Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some one has apparently failed to get Rich Lowry a copy of the catechism.

Now that the semester is over (but for the grading of 122 exams and, to borrow the expression of a friend, that is every bit as special as it sounds), I should have more time for blogging.

I want to deal with the issue at greater length, but I am amused by the controversy over the supposed "epistemic closure" of the conservative movement, encapsuled in the controversy between Jim Manzi and Mark Levin that has played out over on National Review Online.

There is, of course, a meta point in all of this that is overlooked by all the clucking about how sad it is the conservative mind has closed. The controversy is being played out on ... National Review Online. I recall reading, over the weekend, a nice piece on the way in which some conservatives have come to misunderstand supply side economics and the Laffer curve - thinking that tax cuts always pay for themselves. I was interested because I made the same point here. The funny thing is that I read this criticism of a point commonly made by conservative talked in ... the pages of National Review.

I have commended the work of Jim Manzi on this blog on several occasions. But Jim - who things that there is anthropogenic global warming but that its impacts are exaggerated and the most commonly offered solutions are ill advised - was brought to public prominence by ... National Review. They actually gave him a cover.

The idea that conservatives are uniquely close minded while folks on the left walk around enraptured by intellectual curiousity is risible. Rhetoric from the President and folks like Harry Ried on the financial crisis and reform has largely been unreflective demagoguery. (This is not to say that there is no need for financial reform but the framework of a nation of Tiny Tims cheated by the pre-enlightenment Scrooge isn't very helpful.) Ignorance of complexity is just as much a Democratic as a Republican problem.

This is not to say that I don't think that something that can be called epistemic closure is not a problem for us all or that both parties don't have their own forms of magical thinking. But my friends on the left who think that they have identified a uniquely conservative problem are suffering from a certain lack of self awareness.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is not to say that there is no need for financial reform but the framework of a nation of Tiny Tims cheated by the pre-enlightenment Scrooge isn't very helpful.

Nor is that (mis)characterization of the president's take on the situation, particularly sans any corroborating evidence.

And nor is trying to make a debate on the right about the left.

Anonymous said...

The idea that conservatives are, in general, more close minded and intolerant of ambiguity than liberals is not risible. There's an extensive scholarly literature on the authoritarian personality and the cognitive traits that tend to accompany it. See, e.g, Adorno, et al., The Authoritarian Personality. This has been subject to a variety of critiques, but the idea is still seriously advanced and debated sixty years after Adorno first proposed it.

Rick Esenberg said...

I am aware of that and it is risible. It was then - it is even more so now.

jp said...

Ambiguity confuses us little folks who are trying to survive amid the uncertainty of life.

jp said...

Ambiguity confuses us little folks who are trying to survive amid the uncertainty of life.

Anonymous said...

If you are in any way politically incorrect, you will find Madison, Wisconsin to be a very close-minded place.

Anonymous said...

As I said, there is an extensive scholarly literature documenting the cognitive style that tends to accompany conservative political views, and it didn't end with Adorno. See Tetlock, "Cognitive style and political ideology," 45 Journal of Personality & Social Psychology (1983) 118; Jost, et al., "Political conservatism as motivated social cognition," 129(3) Psych. Bulletin (May 2003) 339. I acknowledge the opposing views. You summarily dismiss the views you do not happen to share as "risible." Do you not think that perhaps you are proving my point? Dad29, what do you think?

Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly, the scholarship cited by Anon 6:50 came from psychologists who were as objective and without any ulterior political agenda as the climatologists at East Anglia University.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:42: I don't suppose you'd actually want to read the scholarship cited?

What's that phrase again? "Epistemic closure"?

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