Looking over the science section of the New York Times yesterday I found the following response to an article about hypnosis (sixth letter down):
To the Editor:
Re “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis”: The first thing that came to mind when I read that some people are susceptible to suggestion is the trance some religious fundamentalists get into. The article goes on to say that suggestion changes what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.
That would explain the apparent contradiction in our most recent presidential election, where logic seemed to be turned on its head.
Was that 10 to 15 percent who could have been in a hypnotic trance enough to turn around an election and in essence undermine (undermind) the democratic process?
What idiotic, insulting, execrable drivel.
First of all, the writer assumes that only someone who has lost the faculty of reason would have voted for the incumbent. Let me be clear: I am no fan of George Bush. I admire his consistency, and I think he has the right ideas, mostly, about foreign policy, but he is obviously a man of scant intellectual depth. I disagree with him on many domestic-policy issues, and although I supported the liberation of Iraq, I think he and his Ozymandian posse made a terrible, terrible mess of it. In addition to all of that, he is far too careless with language; when he speaks, I wince. The 2004 presidential election, just like the one before it, was a classic clothespin-on-the-nose affair. But to suggest that “logic” would have compelled all rational thinkers to vote for that insufferable pillar of bombast and hypocrisy, the vain and spineless windbag John Kerry, is utterly absurd.
Second, the writer parades his ignorance of the nature of religious fundamentalists by suggesting that such people spent the campaign in a “trance”. I consider religious fundamentalism to be a serious problem for the nation and the world, but this juvenile and dimwitted attempt at humor serves no useful purpose at all.
Third, the writer overlooks the obvious point that even if the parties in question had been in Mesmeric thralldom, they would have been exposed to just as much cant and blather from the Democrats as from the Republicans, so the overall statistical effect should have been negligible.
Finally, the writer compounds his crime with a clanking, stupid pun.
That the New York Times, America’s “newspaper of record”, should consider such sophomoric twaddle worthy to print – in the science section, no less – is simply bewildering.