Opinion: More on Accreditation and Petty Politics

In last week’s column, I mentioned one of my primary sources of knowledge is works by accredited academics, so I’ll elaborate slightly.

Generally, when people use a word in the correct context, they mean the accepted definition of that word. That’s how language works.

For example, “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” is a single-volume history of the American Civil War written by James McPherson, the Professor Emritus of American History at Princeton University. I can read the book with confidence that it will have an accurate account of the American Civil War.

On another level, “The Civil War: A Narrative” is a three-volume history of the American Civil War written by Shelby Foote, a novelist. However, Foote used historical method and his book is considered an accurate telling of the war.

However, “Everything You Were Taught about the Civil War is Wrong” by Lochlain Seabrook is not an accurate depiction of the American Civil War. I cannot find any qualifications for Seabrook other than he is an “unreconstructed southerner.” A more accurate title for the book would be “Everything in this Book about the Civil War is Wrong.”

By far my favorite phrase from the book’s preview is “just one of hundreds of thousands of blacks who fought for the south in the Civil War.” It should be rewritten as “just one of about seven blacks who fought for the south in the Civil War.”

Another example is “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” by Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California, whose thesis is that geography is the primary factor in the development of human societies. I can read the book and accept all of Diamond’s argument, reject all of his argument or accept some of it.

I can say to myself, “Mr. Diamond has convinced me of the role of geography in human society development but I am not convinced it is more important than other factors.”

Of course, there can be multiple conflicting, yet valid academic theories. An excellent example of this is economics. John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman and Thomas Picketty may all present differing views on economics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t all experts or that only one is right.

To dismiss their arguments out of hand just because one disagrees with their political alignment is absurd, just like saying a political candidate knows nothing about economics even though those views are backed up by an economist.

Of course, when one is desperate enough and lacking information to make an argument, they can always use misinformation, out of context information and information omission. They can stoop even lower and accuse those of differing views hate America and wealth. Or that a candidate they don’t like has done nothing with his life.

As for me, I’m confident enough in my belief system to never make an asinine statement such as “Paul Ryan has done nothing with his life.” I may disagree with everything about Paul Ryan except his occasional beard, but I recognize that being a senator is a paradigm of how to do something with one’s life.

We all have different views on what makes a great democracy, and I accept that not everyone shares mine. My politics don’t define me; they’re an extension who I am. I’ve found that people who define themselves by their politics typically aren’t worth getting into discussions with due to a tendency to use ad hominems, self-righteous vitriol, and patronizing and vexatious language.


1 Comment on "Opinion: More on Accreditation and Petty Politics"

  1. Francis Ramsden | May 23, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Reply

    This is quite the roundabout in an attempt to respond to my comment left on your previous opinion piece (since I am the only one that had commented after all).

    I’m finding Ellwood City to be curiously obstinate when it comes to dialogue and debate. For weeks and months now the whole storyline from elected officials is “shhhh move along don’t ask questions, don’t criticize. We can only talk about the good and not the bad, just move along everybody”. Why is this? Are individuals afraid of actual discussion? The two major news sources in Ellwood City (atleast the editorial portions) favor a liberal ideology. Fine….but the rest of us do not have to clap along and nod like seals. We are able to bring up our own articulate counter points, our own ideas, and our own philosophy on the civil society. We don’t need lectures.

    Discussion = good

    Lecture = bad

    Got it?

    To get into the meat and potatoes of this article, I don’t get this “hey! Everyone can have a theory and that theory can be right no matter what” talking point. No…actually individuals can be wrong, in fact dead wrong. According to you Jonathan…..Karl Marx can be “right” and perhaps you even believe so, given you support of Bernie Sanders this election cycle. History tells us that no, actually socialism and communism do not promote liberty, they restrict it. They does not promote wealth, they pull everyone into poverty.

    So enough of the “hey can’t we all just get along and follow whichever ideologue we want”. I will make the case for individual liberty and freedom until the day I die. I will never support ironclad centralized federal government control. I will never be a die-hard keynesian economics supporter. These aren’t just things I make up or decide on a whim. I’ve taken into account history and the facts. There are things that work and there are those that do not work. As an example, go look up the Economic History of Sweden. Start in 1870 until about 1970/1980. Look at the economic policies instituted and how they changed. You will also notice the fall of wealth of Sweden lines up perfectly with these changes.

    Finally, I understand you’d love if the whole town read your opinion pieces and nodded along. Same goes for the other editorial author on your competitors website. But that is not the way it works. If you do not like individuals commenting and sharing their opinions, then quit writing editorials. You don’t need to come out and write an entirely new article to address one comment. Just leave your input below brother in the comment section. I’ll play nice.

    The jab I left about Bernie Sanders “doing nothing with his life” was in regards to the private sector. It is completely accurate and nothing to do with the favorite talking point of liberals: “ad hominem”.

    The man has been in politics his entire adult existence. Now maybe to you that sounds great. But to the Constitutional Conservative, we understand that politics was never intended to be a career. The federal government is so far off from the vision the Founders and Framers had envisioned for our great nation. Perhaps Bernie should go out and see the world and understand how free trade and economics actually work. Maybe he should get a job working manual labor and understanding what its like to put in a 40 hour work week the good ole fashion way. Perhaps he should start up his own business to see how burdensome governments at all levels is on the average entrepreneur. This is the problem that is created by men like Bernie Sanders.

    They have zero clue how the real world works, but want to dictate from an executive position (the presidency) how the rest of the country is to operate. If you STILL find nothing wrong with that, I would urge you for the second time to cast away these “phony accredited academia” types and instead invest in true knowledge, history, and the facts. There are most certainly things that work…..and those that do not. That is my main message for you. Avoid this nonsense about “everybody can be right”.

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