Henderson on Friedman and the intellectual diversity of New York intellectuals

A very interesting discussion by Friedman here.

Warning: if you wander into the comment section you will see that some punk named Daniel Kuehn is raising quite a ruckus.

I was actually surprised by that. I thought my point was pretty non-controversial... until it turned out it was very controversial. I've given a few other examples from the other side of the aisle and a little background on the source of my skepticism, and hopefully that clears up the non-controversial nature of what I'm trying to say.

I'm not saying Friedman was making things up. I'm not saying New York intellectuals didn't have a pretty decided view of Goldwater. And I'm certainly not saying that there aren't ignorant assholes out there who manage to distinguish themselves. I just think you've got to remember that this is from Friedman's perspective - which is one perspective that has blindspots - and this didn't happen randomly and therefore probably says as much about Goldwater as it does about New York (after all... New Yorkers probably felt about the same way about Goldwater's supporters!).

When person A holds a view that person B considers nonsense and has a counter-argument to B that B considers poorly informed and worthless, certainly it could mean that A is just presenting straw men and has no exposure to people who think like B...

...but it could also:

1. Be a misconception on B's part because B is similarly devoted to his cause.
2. Be a better argument than B gives it credit for, but B is so poorly informed about why A thinks the way A does that he thinks A is poorly informed.
3. Be that B is right about A but the same is true of B and nobody is really a model of intellectual inquiry because we as a society just haven't chewed on it long enough.
4. Be that B is right about A but inappropriately makes inferences about people that have the same general views as A because he's so mad about the handful of A's that he encountered.

Or any number of other reasons.

And since there are lots of A's and B's in the world there's probably a little of all of this!

I have seen far too many complaints like this complaint of Friedman's for me to take any single assertion like this particularly seriously.

There is probably a grain of truth in what Friedman says. I don't know how big that grain is.

True or not, it is a good reminder to broaden your horizons and engage with people you disagree with.