I stole this off of Jonah Goldberg’s site from the comments section. Mr. Pham was replying to a great article Jonah wrote regarding Confirmation Bias. I thought this Individuals reply was clear and concise… easy to understand. And it goes a long way in explaining what has puzzled me for years, how can otherwise intelligent people subscribe to the Demonstrably worst Governing Theory the Planet has ever known?
I introduce you to Mr. Pham:
Carl Pham • 2 days ago (041214)
“Well, the problem with the leftist ideology is that even experts are likely to be more right than amateurs in very narrow circumstances. Id est, your car mechanic is more likely than you to know what that funny noise in the axle might be. But he is not more likely to know the best car for the money, or how to drive safely, or even whether this or that style of driving will make the engine last longer. (The engineer who built it will know that, but, conversely, probably not be tip-tip at diagnosing faults from signs and symptoms.)
Similarly, your English teacher can tell you whether your sentences are grammatically correct, but she probably has no clue whether your writing will sell. The mechanical engineer who designed a bridge can tell you whether it will stand up to X cars per day — but won’t be any smarter than you about whether there’ll be more or fewer cars following a three-day holiday.
And so on. The fact is, there’s no substance to the leftist prescription, because it’s only in very narrow circumstances that an expert’s opinion can be relied upon to be much better than a random concerned person, and you can’t stitch together all those narrow circumstances to come up with general guidance — it’d be like the old joke of five blind men who each touched a part of the elephant trying to describe the whole animal.
Of course, experts, like ordinary people, are very inclined to think they know more than they really do, so it is certainly possible to stitch together the advice of experts to get general guidance. That is the basis of the lefty religion.
It’s also what gave us global cooling in the 70s and warming in the 90s, the advice that butter was bad for you and margarine good, now reversed, and all the many other examples where expert consensus has been upended. It’s not that expert opinion isn’t reliable, it’s that the outer boundaries of its area of reliability are considerably smaller, as a rule, than the expert thinks.”
I have little to add here but Thanks to Mr. Carl Pham for his explanation.
Jonah’s full Article can be found here. And, for full disclosure Jonah is one of my favorite authors… whether he is posting at National Review or Writing Incredibly insightful books.
July 15th, 2014 at 6:37 pm
Your back-and-forth with IB was every bit as good as the excellent post!
I use the example with my kids of the year 1491. In 1491, if you took a quiz and the question was (1) The world is a) Round, b) Flat, c) Like a Cube, d) A Doughnut.
If you answered anything but b) Flat, you got the answer wrong.
All those who answered b) Flat, were educated and smart and book-learned and … wrong.
If you think of today’s Flat-Earthers, the socialists and the leftists, you see that they are, frequently, quite smart, and learned and erudite. They became that way by being like yesterday’s Flat-Earthers: really good at learning what others expect and tell them to learn. In that mix, I suspect, are a very lot of good test scores, and very little critical thinking.
I use another analogy — with apologies to fans of boxing. Great boxers are often praised for their intelligence and quick wits as they prosper in boxing. To my mind, however, they have become extremely good at doing something really stupid. This is also like today’s Flat-Earther Socialists: extremely good at saying the incredibly stupid.
I think that they get a thrill each time they say some vapid, ridiculous twaddle, over-stuffed with all today’s nonsensical buzzwords like, “sense of community,” and “diversity,” and “sense of empowerment,” and other flapdoodle. It makes them sound — and they usually are! — well-educated.
They’re just wrong.
April 14th, 2014 at 9:24 am
That really was well said. As to the left having no substance behind their ideology, that is very true. They have an entire ideology that can only exist as a mirror, reflecting and responding to imaginary boogeymen. If you ask a question, “how does this benefit people?” They will answer “because, war on women, bad guys, boogeymen.” Ask again, “no, I mean how is this going to impact our community, economy, families?” They will then point at half a dozen other squirrels and tell us we have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. Try one more time and ask, “what is this policy going to look like in the lives of people on the ground, forced to live with it?” And they will immediately call you a bigot, a racist, a misogynist, because obviously you hate people or you would simply agree with us.
Leftist ideology is all about taking your own personal issues and transforming them into political policies. I feel bad…therefore there ought to be a law against it. For all their alleged compassion and bleeding heart lectures, they don’t give a crap about anyone but their own selves.
April 14th, 2014 at 9:35 am
I think there are three primary groups that Liberals fall into.
First are the Useful Idiots. Those who really know nothing but don’t want to feel ignorant. They digest and regurgitate all of the inane Mantra of the Socialists.
Second you have the Stupid Smart people who Mr. Pham addresses in his comment. These have always been the most disturbing to me. They are not unintelligent. Yet they continue to subscribe to Socialism. I have always attributed it to Ego. Most Specialists (A necessary Trait that Freidman explains well in his Pencil essay.) have a tendency to begin to think they are superior to the rest of us because of that specialization… and that’s the Achilles heel of their logic. They find themselves on the Side of those who believe the masses must be controlled. The dirty secret is the Socialists only court the Stupid Smart people until their power is fully entrenched. At that point the Socialist start knocking on the Stupid Smart peoples doors late at night…
Finally you have the genuinely Sinister Marxists. The ones who understand Socialism and all of it’s Evil yet see their ability to control using Government Force as their salvation from the ignorant individuals. They fully recognize that “communal” well being at the direction of administrators is oppressive, but firmly believe their being in power is for your good.
While there are exceptions, most of those are simply evolutions from one state to the next.
The only way to combat this endless cycle of Evil is to preach the Supremacy of the Individual. But that Gospel seems nowhere to be found.
April 14th, 2014 at 9:46 am
I think you are quite right. I am not sure if I am more disturbed by the useful idiots simply regurgitating talking points they don’t even understand or the stupid smart people who think they have all the answers.
April 14th, 2014 at 9:49 am
I think the Stupid Smart people are the biggest problem. You’ll never talk sense into someone that doesn’t really want to have any, and the genuinely Evil folks already know the truth and have chosen a side.
The Stupid Smart one however are attributed with brilliance because of their specialty even when they champion ridiculous things. It’s hard for us to look at a Doctor, or Engineer and believe they are stupid. And it causes us dissonance when we hear them make inane statements outside of their specialty. All very interesting to think about.