Karl Popper tried to defend attacks on scientific rationalism by maintaining that although scientific theories could not be verified, they could at least be falsified, unlike less rational forms of belief. This falsification standard of scientific reason is just about all that is left of the pretense of science to some kind special method or standard of rational belief. This standard has not, itself, fared very well in the philosophy of science.
Popper agreed that scientific theories cannot be verified because no one can test a theory to infinity. Take for example, a simple induction of the form “All X are Y.” Unless one can find every X, and observe that it is Y, it is impossible to verify the theory. On the other hand, if one did find an X which is not Y, one can always argue that it is not an X in the first place. This is how science becomes a competing paradigm of language — not the absolute truth.
Now in Fairfax County, Virginia, where guns are ubiquitous, there is a lower murder rate than there is in England where guns are much more scarce. Based on the Popperian, supposedly scientific standard of reason (as falsification), this fact alone should falsify the following hypothesis:
H: The per capita murder rate is a function of the per capita density of guns. That is, the density of guns correlates, to a statistically significant degree, to increases in the murder rate.
It is not just Fairfax, Virginia of course. The density of guns per capita within any arbitrarily defined border — kind of statistical gerrymandering — could be made to support or falsify H. And, of course, there are many additional factors besides gun ownership which contribute to increases and decreases in the murder rate. It does not take a very long gaze at what is both logically and contingently possible, combined with the uncontrolled non-laboratory of social science, to begin understanding why so much of it is junk.
The point is, no lefty is going to let anything falsify H or similar theories which are part of a complicated language game meant to reprogram the world. The pretense to scientific sophistication in the gun control crowd is stained for our microscopic investigation by the way it turns its back on its own naïve standard of scientific validity.
As the John Lott’s of the world show off an inverse relationship in their statistics between gun ownership and violent crime (where the latter declines as the former increases) the true believers in science on the left pay no attention. Falsificationism is just another convenient aspect of modern scientific ideology. The only standard of reason for Marx, for his fan Jean Paul Sartre (who stated this standard explicitly) and today’s progressives, is whether or not the idea leads to the “totalization” they are looking for. The totalization is the reduction of all of human experience to one dominant paradigm of language, one view of Reality. Marx and Sartre knew that a socialist utopia is impossible if the Marxist paradigm of language is not the only paradigm of language. They both thought this was inevitable. Hm.
As you already know, the left is never impressed by our data driven hypotheses on the right. It will never accept the conclusion that the data falsifies their view of Reality, their relative truth. John Lott may be able to beat them at the sociological language game, but neither he nor we can win the battle to keep our guns and freedom with “scientific” arguments.
The core arguments are rooted in our ordinary language, our common sense, and our religious tradition. That is to say, our core arguments against gun control are rooted in our morality. I believe it is actually more powerful to state the moral truth — that our government and criminals will be turned loose on us if our guns are confiscated — than it is to rely on “science.” This is just a simple, moral truth; an appeal to a common morality, born out by experience to be sure. Our warning is a common sense understanding of the world which leftists reject not because they think it is actually false, but because they believe that the very nature of the world, the very nature of man, can be changed.
The left is identified primarily by its failure to distinguish between practical and impractical contingent facts. John says, “My sales next year will be 100% higher.” It seems like he is stating a fact about the future. And it is a fact which he may have the power to make true. Jim says, “In the progressive state of the future everyone will be disarmed and will also be more happy, and even more free, than they are now.” Can Jim and his progressive friends make this “fact” come true? They quite obviously believe they can. But this belief confuses genuinely contingent facts, which can be made true, with structural facts, which cannot be made false. This is the knife sticking in the heart of the left. This is the dark, murky mop water which shrinks the witch with agony. In order to make his “fact” about the future come true, Jim would have to be God. He would have to be able to alter the structure of things.
What we on the right, and our sworn enemies on the left, disagree about, is what constitutes contingent facts and what constitutes structural facts about Reality. Much of what we think is structural on the right (like human nature), and the sobering exhibitions of history, the people on the left consider merely contingent facts. They think every “fact” is on a par. They do not really believe in facts at all. We must focus on this irony.
In the dialectical reason of the founding fathers of the modern left, Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Sartre — all facts, even so-called structural facts, are evolving. They are being opposed by new facts and then morphed into new syntheses. Reality does not exist. Sentimentality becomes a legitimate expression of rationality, where the sentimentalist requires the world to conform to his feelings and desires instead of adjusting his feelings and desires to the real world. Sentimentality becomes a legitimate thesis looking for its effect on the dialectic. (Study the kind of kids who are the street protesting these days. They are more pathetic than Trekkies. Most of them will never live a real life.) Marx, as you already know, created a new religion, a brand new fantasy to help the bitter, the unforgiving, the alienated, the Godless, get through life. This is a vision for the weak to escape into. The weak are those who cannot confess to our actual location in the hierarchy of the universe. We are not angels, and never will be, and we are not God.
Now, when we argue for gun rights on passionate moral grounds, as opposed to any so-called scientific grounds, I think we make the more powerful and universal argument for a majority of those who are actually listening. We are not angels, so we need guns. We are not God, so we have no right to take them from our law-abiding neighbor. This is the kind of argumentation which appeals to structural facts — facts about human nature — instead of contingent facts, where enough state power could make it true that more guns mean more violence by manipulating every other variable. The state might, for example, do exactly what it is doing right now — refuse to get gun criminals off the streets. Still, it will be very difficult for the feds to make increases in gun ownership correlate to increases in violent crime without even more power to keep criminals on the streets and to rot the moral fabric of the people. In any event, by degree, the correlation between per capita gun density and crime is more of a contingent than structural fact.
There is no substitute for passionate preaching and action. This is always more powerful than “science.” The left knows this. It has proven that the passionate preaching of a childish fantasy can succeed.
We have something much more powerful to preach. We remind the people that it is a violation of common sense morality, even our religious tradition, to disarm families; to expose them to the unequal power of the state and common criminals. We must preach the right to self-defense and freedom from government coercion no matter what the so-called “science” says. In the meantime it does not hurt to demythologize and deconstruct science as a competing tradition; to deny that it is the absolute truth about structural facts.
The left believes it can make the vision of a free and absolutely secure utopia come true. It believes that the only reason why it has not come true is because truly degenerate, inferior souls, like those of us on the right, are fighting it. For the progressive, the unbearable tragedy of history is that Utopia is within reach, but the skeptics are holding our arm back, especially those who believe that the church is our only hope on earth. They must somehow be made to repent, to turn around, and believe.
What we must in fact do, is consciously
make the left’s vision of the future untrue. We must do this on purpose, out of moral revulsion; out of disgust with the inherent boredom of the progressive vision, proving that our distaste for it is in fact so deep as to be structural. We must consciously, avidly, drive the left to despair with eternal, unrelenting resistance. We must demoralize those on the left until they are in the fetal position.
My message to Christians whose niceness is entirely out of place, especially when it comes to guns, is that they had better buck up and embrace the fact that our project is to literally drive the left into a state of unmitigated despair. We must make the following contingent fact true, because of the structural facts about us: Liberal utopia is impossible. Leftists are wasting their lives. In other words, we must ironically make what the left believes about us absolutely true — for the left. (Do you see how any debate evaporates?) The world, our country, will never, ever be what the progressives want it to be, while we are here. They will either have to kill us, or live in despair.
A huge part of this project of making the left’s vision of the future completely false, is to cling to our Bibles and our guns forever and ever while laughing at state “science.” Cling and laugh until their heads explode. We will send them to the sanitarium with our indefatigable recalcitrance. This is exactly what they have planned for us. But we have human imperfection and common morality on our side. Just as importantly, we have the guns.