I had a recurring experience at a meeting yesterday, one that I think dovetails with a lot of the anger and angst that exists in our contemporary public discourse.
Over the past two years, I have tried to communicate how and why some complex technology we invented works. We have had positive results with ever test and deployment, but the results have varied based on geologic conditions that have nothing to do with the technology itself. The success of the technology is bounded by several variables, some of which work against each other when they are present.
We designed the physical equipment to be modular so that we could interchange modules to configure it to meet 80% of conditions present around the world. We decided not to build all the modules at once but to save money, we would build them as needed to meet the challenges of the customer’s situation. Somehow, there are non-technical people on the board of directors who define this the equipment not being ready for widespread use and in need of a “redesign” and for two years, I have tried my best, in the simplest of terms and examples, to get them to understand that configuration changes are not redesigns.
But in yesterday’s meeting, one of the board members asked how long it was going to take to redesign the equipment to function in a new location in the Middle East.
The other situation is late last year, we were offered a site in which to test in an environment that was possibly the worst situation we would face – sub-zero temperatures and several feet of snow above ground, high asphaltene and sticky paraffin concentrations in the crude oil, a producing well where the bore was coated with these constituents, no readily available water (we had to truck it in) and the water that was available from the field was also brine that contained “sticky” constituents. The purpose of this test was to try out mitigation strategies for these conditions and to see how well the equipment would operate under extremely rudimentary conditions. We got valuable data from that test but there were board members who considered it a failure, even though they knew up front of the challenge and what we were trying to learn. In yesterday’s meeting, this test was brought up a half a dozen times and termed a “failure”.
I said nothing because, after two years, if they do not get it, they are simply not capable of understanding. It’s not that they aren’t smart enough to absorb the knowledge, it is that the words simply don’t penetrate some underlying bias they have toward the technology.
Today, I considered this real world business situation in the context of our real world societal and cultural problems and concluded there are parallels between them.
It occurs to me there are two types of cynicism – there is the healthy kind that keeps us from buying stuff based on late night informercials and the unhealthy type that causes people to discount or dismiss facts because they can’t accept something and can’t believe you could possibly be serious when you say you accept that particular thing.
The second type is at play in my meetings and in on the political left. Some members of my board are so cynical about the performance of our new technology that no amount of facts can penetrate the walls they have constructed around their disbelief. Progressives are the same way – they cannot imagine that patriotism is honest or real because they, themselves, do not believe it exists. They can’t conceptualize how someone could love our flag, stand for the Star Spangled Banner or proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
This is why progressives are bad at math and science (even though they don’t believe they are) and no amount of facts, evidence or data will sway them. Challenge them to produce evidence on systemic racism or racist police and you will run headlong into this 50 foot tall granite wall pretty damn fast.
I would propose this is the same unhealthy cynicism that arose with the way hydroxychloroquine has been treated by the progressive left and the media – it never was pitched as a panacea or a cure-all, but there is documented evidence of success when combined with zinc for certain stages of the Covid-19 progression – and yet the social media oligarchs ban every mention of it.
Because of the wall they have built around their “OrangeManBad” belief. My God, he told people to inject bleach [spoiler alert – he didn’t] – how can you possibly trust him?
Where healthy cynicism protects people, unhealthy cynicism hurts people. Assuming a vaccine for C-19 is forthcoming while Trump is still president, there will be people who refuse it simply because they have convinced themselves that Trump wants to kill them. The progressive leadership of some major cities have allowed their downtowns to be burned to the ground and their citizens to be terrorized because they are impervious to evidence that counters their cynical views of their own police forces. I hate to say it, but it is my belief that if America were attacked by China, there is a significant number of Americans who would try to out-Vichy Vichy France of WWII. They are calling for the destruction of America now, so why would they be expected to fight to maintain our nation?
Unchecked, unhealthy cynicism metastasizes into nihilism, misanthropy, and kamikaze-like hopelessness. It would be bad enough if they just wanted to end themselves, but they want to take the rest of us down with them. America once was strong enough to resist such defeatism. After years of cultural Marxist indoctrination, I am just not sure we still have the requisite moxie it will take to put the dry bones of Marx back in his tomb.
For all our sakes, progressives included, I hope I am wrong.