The Happy Days Ahead
By Robert A. Heinlein
The Happy Days Ahead 545
The Age of Unreason
Having been reared in the most bigoted of Bible Belt
fundamentalism in which every word of the King James version of the Bible
is the literal word of Godthen having broken loose at thirteen when I
first laid hands on THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES and THE DESCENT OF MANI should
have been unsurprised by the anti-intellectual and anti-science ground
swell in this country.
I knew that our American temperament, practical as sharp tools on one
side, was never more than three quarters of an inch from mindless hysteria
on the other side. I knew thismy first long story was IF THIS GOES ON,
a yarn based on the assumption that my compatriots were capable of
throwing away their dearly-bought liberties to submit to a crude and
ridiculous religious dictatorship.
(In forty years of letters about that story no one has ever criticized
this assumption; I infer that I am not alone in believing it.)
I had read much about the Ku Klux Klan during the Tragic Era, talked
with many who had experienced it, then experienced its nationwide
recrudescence in the early 1920's. I had seen damfoolishness from dance
marathons to flagpole sitters, and had made considerable study of crowd
behavior and mass delusions. I had noted, rather casually, the initial
slow growth of anti-science-&-intellectism.
Yet the durned thing shocked me.
Let me list some signs:
a) I CHING;
b) Back-to-nature cults;
c) The collapse of basic education;
d) The current respectability of natal homological
"intelligentsia"e.g. professors, N.Y. lit'rary people, etc.;
546 EXPANDED UNIVERSE
e) "Experts" on nuclear power and nuclear weapons who know
nothing whatever of mathematical physics and are smug in admitting it;
f) "Experts" on the ecology of northern Alaska who have never been
there and are not mathematically equipped to analyse a problem in ecology;
g) People who watch television several hours a day and derive all their
opinions therefromand expound them;
h) People who watch television several hours a day;
i) The return of creationism "Equal time for Yahweh; "
j) The return of witchcraft.
The mindless yahoos, people who think linearly like a
savage instead of inductively or deductively, and people who used to be
respectful to learned opinion or at least kept quiet, now are aggressively
on the attack. Facts and logic don't count; their intuition is the source
If any item on the above list strikes you as rational, I won't debate
it with you; you are part of the problem.
But I will illustrate what I mean in categories where I think I might
a) I CHING easier than "reading the augurs" but with nothing else
to recommend it. Chinese fortune cookies are just as as accurateand you
get to eat the cookie. Nevertheless this bit of oriental nonsense is
treated with solemn seriousness by many "educated" people. It is popular
enough to make profitable the sale of books, equipment, magazine articles,
and personal instruction. Paralleling I CHING is the wide-spread use of
Tarot cards. Fortunetelling by cards used to be a playful parlor game, a
mating ritea nubile girl limited by the vocabulary and public manners of
the Mauve Decade could convey to a rutty young male almost any message by
how she chose to "read his fortune"with no impropriety. But neither he
nor she took the cards seriously.
Tarot cards formerly were used only by Gypsy or
The Happy Days Ahead 547
fake-Gypsy fortunetellers; they were not an article of
commerce, were not easy to find. Today they are as easy to buy as liquor
during prohibition, and also books on their "interpretation." Reading the
Tarot is taken with deep seriousness by a dismaying number of
peoplehaving the Hanging Man turn up can cause great anguish.
b) Back-to-nature cults: I do not mean nudist resorts or
"liberated" beaches. The growing realization that human bodies are not
obscene is a sane, healthy counter trend in our crazy culture.
By back-to-nature cults I mean people who band together to "return to the
land" to grow their own food without pesticides, without artificial
fertilizers, without power machinery, self-reliant in all ways
no comprehension that a spading fork implies coal mines, iron ore, blast
furnaces, steel mills, factories, etc., that any building more complex
than a log cabin or a sod house implies a building-materials industry,
If all of us tried to go back-to-nature, most of us would starve rather
quickly. These back-to-nature freaks can't do arithmetic.
The collapse of basic educationno need to repeat.
d) Natal horological astrologyBaseline: fifty-odd years ago
astrology was commonly regarded as a ridiculous former superstition, one
all but a tiny minority had outgrown. It is now the orthodoxy of many,
possibly a majority. This pathological change parallels the decay of
Stipulated: Ancient astrologers were scientists in being able to
predict certain aspects of descriptive astronomy such as eclipses,
positions of the sun, moon, and naked-eye planets, etc. Whether or not
they believed the fortunetelling they supplied to their kings, patrons, or
clients is irrelevant. The test of a science is its ability to predict;
in the cited phenomena the Chaldean priests (for example) performed
remarkable feats of prediction with handcrafted naked-eye instruments.
548 EXPANDED UNIVERSE
It has long been known that Sol is the heat engine that
controls our weather. Recently, with the discovery of solar wind, the Van
Allen belts, et al., we have become aware of previously unsuspected
variables affecting us and our weather, and successful predictions are
being made empiricallyno satisfactory theory.
"What sign were you born under?"I don't recall having heard that
question until sometime after World War Two. Today it is almost
impossible to attend a social gathering (including parties made up almost
solely of university staff and spouses) without being asked that question
or hearing it asked of someone else.
Today natal horological astrology is so widely accepted that those who
believe in it take it for granted that anyone they meet believes in it,
tooif you don't, you're some sort of a nut. I don't know what percentage
of the population believe in natal homological astrology (sorry about that
clumsy expression but I wish to limit this precisely to the notion that
the exact time, date, latitude, and longitude of your birth and the
pattern of the Sun, Moon, and planets with respect to the Zodiac at that
exact time all constitute a factor affecting your life comparable in
importance to your genetic inheritance and your rearing and education)I
don't know the percentage of True Believers but it is high enough that
newspaper editors will omit any feature or secondary news rather than
leave out the daily horoscope.
Or possibly more important than heredity and environment in the
minds of True Believers since it is seriously alleged that this natal
heavenly pattern affects every day of your lifegood days for new
business venturesa bad day to start a tripand so forth, endlessly.
Test of Science
Heinlein speaks of the "American temperament, practical as
sharp tools on one side," that was "never more than three quarters of an inch
from mindless hysteria on the other side," a temperament that conceivably can
cause the American people to be "capable of throwing away their dearly-bought
liberties to submit to a crude and ridiculous religious dictatorship." It
seems to me that he overlooked what may have become clearer to him over time,
although he describes the symptoms of the madness quite well in the following
pages in commenting on the aspects of the age of unreason.
What he appears to overlook is that reason based on science and
mathematics alone is insufficient to keep society sane. It appears that
people have an inner need for spirituality. Having rejected the traditional
Christian and other religions whose premises provide the often seemingly
oppressive demands that people find too hard to obey, they create new versions
of religions to fill the void left by the traditional religions.
What separated the practicality of the American people by three quarters
of an inch from mindless hysteria, was the set of morals that the traditional
religions prescribed and on whom our laws were based.
By declaring themselves free from the oppression of religions that for
thousands of years indoctrinated society in the principles of the
patriarchyas the feminists put itthe opponents of the traditional religions
made it possible for those who still have the need for religious spirituality
to invent new religions of their own liking, religions that they can fashion
and mold to provide new moral laws and new ways of rationalizing that are
longer bound by traditional morals.
Under the principles of modern liberalism, where each
person is the
centre of the universe
The Copernican myths) to which all else relates and where all moralities are
judged in relation to a given individual's liking, measured by the extent to
which new moral standards make him feel good, only one outcome is possible. A
multitude of new religions arises on account of the lack of a unifying set of
absolute moral standards. Not only does that cause accelerating abolition of
absolute moral standardsthose changed throughout historybut it causes as
well the creation of an infinite variety of new relative moral standards that
are applied to varying extents depending on which particular sex, ethnic,
racial or cultural group they relate to.
The outcome of that is exactly the kind of social and cultural chaos that
we have today and whose emergence Heinlein describes in detail in the
It's interesting that Heinlein castigates the promoters of the
"new truths" as linear thinkers, yet that is exactly what the feminists, whose
various factions are the prime instigators of the "new truths," accuse all of
their opponents to be. It almost seems that those scientists who try their
best to "prove" that God can't possibly exist and the feminist factions who
insist that gods exists but that none of them are related in any way with
Christianity (which they of course can't logically insist on because the basis
of the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions is that there is only one God)
have at least one thing in common. They accuse anyone not in agreement with
their philosophies of being linear thinkers, even if though the opponents whom
they so accuse have no compunction in accusing them in turn of the identical
failing: "linear thinking."
However, under certain circumstances, nakedness is not
practical behaviour. The human body devoid of clothing and fur becomes rather
vulnerable to the forces of nature. E. g., there are temperature differences
that can become quite uncomfortable, but there is also the danger of skin
cancer. In more extreme climates, it is outright unadvisable to go around
naked. Where I live we have extended periods of the year when it is deadly,
on account of nakedness causing a person to freeze to death in very short
order. That's not all. During the summertime it is more practical to apply
DEET to clothing than to bare skin to ward off mosquitoes and horseflies,
besides clothes have practical pockets.
Nevertheless, there is another aspect of nakedness in our "crazy culture"
that needs to be considered. The escalation in cultural trends to exploit
nakedness, as well as the simultaneous escalation in demands for prudishness
directed against men, primarily heterosexual men, are incongruous and
contribute to increasingly excessive aberrations of our judicial systems. So
it is that we insist that even children are enticed to display their
sexuality, but that fathers can be accused of sexual molestation if they give
their young children a bath. We call for the right of women journalists to
enter the locker rooms of male sports teams but don't dream of giving the same
right to men journalists with respect to entering women's locker rooms.
We insist that women have the right to enter traditionally male
institutions such as military schools, men's business clubs, even boys sports
teams and the Boy Scouts, yet we prohibit boys from entering girls' teams,
girl's facilities and all-girls-schools. Not a single male military school is
left in the US, yet all-girls-schools are coming into existence in ever
We insist that women can display their sexuality in ever more provocative
ways, ostensibly under the premise that the human body is a gift by God and
that its display therefore can't possibly be sinful, yet we accuse men of rape
(now called sexual assault) if they so much as look at it. We go even
farther. We accuse men of sexual assault, and sentence them for that crime,
if a woman merely alleges that a man did look at their bodies or that he
whistled in appreciation of "the gift that God gave her," whether there are
corroborating witnesses and evidence or not. Yet, in Canada it has been
argued successfully in at least two cases that it is a woman's constitutional
right to walk around in public with her breasts bared in a society that has
perverted the purpose of the human mammaries to become a status symbol of
women's sexuality. It was just in the winter of 1972 that in the office in
which I worked women were advised that to wear slackswithout question
sensible clothing in a city in which women were commonly treated for frostbite
on their nylon-stockinged legswas a violation of the company dress-code.
However, in the 1998 Christmas season, the same company, now called Telus
and the major telecommunication provider in Alberta and British Columbia, saw
fit to advertise on TV using a commercial in which the three wise men
presented modern gifts to the Baby Jesus, one of which was a cellular phone.
Even though Telus doesn't seem to care about impropriety in religious matters
anymore, in the spirit of keeping up sales they still care about public
sentiments. They took the commercial off the air after about a hundred people
called them and complained about it.
It most certainly is a "crazy culture" in which we live.
Male College Students — A Short Guide to the Truth, by Angry Harry
2001 02 02 (format changes)
2006 03 04 (added link to Feminism for Male College