Sincerely Held Really Bad Ideas Are... Still Really Bad Ideas by Tristero

Sincerely Held Really Bad Ideas Are... Still Really Bad Ideas

By tristero

I just don't understand this:
Mr. Santorum, hurting politically in Pennsylvania because of his defense of the Iraq war and President George W. Bush, had written a book, “It Takes a Family.” It was a blistering attack on liberal “elites” and what he saw as their moral relativism as well as “radical feminists” who, he said, had devalued mothers who preferred staying home rather than going to work.

“I said, ‘What are you doing?’ ” recalled David Urban, who had been chief of staff to Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and was close to Mr. Santorum. “ ‘You’re running for re-election! Why not wait till afterward?’ ”

Mr. Urban said Mr. Santorum told him that these were ideas he really believed.

”There are some guys — Paul Wellstone was one,” Mr. Urban said, referring to the liberal Democratic senator from Minnesota, “who know what they believe, they don’t take polls and they don’t worry about the consequences. For him, this book was a big marker.”
Ok. let's skip over the outrageous insult to the great Paul Wellstone by maliciously comparing him to a moral midget like Santorum. The point of the story is obvious, a common trope of the mainstream public discourse: Santorum is a man who really believes what he says, and we should admire both his sincerity as well as his willingness to express what he believes.

But for the life of me, I can't understand why anyone who really believes things that are completely wrong should be admired. Santorum really believes that Darwin is wrong and creationists are right. I should admire him for really believing something that is completely idiotic? I should admire his willingness to spout arrant, dangerous nonsense in public? Santorum really believes there is no difference between two lovers of the same gender making love and a man raping a horse. Why is it admirable to believe and say something so hateful?

Sincerely-held delusions, sincerely-expressed hate, and sincerely-treasured ignorance: how does the fact that the person is sincere mitigate the errors, the bigotry, and the lack of knowledge? And furthermore, are these even really sincere? Isn't all this exactly the opposite of the kind of open-mindedness practiced by a truly sincere person, a person able to evaluate the worth of what to believe, and what not to?

We live in very strange times when it is somehow a mark of character to believe ridiculous things.