Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Intellectual Left?

Contradiction In Terms

The politically charged arguments you have with the screaming-hair-afire nutcase liberal in the cubicle next to you (or in the comments section of your favorite blog), leave you exasperated, and it's not because he has insight and wisdom which you cannot refute.  The reason arguing with him or them gets you nothing but aggravation is because deductive reasoning, logic, and even knowledge are something they avoid.  Want proof?  Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal.

Daniel B. Klein and Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic surveyed 4835 American adults with eight questions, all based on economic principles.  They also asked those participants where they stood politically: progressive/very liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative, very conservative, and libertarian.  The scores are reflective of each person's ability to apply reason and logic to the questions, and designed to give partial credit for actually not knowing, as opposed to pretending to know...which gets no credit.

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: "Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable." People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of "somewhat disagree" and "strongly disagree." This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer "not sure," which we do not count as incorrect.

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.
All the other seven questions are shown in the article, and the ratio of correct answers (demographically sorted) are given as well.  The results are illuminating as to what your debate adversary has in his arsenal of wit, but it still won't help him see the inanity of carrying on the argument.  The argument will only come back around to some, "but what about Bush?"

Which is why the only manner wherein I choose to engage them, anymore, is to smite them with ridicule.  Debate with these fools is no more productive than seeking automotive repair advice from a special needs child.

This also reinforces my argument for a national competency exam as a requirement for voter eligibility.  Am I the only one lamenting the fact that our society is now defined by that which represents average, as opposed to being defined by those people, ideas, institutions, and endeavors which are exceptional?

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