Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Evidences for Ideology vs Principled Position

When people make blanket claims about a group (“white people are like X;” “black people never do Y”), they are expressing an ideology, not using words tailored to fit reality. Human beings are simply too diverse and complicated to fit into such universal categories. If you hear someone summing up the “state of the Russian mind” or “what the American people want” or claiming that politician X shows sure signs of a social pathology, but there is no evidence of research nor of any time spent personally examining the psychology of the individual, then you’re dealing with quackery; the person is a fake. Such people will check their scientific methodology at the door in order to gain a place in the arena of modern media’s ideological shouting match. They are welcomed by groups that want a certain sort of “voice”—not a quiet, calm, thoughtful voice, but one that will provide pseudo-intellectual “cover” for all the prejudices that group already possesses.

If, rather than trying to glean evidence from observable reality, a person seems more intent on forcing reality into the categories of his or her system, then you’re dealing with an ideologue. If evidence supporting a theory is trumpeted loudly and repeatedly, and evidence that may refute it is ignored repeatedly, then it’s an ideology, not a principled position. If every bit of data, no matter how contrary, is taken as evidence of the truth of the theory, then it’s ideology, not science.

If media conversations are staked two-to-one against a position, then the organizers are ideologues, not holders of a principled position. If organizers clearly set out to disadvantage one side rather than the other, they are ideologues. If interlocutors spend most of their time engaging in ad hominem attacks rather than examining terms, premises, or arguments, then they’re ideologues, not holders of a principled position. If an interlocutor seems more concerned with “looking smart” than with coming to some common understanding of the truth, then he or she is probably an ideologue. If the most pressing argument is the prestige and ostensible expertise of the speaker, or the supposed lack of these on the part of the interlocutor, then you’re probably dealing with an ideology.

Randall Smith,  “Ideology and the Corruption of Language

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