Facts as Basic as Hair Color

At the risk of violating Godwin’s Law, I note, as many have before, that Hitler, Himmler, and pretty much the entire top tier of leadership of Nazi Germany bore little resemblance to the Aryan ideals they espoused. Not a blond haired, blue eyed superman in the bunch until you get down to third stringers like Heydrich. And yet, they convinced one of the most highly educated nations on earth, plus a whole host of useful idiots in other countries, of the, shall we say, rightness, of the Nazi ideology. Millions fought and died in the name of that ideology, and there are still millions around today who would kill for it.

I was thinking of that, and of what we here at Angry Bear do regularly, and what folks at a lot of other blogs and other walks of life do – try to set the record the straight. And I was thinking of how difficult, and how frustrating, that can be. The byline of The Straight Dope, which was a blog long before anyone imagined the internet, is:

Fighting Ignorance Since 1973 (It’s Taking Longer Than We Thought)

And it occurs to me… it should be easy to get across to people that Hitler and Himmler and Goebbels and Bormann and Goering and the rest of that group are at best average specimens of humanity – heck, one visual sighting oughta do it. But it didn’t. Which raises the question – is it even possible to get across less obvious ideas that require some thought or at least looking at data? Obvious examples include the notion that cutting tax rates has a very effect when tax rates are high than when they are low, or that the Presidents who most expanded government services were also the ones that produced the fastest real economic growth rates in the last hundred years or so (think FDR and LBJ, both of whom far outpaced, say, Ronald Reagan).

Are there always going to be some people who cannot accept basic, obvious, self-evident facts? Are there ways to get such facts across? And if there are people who cannot accept information in black and white, is discourse with them possible, and if so, how should it take place, and what percentage of the public can be described that way?