Wednesday, May 8, 2013

8/5/2013: Thomas Sowell on Language, Evidence & Inquiry

Thomas Sowell doing what he does best: asking uncomfortable questions. http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/05/08/words-that-replace-thought-n1588497?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl

This got me thinking: there are, as Sowell puts it 'words that replace thought', but there are even more detrimental to inquiry 'words that prevent thought'. In fact, his example of word 'diversity' is one. It is virtually impossible to challenge anything relating to the thesis that 'diversity is intrinsically good' without being shut down on the grounds that any argument to the contrary of the thesis is automatically an argument in favour of some exclusion (racism, anti-semitism, sexism, and so on...).  The only possible by-pass to this problem is to argue that 'diversity has no effect'.

But this falls into the trap discussed briefly here http://andrewgelman.com/2013/05/06/against-optimism-about-social-science/
under the file-drawer bias in publishing.


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