Here’s the article by conservative Manhattan Institute fellow Oren Cass that got us all worked up in class yesterday: “Trump the Climate Slayer.”
We’ve talked some this semester about the role of think tanks in the development of policy. In an interesting recent analysis, a professor at Tufts suggests that traditional think tanks are giving way to bankers and consultants.
Well, this is unusual indeed: conspiracy enthusiast and enemy of reason Alex Jones is admitting that he was spreading nonsense. Apparently the threat of a lawsuit can sometimes encourage even the most unrealistic to hew a little closer to reality. See the story in WaPo: “Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Backs Off ‘Pizzagate’ Claims.”
Conservative political scientist Charles Murray’s 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 relates to some ideas we’ve been discussing in class, especially the cultural polarization of quote-unquote red staters and blue staters. Murray wrote a quiz he says shows how much people are living in an isolating bubble of privilege and comfort, unaware of the troubles and interests of “mainstream America.” Take the quiz; we’ll discuss in class.
The republic stands! And the conspiracy buffs still haven’t eaten crow. Here’s an article from the Washington Post from the day after the exercise ended, to remind you of the daffy and mistaken forecast of coup d’etat. Remember also that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, far from dismissing the conspiracists out of hand, instead ordered the Texas State Guard to be on the look out for signs that President Obama was using the military games as a pretext for taking over…Texas. Which was already part of America.
This week we’re discussing conspiracism and the “paranoid style” in American politics. Here’s an auspiciously timed humorous piece in today’s WaPo by (liberal) Garrison Keillor: “The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Against Me.”
Our discussion yesterday of faddish pedagogy reminded me of this college prof authored op-ed in the New York Times, “Lecture me. Really,” Worthen gets right at our earlier discussion of the value of a liberal arts education vis-a-vis “more practical” options, and she speaks to our ongoing discussion of America’s suspicion of experts, and she even addresses the problem of students’ split attentions in gadget-filled classrooms. Right up our alley. (And it validates my own philosophy of teaching, but that’s just icing on the cake.)
Regarding our upcoming discussion of technocracy, take a look at this ancient (2012) survey asking people about their views concerning when politicians should call the shots and when we should listen to the scientists. Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in dated polling data, but I wonder whether in this case the current climate might generate markedly different answers from respondents only a few years later.
From the time the phrase gained wide currency in late 2016 until about a month ago, “fake news” meant stories fabricated from whole cloth, not intended to be understood satirically, and spread online. Here are a couple of interesting New York Times stories about how such fake news may have mattered or not:
“Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This is All About Income.'”
“Researchers Created Fake News. Here’s What They Found.”
Here’s a timely story related to our topic this week: “We Avoid News We Don’t Like. Some Trump-Era Evidence.” Note the distinction between an outlet’s alleged liberal/conservative slant and its liberal/conservative readership.