Ed Driscoll

The Epistemic Closure Fueling Culture War

“I wish people in my profession would examine how their educational status blinds them to things outside their class bubble,” Rod Dreher writes at the American Conservative:

You can look across most newsrooms and see a rainbow assortment of people by color — but everybody went to college, an experience that determines what they see and don’t see about the world they cover. This is how you end up with Vox reporter Sarah Kliff providing analysis of single-payer health coverage, and ending up writing a brief for liberal policy choices instead of what she was supposed to do, which is explain what’s at issue. PEG comments:

The point is not whether or not single payer is wrong, or that the cancer survival rate point is decisive. The point is that a prominent, talented liberal writer on health policy, asked to make an objective list of arguments against single payer, cannot do justice to the job.

Did she even notice what she was doing? Did anybody who employs or supervises her ask her to list objections to single player? Or did it simply never occur to them, because “everybody knows” that single-payer is the way to go.

Which brings us back to Reader Bobby’s comment about elites only rubbing shoulders with other elites, a social habit that misleads them into thinking that everybody sees the world as they do. We are all guilty of this, more or less. But we ought to work harder at trying to imagine the world as it might look to people very different from ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we are wrong in the conclusions we’ve arrived at, or in the convictions that we hold. It does mean, however, that we should be more humble about what we know, and more understanding of others when confronted by the true difficulties of knowing anything for certain.

Much has been made over the past few years about how folks getting to know gay people personally has converted them to the gay-rights cause. There’s a lot to that. It’s harder to hold stereotypical views of someone in a particular class if you know them personally. Yet I wonder: does it ever occur to liberals that they ought to try to get to know, say, a conservative Evangelical? If not, why not?

Because then they wouldn’t be the alien Others in their midst; they’d be people with a diverse set of interests who seek to protect and express them. Last night, I watched Don Lemon of CNN and his panel get their panties in a bunch over young hunter Kendall Jones and the photos of her hunts she publicly posted. I wonder if any of them know what the founder of the network broadcasting them offers customers on his ranch:


Note the photo at the top right. I look forward to Don Lemon and his panel condemning the hunting opportunities proffered by the founder of his network and his publicly posted photos of the results of such activities.

Related: “An unintentionally hilarious inside look at NPR’s neurotic bean counting, replete with grotesque race charts.”