Bryan Caplan  

How Glen Whitman Fights Statistical Discrimination

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As I've argued before, the best way to fight negative stereotypes is for people unfairly subject to the negative stereotype to use in-group peer pressure to raise the bar. In short: "Stop making me look bad!" Over at Agoraphilia, Glen Whitman offers an eloquent example of my favorite approach:

Given the relative rarity of libertarians, both in the public eye and in general, most people’s judgment of libertarianism will be based on a very small sample – often a sample size of one. If the first libertarian someone meets is a smart, reasonable, decent person, they will come away with a positive impression and possibly a willingness to explore further. If the first libertarian someone meets is a wild-eyed lunatic, on the other hand, they could easily write off libertarianism as the ideology of wild-eyed lunatics.

[...]

This is why, when I talk to young libertarians about how to spread their ideas, I say they should think of themselves as ambassadors for the movement. That means, first and foremost, presenting themselves as fundamentally decent people that you would actually want to have a beer with; and second, being willing to admit the diversity of libertarian thought (“libertarians don’t all agree on this, but…”) before pushing their own peculiar views.

Words to live by.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
John V writes:

Why don't you run, Bryan? I'd vote for you. I think you'd be a good ambassador and a smoother talker than Paul.

At least the libertarian punditocracy on the web would probably be behind you.

Something to think about :)

John V writes:

But then again, you hate politics and the process even more than I do. Plus, they'd grill you for your book. :)

John Smith writes:

Your idea seems good. But the thing is even from what i read from reasonably moderate blogs such as this, and distributed republic, it does seems that the core supporters of your ideaology are indeed crazy. it is not that they fail to express their ideas correctly. it is that their ideas are so over-the-top that non-supporters instantly deem the supporters as outrageous and don't listen to them. and i personally find many of the ideas outrageous as well. perhaps this view is shared by other readers who are not core supporters??

Joshua Holmes writes:

As I've argued before, the best way to fight negative stereotypes is for people unfairly subject to the negative stereotype to use in-group peer pressure to raise the bar. In short: "Stop making me look bad!"

Doubtful. Those making the stereotype aren't looking for an accurate description of their targets, they're looking to demean other people. The better path is to fight the denigration of other people based on group membership, i.e., to attack the foundations of collectivism.

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