This blog is probably bad for you

Oct 12 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: Crackpot Theories to save the world

Bonus follow up to last-week’s jerkiness! As long as we’re talking about politics, what do Rush Limbaugh, Dan Savage, Jon Stewart, and most bloggers have in common? That’s right! Punditry!

Pundits are weird and, I suspect, one of mankind’s worst inventions. We have this class of people who are somehow entertaining/compelling/have good ideas/whatever, and somehow they end up in this position of being generally recognized as experts. Mountains of people listen to their words, and their adherents generally agree with them. (If you disagree with most of what a pundit says, you tend to stop listening to their show.)

This is a lot of power to wield for what are ultimately just folks. Folks who may or may not actually know what they’re talking about. Most importantly, folks with an agenda. Most pundits have ideology that they’re trying to advance. This makes them pretty dangerous. Most of the time, they’re just functioning as an echo chamber reinforcing the beliefs already espoused by their followers. Often - whether deliberate or not - they straight-up spread misinformation that resounds well in that echo chamber. Rarely, they will truly challenge their listeners to question their core dogmas.

I guess my point here is to be aware of the pundits that you consume. It’s probably better to second-guess any given thing they say than not. If your opinions and ideas are really well-thought-out questioning people who agree with you will just result in them being better thought-out. If they’re not well-reasoned, that same questioning can help you reevaluate and form better opinions.

The best part is that whether you agree with me or not, you’re agreeing with me! Bwa ha ha!*

* Unless, of course, you usually disagree with me and I’m some kind of bizarro blogger that you read to be angry at. If so... Hi? We should grab a coffee or something sometime. Exchange some ideas.

Thanks! I think that as an obscure, novelty musician with a blog, I'm really in a unique position to make an impact! :D

You may be right, but pundits have the distinct disadvantage of being in a position of being able to spread really harmful ideas, and that's kind of scary.

It's a poor critic who blames the genre. Like anything ever, there are, oh, 20% or something worth of the field absolutely worth listening to. You have a class of people who spend thousands of hours thinking about their respective fields, and some of them are genuinely thoughtful, self critical, scientifically literate, historically honest, and fun to read. Of course there are good and bad examples. It's silly to be down on the whole idea of making a career out of talking about things.

Good luck with that "encouraging critical self-evaluation" thing. Perhaps you will succeed where our educational system has failed.

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