Feelings in First Place

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Craig Roberts

Three years ago I concluded a 16-year stint as a Business Week columnist with the observation: "As the growing emphasis on feelings crowds out reason, facts will play a smaller role in public discourse."

That was the safest prediction any economist ever made. Respect for facts has a tenuous hold on the allegiance of public policymakers, journalists, academics and many others with agendas unsupported by the facts.

Recently, a history professor wrote a book citing sources that don't exist. What was important to the professor was not truth, but making a case against gun ownership.

To further their agendas, other professors have fabricated life stories for themselves. A professor in Maryland passed himself off as a Vietnam veteran and told stories about events that never happened. Another at Columbia created a history of himself as a Palestinian refugee. One woman won a Nobel Prize in literature for a fabricated biography. Even some scientists have made up global warming scenarios in order to achieve their environmental objectives.

In a civilization in which so much depends on adherence to fact, it is a scary thing to experience fact playing second fiddle to emotions. If fact becomes dispensable, what becomes of law, crime and punishment, trials, contracts, insurance, finance, technology, science and identity?

Almost anywhere we look, we can find examples of propaganda crowding out truth. Consider the issue of domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The premise of domestic violence is that it is something men do to women. A current issue of National Review, for example, has a two-page ad sponsored by the tobacco company Philip Morris. One page has the face of an attractive young woman. The other page is text designed to arouse anger at men:

"He said he beat me because I deserved it. Now I know I deserve better." "`He tried to strangle me last night.' Melissa cried as she wrote these words, eight months pregnant and seeking an order of protection from her husband. Their high school romance had seemed like a fairy tale, but when the honeymoon ended the beatings began."

There are shelters for battered women, domestic violence coordinating councils, and magazine and newspaper articles and advertisements that encourage women to report their husbands to the police just as they would report any other criminal.

Seminars warn women that a raised male voice constitutes abuse and is a prelude to a beating.

Feminists believe the percentage of men who are abusers is far higher than arrest records indicate. …