Does one learn by doing or by thinking?

Not exactly the right question since everyone supports government solutions to some things, but the question is still a genuine one: Why Do Intellectuals Support Government Solutions?. I found the link at Instapundit where, not for the first time, the wisdom came from the comments. Let me put up some of it:

” Why Do Intellectuals Support Government Solutions?”
A better question: If they support government solutions, are they really intellectuals? Thought intellectuals were more like people who think for themselves. Perhaps not though.


  • Thomas Sowell put it this way: Intellectuals are people whose work product is ideas.

    People in the trades make, install, maintain and repair stuff, and they cannot conceal failure with weasel-words and polysyllabic redefinitions of success and failure.

    People in the physical sciences study reality and in the end their research is either supported or refuted by reality.

    People in the various fields of the humanities produce ideas which whose value and validity are not tested against reality but rather against such criteria as novelty and cleverness and newness–and, of course, progressives. This is maximally true in the grievance studies fields which are designed to promulgate falsehood, a bit less true in literature and philosophy, somewhat less true in sociology and other soft subjects where a talent for blather can replace reasoning, and somewhat true in history where there is seemingly endless room for interpretation but falsehoods can nonetheless be refuted with facts and interpretations can be challenged similarly. So yes, these people who support maximal government power are intellectuals, but bad intellectuals and bad people.


    • Sowell also says ideas are not knowledge, but only potential knowledge.


    • Robert Nozick explained it this way (there is no summation paragraph, it’s a short essay so you might want to read the whole thing):

      The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later. Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements. The school system thereby produces anti-capitalist feeling among intellectuals. Rather, it produces anti-capitalist feeling among verbal intellectuals. Why do the numbersmiths not develop the same attitudes as these wordsmiths? I conjecture that these quantitatively bright children, although they get good grades on the relevant examinations, do not receive the same face-to-face attention and approval from the teachers as do the verbally bright children. It is the verbal skills that bring these personal rewards from the teacher, and apparently it is these rewards that especially shape the sense of entitlement.

      That is a classic essay that should be cited frequently. Another passage:


      “By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors. It does not include those who primarily produce and transmit quantitatively or mathematically formulated information (the numbersmiths) or those working in visual media, painters, sculptors, cameramen. Unlike the wordsmiths, people in these occupations do not disproportionately oppose capitalism. The wordsmiths are concentrated in certain occupational sites: academia, the media, government bureaucracy.”

And I found this thread even more remarkable since its conclusion was so unexpected although perfectly sound when you thought about it.

Why Do Intellectuals Support Government Solutions?

Because in a meritocracy there are no excuses.

Update: Of course, there’s always the following view of intellectuals as pottery students, which kinda comes to the same conclusion through the back door, or in this case the “left side” of the studio:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the right side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the left solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

  • Interesting, if true.

    • I read that in a journal sometime in the last decade or so. As I recall, the kids who were graded on quantity ended up, by the end of the term, producing work of significantly higher quality than the group that was told they would be graded on quality. It’s not that the kids graded on quality produced nothing good, but the kids graded on quantity typically produced much better work and lots of it.

      Also: A Classics professor ascribed the stunningly high quality of Classical Greek art to (at least in part) Greece’s foreign trade with Egypt (and elsewhere): vast numbers of jars of olive oil and wine, each of which was decorated with painted designs and scenes.


        Totally get it. My degree’s in Applied Physics and Electronics, with the emphasis on “Applied.”

        Lots of marks for working experiments, not so much for purely thought experiments.

        That’s one reason why, whenever an opportunity comes up to do something new at work, I’m all over it. Even if I screw up the first couple of attempts, I eventually get it right, and then know the pitfalls and blind alleys.

        It’s also the reason I prefer Howard to Sheldon, though my wife says I’m a Sheldon, through and through.

        • You can’t be a total Sheldon if found a woman who wanted to marry you. Howard is also passionately interested in doing physics, he’s just more socially clued in and for that matter more kind and loving.

          I know lots of scientists and engineers, and they (we) tend to fall somewhere on the asperger’s spectrum, being more skilled with things than with people. But some of us are very skilled at both, and few of us are interested in comic books and cosplay and the other goofy things that are the basis for so many jokes in the Big Bang Theory.

          Engineers know that you become a good engineer by doing lots of engineering: Often this involves making mistakes and understanding why they were mistakes. It also involves, without necessarily making mistakes, applying the lessons you were taught until you have internalized those lessons into how you “instinctively” study a problem and formulate a solution. Classes and textbooks only teach you the basics: You don’t really become good at it by doing lots of it, and there are lots of lessons in how to do good engineering.

Calculate your privilege

Just in case you cannot tell, its a joke.

From Small Dead Animals where Robert writes:

Here’s an Internet meme I first learned of in a Free Speech group I belong to. I imagine it was created by a horde of Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) with an especially strong dose of Permanent Victim Syndrome (PVS). One wonders what percentage of Western society reads this chart and thinks it speaks some semblance of truth.

It’s exactly how they think.

An answer to the nihilist lunatics in our midst

People will always disagree over politics since we all have different values and different personal policy agendas. But those who are #NeverTrump and #AntiTrump have no values or agenda items worth even mention. They are nihilist lunatics none of whom has ever been able to make a case for why shouldn’t someone think Donald Trump become President. You don’t have to like everything he does to see that his election as President represents a coherent set of principles that can be supported by reasonable people, whether on foreign, domestic or economic policy. Not that any of them will listen to anyone else with an open mind, but there has always been a pro-Trump case which is getting more obvious by the day. This is Conrad Black on Trump’s Whirlwind Year which should be read from end to end. Here’s a bit just for fun.

This last year, after the year of his nomination and election, has been the second round of Donald Trump’s war to crush and expel the American political establishment. This year he has won over the congressional Republican party, which had almost entirely opposed him, to toil in the enactment of his program. Together they have achieved the greatest tax reform and reduction in over 30 years, largely emasculated Obamacare, put a rod on the backs of those states that elect incompetents like Jerry Brown and the Cuomos and lay the resulting state income taxes off on the whole country, repatriated trillions of dollars of corporate profit, exonerated over half the people from personal income taxes, reduced the return of 80 percent of taxpayers to a postcard, and produced conditions for 4 percent GDP growth next year. The Obama apologetics that a flatlined economy with a shrunken work force and a burgeoning multitude of Medicaid-sedated idleness was the new normal has been debunked; it is the abnormal recent past.

Scandal fatigue

There are so many scandals associated with the Democrats and Barack Obama it is wearying to try to keep up. This is yet another, taken from Instapundit.


Politico published a jaw-dropping, meticulously sourced investigative piece this week detailing how the Obama administration had secretly undermined US law-enforcement agency efforts to shut down an international drug-trafficking ring run by the terror group Hezbollah. The effort was part of a wider push by the administration to placate Iran and ensure the signing of the nuclear deal.

Now swap out “Trump” for “Obama” and “Russia” for “Iran” and imagine the eruption these revelations would generate. Because, by any conceivable journalistic standard, this scandal should’ve triggered widespread coverage and been plastered on front pages across the country. By any historic standard, the scandal should elicit outrage regarding the corrosion of governing norms from pundits and editorial boards.

Yet, as it turns out, there’s an exceptionally good chance most of your neighbors and colleagues haven’t heard anything about it.

Days after the news broke, in fact, neither NBC News, ABC News nor CBS News — whose shows can boast a collective 20 million viewers — had been able to find the time to relay the story to its sizeable audiences. Other than Fox News, cable news largely ignored the revelations, as well.

Most major newspapers, which have been sanctimoniously patting themselves on the back for the past year, couldn’t shoehorn into their pages a story about potential collusion between the former president and a terror-supporting state.

Democracy dies in darkness.

It is almost as wearying to deal with all the leftists one knows and discusses politics with who have never heard of any of the stories we are all perfectly aware of. This is not that they discount them, but that they have never heard of almost any of them at all.

Mayhem in Melbourne for reasons utterly unknown to the police

Having just crossed the road on a couple of occasions in the past week in front of Flinders Street station at Elizabeth it is odd to be thinking of these things and watching events unfold from Sydney where I am at the moment.

This is a new evil for which there is no justification. To say these people have a screw loose is accurate in its own way but there are different manifestations of insanity, with this a very modern version, at least here in the West.

The picture and story come from an overseas source just to get a different perspective: SUV Plows Into Christmas Shoppers in Melbourne, Australia; Over Dozen Injured, Driver and Passenger Arrested. As a latest update:

Australia police are awaiting a psyche evaluation before questioning the suspect, an Australian of Afghani descent with a history of mental issues and a minor criminal background.

No other underlying factors are mentioned so we will have to wait for further investigation to see if we can find a motive for this senseless act of evil and the deliberate infliction of harm.

An economic story for the ages


From Drudge, with these as the sidebars:


One can support the Democrats and oppose Trump only if one believes in voting for a living and not the desire to live freely. It is not tax cuts as such that matter, but that the onus for growth is now being placed on the private sector. Over time, the proportion of the economy directed by government will recede along with the regulations that have slowed and in many places stopped productive activity.

The pressures it will place on others will be through the power of example rather than that the US will grow to anyone else’s detriment so others will be forced to match these policies or see their economies shrivel. Everyone will grow, but some more rapidly than others. This is how it’s done. No matter how much anyone else produces, whatever anyone else add themselves will make their own economy more prosperous.

That is, Keynesian economics is dead, at least for now.

Help solve a mystery

As anyone who has read my views over the years would know, Malcolm has never been my cup of tea, but when it came to the election last year, I was all in for the Libs. After the by-election yesterday, he will now lead the Libs into the next election and I am good with that. Surround even a very faulty Prime Minister with the right sort of party and things can work out. In politics, you pick the side you prefer and hope for the best. Perfection in everything is not to be expected. You are lucky to get a 51-49 for most of what is up for grabs, and often enough you are choosing 40-60 in preference to 30-70.

But this time I am coming back to a question I raised yesterday in an oblique sort of way. This is what I ask for an answer to. I know there are #NeverTrumpers and #AntiTrumpers out there but what exactly could they have expected to have occurred instead had Hillary or someone else been elected? To me it remains a mystery. What were they looking for and why is Donald Trump not at least about as good as one could have hoped for in an American president at the present time, with the political and media ebbs and flows being what they are?

ONE OF THE ANSWER FROM THE COMMENTS: This was from Peter which is how I look at things but not how everyone does.

“What were they looking for……….”

To be honest I am sure they do not know themselves. The Left has become seriously detached from reality. Reality is not a part of their design or to out it another way reality is not a part of their personal reality. They are into symbolism, rhetoric, political correctness, ideology and narratives. They wanted Hillary to be President for much the same reason they wanted Obama. He was a black man and that was enough. Therefore he could do no wrong even though clearly he was one of the worst Presidents ever and she is a woman and a symbol and therefore could do no wrong even if she turned out (as I am sure she would) to have been the most corrupt President ever.

Trump on the other hand was old, male and white. That is all they needed to know about him and was enough to condemn him in this time of insanity and hatred of western civilization. One small example. Hillary and Obama set the middle east on fire. Then they fiddled while it burned. Trump came to power, and in his first year in office was responsible for wiping out ISIS. The Left must hate that as nothing better personifies the failure of their ideologies and the hopelessness of Obama and Clinton.

My sentiments almost to the “t”. Truth to tell as far as I can work it out, for the left it’s tribal and all anti-this and anti-that. What they are for, other than fantasy, I am unable to tell. I cannot talk policy with such people since they never tell me the route to what they wish to achieve even when the can find the words to tell me what outcomes they seek. They just want things that are completely contrary to human nature as it has always been and ever will be.

It’s a new economic world coming

From Drudge:


You don’t get all that much credit for an economic upturn since life is never perfect even if everyone has a job, specially if everyone has to work to earn a living. But it will create wealth since the tax cuts are also coming with spending restraint (of a kind) and the removal of regulations at a rate of 22 gone for every new one introduced.

I know there are #NeverTrumpers out there but what exactly they could have expected to have occurred instead that was better remains a mystery. And speaking of which, here is a rhetorical question that needs no answer: Why Does the Media Not Report That ISIS Was Defeated in Iraq and Its Capital City of Raqqa in Syria Has Been Captured by US-Allied Troops? As he says, I would imagine for much the same reason the media is silent on the economy.