David R. Henderson  

David Friedman on Nuttiness

PRINT
Daughter of Lucy... Unfunded Obligations of State ...

David Friedman has an excellent post titled "What Should Count as Nutty?" It follows two of his earlier posts on Christine O'Donnell. A couple of excerpts:

In trying to make sense of all this, I fall back on the observation that most of what most of us, perhaps all of us, believe, is based not on evidence directly available to us but on what the people around us tell us. Not only is it so based, it has to be. Nobody has the time and energy to check enough of the facts for himself--to be sure that Australia, and New Zealand, and Antarctica, and Orford, N.H., actually exist by going and looking at them, rather than by believing what he is told or reads.

The whole thing is worth reading. One of the things I like most about the it, besides the argument itself, which is very good, is the compassion that David shows.

His take-apart of Reason writer Michael Moynihan's hatchet job on O'Donnell is also excellent. One great quote:

The piece offers two other pieces of evidence against O'Donnell. One is that someone who worked for her 2008 senatorial campaign reported that O'Donnell "told me that she thought Joe Biden tapped her phone line." If Moynihan believes the idea that political campaigns sometimes engage in illegal wiretapping is absurd, he somehow managed to miss the entire Watergate episode along with much else.


Comments and Sharing


CATEGORIES: Economic Methods



COMMENTS (7 to date)
kebko writes:

When I first saw Christine O'Donnell, she looked familiar. I eventually realized I'd seen her on Bill Maher's show when he was on ABC. On the show, she was consistently nutty. She was clearly invited to the show to be the nutty one.

kurt writes:

Maybe O'Donnell is nutty not because she holds that bible-based position on masturbation, but because she tries to convince other people of the necessity of that position. That's where she goes wrong.

Jameson Burt writes:

David Friedman says,
"... what most of us, perhaps all of us, believe, is based not on evidence directly available to us but on what the people around us tell us. Not only is it so based, it has to be."

Still, each person has an obligation to filter out not-necessarily-true ideas before passing them on.
Otherwise, communication produces too much misinformation.
Remember, you too need to filter your speech, removing probable falsehoods.

Some communication represents facts coming from an eventual authoritative source or from empirical facts, but some communication represents brain farts.
Those people who makeup facts and logical relationships present an impressive consistency, an apparently impressive speed of thought, and get our awe -- but their splended speech extracts from a deluded sham mind.
It's surprising how many people could be labeled "communication pretenders."

Indeed, in the natural evolution of communication, when too much communication comes as lies, that communication represents wasted energy, so communication had might as well revert to emotional grunts.

Remember the bumper sticker,
... "Don't believe everything you think."
Unless we want comedy, when we realize a person communicates too much unfiltered nonsense, we move on to better sources of information.

Yancey Ward writes:

Does David Friedman really exist?

David R. Henderson writes:

kurt writes:
"Maybe O'Donnell is nutty not because she holds that bible-based position on masturbation, but because she tries to convince other people of the necessity of that position."
So people who try to convince others of their views are nuts? And you keep reading blogs?

Eric Hosemann writes:

We should all apply to ourselves David Friedman's standards on what counts as a nut.

pandaemoni writes:

I do agree that we are all walking around with information that we have not verified personally, are sure is true, and is not at all true. We should all be sympathetic to those who advance ideas in good faith that turn out to be wrong. Hopefully, those people will revise their position on those points and make some reasonable attempt to correct the record if the circumstances warrant that.

That said, the notion that anyone might believe there are mice with fully functioning human brains does give me some pause. I understand that she may have been misremembering a 2005 study, but this particular assertion of what that study says suggests a very serious lack of understanding of the state of modern science. It would be like reading articles about quantum teleportation experiments and declaring that human teleportation exists. (Sort of...with the mice example, were it true, you would also need researchers with highly dubious ethics.)

Hopefully, she was caught up in the moment, but I still think it suggests some troubling deficiency (in education, if nothing else) that she bought into the concept, even briefly.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top