Breakthrough Discovery: Identifying the FIne Line Between Delusions Held by a Few Versus Those Shared Widely

Introduction: The Whipple Perspective

In a remarkable account of what the researchers termed a delusion, social scientists at America’s most loved, most dubious research institution (The Onion) documented a South Dakota man’s beneficial, wellness-enhancing conviction that he’s God. The findings provide a liberating perspective that can and often is applied to resolve troubles, puzzles, difficulties and worries of all kinds. The perspective provided by the report should be beneficial for all concerned about American’s overall health and well-being. (Source: News in Brief, The Onion, “Insane Man Gets A Little Perspective By Reminding Himself That He Is God,” Issue 49•49, Dec 2, 2013.)

The subject of the Onion report, a 38 year-old Rapid City man named Isaac Whipple, 38, said that when he’s feeling down and out, stressed and flummoxed, he sits down, takes a deep breath and reminds himself that he’s “the Great God Almighty, Supreme Lord and Ruler of All Creation God.” In addition, Mr. Whipple believes he’s Satan, meaning “he rules over the pits of Hell,” as well.

This technique does wonders for his state of mind.

Related Delusions

Republicans regularly employ this perspective-enhancing  technique. Such thinking is on display in this video -  

Here, influential Congresspersons (and a failed presidential candidate) are seen in the process of explaining that the words of “the Great God Almighty, Supreme Lord and Ruler of All Creation God” prove that scientific concerns about climate change are groundless.

Is there a substantive difference in Mr. Whipple’s reasoning and these politicians?

Mr. Whipple considers himself immortal. He believes he “holds sway over the lives of all living creatures” and is “a flawless and infallible being who controls everything that is and will ever be.” What’s more, he sees all, knows all and judges all.

As far as I know, neither Rick Santorum, Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Congressmen Gabriel Gomez (TX) nor Paul Broun (GA) has ever claimed that he is God (or Satan) but they are quite certain that know what God has written and wants, not just in general but with respect to public policies.

The benefits of such a perspective are considerable. Mr. Whipple states that, “at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.” No doubt the above noted politicians have a similar view.

How much simpler policy making, not to mention life itself, must be if you believe either that you ARE God (or the Devil) or are certain what God wants. Take that position and you, too, can conclude  “that’s all that matters.”

Those who lack such a simplistic perspective are at such a disadvantage. They can’t find all that matters so readily, if ever. They have to struggle trying to balance competing principles, diverse interests, Constitutional safeguards and so much else. For those who don’t think they are God or are uncertain of exactly what he wants, decision-making is just so darn much more challenging and time-consuming.

There are tens of thousands of Christian fundamentalists, many in high places, who believe in making decisions based on convictions similar to Mr. Whipple’s. They don’t believe that they, personally, are God, but they are convinced they know what God wants.

Delusions and Morality: A Harris Primer

Sam Harris has addressed the topic of delusions in the context of the Christian God.  Have a look at this instructive video.

The Onion report and Republican faith leaders have got me thinking about delusions and their consequences. I wonder if it might be time for Mr. Whipple to look around for a new identity and technique to achieve a satisfying state of mind, and if Republican fundamentalist politicians want to continue to look to their holy book as the primary source for resolving key policy choices on the great issues of the day that affect all of us.

Good luck, everybody.