Certainty Leading to Demise?
Rush Limbaugh used to say that he knew the left’s arguments better than they did themselves. I was reminded of this recently after reading a Washington Post article titled, Five Myths About Why the South Seceded which was written by an “historian”. My immediate reaction was that I follow people on Twitter who do not agree with the position taken in the article but could argue it better and with more knowledge.
It is understandable that on Twitter one finds people out of their depth on a topic. It is another thing when newspapers and magazines promote poorly argued and researched essays. It is clear they do it because they agree with the position, but there should still be a standard. If there is not, over time our discourse and real understanding of complex issues will be diminished. It creates a false comfort and security that things are easily understood when many things are not.
The root cause of this today is the politicization of almost everything. This leads to even historians presenting only evidence that fits their arguments. The same phenomenon is even filtering into science writing. It feeds the notion of certainty that too many people have today. Where are the writers, historians, and scientists who present conflicting data or arguments and then describe why they believe one or the other or something else entirely? Many of them are interviewed on Joe Rogan or writing on Substack.
Most are disparaged by the mainstream outlets and by the left. Quite a few have natural and historic affinity with the left but now are labeled “right wingers” and I am not talking about neo-conservatives. They can be found, and it is satisfying for me to read and listen to them. I learn a great deal. However, my personal fulfillment and intellectual stimulation are not as important as a properly informed citizenry.