The “Pinocchio Principle” and the GOP

The GOP has dedicated itself to what I call the “Pinocchio Principle” — “if you believe in something strongly enough, it will happen”. This delusion emerges from certain schools of religious thought (not all), and is the result of construing “faith” as something that opposes reason and observation.

We see the Pinocchio Principle at work in the steadfast and relentless GOP insistence that anthropogenic climate change is a “liberal” conspiracy (or worse). GOP stalwarts like Senator Inhofe apparently really BELIEVE that a vast conspiracy is fraudulently synthesizing the many aspects of climate change that surround us. I will resist the temptation to compare this to the strikingly similar Creationist belief system that asserts that the similarly compelling array of facts in support of evolution are the work of Satan.

The Pinocchio Principle is the best explanation I can think of for the continued GOP insistence on “austerity”, in the face of growing and compelling evidence that their dogma doesn’t work and in fact pessimizes an already difficult economic situation. Case in point is their continuing faith in “Supply Side economics”, the “Laffer Curve”, and the rest of the utterly failed and discredited GOP economic narrative. This “voodoo economics” (to quote one of the few times that George H. Bush was correct) is laughably fallacious — future historians will roll their eyes in disbelief that ANYBODY actually took it seriously.

The fundamental paradigm of the “Pinocchio Principle” is that when actions based upon a bizarre delusion fail to produce the desired results, the reason is that the practitioners didn’t “believe” fervently enough — and so efforts to make the delusion reality must be redoubled, over and over.

This belief system is, in my view, the common thread that joins the political terrorism of the “fiscal cliff” and debt ceiling attacks with the GOP passion for unrestricted assault weapon production and sales and the resulting episodes of domestic terrorism.

Today’s GOP has replaced reason and rationality with self-serving demagoguery, expressed as superstition and empty dogma that they mistakenly understand as “faith”.


11 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Case in point is their continuing faith in “Supply Side economics”, the “Laffer Curve”, and the rest of the utterly failed and discredited GOP economic narrative.

    This is the same meme put out in defense of AGW…”everybody agrees…” and if you don’t, you’re mean and want to hurt children. And what’s up with the “deniers should be killed” stuff?

    IIRC, the pre-1980′s economy was terrible, stagflation, inflation (Talman Federal Savings Bank in Chicago gave me a 90-day CD at 18.9% annual,) gasoline lines, etc., etc. Supply Side economics seemed to work pretty well then, and Art Laffer helped; the Phillips Curve is now not taught, but the Laffer Curve is.

    Remember any of this?

    Just because you DISAGREE with another point of view doesn’t mean everything else is a LIE.

    • Um, OK

      Two words: oil embargo. Inflation driven by external shocks and resultant increase in price of raw materials. The Phillips curve works fine except where you have cost-push inflation. Except at extremes like 99% effective rate, the Laffer Curve is a joke. If lowering taxes really brought in more revenue, why did deficits explode under Reagan and Bush II?

      And the supply side economics did not bust the late 70s inflation; Paul Volcker did, by raising the interest rates you complain about even higher and sending the nation into the deepest recession between the Great Depression and the current mess, likewise caused by deregulated financial markets and low tax rates on wealth fostering insane speculation.

      Ironically, the only role supply side economics played in the recovery (which still hasn’t hit the bottom 30%) was that the Reagan deficits were stimulative. Now, the GOP decries stimulus in favor of balancing the budget. Except this must never be done by raising taxes.

  2. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

    Plus, don’t lay extremist appalling comments like “deniers should be killed” at the feet of SomervilleTom, who has never said anything of the sort.

    • To clarify

      That remark about “deniers should be killed” was made by a professor in Austria, not a Tom in Somerville. BS’s implications are shameful, and the comment should be removed.

      • It's important

        To call them out for their aversion to reality on several fronts. This was abundantly clear when they were just shocked they lost the Presidency and by nearly the same margin they lost it in 2008. It is also important that our side continues to reject making creeds, dogmas, or articles of faith about any of our policy prescriptions. Our policy must be backed by the data and flexible to political and economic realities.

        The only creed that should guide us is a general commitment to expanding equality of opportunity for all ALL-and let’s use proven policies to get there. Fortunately most Americans are finally recognizing this, but we must remember in the next round of negotiations that our foes live in a neocon Disneyland and not treat their maxims and dogmas with the equal weight our party, the media, and our leaders have given them for far too long.

  3. I think you're confusing your children's stories

    Pinocchio becomes a real boy through a fairy’s kiss as a reward for good deeds. It’s Tinkerbell in Peter Pan who comes back to life through the faith of the audience.

    • Watch them again

      It is Jiminy Cricket, in Pinocchio, who says “If you believe in something strong enough, it will happen.” It’s true that Tinkerbell is saved by the clapping of the audience, but (as you observe) that is a different story.

      I’m looking for the clip, back later :)

    • Green Lantern Theory

      During the Iraq War, when neither the Bush Administration nor the generals knew what they were doing, there was an exceptional amount of Tinkerbellism coming from the GOP. Matt Yglesias made reference to the Green Lantern Theory of foreign policy: winning wars is merely a matter of willpower. This was widely quoted: see Ezra Klein and Atrios. Wikipedia tells us:

      Green Lantern is the name of multiple superheroes from the DC Universe, all of whom are characterized by a power ring and the ability to create solid constructs with the ring.

      Each Green Lantern possesses a power ring and power lantern that gives the user great control over the physical world as long as the wielder has sufficient willpower and strength to wield it.

      The notion that willpower alone suffices has long been a theme of Disney’s movies for kids — so much so that they tend to inject it into almost every story. It’s a very happy view of another world, far from our own, without barriers of class, prejudice, or opportunity.

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Wed 29 Mar 6:52 PM