Paul's Here

Predicting the Future

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There has been much discussion in several threads about the creation of a theocracy in this country. Several people have asserted that a theocracy is a very real possibility in the forseeable future, perhaps within the next generation. Several others have denied such a possibility or likelihood. On 10/19/06, Dr. Peikoff asserted

If you hate the Left so much that you feel more comfortable with the Right, you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner.

I would like to discuss what is the epistemological basis for predicting future actions of volitional beings with such specificity. What objective criteria should one use when formulating specific predictions? What evidence should be considered and integrated into one's estimate?

For time immemorial, religionists have predicted the end of the world, the end of time itself. Clearly, there is no objective basis for such assertions. Economists attempt to predict the future course of the economy, using objective data from the economic system. Usually, such predictions are fruitless in the long term; the typical reason given is that people have free will and one cannot predict accurately. No one predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union or the Berlin wall at the time that it actually happened.

If possible, I'd like to focus this discussion on epistemological issues and principles that can be objectively defended, and specifically, how to use those principles to make predictions in the sphere of politics with respect to actions that people take.

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I would like to discuss what is the epistemological basis for predicting future actions of volitional beings with such specificity. What objective criteria should one use when formulating specific predictions? What evidence should be considered and integrated into one's estimate?

These are excellent questions. Beware of overly certain predictions of the future (including watching if one is doing so one's self.) The future is only a potential, not an actual. What it *actually* becomes is both subject to volition, and a huge number of deterministic but unknown factors. Nobody knows the future or can ever know it, we can only try to make educated guesses which are often wrong. The most certain predictions are those based on philosophic principles which are timeless. We can say with complete certainty for example, that, if humanity survives, then people will certainly continue to have volition, and that the laws of nature won't be changing.

This question can (and should) also be turned around. The thing that most bugs me about Dr. Peikoff's pronouncement - with due respect to his achievements - is the passivity of it, as though Objectivists were but spectators watching the juggernaut of history unfold before them, and at most capable of changing a vote towards the environmentalist religion rather than the Christian one. Well, excuse me, but Objectivists have volition, and they can act, and individually can make changes which will help point the future to a better direction, away from the abyss represented by both Left and Right. The proper perspective is that of *leader*, of efficacious doer, of certainty in the right ideas that need to be implemented in action - not of ship ballast gloomily wondering where the random twists of wind and madmen will take them.

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If possible, I'd like to focus this discussion on epistemological issues and principles that can be objectively defended, and specifically, how to use those principles to make predictions in the sphere of politics with respect to actions that people take.

If that is so then I would recommend the DIM hypothesis course. It proposes that there is a fundamental trichotomy in regard to integration - Disintegration (D), Integration (O) and Misintegration (M).

Disintegration is essentially the "many without the one" i.e. a bunch of concretes without any unifying principle.

Integration is essentially the "one and the many" which is concretes with a unifying principle (e.g. Objectivism)

Misintegration is essentially the "one without the many" which is essentially a floating abstraction unrelated to concretes

The D and M naturally have their basis in irrationality while I has its basis in rationality. Note that Dr. Peikoff argues that such a division is present not only in philosophy but in every field from Science to Arts to Politics to History to Child Raising to Education - everywhere. To illustrate the wide presence of such a trichotomy, he offers in his second lecture an example of a soup (I think).

He says a soup made with a bunch of ingredients put together without any regard to a principle, juxtaposed in any quantity will result in a soup of very poor taste - This is disintegration since there is no unifying principle for putting the ingredients together.

A soup made with a bunch of ingredients put together in the right quantity (i.e. in regard to the principle of making a good soup) will result in a soup of good taste - This is integration.

A soup made with the intention of poisoning someone by putting poison in the soup - This is Misintegration i.e. making a whole with regard to a principle detached from reality.

Applying this to politics in his lectures, Dr. Peikoff argues that since integration is a prime necessity of human cognition (because without principles, a human being cannot function). Thus disintegration though very harmful is fundamentally powerless to last long because it is against integration. A disintegrated viewpoint cannot hold cultural power - it cannot last very long. Human beings require some abstract principles to function in their lives and as such have a choice between Integration (I) and Misintegration (M).

Now in regards to the United States, he argues that the Democrats are the Ds - they are anti-ideological on principle and thus are disintegrated. A disintegration cannot establish a dictatorship. The only chance of a dictatorship is from a Misintegrated ideology (since an integrated ideology would be against dictatorship). And the Christian Republicans today in power are very much the example of a misintegration. The basis of their beliefs and actions is Christianity which is a misintegrated philosophy.

Now he makes a distinction in the D and M. He divides them into two groups - The D1 and the D2 and the M1 and the M2. The Ds he says are basically dead for the reasons explained above - they don't have staying power. The I is not prevalent today. The only thing that is prevalent is the M - M1 and M2.

M1 is basically basing a rational/secular element on a mystical foundation like the Americans in the 40s for example. M2 is total consistent mysticism (e.g. Communism, Christianity of the Dark Ages, etc.).

Dr. Peikoff argues that at this stage of philosophy, one cannot revert to M1 since we are not at the beginning stage of philosophy. At the beginning it was difficult to understand whether God existed or not or whether reason implied atheism. Now however a great many people oriented towards secularism know in some real terms thanks to history that religion and their own outlook are incompatible.

In addition, the ones who had the potential to turn to M1 are the very people who are enraged at the D. And they cannot distinguish the D from the I. All they can say is that they are both secular. In the past, M1 could be sustained because of the less knowledge in those times and the absence of D. Thus those outraged at D would eventually choose M2 (consistent mysticism) unless there is a radical philosophical for the I. From this viewpoint M1 is viewed by M2 as a compromising system.

This is why he thinks that the future of the United States is M2 (dictatorship) if trends remain the same. Then he offers some data to illustrate the general trend towards M2 in this country.

So his opinion on the current trend on the United States, in my judgment, is a product fundamental principles which is supported by many facts which he offers.

A lot of what I have said on the application of DIM hypothesis to the United States today is from the 15th lecture part 1. I recommend everyone to listen to it.

Any and all errors in misrepresenting Dr. Peikoff's view above are mine

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Now he makes a distinction in the D and M. He divides them into two groups - The D1 and the D2 and the M1 and the M2. The Ds he says are basically dead for the reasons explained above - they don't have staying power. The I is not prevalent today. The only thing that is prevalent is the M - M1 and M2.

There might be some confusion in regard to this.

By D is dead, I meant to say that the D is not the future of the United States. The future of the US is either I or M. And the current trend is towards M - specifically M2.

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I appreciate the explanation of the DIM Hypothesis and how it relates to the future of America. I'm in agreement with Peikoff that the left in America is rudderless and, at least in its' present form, will not shape America's future. (The only exception being an somewhat more religious American version of Hugo Chavez.)

My question concerns Peikoff's prediction of American theocracy within 50 years. It would be fascinating to discover what reasoning Peikoff is applying to draw that conclusion. I'm in agreement with Peikoff that the country will move toward theocracy, but I see a much longer timeline, especially given how slow America's slide has been historically.

In a more abstract sense, I think predicting economic, political, and other shifts requires an thorough understanding first of the present environment. That should be followed by developing an understanding of what options/paths are open and evidence suggests is possible. The next step would involve grasping which triggers have what rough probability of causing a specified effect. Discovering the likelihood of each trigger follows. At that point, I would think one would begin to see and anticipate general trends.

The exactness of predictions and the level of confidence one could have in them would depend on the quality and quantity of evidence gained and whether previous patterns can be examined.

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By D is dead, I meant to say that the D is not the future of the United States.

Even granting that D-I-M covers all the cases or is a fundamental method of categorization of cultures (and I don't currently grant *either* one), I immediately dispute, on its (DIM) own terms, the idea that the Left is nothing but disintegration without any unifying principles. Environmentalism is effectively a religion and a philosophy.

Metaphysically it's a form of pan-theism, as I understand the term (nature as God.)

Epistemologically, it is faith driven.

Ethically, based on extreme altruism (Man should sacrifice to Nature.)

And politically, it is totalitarian in its goals. Read 'evw's posts here on just a small snapshot of current laws and trends implementing environmentalism at the political level.

If somebody wants to argue that environmentalism is dead, I suggest that they're living under a well insulated rock.

The future of the US is either I or M. And the current trend is towards M - specifically M2.

"The" current trend is actually multiple trends. One of the dangers of rationalism is monism: an insistence on finding the "one something" that fits ones linear chain of deductive reasoning. There are elements of the culture that are continuing to disintegrate (D); elements that are heading towards an attempt at consistency within an irrational set of principles (M); and those who've learned and are learning about rationality (Objectivism) (I).

Also, most people are *mixtures*, compartmentalized, and parts of the same psychology can readily fall into *each* classification. A brilliant scientist could be wholly rational in his science (I) while having a miserably bad politics with a mishmash of elements (D.)

Either Objectivism has time to change enough of the world intellectually or it does not. This is not a passive activity. Wasting time on the exercise of encouraging a few thousand Objectivists to vote for environmentalism rather than Christianity means less time to focus on the positive and getting the right ideas heard. Both religions are terrible, but the first would destroy humanity without blinking an eyelash (search for the thread mentioning Pianka), and there's growing evidence that the Lefties are willing to openly use violence against Objectivists, such as recent events in Boston.

Rationalism is an *irrationality* too. It might end up being the most fatal of all, if it ends up paralyzing enough Objectivists.

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This is why he thinks that the future of the United States is M2 (dictatorship) if trends remain the same. Then he offers some data to illustrate the general trend towards M2 in this country.

So his opinion on the current trend on the United States, in my judgment, is a product fundamental principles which is supported by many facts which he offers.

A lot of what I have said on the application of DIM hypothesis to the United States today is from the 15th lecture part 1. I recommend everyone to listen to it.

Any and all errors in misrepresenting Dr. Peikoff's view above are mine

There is no disagreement on my part (or any Objectivist's part, as far as I know) that religion is a very real threat to the US. I have only heard the 1st section of DIM hyphothsis. You do not indicate how a specific, fairly short time period is established to predict that something will happen. I agree that principles in society direct trends and directions, but a specific timeline is not apparent from grasping the principles.

For example, in Atlas Shrugged, from the time that Galt quit his job at the factory until the collapse of society as symbolized by the the stopping of the Taggart train with Willers sitting on the engine, the length of time was 4 years. When Galt quit, he did not say that he would stop the motor of the world within 4 years, 10 years, 20 years or even his lifetime. He knew that he was acting in accordance with the correct prinicples.

What principles can I use arrive at the conclusion that a theocracy will be established within the next 50 years?

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Even granting that D-I-M covers all the cases or is a fundamental method of categorization of cultures (and I don't currently grant *either* one)

I can't say anything about the correctness of DIM since I haven't listened to the whole course. I was only trying to present Dr. Peikoff's viewpoint and stating that I thought that his viewpoint was a product of fundamental principles.

I immediately dispute, on its (DIM) own terms, the idea that the Left is nothing but disintegration without any unifying principles. Environmentalism is effectively a religion and a philosophy.

I would classify environmentalism as an also-ran. Granted that many leftists are environmentalists and a select few are constantly trying to make news headlines about environmentalism, environmentalism simply does not inspire the general public. The public, because of inertia may vote for some or even many evil environmentalist proposals but the public is not going to submit to an environmentalist dictatorship.

And anyway, Republicans too are now starting to adopt environmentalism.

"The" current trend is actually multiple trends. One of the dangers of rationalism is monism: an insistence on finding the "one something" that fits ones linear chain of deductive reasoning. There are elements of the culture that are continuing to disintegrate (D); elements that are heading towards an attempt at consistency within an irrational set of principles (M); and those who've learned and are learning about rationality (Objectivism) (I).

Speaking solely of political trends, the only major trend in the political sphere is towards Christianity.

Also, most people are *mixtures*, compartmentalized, and parts of the same psychology can readily fall into *each* classification. A brilliant scientist could be wholly rational in his science (I) while having a miserably bad politics with a mishmash of elements (D.)

How is that relevant to predicting the future political trends?

Either Objectivism has time to change enough of the world intellectually or it does not. This is not a passive activity. Wasting time on the exercise of encouraging a few thousand Objectivists to vote for environmentalism rather than Christianity means less time to focus on the positive and getting the right ideas heard.

Who is "wasting time" on encouraging Objectivists? I haven't seen any prominent Objectivist intellectual actively campaigning to vote for the Democrats.

Both religions are terrible, but the first would destroy humanity without blinking an eyelash (search for the thread mentioning Pianka), and there's growing evidence that the Lefties are willing to openly use violence against Objectivists, such as recent events in Boston.

The first has no chance.

As to the Boston event - could point to a news item of or summarize what happened? I am unaware of this.

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These are excellent questions. Beware of overly certain predictions of the future (including watching if one is doing so one's self.) The future is only a potential, not an actual. What it *actually* becomes is both subject to volition, and a huge number of deterministic but unknown factors. Nobody knows the future or can ever know it, we can only try to make educated guesses which are often wrong. The most certain predictions are those based on philosophic principles which are timeless. We can say with complete certainty for example, that, if humanity survives, then people will certainly continue to have volition, and that the laws of nature won't be changing.

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So what you're implying is that there is no epistemological basis for predicting that a particular political event will occur at or within a specific time period. Correct?

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I can't say anything about the correctness of DIM since I haven't listened to the whole course. I was only trying to present Dr. Peikoff's viewpoint and stating that I thought that his viewpoint was a product of fundamental principles.

Even Dr. Peikoff recognized that there were exceptions to his classification system. For example, Hobbes could be classified in both the Disintegrated and Misintegrated categories.

I would classify environmentalism as an also-ran. Granted that many leftists are environmentalists and a select few are constantly trying to make news headlines about environmentalism, environmentalism simply does not inspire the general public. The public, because of inertia may vote for some or even many evil environmentalist proposals but the public is not going to submit to an environmentalist dictatorship

And anyway, Republicans too are now starting to adopt environmentalism..

Excuse me, please. Which President established the EPA? Environmentalism is an "also-ran"? Are you joking? You cannot walk into a building or onto any property within this country that does not have to meet various environmental regulations. You cannot manufacture any product or provide any service without meeting environmental regulations. You cannot buy or sell property without meeting environmental regulations. You really need to check up on this. You think that only leftist support environmentalism?

Speaking solely of political trends, the only major trend in the political sphere is towards Christianity.

Correction: the only major fundamental, principled trend in the political sphere is towards Christianity. It has much competition.

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I----------

I would classify environmentalism as an also-ran. Granted that many leftists are environmentalists and a select few are constantly trying to make news headlines about environmentalism, environmentalism simply does not inspire the general public. The public, because of inertia may vote for some or even many evil environmentalist proposals but the public is not going to submit to an environmentalist dictatorship.

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Just to give you some facts. Earth Day was started in 1970.

On April 22, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.

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As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues on to the world stage.

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As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the Internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22 rolled around, 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., USA.

I'm not sure how much more inspirational Earth Day can be.

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So what you're implying is that there is no epistemological basis for predicting that a particular political event will occur at or within a specific time period. Correct?

Um, no, I don't think I said or implied that. One main implication from what I said is that there are very few things about the future that can be said with certainty. That doesn't mean however that it's impossible to evaluate one scenario as more or less likely than others. But my main agreement is that prognostication in the general case is not a certain activity - it's a complex, rather statistical one, particularly when you include the actions of volitional human beings. If those actions were concretely predictable, particularly in a give specific time, then men would be deterministic.

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So what you're implying is that there is no epistemological basis for predicting that a particular political event will occur at or within a specific time period. Correct?

I would also add, come to think about it, that a particular *event* can be far more predictable than the outcome of that event. Barring some radical change, there will be Presidential elections every 4 years in the U.S., and that can be stated with a high degree of confidence. What is much harder to predict is who will win. To give another example: it is certain that people will continue to have free will, that there will continue to be events which are comprised of individuals making choices and acting on them. But that still tells you nothing about *what* choices.

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Um, no, I don't think I said or implied that. One main implication from what I said is that there are very few things about the future that can be said with certainty. That doesn't mean however that it's impossible to evaluate one scenario as more or less likely than others. But my main agreement is that prognostication in the general case is not a certain activity - it's a complex, rather statistical one, particularly when you include the actions of volitional human beings. If those actions were concretely predictable, particularly in a give specific time, then men would be deterministic.

Can you elaborate more on the "few things about the future that can be said with certainty." Can you give an example?

Remember, I've tried to frame the context of the question to be about specific political events that occur within a specific time period. How would I conclude, for example, that within the next 50 years, the communists in China will cede power to those fighting for freedom? How (what epistemological principles do I use) would I conclude that within a generation the Christian religion will dominate the American political scene?

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I would also add, come to think about it, that a particular *event* can be far more predictable than the outcome of that event. Barring some radical change, there will be Presidential elections every 4 years in the U.S., and that can be stated with a high degree of confidence. What is much harder to predict is who will win. To give another example: it is certain that people will continue to have free will, that there will continue to be events which are comprised of individuals making choices and acting on them. But that still tells you nothing about *what* choices.

These examples are outside of the context that I was trying to keep within. I'm not challenging certainty or causality. To be more specific, and hopefully more clear as to my meaning, Dr. Peikoff and Diana Hsieh have stated that their understanding of the DIM hypothesis has enabled them to predict that within less than 50 years, the Christian evangelicals will take over the Republican Party and establish a theocacy in the United States. I want to know what is the epistemological principles that establish such a connection between principles and time to implementation, taking into account man's volition.

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To be more specific, and hopefully more clear as to my meaning, Dr. Peikoff and Diana Hsieh have stated that their understanding of the DIM hypothesis has enabled them to predict that within less than 50 years, the Christian evangelicals will take over the Republican Party and establish a theocacy in the United States. I want to know what is the epistemological principles that establish such a connection between principles and time to implementation, taking into account man's volition.

Just for precision, the stated time frame is much shorter than 50 years. From peikoff.com: "... theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner."

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Can you elaborate more on the "few things about the future that can be said with certainty." Can you give an example?

As I mentioned before, any philosophically timeless principle. The law of identity will still be true in the future. People will still have volition (if any are alive.) etc.

Remember, I've tried to frame the context of the question to be about specific political events that occur within a specific time period. How would I conclude, for example, that within the next 50 years, the communists in China will cede power to those fighting for freedom? How (what epistemological principles do I use) would I conclude that within a generation the Christian religion will dominate the American political scene?

As a general rule I suppose one applies knowledge of the factors affecting human affairs and extrapolates that into the future. You ask, what the most important principles, and what are the specific facts representing the current state of affairs? We know from Objectivism that philosophic ideas have enormous power to guide people and cultures - so it's reasonable to conclude that the current cultural philosophy will carry forward into the future. However, as soon as you go to today+1 you do begin to introduce factors which are inherently uncertain - the many relevant facts that are *not* known, and the fact that people have volition and might do one thing, or not. One of the problems with the prediction is that one may have a false idea of the current state affairs, from the get-go, i.e., the theory that evangelical Christians comprise a majority of America. If that were true, one can predict a grim near term future for the country with a high degree of probability. If that is *not* true, then extrapolations based on a falsity are not going to be good ones.

I have posited that it's probable that China will throw off communism sometime in the next few decades based on the current state of the country and trends related to it. I see no evidence in particular that the ideas of communism are *dominant*, because if they were, China today would have to resemble North Korea or Soviet Russia or Cuba (or 1960 China.) On the other hand, communists in name still possess power, and China is growing its military by leaps and bounds, and actively (tries to) censor the populace. So there are multiple possible scenarios. Perhaps the communists morph into Nazi-like fascists, with nominal private property and defacto large scale government control. A powerful China with expansionist ambitions combined with a totalitarian government could be the biggest threat to America since its founding. But that implies that the hundreds of millions benefiting from newfound prosperity would support it, then the question is, why would they? What is their *implicit* philosophy now? Is it communism or something else? Will the old men of communism die off and quietly be replaced by sane men who would rather make money than plot the destruction of their biggest customer? etc.

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I have posited that it's probable that China will throw off communism sometime in the next few decades based on the current state of the country and trends related to it. I see no evidence in particular that the ideas of communism are *dominant*, because if they were, China today would have to resemble North Korea or Soviet Russia or Cuba (or 1960 China.) On the other hand, communists in name still possess power, and China is growing its military by leaps and bounds, and actively (tries to) censor the populace. So there are multiple possible scenarios. Perhaps the communists morph into Nazi-like fascists, with nominal private property and defacto large scale government control. A powerful China with expansionist ambitions combined with a totalitarian government could be the biggest threat to America since its founding. But that implies that the hundreds of millions benefiting from newfound prosperity would support it, then the question is, why would they? What is their *implicit* philosophy now? Is it communism or something else? Will the old men of communism die off and quietly be replaced by sane men who would rather make money than plot the destruction of their biggest customer? etc.

Thanks for your response.

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Can you elaborate more on the "few things about the future that can be said with certainty." Can you give an example?

Remember, I've tried to frame the context of the question to be about specific political events that occur within a specific time period.

I would use the same criteria and the same epistemological standard used in courts to evaluate the likelihood that a particular man would do a particular volitional act (such as commit murder). The criteria are motive, means, and opportunity -- you must have all three -- and evaluation can vary from "impossible" to "beyond a reasonable doubt and to moral certainty." (This is opposed to total certainty based on knowing the cause which is not possible with other peoples' volitional choices).

Applying the criteria to the prospect of a Christian theocracy occurring in the US in the next 50 years, I would have to say it is impossible.

As to MOTIVE, it is the rare American Christian who WANTS to forcibly impose his religious beliefs across the board like, for instance, environmentalists, advocates of socialized medicine or public schools, or opponents of smoking do.

As to MEANS, the Founding Fathers provided checks and balances designed to prevent dictatorships of all kinds. The only way to establish a dictatorship is to kill the President, and millions of legislators, judges, and federal and state government employees, scrap the Constitution, and institute martial law across a vast continent.

There is NO WAY Americans would ever give a would-be theocrat the OPPORTUNITY to do all that.

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As to MEANS, the Founding Fathers provided checks and balances designed to prevent dictatorships of all kinds. The only way to establish a dictatorship is to kill the President, and millions of legislators, judges, and federal and state government employees, scrap the Constitution, and institute martial law across a vast continent.

There is NO WAY Americans would ever give a would-be theocrat the OPPORTUNITY to do all that.

If I can play devil's advocate, suppose the President and all of those government employees were deeply religious who were elected to office also wanted to establish a theocracy. Could it be done "voluntarily" as the Nazis converted a democracy to a dictatorship?

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If I can play devil's advocate, suppose the President and all of those government employees were deeply religious who were elected to office also wanted to establish a theocracy. Could it be done "voluntarily" as the Nazis converted a democracy to a dictatorship?

Maybe if we are talking about Islam, but Christianity is different.

It emphasizes individual salvation, free-will, and cooperating with non-Christian and secular governments ("render unto Caesar"). Attempts to spread Christianity by the sword, pre-Enlightenment, like the Crusades, were infrequent and usually unsuccessful. Post-Enlightenment, with secular governments firmly established, it has been non-existent.

If such an attempt were ever made in this country, it would lead to open rebellion. Germans were sheep; Americans aren't.

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I would use the same criteria and the same epistemological standard used in courts to evaluate the likelihood that a particular man would do a particular volitional act (such as commit murder). The criteria are motive, means, and opportunity -- you must have all three -- and evaluation can vary from "impossible" to "beyond a reasonable doubt and to moral certainty." (This is opposed to total certainty based on knowing the cause which is not possible with other peoples' volitional choices).

Applying the criteria to the prospect of a Christian theocracy occurring in the US in the next 50 years, I would have to say it is impossible.

As to MOTIVE, it is the rare American Christian who WANTS to forcibly impose his religious beliefs across the board like, for instance, environmentalists, advocates of socialized medicine or public schools, or opponents of smoking do.

As to MEANS, the Founding Fathers provided checks and balances designed to prevent dictatorships of all kinds. The only way to establish a dictatorship is to kill the President, and millions of legislators, judges, and federal and state government employees, scrap the Constitution, and institute martial law across a vast continent.

There is NO WAY Americans would ever give a would-be theocrat the OPPORTUNITY to do all that.

Thanks for you comments, Betsy, and your insightful comments. I think your on the right track in terms of addressing my question. For example, I can see how it could be applied in evaluating a situation like pre-Nazi Germany. The motive, means, and opportunity were all present then. In order to apply it to Amercan society, I think a good deal of theoretical work would have to be done because there are so many competing motives. Using your analysis, I could see how a leftist dictatorship could be established before a theocracy.

A question I have concerning your theory is that the motive/means/opportunity that is used in criminal law is used to identify suspects based on events that occurred in the past. How well you think that future events would be predicatable using this criterion? Do we have to wait for events to right on top of us before we can be certain that a theocracy is really coming soon?

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Is the following analysis of "hypothesis" useful in understanding how Dr. Peikoff has applied his DIM Hypothesis to concluding that a theocracy is imminent?

Scientific Methodology

Prof. M: Would you consider the following method of confirming a scientific principle to be valid? One formulates the principle being guided by one's knowledge of fact. Using the principle, one next deduces how entities under certain conditions should act. Then, if one observes such action and, within the context of one's knowledge can account for it only by the principle which predicted it, it follows that the principle has been confirmed. In summary, one induces the principle, deduces its consequences, and if only that principle is known to give rise to those consequences, which in turn exist, then the principle is confirmed as a contextual absolute.

AR: This is outside the province of my book; this is the theory of induction. But within this context, I would say, no, this would not be the right procedure, and there is a danger of a very, very grave error here. Because if you follow the procedure you outline here, and you make certain predictions on the basis of a hypothesis, and the entities do act accordingly, you conclude that you can hold as a contextual absolute that it was your hypothesis that was operating and that it is therefore true. You are assuming an omniscience that contextual knowledge cannot permit. Because since you are not omniscient, within the context of your knowledge you cannot say that your particular hypothesis was the only possible cause of the entities acting the way you predicted. You would have to say this offers great confirmation of your hypothesis, but it still remains a hypothesis and cannot be taken as knowledge. Why? Because so many other possibilities are involved. And I don't mean unknown or unknowable factors—I mean that it would be impossible, for any complex principle of science that you are trying to establish, to eliminate, even within your own context of knowledge, all the other possibilities.

What I would question is this part of the procedure: "if only that principle is known to give rise to those consequences"—that's the mistake of arrested knowledge, right there.

Prof. M: Even though it is relative to what you know at that time?

AR: Even though it's at that time and it's your full context of knowledge. Because you cannot conclude that something which is not fully known to you can be produced only by one hypothesized factor. On the basis of that same context of knowledge, any number of hypotheses could be constructed. Which is why we need hypotheses. If it were otherwise, then your hypothesis to begin with would almost have to be a certainty.

Historically, some dreadful errors have resulted from that method. One of them is the denial of the existence of ether. I don't mean that ether necessarily exists; I mean the process by which they denied it, was of this type. They predicted something with an artificial absolute or ultimatum delivered to nature—if light bends in a certain way (or something on that order), then it proves that space is a vacuum. It certainly does not, and I am no physicist, I am just an epistemologist. You cannot arbitrarily restrict the facts of nature to your current level of knowledge. In other words, you cannot take the context of your knowledge, as if reality were confined only to that which you know, and deliver ultimatums, saying, "If my hypothesis predicts correctly, then it is only my hypothesis that can be true."

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A question I have concerning your theory is that the motive/means/opportunity that is used in criminal law is used to identify suspects based on events that occurred in the past. How well you think that future events would be predicatable using this criterion?

I think they would be as predictable as for past occurrences given the same quantity and quality of evidence

Do we have to wait for events to right on top of us before we can be certain that a theocracy is really coming soon?

You need ENOUGH evidence to support any speculative claim. How much is enough is a judgement call and depends on how one weights and evaluates the evidence. There are quite a few epistemological options when it comes to that weighting and evaluating, so disagreements are likely to occur and to remain until future projections become current events.

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Is the following analysis of "hypothesis" useful in understanding how Dr. Peikoff has applied his DIM Hypothesis to concluding that a theocracy is imminent?

I agree with Ayn Rand 100% that a successful prediction from an hypothesis is NOT the proper way to establish the truth of the hypothesis.

I would add (and this is my theory of induction and not Ayn Rand's) that the way to establish scientific certainty is to show the causal connection between the nature of the entities that act and their actions. In that respect, a good hypothesis is an enormous timesaver and guide to finding the relevant causes.

On THE FORUM, Noodlefood, HBL, and elsewhere, many commenters are unconvinced by assertions that the religious attitudes and practices of Republicans will lead to a religious dictatorship and have asked how and why. To ask how and why is to ask for the causal connection between the two.

So far, a causal explanation has not been provided to my satisfaction nor to many others who asked.

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