Friday, August 13, 2010

The Cartoon on the Spoon

I don't pay attention to the opinions of folks like Sara Palin or Glenn Beck at all. Nor, say, Michael Moore. Such folks have already demonstrated to me that they have no useful new insights that can move America forward. They shop what I believe are no better than attractively simple half-truths. Inevitably, these half-truths suggest that there is an easy way forward for all loyal members of the choir. An easy way forward which always holds the choir virtuous and blames someone else who is not in the choir.

The vast majority of the time that I am exposed to such folks is when an opponent features an especially juicy bit of their kookery. And offerings like that are the stock in trade of folks who perpetuate simplistic partisan politics. Liberals love to feature conservatives at their kookiest. Conservatives love to feature liberals at their kookiest. That's the game.

Perhaps what's most troublesome is how eagerly earnest Americans of all stripes are sucked up into this game. They love to play. It's called comparative political demonology.

The other side is way worse because [insert exhibit A].

The vast majority of political web sites are aptly called echo chambers. Like-minded folks eagerly swap reinforcing tales that include genuine bits of truth. Such practices adversely affect an individual's capacity for critical thinking. How? In the same why that inbreeding diminishes genetic diversity and and adversely effects health. Congenital defects are passed on.

And a big favorite for preserving these defects is the regular featuring of the other side's kooks. These are spoon fed to regulars as part of their regular diet. The cartoon on the spoon. Eat up. and you'll grow to be a big strong partisan who is sure the other side doesn't care about you, maybe even hates you, has no insight to offer, can't be trusted, only cares about power, and will sacrifice your needs for theirs every time.


  1. Careful, Glenn Beck actually said something intelligent the other day! Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    From Doug Mataconis:

    "I never thought I’d actually say that I agree with Glenn Beck, but I agree with Glenn Beck."

  2. If he keeps it up, I'm happy to reconsider. Because that's how I roll.

    That point out a real flaw though. If someone somehow smartens up after they've already proven themselves to be blithering idiot, I'll miss out on their insight. It's a risk I'm pretty sure I have to take.

    Call it an opportunity cost. :-)

  3. But do you pay attention to the opinions of Sarah Palin?