Viscerally Visceral, by Robert Gore

Reality doesn’t give a damn how you feel.

A long time ago, I was talking with a woman and the discussion turned to abortion. I don’t remember our exact words, but she said something to the effect that she was viscerally opposed to anything that curtailed women’s right to abortions. I do remember her use of the words “visceral” and “viscerally” because she used them repeatedly, emphasizing her stance.

I asked if the right to control one’s body implied a right to control one’s mind, and the right to control the products of one’s body and mind. Should freedom be general, or does it apply only to the specific case of freedom to abort a fetus? I didn’t get a response, other than one last exclamation that she was viscerally opposed to anything that curtailed women’s right to abortions.

The dictionary defines “visceral” as: “Relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.” I was trying to get the woman to define the principle supporting her assertion and perhaps extend it to other issues. She had a deep inward feeling, that’s all, no principle, a product of the intellect.

It was some years before I realized that “visceral” was a key to understanding the world. Its definition is not just a definition, it’s a description of how most people perceive and interpret reality most of the time—with their emotions rather than their intellects.

That isn’t an original insight, it’s been around for centuries (most of my “original” insights have been around for centuries). Aristotle defined rhetoric’s three persuasive appeals as logos, pathos, and ethos: the mind, the emotions, and the conscience.

The leaders throughout history who incited their followers to storm ramparts, mount invasions, or march on crusades appealed to pathos—emotions—hatred of the enemy and love of family, clan, country, or God. The led only encountered the often-grim realities after they’d signed up.

Emotional appeals kicked into high gear with the development of mass markets and advertising. The first tenet of marketing copywriting is you sell to emotions, not reason. Reasons come later, after you’ve emotionally hooked the mark prospect and he is rationalizing his decision.

List a car’s many fine features and make bullet-proof logical arguments that they’re better than anybody else’s and you might sell a few. Show the car in front of a high-class hotel, the owner holding the door for a smoking hot babe, her breathtaking legs emerging seductively from the car as he takes her hand, and you’ll sell a lot more.

Naturally this primacy of emotion became part of politics, which has become a playpen of intellectual infants demanding the world take note of their visceral emotions and respond to them…now! The playpen hosts much of the media, especially social media. In education, children can progress from preschool to graduate programs without ever leaving the playpen, and without ever leaving childhood.

Only by completely isolating one’s self can one escape the “demands” of those who perceive reality through the lens of their oh-so-precious feelings. Their paramount demand: the world acknowledge and kowtow to those unique and special feelings. Primacy of emotion is their privilege, and anyone who questions it (questions being the weapon of the rational) is subject to scathing attack. They are viscerally visceral.

There’s one obvious problem. If everyone’s feelings are uniquely special and the object of justifiable self-absorption, who’s left to acknowledge and kowtow to everyone else’s unique and special feelings? The answer is straight from Animal Farm: some feelings are more special than others.

The feelings on display during CNN’s Parkland shooting town hall were extra special. The feelings (and thoughts) of those who oppose gun control were shouted down. The “gun control debate” is a phrase much in the media recently. As the town hall demonstrated, there’s no “debate.” It’s passion for the “right” side uber alles, and the other side had best just shut up and kowtow.

It’s not clear what the implicit “or else” is, maybe a collective holding of breaths until everyone’s blue, but there’s no mistaking the snarling anger. The more cowardly captains of corporate America caved.

However, there’s a much bigger problem with self-centered primacy of emotion: while other people may respond to your emotions, reality doesn’t give a damn. A strong desire for food, even if fervently expressed, won’t make a garden grow. Hoping for a windfall doesn’t prevent poverty. Cursing blizzards or droughts doesn’t change the weather. Wishing doesn’t make it so.

It would be instructive to check the majors of students drawn to today’s fashionable campus demonstrations. Engineering, chemistry, biology, physics and the other hard sciences are undoubtedly underrepresented. Students in those fields must apply rigorous and unremitting logic to unlock reality’s mysteries—hard and demanding work—or they drift to other disciplines. Those who succeed learn to check their feelings at the door. If they think at all about their epistemological opposites raising a ruckus across campus, it’s probably with a mixture of wonder and contempt.

Abandon reason and one emotion dominates: fear. Scared people are not rational, they’ll buy virtually anything that promises to alleviate their fear. Every totalitarian, every proponent of curtailing freedom, knows this. It’s the equivalent of the smoking hot babe: fear sells government.

How will gun control or confiscation stop criminals, who by definition don’t observe laws, from shooting up schools, churches, movie theaters, and other places where people peaceably assemble? Those places are generally gun-free zones, wouldn’t it be better if the shooters weren’t assured that nobody would fire back, so that maybe they’d think twice? The gun controllers ignore such questions. Something must be done now, they screech. Pass more laws so we’ll all “feel” safer. (Anytime someone sells a law touting its benefits for “all,” it’s a rock-solid bet the only beneficiary will be the government.)

Fear is not confined to one part of the political spectrum. It sold the Patriot Act and the like, gargantuan defense budgets, global military intervention, the surveillance state, the militarization of local police departments, and all manner of regulatory intrusion and extortion. Tell people you’re protecting them and you can do damn well whatever you want to them. It’s doubtful Americans will figure it out even as they’re herded into protective and preventative detention facilities, aka concentration camps. You can’t be too safe.

Reason is the toughest sell out there. As the advertisers know, what passes for reason is usually emotion-based rationalization. Yet, reason always wins. It has an unbeatable ally, reality, the anchor for those who live their lives guided by their intellects rather than their emotions.

Remember the tears, screaming, and general hysteria after Trump won the election? Imagine when our system, built as it is on wishful thinking, finally collapses. Imagine confronting these hysterical creatures. You, your family, and friends saw what was coming and are riding out the storm. They are screaming, demanding that you take care of them. However, you have the firearms they eschewed, so demand is all they can do. “Imagine how we feel!” they scream. You stare at them with complete indifference.

Nobody gives a shit how you feel.

Collapse will have its compensations.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

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46 responses to “Viscerally Visceral, by Robert Gore

  1. Nice article. Well done.

    Like

  2. Thank you. This article, for some reason, was more enjoyable to write than usual.

    Like

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  4. ” I was talking with a woman”
    First Mistake
    I swear these “Liberals” are programing us to anxiously anticipate the arrival of full-bore Sharia

    Like

  5. Well done Robert; But I’d like to add that the ‘fear’ you describe and the verbal and ‘law’ attacks that you reference have another generating source than marketing propaganda. It’s the ‘visceral’ response when faced with the concepts of individual responsibility and freedom that drives a form of envy and resentment against those who choose, really insist on, that ideal of life. You can hear that refrain whenever you hear about ‘Our Democracy’ rather than our constitutional Republic. The actual basis of the 2nd Amendment is that individual ideal. That is the true fear, envy, and resentment voiced against those that defend the 2nd and the associated use of the concomitant personal weapons. The 2nd is the only real remnant of the Constitutional Republic of individuals, rather than the Democracy they desire. They are the mob and they’ve been a majority of us since long before 1776

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Join 979 other followers”
    With articles like this (and many others), 1,000 will be very soon.

    Like

  7. “A strong desire for food, even if fervently expressed, won’t make a garden grow.”
    Perhaps not. But such a desire on the part of the useless, so expressed to a Government such as ours, will cause said Government to force the productive among us to grow a garden – the produce of which shall then be confiscated to feed those very same useless clients of Government.
    “Collapse will have its compensations.”
    Yes, rather like the way terminal cancer makes one less concerned with those pesky chancres.

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  10. “Collapse will have it’s compensations” “The suffering of many is the consolation of fools” I don’t know who said that but I’ll clarify: “The suffering of fools is the consolation of many”.

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  12. Robert, you are the Home Run King of Reason and Logic. These are very old concepts and things you are talking about, and todays people want the very latest and newest things instead. What they fail to realize is that the BS they’re touting is old too. So old, it’s childish. Failure to launch and grow mature is what causes this eternal childhood swamp. Some things just do not change, and old as they are, they still apply and work beautifully. To go against principle is to invite disaster. Same as a children’s crusade.

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  13. “Nobody gives a shit how you feel.” Bingo. When the proverbial mess arrives it is quite possible that we could see a 20% reduction in population within a month. Just in time delivery will be horse that starvation rides. It is happening now in Venezuela as we speak.

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  14. I’ve no idea for how many decades ago I first heard, “Wish in one hand, poop in the other; see which fills up first.” It struck a chord with me and has been part of my worldview ever since.

    Made life itsownself much easier.

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  15. Different words, but the same message I’ve been preaching for the last couple of years. I was slow to understand the problem. Humans tend to believe that others are as we are and I’m rational. Facts and reason are my tools. I was born with those mental processes and that’s why I became an engineer. I couldn’t understand how other people could look at the same data and draw such radically different conclusions. I finally realized that they aren’t like me and they aren’t looking at the data at all. No matter how many facts I lobbed in their direction, they just bounced off their deflector shields. They live in a fact free bubble. Facts are irrelevant to them because they don’t think rationally. They FEEL. It’s all about their feelings. They feel strongly that nobody should be hungry, so they conclude that food should be a basic human right. Ditto for shelter, healthcare, education at all levels, birth control, etc. Of course, these “rights” are not the same as the right to free speech, the right to believe as you choose, the right to defend yourself or your loved ones, etc. Someone needs to pay for their “rights”. Inevitably, and conveniently for them, it’s someone else who pays for their “rights”.

    Listen to someone and they’ll tell you what they believe. Note that these people almost never say that people should be safe. They say that people should FEEL safe. TSA is nothing but security theater but it makes them feel safe. They trust government. Remember, feelings, not facts. Children should feel safe at school, so they advocate Gun Free School Zones. In every case I can recall, the policies they recommend based on their feelings have exactly the opposite effect in reality. Children are less safe at school because they took away the ability for adults to protect them. Consider socialist Venezuela where everyone has the right to everything. Their socialist redistribution has resulted in poverty and starvation for everyone except the government.

    Unfortunately, it’s not quite true to say that reality doesn’t give a shit about their feelings. Enough people with these deadly but well meaning feelings can push a country in a very dangerous direction and ultimately create a new reality where a once prosperous country is ruined. Enough of those feelings can alter reality, and it’s never for the better. That is where we are in the USA today.

    In a recent poll, 40% of Americans prefer communism to capitalism, and that number is trending upward. In another poll by The Economist that concluded on February 27th, 2018, 82% of Democrats favor a ban on semiautomatic firearms. Not rifles, but all semi-auto firearms including pistols. The Democrats were split on whether ALL civilian firearms should be banned. As Dianne Feinstein once said, “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them in.”

    New Math – Gun Control Lesson #1

    Bruce owns 52 guns. New gun control legislation bans 24 of Bruce’s guns. How many guns does Bruce now own?

    Answer: 52 guns. Your move, statists.

    This is a lesson that desperately needs to be understood by everyone so we can start a meaningful and productive dialog based on reality. My inalienable rights are not in any way contingent upon anyone’s hoplophobic fantasies.

    New Math – Gun Control Lesson #2

    A recent poll indicated that approximately half of the 126 million households in America have one or more firearms. Of the half with firearms, 2% reported having 50 to 100 firearms in the home. How likely is a successful firearms confiscation?

    Answer: .5 X 126 million X.02 = at least 1.26 million Americans who are well armed and entirely unwilling to participate in any form of firearms buy back or other confiscation. There are approximately 700,000 police officers in the United States, most of whom are far less armed and less adequately trained in the use of firearms. The odds of a successful disarmament of US citizens is 0.00%.

    Unfortunately, this is no guarantee that some politically motivated statists aren’t going to get a lot of other people killed in the futile attempt.

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  16. Another nutshell:
    It’s not a right if someone else has to pay for it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  36. Interesting point of view about fear and reason. Fear is programmed into our DNA, Molecular Biologist understand this and have located the nucleotide sequences that moderate this behavior (the amygdala is involved). We are a fearful species, caution is how we survived this long. The desire for power, and the perception of attainment, is our species antidote to fear. Guns provide a sense of power and “emotional” security (I own two). Fear is contagious, instinct replaces reason when fear takes hold. “Rights” are a human construct, not a physical law of the universe, they are a set of privileges (like freedom) we convey to ourselves by consensus. Our only true right are our thoughts, if we can keep them (Otto Warmbier was not allowed to). “Reason” is the act of controlling emotion, not eliminating it. Emotion is the product of consciousness, our minds interpretation and response to external stimuli, the result of the conflict between instinct, knowledge, and reason. Not sure how collapse (not defined) will compensate anyone. Just some thoughts.

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  39. Great article! How exactly did this force convince some people that a fetus is not a person, and that there is only one patient (the pregnant parent) rather than two – the woman and the unborn child?

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  41. As Ayn Rand so brilliantly defined, emotions are not primaries. They are value judgments, our diagnostic feedback by which to evaluate what our senses perceive as beneficial or detrimental to our survival. Trouble is, the criteria by which we evaluate them had to have been programmed into us beforehand, by values and premises selected either rationally or accepted unthinkingly from the surrounding culture. Hence Rand’s frequent admonition to “check your premises”.

    Emotions predate abstract reasoning, rational consciousness, and free will, which developed later on the evolutionary timeline. Emotions are the visceral function of the animal level of operation, stimulus response, instinctive reaction playing by the cause-and-effect laws of nature. That is by far how most people still function; it’s built in. Who in an emergency will reflect calmly and dispassionately when the fight-or-flight adrenaline starts pumping through the veins? In fact, people who don’t get rattled and emotional are looked down on as sociopaths or worse. Even those capable of rational thought do not always engage it. Not everyone is or can be an Ayn Rand hero. It may even be a case of “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you”…

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