Nonsequitur: Debating a Protester

July 24, 2015

To disagree is to insult. To correct another is to be a hater. And to refuse to acknowledge alternative views, no matter how fantastic or inane, is to be closed-minded. – Tom Nichols

In a recent article, “The Death of Expertise,” Tom Nichols suggests that in modern American society, it is virtually impossible to have debate, because amateurs deny the authority of experts. In this setting, any attempt to discuss any topic is restricted by the limited knowledge of the amateur. The expert must spend time (usually a few minutes) trying to bring the amateur “up to speed.” But generally, the amateur doesn’t want to do this, believing that he/she has all the information needed. “My opinion is just as valid as yours” is the mantra, even though the expert has the benefit of years of extensive training and experience, and the amateur doesn’t.

You can see this demonstrated directly in an exchange between Senator Ted Cruz and a Code Pink protester (via the Washington Examiner). Cruz bravely hands over the microphone to hear the protester’s concerns, then counters with direct evidence and expert analysis, which is dismissed. Kudos to Senator Cruz for practicing good democratic debate. But it is probably lost on the protesters.

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