Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Long Term Culture Shock

My Midwestern culture-shock was pretty intense for a while, but even when I think I've gotten used to local behavior, something comes along to amaze me all over again.

I've certainly been aware that one of the Midwestern core values is total irrationality. In the belief system of the locals, it's better to believe whatever you want about global warming or what causes cancer, since the most uninformed person's opinion is just as good as that of the most learned philosopher. More "educated" people, the doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, tend to have a "spiritual path" that also decries modern fantasies like, say, the germ theory of disease. Well, maybe not the doctors. But everyone seems to subscribe to the "thinking makes it so" attitude.

In yesterday's newspaper there is an article about a local eyesore, an old garage in a residential neighborhood. It has also been found to be a menace to public health and safety. The town has been going around with the owner, to get him to tear it down, for seven years. Finally they reached a resolution. But...

One commissioner said (despite seven years worth of evidence) that he "didn't believe" that there was a problem. Therefore, according to his belief system, there is no problem and anyone who says there is obviously is doing something Bad. Evidence is irrelevant. Seven years of work by other commissioners is irrelevant. So he fought having anything done about the property!

Maybe I could call this the "Reagan Effect."

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