Daily Caller – Will Democracy Drown in a Sea of Sophistry?

2 Jun


Will Democracy Drown in a Sea of Sophistry?

For the past year and a half I’ve hosted a weekly radio show where I interview guests about a wide range of subjects, giving them a platform to share their stories and beliefs, without the shouting-head bombardment or editorial spin framing that characterizes so much of contemporary talk radio and television. Many of these guests are passionate advocates of one cause or another, which is often the reason I invite them. So far, it’s been a richly rewarding experience. I only wish more of the media landscape were similar.

Every time I read the news or wade into the blogosphere I’m exposed to an even wider parade of advocates, including many preaching doctrines I find silly, wrongheaded, or downright abhorrent. And I’ve started to notice a pattern.

Only the rarest of advocates seem to accord objective facts primacy of place. Instead, they remind me of trial lawyers whose job is to weave a compelling narrative for sequestered juries, excising from the record any purported facts that weaken their arguments, often resorting to appalling acts of sophistry. And the pattern spans the professions—from scientists, who are supposed to know better, to economists, who increasingly don’t seem to know much of anything.

Even worse, our culture of rabid partisanship increasingly encourages consumers to evaluate the veracity of facts and narratives based on the advocates’ tribal affiliations, rather than on any objectively verifiable criteria. I’m no longer sure a majority of my fellow citizens even believe there is such a thing as objective facts, or that anyone has the power to fish them out of the sea of misinformation plastered all over the web by dueling advocates. It seems the more information our abundant communications media shower upon us, and the more experts weigh in any subject, the less we can be sure of what we know.

To read the rest of the column click here.


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