Thursday, March 01, 2007

the punditocracy becomes more simplistic

* Bill Fisher:
"One of the uglier paradoxes of our time is that, as the world becomes vastly more complicated, the punditocracy becomes more simplistic.

Today, those who get paid to deliver their opinions and convictions in newspapers, on television, in the White House, and on the floor of Congress, are more undeniably, more absolutely, more positively certain their point of view is not only the right one, but the only one.

What ever happened to respect for the ideas of another? What ever happened to the question that anyone about to put forth some set-in-concrete viewpoint should ask him or herself: What if I’m wrong?

It’s called intellectual humility. It’s the opposite of hubris. It’s the un-arrogance of the thoughtful.

And it’s gone.

It’s gone because it doesn’t sell newspapers, doesn’t raise cable TV ratings, doesn’t score party political points, makes the Commander-in-Chief look weak, doesn’t further the presidential ambitions of wanabee leaders, doesn’t support ideological dogma based on “to hell with inconvenient facts.”

No one forced us to accept this construct as the “new normal.” We capitulated. We gave up. We surrendered to people who think we are stupid and uninformed. And, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, we indeed became stupid and uninformed. The world is just too nuanced for us to understand, we complain, and throw up our hands. We feel more comfortable with well-modulated voices and well-crafted words, the more vitriolic the better. We’d rather live with the faux certitude of flawed ideas than with ambiguity.

Yet the world is intrinsically ambiguous. And no one-dimensional conviction, however passionately or sonorously expressed, changes that reality."

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