, the conservative movement laid out a longterm plan to bring the American people into the fold. They founded and funded the Heritage Foundation and they worked slowly but diligently toward their aim. The golden opportunity came in the form of Ronald Reagan. The past 30 years have been a rise of conservative ideals, i.e., freemarkets, free trade, low taxes create jobs, etc. An entire generation has grown up with and considers these flawed philosophies to be sound. This is what I meant when I said liberals did not react and therefore allowed us to come to the place we are at.

  7. Not being a liberal but a progressive I think that the right has been trouble and it will continue to be for as long as they cannot go back to a place where there exists a marked and distinct distance between the leisure class and the working class. There is a Russian proverb that goes more or less like this: The rich would have to eat money if the poor didn't provide food. Although the meaning of this at least superficially appears to be a
    recognition of the working class as fundamental to survival, I personally believe that there is much more than that to be found within those lines.

    Thorstein Veblen said it better than I could possible try in The Theory of the Leisure Class: " From this proposition it follows that the institution
    of a leisure class acts to make the lower classes conservative by withdrawing from them as much as they may of the means of sustenance, and so reducing their consumption, and consequently their available energy, to such a point as to make them incapable of the effort required for the learning and adoption of new habits of thought. The accumulation of wealth at the upper end of the pecuniary scale implies privation at the lower end of the scale. It is commonplace that, wherever it occurs, a considerable degree of privation among the body of the people is a serious obstacle to any innovation."

    In my own words, when worried about how to feed your children today or how to make them better when sick, it is difficult to concern one's self with what they may eat tomorrow or if they would need medicines tomorrow. Or in other words atrophy born of entropy.
    The perfect oxymoron.

  8. PS: lentils are one of my favorite legumes next to garbanzos. And your soup needs to be cooked here so please share the recipe. Hugs from here.

  9. Allegra, When I talk about what you say to people I know, I get the 'she's a crazy radical' look. After a while, I stop talking.


I really appreciate the concept and sentiment behind awards, but I cannot participate in them anymore. I have too may and I have not got the time to devote to participating properly. To all who have honored me, I am grateful but I don't have seven more things to tell anyone about myself! And I'm a terrible passer-oner.