Perspectives from Reality and Fantasy

  • How the first scene in Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” is seen differently by conservatives and progressives;
  • Daniel Kahneman, RIP, who realized that people are not rational;
  • More right-wing conspiracy theories about the Baltimore bridge collapse;
  • And items about an earthquake, crime and drugs, and banning abortion pills.

CNN, Harmeet Kaur, 27 Mar 2024: Conservatives and liberals alike can’t stop talking about this scene in ‘3 Body Problem’

I’ve only watched the first episode of “3 Body Problem” (as Netflix stylizes the adaptation of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem — a novel I reviewed here back in 2015), but it’s been enough for me to recognize the scene at issue in this article.

That first episode

starts out with a harrowing scene set in Mao Zedong’s China in 1966. A physics professor, accused of teaching counter-revolutionary concepts, is brought onstage before a raging mob and beaten to death.

Such incidents, in which “class enemies” were publicly humiliated and tortured, were common throughout the decade-long Cultural Revolution, which sought to silence Mao’s perceived opposition and ended with his death in 1976.

This article then quotes some of the reactions.

“Just watched the opening scene of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem depicting a Chinese cultural revolution lynching, and it is scarily reminiscent of where Woke is taking us: no freedom of speech or thought, toe the party line or be eliminated, don’t even think of counter-revolution,” one user wrote on X.

“To understand what the left is doing, I suggest watching the opening of the Netflix series 3 Body Problem,” another person on X wrote. “The scene of the Cultural revolution demonstrates what is taking place. Learn history or be doomed.”

But while some conservatives heralded the scene as a metaphor for the supposed authoritarianism of the left, some liberals and progressives reached an entirely different conclusion.

“To understand what the right is doing, I suggest watching the opening of the Netflix series 3 Body Problem,” one user responded to a conservative post on X. “The scene of the Cultural revolution demonstrates what is taking place. Banning books in schools & libraries that don’t conform to their way of thinking. Then cry ‘Freedom.’”

Another person on X wrote, “Just watched the opening scenes from ‘3 Body Problem,’ set in the Cultural Revolution, and the anti-science set in America is a lot like that.”

OK, but the article doesn’t completely describe that first scene. The victim is a university professor who is questioned about his teaching of Einstein’s relativity, which is anathema to the Chinese communists (just as it is to American conservatives, because it suggests that things are not firm and fixed and unchanging). The professor responds by saying something like, “It is the best explanation for what we observe about the universe,” or something like that, for which he is whipped and beaten to death. And in a later scene, that professor’s daughter (who witnessed her father’s death, from the crowd), at work at a deforestation camp, is covertly given a copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the famous 1962 expose of the harmful effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides. This too is a forbidden book, and the daughter is punished.

OK, conservatives see this as being woke?? Because a dissident is not allowed to speak? Because conservatives are not allowed to published their books? –No, wait, it’s the other way around. It’s conservatives who are denying science, like relativity (as explained I imagine in Conservapedia, which criticizes atheism, evolution, and relativity among much else), and climate change, and vaccines. And banning books that don’t conform to their party line? Amirite?

How to resolve this odd discrepancy? Can we understand how the right would find the proclamation of science to be the equivalent of being “woke”? Well, without elaborating (as I’ve already so on this blog, at length), it’s because conservatives believe things that are not true. Or rather, conservatives *prefer* to believe things that are not true.


Shorter items.

Washington Post, 27 Mar 2024: Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate who upended economics, dies at 90

Dr. Kahneman’s research was best known for debunking the notion of “homo economicus,” the “economic man” who since the epoch of Adam Smith was considered a rational being who acts out of self-interest. Instead, Dr. Kahneman found, people rely on intellectual shortcuts that often lead to wrongheaded decisions that go against their own best interest.

Which has been a theme of evolutionary psychology (and Kahneman’s field of behavioral economics), and discussion of conspiracy theories and cognitive biases, for decades. I read his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, some years ago, and took detailed notes, and it’s on my list of such books to get around to writing up on this blog. (Like the Wilson.)


Media Matters, 26 Mar 2024: Right-wing media spread conspiracy theories about Baltimore bridge collapse, subtitled “Right-wing pundits are baselessly linking the collapse of the bridge to DEI, immigration, and terrorism”

A summary of the event. And a summary of the right-wing conspiracy theories — from, as above, people who prefer to believe things that are not true.


They seem to have missed this one: Newsmax Blames Bridge Collapse On “Woke” Shipper


More about the fringe.

Joe.My.God, 27 Mar 2024: Christian Site: Eclipse May Bring “Massive” Earthquake

Jack Smith Rule prediction: no, it won’t.


Salon, Kirk Swearingen, 24 Mar 2024: Who brought the crime, the drugs and the rape? It was him, subtitled “Trump’s infamous 2015 speech claimed immigrants were ‘bringing crime’ and were ‘rapists.’ Talk about projection”


Now Republicans want to ban “abortion pills.”

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 27 Mar 2024: Of course the lawyer trying to ban abortion pills is married to Josh “Run For Your Life” Hawley, subtitled “Erin Hawley continues the proud GOP tradition of women building their careers by ruining other women’s lives”

I hadn’t realized that the lawyer bringing this case was the wife of Senator Josh Hawley, who famously pumped his fist to cheer on the Jan. 6 rioters before fleeing to a safe space away from them.

The photo reinforces my impression that conservatives/Republicans are so *angry* all the time. Or maybe just afraid.

This entry was posted in conservatives, progress. Bookmark the permalink.