Are there any real mysteries left? Clearly, we’re not the doe-eyed, innocent public we once were, back when Howdy Doody and Alka Seltzer ruled the popular zeitgeist. It’s not enough for things to be true anymore. Now they must pass a more rigorous test: the test of believability in the laboratory of public opinion. And yet somehow there still remain unsolved phenomena to boggle the jaded mind, shake us out of our trances, and remind us never to trust our senses, our reason, our memory, or the evidence. We live in a truly miraculous time, when anything can be true.
But only the best things can be SuperTrue®.
It was a day like any other for young Evalia Cementez. She woke before dawn to steal foxes from the furrier’s foxhouse, skinned them, fed them to her carnivorous chickens, and sewed their pelts into the expanse of fur she was accumulating which was destined to become the most elegant set of window treatments on the entire island of San Guadarico.
As she washed the blood from her hands in the galvanized tub next to the well, she felt the first big drop of rain. It was a raindrop big as a lobster, and it struck her on the back of the neck. Then another fell next to her, and still another. They were big, yellow drops of rain. As big as bananas. In fact, they were bananas. Before she had time to absorb what was happening, bananas were raining from the sky over Evalia’s entire village of Conejos Corners.
By noon, the rain had stopped, leaving the entire region for five miles in every direction covered banana-deep in flesh and peel. Many cheerful goats were hobbled in their enthusiasm, unable to stick their landings. But the danger to goats was minimal compared to the obese, sweaty immensity of the mysteriousness of the bananapocalypse.
Other strange precipitations have given the people of Earth cause to be unnerved. There was the famously documented rain of frogs in both a small village in Mexico and the PT Anderson movie Magnolia. There was the rain of fish in Iowa, at some point in recorded history. And of course the deluge of cats and dogs in the proverbial dimension.
But it is the rain of bananas that most tweaks the cranial thinkwurst of the UltraBelieving devotee of SuperTruth®. And why is that? Is it because the banana is an atheist’s nightmare, because it could only have been created by a Christian God? Could a random process really come up with a fruit that sits so perfectly in the human hand, and comes with a pull-tab, like a canned soft drink? Maybe in a 100 million years, but how could a banana have that kind of attention span? Wouldn’t Jesus have to have designed it? And not any Jesus, but a white Jesus?
If one starts from the premise that the Earth is very young, all manner of interesting mysteries follow logically. An argument can be logically sound in every respect, yet still be completely wrong.
There’s a school of thought called The School of Thought. It was founded by Jesse Richardson who, “after 20 years in advertising,” founded www.schoolofthought.org to use his “powers for good instead of evil.”
The School of Thought is of the school of thought that fair, calm, rational discussion is one of the keys, if the not the main key, if not the only key, to saving humanity from self-destruction. The naively inspirational saying repeated on their homepage runs as follows:
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a child to think and she'll grow up to enact legislation that saves our resources for future generations.”
Obviously, beginning from this very moment in human history, teaching a child to think so clearly and rationally that she arrives, by herself, at the exact political position needed to solve climate change and pollution is too little too late, and most definitely playing the long game after the horses are out of the barn.
The School of Thought’s projects involve posting articles on Enlightenment values and selling cards and posters listing logical fallacies and cognitive biases, presumably to spread the enlightenment gospel. The Enlightenment and its values having fallen out of favor as democracy itself, Enlightenment’s flagship governmental style, has been revealed to have been oligarchy disguising itself as popular rule for the past couple of centuries.
The crazy thing about the School of Thought is that it believes people can be trained to debate rationally and learn to avoid cognitive biases. What they don’t understand is, for that to be effective in saving anything, there has to be a source of unbiased information. And we know there is no such reliable source. So the School of Thought, albeit with its heart in the right place, nevertheless argues a certain point of view, perhaps believing it is doing so without irrational biases entering into its thinking at any point.
Actor, champion of rational discourse and center-leftish gay rights spokesperson, Stephen Fry, does a voiceover for one of their videos urging people to “Please agree to the rules of civil conversation.” And rational positive history-spinner and popular author, Steven Pinker, criticized in a Moment of Truth essay entitled, “The Souls of Pinker Folk” (August 25, 2021), has his photo displayed somewhere on their site, indicating at least his tacit endorsement if not stalwart support. Bill Gates is touted as having said something nice about one of their card games, I think.
But Fry and Pinker can’t even agree on the correct way to spell their first name, admittedly a small quibble. As human electronic media has proven, there is no such thing as an ultimately trustworthy source of information. Everything can be called into question if one only has the will.
And so, no matter how rationally one may argue, if the premises of one’s argument are questionable, all the logic in the world won’t help you. Even speaking from a purely anthropocentric point of view, and ignoring the bias of anthropocentrism, one always begins one’s thinking on an irrationally chosen foundation. Because what someone cares to investigate is not an intellectual matter, but an emotional one.
Apparently, choosing to care about sustaining Earth’s resources and facilitating the eventual freedom from exploitation of the community of our fellow humans is a premise no more rationally arrived at than choosing one skin color or religion as most worthy of life, or to privilege the right to private ownership and accumulation over all else including the survival of the species. In fact, you are more likely to hear complaints about logical fallacies from champions of private property than, say, your average socialist.
The proof, however, is in the pudding. In this case, banana pudding. Yet another person named Stephan, this one spelling it yet a third way, with a ph in the manner of Fry but with an A in the second syllable rather than an E, had been vacationing on San Guadarico island on the date in question, staying in an Air BnB in Conejos Corners not far from Evalia Cementez’s well, and witnessed the banana deluge. Third Stephan was also a supporter of the School of Thought, and while bananas rained down upon him, he yelled to the sky, “There must be a rational explanation for all of this!”
As if in answer, the mischievous sky launched and landed directly in Third Stephan’s face a banana crème pie, the one and only pie to precipitate on that day of raining bananas.
So once again it was proven that SuperTruth® doesn't care about your inability or unwillingness to accept it.
This has been the Moment of Truth: Good day!