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Magical thinking Americans

Written By | Aug 7, 2014

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2014 —  A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found 60% of respondents think the United States is in decline, while 71% believe Washington is directly responsible for the nation’s economic woes.

President Obama receives a 40% approval rating, a new low, while Congress stands at a meager 14%.

The poll also found that 54% believe income inequality “is undermining the idea that every American has the opportunity to move up to a better standard of living.”

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Even if Obama’s popularity drops to zero, in 2016 he can leave the Oval Office a happy man. Americans have bought the premise (hook, line and sinker) that all happiness emanates from Washington.

In 2007, a German medical study published in the journal Science found that persons whose brains contain the A1 gene were less likely to learn from their blunders.

“Tests showed that volunteers with the A1 variant were less successful at learning to avoid mistakes, implying that they responded less to negative feedback than the volunteers in the other [test] group,” Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.

“Brain scan studies also supported this result, revealing that in the A1 carriers, a reduced ability to learn from errors was accompanied by diminished activity in a brain area already known to monitor for errors, called the posterior medial frontal cortex.”

The article went on to claim that 30% of people “carry at least one copy of A1 and three percent may carry two.”

If true, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s claim may be right: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Chalk it up to “magical thinking,” says Benedict Carey of the New York Times. Professor Giora Keinan of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences sent 174 questionnaires to Israelis after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein launched Scud missile attacks against the Jewish State during the 1991 gulf war.

READ ALSO: Loosening the grip of the Tea Party

“Those who reported the highest level of stress were also the most likely to endorse magical beliefs, like ‘I have the feeling that the chances of being hit during a missile attack are greater if a person whose house was attacked is present in the sealed room,’ or ‘To be on the safe side, it is best to step into the sealed room right foot first,’” said the Times.

“It is of interest to note,” said Dr. Keinan, “that persons who hold magical beliefs or engage in magical rituals are often aware that their thoughts, actions or both are unreasonable and irrational. Despite this awareness, they are unable to rid themselves of such behavior.”

When candidate Barack Obama won the Minnesota primary in 2008, securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, he marked the occasion as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

The future president’s words were suddenly muffled by the clamor of the crowd. It was not incredulous laughter, but thunderous cheers.

President Obama and Congress’ low approval ratings express the public’s dismay at the pathetic performance of their elected magicians to bend reality through legislative incantations. They are so disillusioned, “80 percent are down on the country’s political system,” says NBC News.

Their misguided solution? Elect new magicians.

It is impossible for a free people to govern themselves when they are governed by an absurd belief in magic. They are living in the wrong country. America is, after all, a glorious product of the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment.

Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is more than a statement of founding principles. It contains an indictment of a king that saw his unrestrained, lawless and arbitrary whims as ordained by God – his “divine right.”

Jefferson never intended for America to be ruled by incompetent conjurers. “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

He also warned his countrymen of the evils of superstition. “Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.”

Magical thinking Americans can also “wreck” a nation.

Steven M. Lopez

Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.