Let 10 Titans of Freethought Guide Your Choice of Political Party to Back in 2016

Introduction

PollIt seems a new poll is published daily on the status of the Democratic and Republican races for president. There are Gallup, Mason-Dixon, Marist, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen and multiple additional polls, both national and local, public and private. There are polls conducted by special interest groups, by the candidates, by universities and so on. It’s enough to induce poll-itical fatigue.

What this nation needs now is a new kind of forecasting tool. I’d like to see a poll that probes how voters with out-of-the-ordinary, critical thinking skills assess the candidates. This kind of poll would render a forecast of which political party is likely to gain the support of Americans with the most acutely developed thinking skills. This would be of interest in its own right, but it might also guide less-developed voters to consider casting their ballots with fellow citizens who have a better grip on reality than they have at the present time.

After all, don’t most people want in the role of president, the highest office in the land and unofficial leader of the so-called free world, someone who will administer his or her duties guided by reason, science and critical thinking, not one who will rely on supernatural forces, witchcraft, dogma and an imaginary friend sending policy recommendations via psychic messages from the murky beyond?

To create the possibility that we might soon have such a unique and even revolutionary poll conducted by Gallup or other national polling agency, I have employed one of the four dimensions of the REAL wellness concept to create a modest working model of such a tool, one capable of probing and mining the deepest motives, fears and neuro-dynamics of American voters. This polling tool comes with accuracy and precision in the sense of both repeatability and reproducibility. If administered nationally, I believe it  would reveal which Party’s candidate is the standout for thinking, rational voters.

The Ardell REAL Wellness Literary Predictive Tool

This tool assessed a subject’s responses to ten quotations, rated on a scale of one to five. One represents the strongest possible degree of likability or agreement with the quotation; five the strongest possible dislike or disagreement with the quotation.

To best acquaint yourself with the Ardell REAL Wellness Literary Predictive Tool, kindly complete the following ten quotation assessments by placing a numerical value from 1 to 5 after reading each quotation, using the space provided. The scoring, once again, is on a continuum scale from strong like/agreement (1) to strong dislike/disagreement (5).

  1. We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins—they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of today. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of today—of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago. These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars—neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience—and for them all, man is indebted to man.    ~Robert Green Ingersoll
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  2. It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom, knowledge and power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself.    ~Richard Dawkins
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  3. While religious tolerance is surely better than religious war, tolerance is not without its liabilities. Our fear of provoking religious hatred has rendered us incapable of criticizing ideas that are now patently absurd and increasingly maladaptive.    ~Sam Harris
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  4. If you can approach the world’s complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things. Keeping that awestruck vision of the world ready at hand while dealing with the demands of daily living is no easy exercise, but it is definitely worth the effort, for if you can stay centered, and engaged, you will find the hard choices easier, the right words will come to you when you need them, and you will indeed be a better person. That, I propose, is the secret to spirituality, and it has nothing at all to do with believing in an immortal soul.   ~Daniel C. Dennett
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  5. Freedom depends upon freethinkers. There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.   ~Ruth Hurmence Green
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  6. The most preposterous notion that Homo sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.   ~Robert A. Heinlein
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  7. I remain an aggressive agnostic. Lucretius hit it on the nail when he said that religion was the by-product of fear—a reaction to a mysterious and often hostile universe. For much of human prehistory, it may have been a necessary evil—but why was it so much more evil than necessary—and why did it survive when it was no longer necessary? Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. We should get rid of it as quick as we can.   ~Arthur C. Clarke
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  8. How could the human mind progress, while tormented with frightful phantoms, and guided by men, interested in perpetuating its ignorance and fears? Man has been forced to vegetate in his primitive stupidity: he has been taught stories about invisible powers upon whom his happiness was supposed to depend. Occupied solely by his fears, and by unintelligible reveries, he has always been at the mercy of priests, who have reserved to themselves the right of thinking for him, and of directing his actions. Religion is a mere castle in the air. Theology is ignorance of natural causes; a tissue of fallacies and contradictions. Religions are an obstacle to freedom and the common good.    ~Baron d’Holbach
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  9. Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ This stranger is a theologian.   ~Denis Diderot
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  10. I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind—that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking. I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious. I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect. I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech. I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run. I believe in the reality of progress. But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant. We would be 1,500 years ahead if it hadn’t been for the church dragging science back by its coattails and burning our best minds at the stake.   ~Catherine Fahringer
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Scoring and Interpretation

PollPlease add the totals of all points assigned to each question. The lowest possible score, if you strongly liked and/or agreed with all ten statements, is 10. If your scores are between 10 and 40, the Ardell REAL Wellness Literary Predictive Tool suggests that you will vote for either Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley or anyone else who becomes the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.

If you scored a perfect 50, on the other hand, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson or Ted Cruz will be your top choice, should one of these men reach the top of the Republican ticket for president. If you scored between 45 and 49, you will still vote for one of the above if nominated by the Republican Party, but will be even happier to cast your ballot for Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina or John Kasich. If you scored between 41 and 44, you will still favor any one of the above named candidates if he or she is at the top of the Republican ticket, but you would probably prefer to see Chris Christie, Ron Paul or Jeb Bush in that position.

Of course, if you plan to vote for Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, or a candidate of any other minor party, the Ardell REAL Wellness Literary Predictive Tool cannot reliably or accurately forecast how you will vote, as double blind randomized testing has not been done with third party value systems as per reason, science and critical thinking. Further testing and this shortcoming can be attended satisfactorily.

Full disclosure: I “confess” to scoring a perfect ten, so if you are a Republican enthusiast canvassing in my neighborhood, making robo calls or a fund-raiser, you might move on to more fertile possibilities.

If your score on this assessment suggests you will be voting for the Democratic candidate or for a third party nominee, well, you might enjoy this quote, also from Robert Green Ingersoll, whose remarks were the first cited in this assessment:

The politicians who preached at these revivals were in earnest. They were zealous and sincere. They were not philosophers. To them science was the name of a vague dread—a dangerous enemy. They did not know much, but they believed a great deal.

This remark is taken from his 1896 speech, ”Why I Am an Agnostic.” The second word in the quote was not “politicians.” The substitution was my doing. The profession Ingersoll identified was “ministers.” You will have to forgive me but what, after all, is the impression that Republican candidates give but that they are ministers of the Christian religion (as only Huckabee actually is) more than they are politicians seeking to lead a secular nation, not a theocracy?

All good wishes, be well, vote wisely and let reason, science and critical thinking, not religion, be your guide when you make that fateful choice on Tuesday, November 08, 2016.

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