All that is wrong with the “marketplace of ideas”
This can be seen in a UK education system that has been compromised by left-wing progressive ideas that have been repeatedly tried and found wanting; and yet we keep trying them – why is that?…
The so-called “marketplace of ideas” is a product of a postmodern world that has been over-run by all-pervasive, morally-bankrupt, relativism. It is – as David Aaronovitch points out in the conclusion to his Voodoo Histories book (yes I am back to that again!) – the root cause of the paralysis that prevents many people from resolving their ambivalence towards climate change: “If all narratives are relative, then we are lost… Relativism doesn’t care to distinguish between the scholarly and the slapdash, the committed researcher and the careless loudmouth, the scrupulous and the demagogic” (2010, p. 335).
Thus, the curse of relativism convinces non-scientists that their opinions are just as valid as those of scientists; and erodes respect for all reasonable authority. In this context, the serial failing of our educational system over recent decades (in stealing from teachers all effective sanctions and forms of punishment for errant behaviour) has merely compounded the problem.
Somehow, our society needs to re-discover its respect for authority; and realise that all ideas do not have equal merit. Because if it does not do so, we are doomed to a future in which the topsy-turvy thinking of people like James Delingpole will hold sway. For example, in a remarkably frank interview with Sir Paul Nurse, as broadcast on a BBC Horizon programme entitled Meet the Climate Sceptics on 24 January 2011, Delingpole admitted that:
— he believes concern about climate change is being driven by a “political agenda” seeking “control” over people;
— “the peer review process has been perhaps irretrievably corrupted” (presumably he meant ‘discredited’?) by Climategate;
— Science should now be assessed by “peer-to-peer review” over the Internet by thousands and thousands of people including “people like me [i.e. him!] that haven’t got a scientific background”.
When Nurse queried the legitimacy of this [non-peer review] process, by asking if he would or could read peer-reviewed scientific literature, Delingpole’s response was stupendously illogical: “It is not my job to sit down and read peer-reviewed science papers because… I haven’t got the scientific expertise… I am an interpreter of interpretations…” [Some might argue that one or two comments posted 6 months ago in response to this particular youtube video of the interview seem to have got the measure of JD; but I could not possibly comment!]
However, if we acquiesce in allowing such relativism to be dressed-up as seeking the common interest (i.e. populism), we will soon be so far up an excrement-filled channel without a means of propulsion that the only viable means of employment left for those of us concerned for the welfare of our environment may be to open a waste to energy (biogas) plant!