There are certain theories of dark matter where it barely interacts with the regular world at all, such that we could have a dark matter planet exactly co-incident with Earth and never know. Maybe dark matter people are walking all around us and through us, maybe my house is in the Times Square of a great dark matter city, maybe a few meters away from me a dark matter blogger is writing on his dark matter computer about how weird it would be if there was a light matter person he couldn’t see right next to him.Alexander goes on to say other interesting things. For example, he mocks all those white journalists who write articles with titles like "What White People Don't Understand about Ferguson." These authors don't really mean "white people," otherwise they would have to admit that they don't know what they are talking about. They mean conservatives. This shorthand of "white" for "white, conservative, probably southern" irks me for a couple of reasons. For one, I've never seen being white as something I should be ashamed of; after all, it happened to me before I was born, without my knowledge or consent. For another, it subtly reinforces racial stereotyping, which is one of the things we ought to be struggling against. And, it violates one of the most important dictates of clear speech, which is say what you mean. When you say one thing but count on your audience to catch your nods and winks, you reinforce the sort of social divisions that are the problem here.
This is sort of how I feel about conservatives.
I don’t mean the sort of light-matter conservatives who go around complaining about Big Government and occasionally voting for Romney. I see those guys all the time. What I mean is – well, take creationists. According to Gallup polls, about 46% of Americans are creationists. Not just in the sense of believing God helped guide evolution. I mean they think evolution is a vile atheist lie and God created humans exactly as they exist right now. That’s half the country.
And I don’t have a single one of those people in my social circle. It’s not because I’m deliberately avoiding them; I’m pretty live-and-let-live politically, I wouldn’t ostracize someone just for some weird beliefs. And yet, even though I probably know about a hundred fifty people, I am pretty confident that not one of them is creationist. Odds of this happening by chance? 1/2^150 = 1/10^45 = approximately the chance of picking a particular atom if you are randomly selecting among all the atoms on Earth.
But although I think Alexander is right about a number of things, he is not entirely right. The worlds of Liberals and Conservatives are not really as sealed as he implies, nor is it true that most people get their news entirely from one sort of source. To take the example closest at hand, I read conservative bloggers every day, and many of the comments on those blogs obviously come from liberals and libertarians. Most importantly, The worlds of red and blue America are not nearly so monolithic nor so distinct as Alexander's scheme would require. For example, red America is full of people strongly devoted to Social Security and Medicare, and blue America contains many people strongly devoted to their guns.
Our political divide is real and important, but not absolute or unbreachable. It is very important to remember this, when our worrying about those divisions drives us toward despair.