Further to “You’ve heard it: “The Debate’s Over” (= we’ve lost, so no we are using force) and “it’s okay to lie for science,” (= truth won’t help us, so we lie): Here, at the venerable Atlantic Jon Lovett explores the culture of Shut Up:
The bottom line is, you don’t beat an idea by beating a person. You beat an idea by beating an idea. Not only is it counter-productive—nobody likes the kid who complains to the teacher even when the kid is right—it replaces a competition of arguments with a competition to delegitimize arguments. And what’s left is the pressure to sand down the corners of your speech while looking for the rough edges in the speech of your adversaries. Everyone is offended. Everyone is offensive. Nothing is close to the line because close to the line is over the line because over the line is better for clicks and retweets and fundraising and ad revenue.
It’s like a financial bubble. It’s a bubble of subprime outrage and subprime apologies. I just hope we can rationalize the market before this chilling effect leaves us with a discourse more boring and monotone than it already is—a discourse that suits the cable networks and the politicians but not the many disparate voices who occasionally need to say outrageous things because there are outrageous things to say.
This sort of outburst will not have the slightest effect, of course. High culture is firmly in the hands of people who believe that our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth, and fitness is the doctrine of those who can get people fined, fired, or jailed.
No one cares whether Lovett approves or not, as long as he shuts up if he disagrees (wonder if he’ll ever disagree about anything that really matters?).
See also: Science writing is not cheerleading. Lose the pom poms
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