Thinking Out Loud
That our eyesight is so limited that we cannot with our eyes alone see the bacteria and germs that surround us is surely evidence of God’s mercy toward us.
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Suppose I ask you what 11 x 12 equals, and you say to me, "123." I then ask you, "Do you believe that?" You think a moment, and you answer, "Yes." Even though you are wrong, I shall be inclined to believe that you believe it.

Now suppose I ask a computer what 11 x 12 equals, and it gives me “123.” Does it make sense for me to ask it, “Do you believe that?” And if I ask it, and it gives me the answer, “Yes,” does it believe it? Does it believe anything? Can any AI object believe at all?
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I was asked what I think of the current pontiff. I can reply only that apparently it has pleased God that for a short time in the 21st century his Church should be ruled by a fool, a fool, moreover, who cannot claim the distinction of being the first, and probably not that of being the last. Perhaps we may harbor the hope of Wagner’s Knights of the Holy Grail: “Durch Mitleid wissend, der reine Tor.”
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I have been reading Robert R. Reilly’s Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamic Crisis (Wilmington, Del.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2010). In the first part of the book Reilly supplies citation after citation to demonstrate that modern Muslim theology (though not Islam as such) holds that Allah is constrained by nothing, that if there is reason or consistency in his commands, it is not because he is reasonable or consistent, but merely because he wills that his commands should be reasonable and consistent. That which is right is right because he wills it; it is not the case that he wills it because it is right. If Allah tires of all this irrational-number business, he can make the relationship between a circle’s circumference and the diameter (i.e., π) a rational number. If he feels like it he can make π rational for some circles and irrational for others. And he can change when it is rational and when it is not from day to day or from minute to minute, if he so wills.

Allah, as Reilly puts it, is pure will.

If he is right, I think we can say that all the differences between Islam and Christianity may be boiled down to this one statement: Allah is pure will; the God of the New Testament is pure love.

If God is pure will, he can be completely solitary. But if he is love, he cannot be. Love, after all, requires something to love, and it requires the existence of persons who love. Hence the Christian God is three persons: the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that passes between them. (April 28, 2018)
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“It is a striking fact that most Americans in the eighteenth century agreed that government should intervene in economic life. They disagreed only as to the nature of the intervention and as to which groups were to benefit thereby. The history of the conflict among the various groups in American society in their demands for state aid lends richness and variety to the history of state politics during the 1780’s. Moreover it throws new light on the factors involved in the movement for a stronger central government....” (Merrill Jensen, The New Nation: A History of the United States during the Confederation — 1781–1789 [New York: Vintage Books, 1950])

This leads me to wonder whether those writers who have argued that modern commentators and jurists have misused the Commerce Clause are right. Is it possible that the current understanding is precisely what the Framers intended, even if they did not dare to say so at the time? Just how honest was “Publius”? When they gave assurances to the anti-Federalists, were they writing in good faith? (April 28, 2017)
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The Earth is not alive. It has living things on it.

It feels no pain. It does not reproduce itself: it is the means by which others reproduce. It does not grow: it is the means by which others grow. It monotonously circles another non-living thing in company with other non-living things, and is monotonously circled by yet another non-living thing.

I know there are others that hold a different view. But the way for people to come together to meet common goals is to allow them the freedom to do it. They will find one another. And when they disagree among themselves, let them separate and seek others who agree. This is the way of Society.

It is entirely opposite the way of the State, which requires agreement, and when it does not reach it, compels it. (June 29, 2019)
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Can it be that people — especially college students — no longer argue because they think that to argue is to grant legitimacy to a view they oppose? I sometimes hear of their saying that. But if arguing does grant legitimacy, then that leaves quarreling as the only way to oppose views with which one disagrees.

And modern-day quarreling has taken on the attributes of drunken disputes, full of foul name-calling, vulgarities, and obscenities. (September 20, 2019)
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In The Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis postulates that once men are regarded as natural objects, there will be both Conditioners and those who are conditioned. What he does not seem to notice, or at least does not mention, is that the Conditioners may well be — as they seem to be now — invisible to most of the conditioned. Indeed, perhaps even to most of themselves. Perhaps the unconditioned are able to see some of them? (June 7, 2020)
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During George H.W. Bush’s acceptance speech in 1992, he used some odd phrases (remember the “thousand points of light”? remember that he used it twice?).

I thought some of what he said so odd that I talked to Johnson about it. He explained to me that as a Bonesman, Bush believed in magic and in the power of hypnosis. Johnson thought that Bush believed he was either literally enchanting listeners or hypnotizing them.

While I was willing to allow that Bush might actually have believed something of the sort, I did wonder how intelligent people (Bonesmen are not usually stupid) could embrace such ideas.

I’m beginning to wonder not only whether what Johnson told me was true, but that what Bush was doing was effective. Moreover, I’m beginning to wonder whether hypnosis is a real component of statist propaganda, i.e., that GHWB was not the first or last public figure to try to cast a spell of us — a literal spell, not just something that catches people up by what we call charisma, though that’s probably useful in the casting. Consider this passage from Wikipedia's discussion of hypnosis and the post-hypnotic suggestion:
The hypnotized individual appears to heed only the communications of the hypnotist and typically responds in an uncritical, automatic fashion while ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those pointed out by the hypnotist. In a hypnotic state an individual tends to see, feel, smell, and otherwise perceive in accordance with the hypnotist's suggestions, even though these suggestions may be in apparent contradiction to the actual stimuli present in the environment. The effects of hypnosis are not limited to sensory change; even the subject's memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended (post-hypnotically) into the subject's subsequent waking activity.
Of course, post-hypnotic suggestions sent out over the airwaves or to millions of people are likely to miss a few of us. Or even a lot of us.

But when you think about it, it would explain more than one thing: how people can believe (or say they believe) absurd things (e.g., that it is fair for men who think they are women to compete against girls in sports) and how they can persist in believing them (or saying they believe them) in spite of all the evidence around them. It would also explain why so many people seem impervious to any counterargument whatever. It might even explain the level of irrational hatred directed against Donald Trump.

And if they are not hypnotized, are they enchanted? Remember: we are warring against Satan.

When I sent these speculations out, one friend got back to me by e-mail:
I've been convinced about this for a while now. Not with GHWB but the nation in general. The Leftists I know are borderline frothing and rabid when they talk about Trump, Trump supporters, conservatives, anybody who stands in the way of greater state control, MMT, unlimited immigration, trans rights, etc. Scary. Then I read this article and I found it resonated with me. Maybe it will with you.

Others I know who aren’t even religious have commented on how unhinged the left folk are. People who believe in traditional religion see the demonic in it.
I replied to him:
I’m certainly open to the possibility. Take a look at Joe Sobran’s column "The Devil's Own" (

The friend mentioned at the beginning is I. And the comment I made had its origins in this manner. I was in a convenience store that had the news playing on its TV. Clinton was speaking and it was during some point in the Lewinsky Affair, but several months before the impeachment. I was waiting to pay for my gasoline, and the person in front of me was having some sort of trouble either with his change or the brand of cigarettes he wanted to buy. I remember that it was cold outside. I let my mind wander as I stood waiting, and suddenly I heard myself thinking, “Maybe they should just cut it out and let him do the work he was elected to do.”

No sooner than I heard my self thinking it, than I was shocked, and as it were I woke up or came out of my mind-drifting trance. The experience actually both startled and frightened me. Was it really so easy to to let Bill Clinton control my thoughts? Was it Bill Clinton, indeed, who had controlled them?

It helped to underscore for me Ayn Rand’s assertion that all virtue comes from focusing and all evil from blanking out. “To think or not to think.” It is surely true that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” But if there is possession on such a wide scale, there must be those who direct it, perhaps coordinate it. Ultimately, of course, Satan. But what intermediaries? Are there human intermediaries? Are there people so close to him that they do his work without having to meet in covens with the goat's head painted on the floor and red threads around their waists? Eyes Wide Shut?

I have struggled with the question of how to oppose Our Enemy the State for decades. Have I really been so blind? Has the answer been staring me in the face all this time, that it’s not at all difficult? That we do not need to develop new concepts to undo it. We already have the tools at hand: “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

P.S. What do you think (or know?) about the claims of QAnon that Dark Suits are united in a network of child abuse and pornography? My friend Kevin Cullinane certainly had a brush with a small group, but no Dark Suits were obviously involved. You can read his story on Carl Watner’s "Abolitionist" site:
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Thinking Outloud was last updated February  28, 2021
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