Been on a bit of a wild tear lately about thinking errors. liberals seem to regard skill and proclivity to deceive, as some kind of a desirable individual quality; they appear to see all other individual skills and exceptional attributes, as bad things (which was a re-do of my earlier post about cockiness); they prioritize process over outcome as a result of seeing object representations, as the objects themselves; the general public, momentarily blessing the liberal solution, fails to question the intended end result of liberal policy; and, some among us are evidently operating under a detrimental doctrine of “Whoever does not behave exactly as I would, must not know anything.”
This is a bit of a jumbled mess of observations about liberals, and observations about politically uninvolved people who are in danger of becoming liberals. Perhaps there is a book in there if I just take the time to sort it all out. To such a book, however, I notice a sixth chapter would have to be added:
Knowledge as a contaminant. Yes, we’ve got quite a few people walking around among us, who seem to see knowledge as a liability rather than as an asset, and as a result of this they see the accumulation of knowledge as a crime one commits against himself and against society. Of course, I speak of unfriendly knowledge. Being a lib is all about wanting certain things to be done, and other certain things not to be done; therefore they want certain things to be concluded and not concluded, and in anticipation of this, we often see it emerge that they want certain facts presented but not other facts.
The size, shape, appendages, capabilities and behaviors of an unborn child — these would be among the very best examples I could offer. There are many others.
I was given cause to reflect on this when Ed Darrell pointed to a melee going on between Anthony Watts and Greg Laden, in a futile endeavor to show what a dumb, crazy, and generally bad guy Watts is supposed to be. It would be time-consuming and off-topic to go around gathering links to all else that is relevant to that, so I invite the reader to decide for himself how much background info he wants and peruse those three previous links. I recommend the Watts link, not because I see things more his way as contrasted with Greg Laden’s, but because of this eyebrow-raising statement from the latter:
It is against my blog policy to provide links to science denialist sites. It would be unethical for me to do that on a regular basis because it would enhance the google juice of pseudoscience. I’ve got children. I want them to grow up in a better world, not the world that Anthony Watts wants them to grow up in. So, no. Now and then, if necessary, I’ll link, but normally not.
You might be forgiven for interpreting that “if necessary” to mean something like, “if I’m specifically calling it out for criticism, as I’m doing with Anthony Watts.” Be advised that, no, it doesn’t work like that at all. Right. Now click on the Laden link. Yup…the whole point to the post is “Hey everybody, I hate something, come gather around and help me hate it.” No edification for the reader outside of that. “And then he did this, and then he did that, and then he did this other thing,” just like a third-grader squealing on another third-grader to the principal. It took me a minute or so to figure this out, the first time Darrell pointed to Laden, to buttress his own complaints against Watts. I made the mistake of accepting this information as a thinking person would, skimming through Laden’s critique against Watts, and after a time wondering “Okay, so those are his three complaints, now let’s go see if they’re accurate.” Link? Hey, something’s wrong. Where’s the link? There doesn’t seem to be a link.
So the first time, I was forced to go to Google and search for the Watts comments that Laden included in his screen-cap. I thought that was an error of omission on Laden’s part, and an honest one, until I was walked through the same experience a second time. Then I found the above-quoted “policy.”
So, Chapter Six of such a book: Liberals hate information, or something.
This is not an isolated case, although the global warming baloney is eminent as a compendium of examples. Liberals very often get into this mindset of: We know what the “right” thing to do is, and that thing will get done just as soon as we all agree and have the right opinions. Therefore, they labor tirelessly toward increasing the number of people who believe in the right things, and decreasing the number of people who believe the wrong things. From there, it is a simple conclusion on their part, that they should do everything possible to make sure the undesirable information never gets out.
You don’t have to read a lefty blog to find out about this. Blogger friend Phil made direct reference to it in his famous “Stop an Echo” post:
So I’m sitting around with family, and one conservative member mentions something he saw on Fox News.
A progressive member starts in with the passive-aggressive giggle of dismissal, and then the condescending “you mean you watch Fox News?”
And the conservative member says “Yup. Fair and balanced.”
More giggles. “Oh, gosh! Do you know how many lies they tell?”
Now normally when this progressive member disparages Fox News (this is certainly not the first time) I keep my mouth shut in the name of family harmony. Which I think, unfortunately, only re-enforces the idea in such people’s minds that their assertion is correct.
But I decided I needed to chime in this time. The giggles are one thing. The condescension I usually gloss over. But the “lies” thing. I wasn’t going to let that drop.
“No. I don’t know. Tell me a lie Fox News has told.”
Giggles. “Well I don’t watch it.”
“So you don’t watch it, but you know they tell lies? How do you know they tell lies?”
“Well I read somewhere…”
“You read somewhere? How do you know that wasn’t a lie?”
“Well I don’t. They all do it, that’s what I’m saying.”
It’s a conversation that could happen just about anywhere. And the lesson is unmistakable: You should not be watching it. Stop it! Stop it right now!
Now we come to the scary part: What exactly is it they are trying to accomplish? I made reference, years ago, to what I referred to as “The Fifty-Second Percent Problem”: Liberals don’t care about reaching the fifty-second percent of the population. Conservatives will very often recall Ronald Reagan as a better president than either one of the George Bushes, for a number of reasons, an important one among which is Reagan’s landslide victories. It is true that liberals will often recall FDR as a better president than Bill Clinton, but not because of electoral results. On average, you’d be hard pressed to find a liberal who even knows that Clinton failed to win a majority of the popular vote. They just don’t care about that. Swaying the sentiments of the population, while they see it as valuable, it nevertheless exists only as a means toward an end. Just get to 51 percent, win the election, get in there and get stuff done.
Perhaps this is a result of the understanding that conservative policy changes, once enacted, can be repealed. Overall, the same is not true of liberal policy changes. We’re stuck with ObamaCare for the duration, along with Medicare, Social Security, Americans with Disabilities Act, and all the rest of it. So I suppose it makes sense that liberals would envision a 51-percent victory as functionally synonymous with a 100-percent victory. Although, it’s still worthy of note, that there’s a 49-point spread there that they’re ignoring entirely. Or, perhaps the differential has to do with concerns, with the liberals concerned about their prospects for electoral victory, whereas the conservatives are more concerned about community health. In fact, here is an experiment that does a better job of getting to the point: Mention to a conservative that in the Obama era, consumer confidence is taking a tumble and only 17.6 percent of consumers expect business conditions to improve, he will invariably want to know what in the hell is wrong with that 17.6 percent, and why has the consumer confidence not altogether bottomed-out. And he may be sluggish about admitting it, but there will be something in his mind speaking softly to him: Could it be they know something he doesn’t know? Contrary to stereotype, he’ll be open to it. The liberal, also contrary to the type, is entirely missing this. If some percentage of the population disagrees with him, all he cares about is whether it’s on the south side of the magic fifty percent. As far as who’s right and who’s wrong, that was settled already quite awhile ago. No need to ponder it at all.
And so, we have Laden’s concerns about “Google juice.” He wants his kids to grow up in a better world, and so he doesn’t want to provide Google juice to bloggers who say things he doesn’t like, even if they’re true. I’m left to conclude that, like many liberals, he’d rather have a monologue than a dialogue. Nobody disagreeable should have anything to say. Maybe our Constitution won’t smile upon that, but nevertheless it is a goal: “Denialists” should not be heard, by anybody. Laden’s kids need to grow up in a good world.
I wonder how many people agree with that vision, and also agree with what I’ve heard liberals say more than my share of times: “There is no point to continuing this discussion, I can see you don’t have [what it takes to learn the right things].” Perhaps I should take this at face value. But then, I’ve also heard it said that this is what liberals say when they’ve been beaten, much like a video game character having a certain defined sound it makes when it dies. Well humility is a good thing, so I try to take it at face value. But the ramifications involved are a bit scary: They are to labor, tirelessly, toward a situation in which “everybody agrees” about what is wrong and what must be done; I do not have what it takes to see what is wrong and what is to be done; so the question naturally arises. What is to become of me, and others who lack the mental fortitude and faculties necessary to come around?
The fifty-second-percent problem, as I see it, is our only hope. The only means by which our mere survival can be reconciled with the liberal dream of building that utopia. Forty-nine percent is equal to zero, in their minds, and so we skeptics and deniers and slope-foreheaded conservatives, perhaps, will be allowed to continue living and breathing and consuming resources, milling about, so long as we stay at 49 percent or below. So long as we cannot have any influence on anything.
And, we should not forget to pay our taxes. Work. Produce. Comply. Do what is expected of us. But if we make any actual decisions, be it about public policy or about our private lives, and those decisions have any kind of an effect, there’s something bad happening and it must be fixed.
They do seem to have some cosmetic respect for the privacy of decisions made at the individual level, about private and individual things, in certain isolated cases. Medical situations? Probably not. They like individual decisions when they have something to do with gay marriage, which is not necessarily a medical thing. They don’t like it when it has to do with buying your own “Cadillac” medical plan, as we see with ObamaCare. It must be sex; they like it when the individual’s wishes prevail against the desires of the community or state, when what is being decided has something to do with sex. I wonder if that’s just a way of granting the waiver exclusively to non-conservatives. Anyone who’s watched more than a couple hours of made-for-cable-teevee movies knows, conservatives never have sex, except for the mundane, obligatory, non-pleasurable purpose of making more conservatives.
But meanwhile, to bring about this happy state of Nirvana, some information should flow and some information should not. In fact my experience has generally shown that when discourse takes an ugly turn, this is almost always the point where it happens: The liberal wishes to play the part of lawyer arguing against the admission of evidence. The argument is not about the conclusion to be reached, it is about whether all the evidence should be factored in to a sensible conclusion, as the conservative prefers, or whether some of it should be stenciled out for whatever reason, as the liberal prefers. I guess that is correct, once it’s figured out that a truly informed individual, aware of all the aspects of a certain policy debate, will side against the desired, more leftward, course of action to be taken. Liberals are adept at thinking in strategic, military terms when advancing the interests of their ideology — even if they don’t think that way when looking after the country’s — and of course, no decent general worth his salt is going to invite resistance. So the information has to be restricted, this part just makes good, logical sense.
What truly mystifies me about this, though, is that some of these “relative at the Thanksgiving table” liberals, laboring tirelessly to put out this propaganda about Fox News telling lies and so forth — they will insist that they’re doing a great job of arguing in good faith. And, to all appearances, believe it right down to the marrow of their bones. This creates a whole plethora of questions. To “prove” the point they seek to make, they want some of the information to be heard and other information not to be. They think of themselves as injured, in some way, if they themselves come to be aware of the contraband information; they themselves want to be educated only about a portion of what is really going on.
Past conversations with Ed Darrell have revealed he has a second “death sound,” another utterance he’s inclined to make when he loses an argument: He makes reference to Dunning-Kruger, the theory, research work, and Nobel Prize award that says when people are incompetent at something, their incompetence at that thing also interferes with their ability to recognize their own incompetence. (It was inspired by a bank robber who’d heard lemon juice smeared on your face can distort the images picked up by security cameras. He took the time to test the theory out before trying it, but his suckage as a bank robber spilled over into his suckage as a tester-of-video-distortion-methods, so he was under the impression he’d “proven” the method is effective, when he hadn’t, and that’s how he got caught.)
Perhaps Dunning Kruger also applies to arguing in good faith. Ever since this wonderful new Internet era of communication has dawned, it’s become evident a lot of people think they’re doing a great job of digesting all information relevant to an issue, and presenting it for others, while deliberately remaining unaware of all but a part of it. And working hard to keep others unaware. This Laden character, apparently, wishes to have it known far and wide that he is among these. As noted above, it doesn’t seem that they’re insincere about this, nor do I see any evidence that they’re trying to deceive anyone about their intentions. They just want to hide things.
Perhaps that is the answer. They aren’t arguing in good faith, because they are bad at doing it, and their ineffectiveness at this also makes them ineffective at recognizing their own ineffectiveness. This leads them to think of one thinker, having mastered only half of the relevant facts, as better “informed” than another thinker who has heard all of the arguments heard by the other, plus some. In simpler terms, they think some of the information must be negative. You’re smarter if you don’t know it. Better informed if you’ve never seen it. A library or other repository of information, is more “full” when it’s missing it.
It’s an interesting attitude. We should study it. If they let us, that is, which is probably a no-go.
On Friday, I got together with David Frum for a phone interview. For those of you unfamiliar with David Frum,
Last week an American boy just 16 Years old was kidnapped by a Hamas terrorist group that Barack Obama has
“As I understand the profound concern of the ever-alert White House reporters, they smell a constitutional crisis because the shooting