Saturday, October 02, 2010
Sowell Wrong Again on Intellectuals
Jeremy Rabkin reviews Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, distilling the economist's objection to intellectuals (as such) down to the following.
The ideas dispensed by intellectuals aren't subject to "external" checks or exposed to the test of "verifiability" (apart from what "like-minded individuals" find "plausible") and so intellectuals are not really "accountable" in the same way as people in other occupations.In other words, Sowell appears to believe that normative ideas have nothing to do with reality -- a problem I have noted before.
Interestingly, this point of view, as well as the blurb for this piece at Arts and Letters Daily is tantamount to a type of dishonest argument I have seen from time to time.
Intellectuals tend to see what they want in the world, which is that their biases are confirmed. How does that make them so different from other mortals?Having a definite point of view is not, ipso facto, an example of confirmation bias. Whether and how one deals with evidence in the process of formulating, refining, and defending that point of view may or may not be.
I got a good laugh out of this short, tongue-in-cheek piece by Paul Hsieh over at PajamasMedia.
A Meaningful Ink Blot
In his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson completely obliterated a word he decided to change, rather than follow his usual practice of simply lining it out. Science has now unearthed what that word was, and mystery has become inspiration.
From the Vault
Nearly five years ago today, I wrote about a stupid bumper sticker. Those used to annoy me a lot more before I started blogging.
Intrinsicism and Tyranny
LB finds herself at odds with the law for (gasp!) helping her daughter grow up to become an independent adult.
According to these state guidelines, today, I have committed a criminal act. What's more, I have conspired with the inmate, I mean, my daughter, to systematically commit further criminal acts. Most egregiously, my act was done in defiance of the understood exception to the intramural education policies: I excused my daughter early from school today, and will continue to do so on a weekly basis because she wants to work instead of wait out the waning minutes of the day within the walls of the school.Central planning is immoral and impractical because it removes our ability to act rationally on information pertinent to our own problems. Economists tend to focus on confiscation and mis-allocation of resources when criticizing central planning, but the problem is much, much worse than just that.
For more of the same from our nanny state, John Stossel details how another arbitrary standard to be enforced by a misguided law is defeating one company's efforts to provide its workers with health insurance.