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Ditching Obvious Truths in the Information Age

Ditching Obvious Truths in the Information Age

Facebook's stock may be anemic at the moment, but the social media site is growing by leaps and bounds. It is poised to hit 1 billion users.

The company told admiring geeks on Wednesday that it processes 2.5 billion pieces of content each day and more than 500 terabytes of data. A terabyte is a trillion bytes, or 1 million megabytes.

That's just Facebook. The information universe is expanding at warp speed, as information curator and author Steven Rosenbaum notes in the business magazine Fast Company: "In 2010 we frolicked, Googled, waded, and drowned in 1.2 zettabytes of digital bits and bytes. A year later volume was on an exponential growth curve toward 1.8 zettabytes. (A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes; that's a 1 with 21 zeros trailing behind it.)"

The question is, with all this information, why aren't people getting smarter, and why aren't things better?

The short answer is that we don't lack information; we lack wisdom and common sense. How else to explain trying to get out of debt by borrowing more money? Or pretending that people who have warned us over and over that they want to kill us are not serious? Or that lowering standards of all kinds will improve things?

Once upon a time in America, you didn't have to explain certain, obvious things -- what the Declaration of Independence describes as "self-evident truths." Here are a few things that used to be obvious:

If you find the Constitution too binding, you're probably trying to do something immoral and/or illegal.

If you leave the rule of law behind, you may find that, like a cheated spouse, it's not there when you want to go back to it.

Government is necessary because, as James Madison noted, men are not angels.

If you spend more than you take in, you run a deficit. If you don't cut spending, you sink deeper in debt.

If you project weakness, you don't create the conditions for peace -- you invite aggression.

Now, for some observations on social issues, which liberals disconnect from their profound impact on economics and the growth of the welfare state:

Marriage is, as God created it, the foundation of civilization. As marriage weakens, society falls apart.

Men who misuse women are less trustworthy than men who don't and should be treated as cads. If they aren't, it encourages more swinish behavior.

Boys and girls are different in important ways that, if ignored, cause trouble, big-time.

Men who prefer pornography to real women are stuck in adolescent fantasy addiction and therefore less likely to be good husbands, fathers, citizens and officeholders.

Watching lots of television or playing video games does not make you smarter.

Bratty children who are raised to "be themselves" turn into thugs and prima donnas. As Benjamin Franklin observed, "Teach your child to hold his tongue, he'll learn fast enough to speak."

How about this one? The Boy Scouts of America won't allow homosexual men to take boys camping.

No one needed to explain this in a saner America.

The Scouts announced recently that after a two-year study by a secret committee, they would continue to bar from membership and leadership males attracted to other males. Why this obvious stance took a study is a tale of media pressure, harassment by the American Civil Liberties Union and a few misguided Scout board members from corporate America, which long ago adopted sexual anarchy as its pet "civil rights" project. What's trendy at Harvard becomes trendy on Wall Street.

In a saner time, Americans didn't need to be told that resisting temptation to do what's wrong is evidence of character.

Americans didn't need to be told that any government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.

Wait. We did need to be told that, by Ronald Reagan, who stood against the progressive tide of ever-expansive government.

The case I'm making is that our founders' "self-evident" truths about God, human nature, natural rights -- including the right to life -- and the dangers of unlimited government have been hidden away under a mountain of psychobabble, redistributionist politics, miseducation and willful disregard of obvious consequences. We are fast moving toward a day when just telling the truth will constitute a "hate crime." If you don't think so, ask Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy.

Given incontrovertible evidence that abandoning moral norms and economic common sense causes heartbreak, disease, divorce, mental illness, sexual dysfunction, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, unemployment and poverty, why would any thinking person continue to aid and abet an even coarser culture and its corollary, bigger government?

The answer lies somewhere in what's left of our media-battered consciences. It's not so much that people are actually fooled, it's that we want to be fooled so we won't have to bow to any moral authority higher than our own appetites. It's in our DNA.

As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1: 20-22:

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools."

Maybe it's time to update that flower-power poster from the 1960s, "War is unhealthy for children and other living things," and make it: "Ignoring self-evident truths is unhealthy -- for fools and everyone else."

Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.

Publication date: August 28, 2012