We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, April 7. 2014
It's a fun read, if you're up for it. Because Ezra Klein spends quite a bit of time discussing how we willingly delude ourselves into wanting to win battles we can't win. The problem, of course, is that Ezra only spends time using examples of topics that are contentious and don't have clear-cut answers. Ezra deludes himself with politics, becoming increasingly stupid through the course of the article, without even noticing it, and using it to create a stance of moral superiority built upon...well, not much.
Strong start with the title. Pretty pathetic follow through. Ezra doesn't spend a moment questioning himself or his beliefs, or how he could have fallen victim to the accusations he lays against others. Furthermore, he doesn't take the time to analyze some critical philosophical points which are more meaningful than the numbers he claims support his view. Choice, to me, outweighs all the perceived (and I'd say non-existent, though I know the math says otherwise) benefits of forced behaviors. I should have the choice to get a vaccine. I should have the choice to own a gun. I should have the choice to own a Hummer. Even if Ezra feels the benefits of forcing me to believe what he believes, and behave as he behaves makes him feel better about society as a whole, I should still have that choic
It's not about the math he employs, it's about the choices I should be permitted to be able to make.
Tracked: Apr 08, 09:36
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Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence...
But the More Information Hypothesis isn’t just wrong. It’s backwards. Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become.
So why is he telling us this?
When you approach his article from what is most likely his perspective it makes a lot more sense. You eluded to it.
He points out those two survey results specifically because he's trying to make the point that Americans are dumb and that it's up to The Right People to clarify FOR Americans what they should want.
He's stating that so it is clearer why his future strategy will be to parse all that complex information and present via Vox.com the correct amount of information (and the correct bits of information) so that his reader won't be burdened with the task of coming to their own conclusions.
His perspective didn't elude me.
I found it humorous.
He is actually arguing that Americans aren't just dumb, but need to be dumber so that people like him can make decisions for them.
What is really just totally silly is his premise that politics makes us stupid - which I agree is 100% correct - and then he makes a claim that politics will solve this problem.
From Ezra's perspective everything you do makes you stupid.
I can understand his confusion.
Ezra is trying to smuggle his stand alone, mathematically dispositive, better or worse, skin cream example into the realm of gun rights and global warming. He wants to pretend they are equivalent and hopes to fool us into thinking they are. It's a clever cheat.
Ezra is correct to say that ideologues are not easily persuaded. I would agree with that. Let's see if he can persuade anyone to change their idea opinions with numbers. Or, with more information, as he calls it.
Ezra's survey of pro and con gun rights people using one set of fake gun crime stats is useful for showing how stubborn ideology can be. But, it isn't useful in the sense he hopes it might be. It does not render the clearly better position. And, one set of numbers are hardly enough information to change anyone's values driven set of opinions. Arguably, they would need lots of solid numbers proving that gun ownership leads to more crime. Or something.
From gun crime stats Ezra nudges us into global warming. (These guys are hooked on global warming like it's opium) At this point, let's assume we are persuaded that guns are too dangerous for people to own. Let's pretend the statistics prove that.
"In April and May of 2013, Yale Law professor Dan Kahan — working with coauthors Ellen Peters, Erica Cantrell Dawson, and Paul Slovic — set out to test a question that continuously puzzles scientists: why isn’t good evidence more effective in resolving political debates? For instance, why doesn’t the mounting proof that climate change is a real threat persuade more skeptics?"
Now we come to the crux of the matter. Everything else was just leading the reader to this point. Skin cream can be proved to be better or worse using numbers. Numbers can persuade us that guns are bad to own. What can numbers do for global warming? Well, if they had any valid numbers, they could persuade me. But, like the gun numbers, they just don't exist. End of story.
Reading Klein's previous writings, specially those praising Obambi, the guy has no standing. Nothing to analyze, laugh him out of the room ... geez!
a dead giveaway (most times) is the lack of a "comment" section or option. dissenting views just muddle the "message"
I think the core of the article is spot on.
Politics does make us stupid, and the political echo chambers of the internet are severely amplifying it. Both sides create complex self supporting ideologies which are then filled with endless arguments and factoids supporting the position and a plethora of defense mechanisms against attack (aka reconsideration).
Drop into a discussion group of extremists of any political party and try to engage in a Socratic discussion.
I am no fan of the meme concept, but there is something to be said for the evolutionary struggle for self rationalizing ideologies. And yes, Ezra too is falling victim to them. The reasonable expectation is that we all are.
The reasonable expectation is accurate, but not precise.
Of course we all are capable of being made stupid by a desire to push our ideology. The difference is whether or not we are capable of understanding that we are and whether or not we question what we believe regularly.
The nice thing about my viewpoint on life and politics is that I'm forced to think about these things constantly. The very central core of Libertarianism is uncertainty of outcome due to allowing for range of choices. It also doesn't hurt that I reside in a heavily Progressive region, NYC, and have to deal with nutjobs regularly.
As a result, there are various strands of Libertarianism, anarchic, minarchic, etc. I could realistically say, at various times, I can see the value of each strand. Ultimately, however, the central point is the guiding force of decision-making on the part of the individual and the removal and/or reduction of external limitations, as imposed by society or state.
There is also the essential question (usually answered in the negative for self-evident reasons and backed up by praxeology) of what value can any state/government provide?
Ultimately, Klein's failure is related to his attempt to say that politics makes us stupid. Of course it does, that's self-evident. Which is why Libertarians seek to reduce or eliminate it whenever possible. His failure is complete in that he believes politics, as embodied by the state/government, will provide the solution to the stupidity politics creates.
He, ultimately, is the village idiot spouting a truth which many of us recognize, but is incapable of comprehending why his solution is the most foolish thing regarding his observation.