Incredible Naivete of Those Who Should Know Better

Many highly educated, thoughtful people have seemingly negligible critical thinking inclinations,  dispositions, or skills.  In other words, that part of their development either never occurred, or they were inadequately attentive. Therefore, they are frequently persuaded by the credentials of the person doing the reasoning when the conclusion by itself sounds credible.

For example, David Brooks is a sensitive, sometimes erudite,  opinion writer  whom I always read with heightened anticipation. But in his July 4th NYT opinion column, he repeats his frequent praise of social science findings. Notice I said “findings”, not reasoning. Indeed, as he often does, Brooks speaks with a child-like innocence about the nature of social science, as well as its professional limitations.    Those seeking tenure and renown publish findings, and Brooks and numerous others breathlessly pass them along with barely restrained excitement.

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