I've noticed something else about this trend. It seems to be more pronounced in people who 1) watch a whole lot of Fox News or 2) are Tea Partiers. Admittedly, they are frequently one in the same, but there seems to be a dramatic spike in them in terms of percent of the general population who see 'facts' as relative.
This is not to say we don't all do this. We do. But for most of us it is about little things. Even though I am trying to lose weight, I sometimes have piece of cake after dinner and tell myself that it really won't hurt my efforts. Well, that simply isn't true - it will.
My problem is with those who have moved this human tendency from a convenient way to justify relatively harmless, everyday happenings to a way to justify what they want to be facts in the face of actual facts.
A friend asked me, "Why do you keep Xing out Christ in Christmas?" I explained that I wasn't Xing out Christ, rather I was substituting the English approximation for the Greek Chi, as in Chi Rho like the ancient symbol representing Christ that uses the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ - Christos (Χριστός). "Well," he says, "I think you are Xing out Christ." "I'm not," I explained, "I am honoring the original language of the New Testament and the royal title from which we take our nomenclature for "Christian.'"
This went on and on until he said, "You are crossing out Jesus' name and I find it offensive. You should stop doing it." I had so many problems with what he had just said that I didn't even know where to begin, so I simply said, "Look, stop trying to tell me what I'm doing. I've tried explained why I do it and you continue to insist that you are right despite the facts." At which point he said, "I don't care about the facts. I know what I know and you need to stop it."
Well, how do you even begin to argue with that kind of...um, that kind of ...logic(?). Can you even call it logic?
It worries me because we are de-evolving into a society where there is an increasingly unlikely chance that solid critical thinking and respectful debate will be used to come to resolutions and to help us make the best choices moving forward. Critical thinking and intellectual debate are the foundations of modern progress. Invention, discovery and advancement happen because of them.
The lack of willingness from a large portion of society to engage in them point me to a slowing of progress.... which is exactly what Conservatives would like to see. Lack of progress means lack of change, which means those who currently have power in this increasing plutocratic nation will continue to have power and increase in it.
The problem is they are looking at the short game. What good is all that power if the means of getting it halts progress in a significant way? In the long game, it will cause you to fall behind and soon you will be the most powerful people in a nation with surprisingly little power.
Now personally, I'm all for it. Christianity, while for everyone, is certainly biased against the powerful (particularly the powerful who abuse their power), but I can't help but think that no longer having power and influence is a thing that strikes fear into The Christian Right and many conservatives.
It certainly is easier to influence the masses once you convince them that critical thinking and facts are negotiable at best and not needed at worst. It makes manipulation through fear, misinformation and emotional hyperbole all the more easy, but it also puts our great nation at risk over the long run as it will cause us to fall further and further behind the rest of the world relegating us to nothing more the the world's schoolyard bully.
Facts, then, are patriotic and those who deny them and substitute their own desires for them are threatening this nation and should be treated much like we would treat anyone who puts us at risk.