The Attack on Truth!

Fun article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on willful ignorance, science denial, etc.  Here’s a fun paragraph:

The philosopher Andy Norman and others have criticized this theory [that what matters is persuasion, not reason, eds.] by pointing out that it relies far too heavily on the idea that rhetorical skills are valuable within an evolutionary context, irrespective of the truth of the beliefs being advocated. What if the reasons for your beliefs are not true? In a response to Mercier and Sperber, the psychologist Robert J. Sternberg pointed out that while reason and argument are closely related, “persuasive reasoning that is not veridical can be fatal to the individual and to the propagation of his or her genes, as well as to the human species as a whole.”

It’ll get you killed.

One thought on “The Attack on Truth!”

  1. Although pilloried by Plato, the ancient sophists used rhetoric to good advantage. The sophist who argued from the proposition and then the opposition explored how the ‘founding fathers’ of the culture might see the issue. Plato dismissed them because they engaged in what he thought of as frivolity. But their employment of rhetoric in this way was very useful in a culture where wisdom resided in its heroes.

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