Preventing the Spread of Bad Ideas

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Principles Series
Last Edit
Apr 3, 2022 01:48 PM
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As we’ve looked at some obviously bad ideas over the past four pieces, it’s important to look at how they can be contained. Unfortunately, we’re pretty far through the looking glass: both sides have believed the other side is out to wreck the country for at least the last 15 years.
Solving this is tricky at a systematic level, as it is largely a cultural question. As I wrote about a few months ago, culture is increasingly important but incredibly hard to engineer because it is now distributed. I won’t address this, but hopefully someone smarter than I am reads this and figures out a way to get this started.
But as noted in those pieces on culture, personal actions are inherently and increasingly meaningful. So making the question become “what can you or I do to limit the spread of bad ideas,” is perhaps the most productive thing that we can do.
As we covered, the Postmodernist Left and Post-Truth Right both distort reality in different ways. As such, it’ll generally take different strategies to combat the bad ideas within each.
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But despite the differences, there is one skill that intersects the two: the ability to not fear conflict. This is hard for anyone in the political middle right now. Each of the extremes wields a lot of passion and a proclivity for painting anyone who dissents from their view as part of “the enemy.” For most, the path of least resistance is simply to keep your mouth shut, whether you are in a room full of Social Justice Warriors or MAGA Heads.
While engaging in a political debate may not be enjoyable, it is necessary in the right times and places. Without such discussions, it’s way too easy for each side’s filter bubble to continue to shelter them from dissenting ideas.
Of course, there’s more to it than just starting a debate – it’ll help if you are knowledgeable about the subject and able to be respectful toward ideas you disagree with. But we need to get to a world where the middle of American politics (a majority) is passionate, knowledgeable, and willing to engage with the extremes in order to back ourselves out of our polarization death spiral.