Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Preaching to the choir

Ther's a widespread tendency among people of all political views and none to assume that because they profoundly disagree with something, that thing must be entirely and obviously devoid of merit. To state it clearly is to refute it. Except, of course, that it isn't. Look at Terence Blacker in today's Independent. He's talking about Peter Schweizer's book "Makers and Takers" which purports to prove that conservatives are nicer, happier, cleaner and basically better than liberals in every way, and even hug their kids more.
I have no doubt that this work is stuffed with inconsistencies, illogicalities and gaping holes in its argument. Maybe conservatives just blow their own trumpet louder, or are happier to lie to researchers about how much they give to charity. Maybe liberals feel like they ought to be miserable when there's so much suffering in the world. Maybe there is something in the fact that conservatives have more children than liberals, making them less self-oriented. But Blacker has no such doubts.
It is a waste of time considering Schweizer's theory into the connection between niceness, contentment and right-wing politics for the simple reason that it is clearly and obviously asinine. If his book raises any serious question at all, it would be how it is that modern academics seem happy and eager to join – even to lead – the gadarene rush to silliness.
Well, there we have it. There's no point considering any of Schweitzer's work because it is obviously asinine. Now there's preaching to the choir for you. It's a technique worth remembering for when you can't be bothered, or are unable, to address any issues raised by an ideological opponent. Sorry, your views are too stupid even to think about. I shall dismiss them with a wave of the hand.



Blogger Blognor Regis said...

I wonder what his column would have said if the report's results had been the other way around?

9:23 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

Heh - "Such obvious truths are all the better for being re-stated" no doubt!

9:48 am  

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