September 19, 2012
Steven Pinker on collective delusion and dissent:
We look at these horrors retrospectively and we say, “How could everyone have been so… mad? On top of being evil, these ideas seem patently ludicrous. How can you have a collective delusion overtaking an entire society?” And it looks like one of the answers is, if dissenters are punished and can anticipate they’re going to be punished, then you might have a situation where no-one actually believes something but everyone believes that everyone else believes it, and therefore no-one is willing to be the little boy that says the emperor is naked. And this pluralistic ignorance, as it’s sometimes called, is easily implemented when you have the punishing or censoring of unpopular views.
Alan Charles Kors on speech codes, groupthink and the decline of the humanities:
I guarantee you that Reason [magazine] published on a campus would be defunded and that you’d be up on harassment charges every other week… I have always voted to hire people who think radically differently from myself, who are asking questions that I wouldn’t ask. The problem is that a lot of those people wish to clone themselves in their department and see voices that are dissident to their own orthodoxies as uncollegial… If you’re taking a course, the goal of which is to make you understand that you have false consciousness, that you don’t understand the way in which America has brainwashed and mystified your mind, and which has given us a faculty that thinks of its primary goal as the demystification of students who have been brainwashed and given false consciousness by consumer capitalist America, that is not of intellectual value. They are contributing to the very crisis of the humanities that they are bemoaning.
And so, for instance, the Marxist pseudo-philosopher Nina Power rails against the “ideological devastation of the education system” and demands more public subsidy for Marxist pseudo-philosophers, while telling us that “everyone is equally intelligent” because, well, they just are. Of course one shouldn’t assume such people are interested in logic, reality or the testing of ideas, certainly not their own, despite all the blather about “critical thinking.” What they’re interested in – and determined to have more of – is power. Ideally expressed by making students credulous, conformist and pretentiously resentful.
And Thomas Sowell on government interference, irrational taxes and how to create an economic crisis:
To be a masterful politician you have to have a lot of brass. It takes an incredible amount of brass for Bill Clinton, who was the biggest factor in creating the housing boom that led to the bust that brought down the whole economy, [to blame Republicans for that crisis]. It was during the Clinton administration that the federal government forced lenders to change their lending standards, which had been in place for decades and had made real estate one of the safest investments around, to bring those standards down in order that they could get the numbers that they wanted for low income, minority mortgage applicants. Attorney General Janet Reno, under Clinton, threatened lenders with legal action from the Justice Department if their numbers - in terms of minority groups and income levels of people who were approved - didn’t fit her preconceptions. The Housing and Urban Development programme, under Clinton, made law suits against lenders, charging them with racial discrimination based solely upon statistics. The government was forcing people to lower the lending standards that had existed for years, and [afterwards] they said, “Well, the problem was greed.” You don’t satisfy greed by lending to people who can’t pay you back.
Feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.