Discover more from In My Tribe
Is Anti-Intellectualism a Problem?
James Broughel takes down Tyler Cowen
my worry about the trajectory of American politics is nearly the opposite of what Cowen seems concerned with. That is, I worry not about anti-elitism or anti-intellectualism on the American right, but rather about how many on both the left and the right put too much faith in the abilities of intellectuals to guide the evolution of human progress.
Pointer from Tyler.
Broughel also takes down Matt Yglesias, although not by name.
The instinct of the intellectuals is to solve problems. There is nothing wrong with this instinct, per se. However, “solving problems” often requires an all-powerful state to implement the “solutions,” and all-powerful states have a strange history of doing “evil and pernicious” things.
My own stance on these issues is that I am not anti-intellectual. I am against what in philosophy is called naive realists. A naive realist believes “I see the world clearly. What I perceive to be true, is true.” In politics, if you are a naive realist, then you think more highly of your opinions on public policy than you should.
Ordinary voters suffer from naive realism. But intellectuals can suffer even worse from naive realism.
I think that the best protection from naive realism is having ideas tested in the market rather than imposed by monopoly government. The market will expose and weed out misconceptions. Government will not.
[Note: a political scientist whose initials are JF has articulated the problem of naive realism, but he shuns publicity about it. I will give him credit anonymously.]