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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm not a big fan of Chris Mooney, but ...

Don't you love posts that start, "I'm not an X, but ..."?

Still, I wasn't especially convinced or impressed by Unscientific America. On the other hand, this article is rather interesting. I wonder whether it signals a return to form. Anyway, it's an intriguing result that intelligence and education can have the kinds of perverse effects that Mooney describes here.

H/T Steven Paul Leiva.


James Sweet said...

I agree that it's much better than most of Mooney's latest pap, but there's still a big problem which is very characteristic of Mooney: The conclusion has a big hole in it.

It tells us why refuting people like Santorum is a futile endeavor, makes a strong case for it in fact. It then labels it a learning opportunity, so we can determine how to better convince entrenched conservatives. And then... it just kinda ends, with a sorta snarky swipe at liberals who are still out there trying to argue with the fools.

If it's a learning opportunity, what's his suggestion? I'm sure he would reply, "buy the book", but anyone who read Unscientific America may be justifiably suspicious of that retort. (Disclaimer: I didn't make it all the way through UA, despite its short length... he contradicted himself so many times, it drove me batty!)

It's very interesting stuff, but you can't close by exhorting liberals to do better unless you've got some ideas, y'know? Mooney's whole thesis lately seems to be, "Going out on the front lines and debating people who are wrong is not usually all that effective, so don't do it." But the last four words don't follow from the premise unless you show there is some other tactic which is more effective.

Debate and argumentation aren't all that effective, I'll grant. But I'm sure it has changed more than zero minds. And sitting on your ass taking pot shots at your allies has changed zero minds.

Anonymous said...

Who do you prefer; Clive Hamilton or Chris Mooney?

Russell Blackford said...

I'm not overly fond of either.