Ignoring the evidence is a specialty of the left

There are some things, as Orwell famously said, that are some things so stupid only an intellectual could believe them. From an article by Stacy McCain on Stereotypes are Accurate.

“Consensus” among intellectuals is harmful. Beliefs that are widely accepted in academia are never examined skeptically, and contradictory evidence is ignored or suppressed. . . .

One of the books I most often recommend is Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, which examines how certain liberal prejudices distort public policy discussions. Chapter Four, “The Irrelevance of Evidence” shows how liberal beliefs are simply immune to facts. For example, no matter how much evidence you produce showing that the breakdown of the family is a major cause of poverty, liberals insist that racism is the main reason for poverty in America, even though it can be shown that family breakdown causes poverty for white people, too.

The willingness of people to accept explanations that confirm their own prejudices produces myths of “settled science” that can endure for decades within the elite intelligentsia. In his book The Quest for Cosmic Justice, Sowell examines the claims made in Vladimir Lenin’s Imperialism. Lenin asserted that the collapse of capitalism (which Marx had claimed was imminent in the mid-1800s) had been delayed because capitalists had found new sources of profit by exploiting the poor in undeveloped countries. It takes Sowell precisely two pages to destroy Lenin’s claim, showing that the “evidence” provided by Lenin was simply false. And yet, despite the demonstrable falsity of Lenin’s core thesis, and despite the subsequent failure of the Soviet economy, anti-capitalist ideas about “imperialism” and “exploitation” continue to be influential among intellectuals and policy makers. This is just one example of how the leftist prejudices in academia have prevented us from learning useful lessons from recent history. In fact, as John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr explain in their 2005 book In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage, academics refuse even to admit the most basic truths of Cold War history, i.e., that the Communist Party in the United States was controlled by Moscow as an instrument of Soviet policy, used for espionage and subversion. The idea that “McCarthyism” was essentially paranoid — that there was no domestic threat from Soviet agents and that innocent liberals were wrongfully persecuted in a “witch hunt” — continues to be promoted in American universities, despite the abundant evidence that Joe McCarthy was basically right about the Communist menace. (See Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies by M. Stanton Evans.) The world looks much different when you are willing to examine facts that may contradict your own prejudices, but for decades the academic elite in America has ignored evidence that doesn’t conform to the “progressive” worldview.

Or to quote Mark Twain this time, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” There is quite a bit of that around and it will be the death of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s