Do as I Do, Not as I Say
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made a call for reason this past weekend. Citing Susan Jacoby's work, Kristof points out the need for an improved intellectual climate to foster informed and reasoned debate. "How can we decide on embryonic stem cells if we don't understand biology?" asks Kristof.
Amen. Let's understand the technical details, the relevant history and philosophy, and all sides of an issue. Then we can have informed and reasoned debate. At least that is what comes to my mind when I hear a call for reason. Not necessarily, however, for folks such as Kristof and Jacoby.
As an example of what he views as a failure in our intellectual climate, Kristof points to evolution and sarcastically uses President Bush as his foil:
President Bush is also the only Western leader I know of who doesn't believe in evolution, saying "the jury is still out." No word on whether he believes in little green men.
So much for reasoned debate. For Jacoby and Kristof, the intellectual climate is right only when dogmatic adherence to evolution is mandated. Even merely allowing for the possibility that evolution may not explain everything must be expelled. Evolutionists are seeing the need for a multitude of universes to explain how evolution could possibly have occurred. But never mind, one way or another we must believe evolution to be true.
Their calls for an improved intellectual climate ring hollow. When Jacoby and Kristof advocate for informed and reasoned debate, what they really mean is something very different. The irony is that, far from reasoned debate, today's elite demand straight-jacket agreement where it matters to them, and allow debate only within narrow boundaries that don't challenge their pre-conceived viewpoints.