In this interview you discuss conspiracy theories and mentions several times QAnon but never a much bigger and consequential conspiracy theory believed by a larger share of the population and which was relentlessly pushed in literally thousands of articles by the New York Times, WaPo, The Atlantic... They even gave themselves Pulitzer prices for this farce. I note that Ross Douthat who is writing for the NYT had the courage to discuss "the paranoid center" "elite panic" and "the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories". People might not be very smart on average, but their lack of trust in the competence and honesty of elite institutions is completely reasonable.

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As long as you are touting Douthat, I'll tout others who write in similar veins, e.g. Taibbi, Chris Hedges, some folks at The Jacobin and Consortium News, Archdruid John Michael Greer, and Michael Lind.

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Yeah, their lack of trust in the competence and honesty of elite institutions *is* completely reasonable, and is, if anything, reinforced by when such Elites as these two scholars here engage in an orgy of Virtue Signaling, e.g. with their unsupported sneers at the QAnon-ers, the chemtrails proponents, and "the vax deniers who come down with COVID."

Why no swipe at the “irrationality” of the people “who bump up against reality”, when their vaxxed kids race to hospitals, with surprise *heart* issues?

Similarly, with the vapid claim about “the cancellations for not supporting Trump, like even those seem to be pretty *issue free*.

Are these scholars remotely familiar, with any literature not lauded to the hilt by their ever-more dogmatic colleagues?

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Had either scholar deigned to *specify how* the QAnon-ers, the chemtrails proponents, and "the vax deniers were being “irrational” or “not sane”, my respect for these two wouldn’t have crumbled as much as it has.

When Pinker bellows out “How could any *sane* person believe in Qanon?”, I reply with “How could any sane person *so* emphatically reject Qanon-ers (or chemtrails proponents, or "vax deniers”), before gaining above-superficial knowledge, of the case that Qanon etc. present?

For my part, I’ll *bet* that these QAnon etc. groups are very mistaken, but I’ll also quite suspect, that those who diss these groups’ *sanity* are not only mistaken on that, but are driven much by insufferably *pretentious* GroupThink.

Such GroupThink in ordinary folk is sad, but not nearly as irresponsible as, when such GroupThink is puked out by “respectable” scholars.

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Until Pinker etc. come clean by a scintilla, on any of these points by me or Hyperdupont, I’ll bet that they haven’t done more than a smidgen of homework, on any of the sneers they present above.

All of this is so sad, since it would quite help, if scholars really tried to clarify what constitutes “rationality” etc., in the sort of contexts where Qanon etc. are debated.

My view is that there are huge diffs, between, say, the poor judgment of Qanon-ers, and the Irrationality/ rank dishonesty of those media wheels whose job it was, to know how fraudulent were the cows about Collusion with Russian Hacking.

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To clarify the above, on the poor judgment of Qanon-ers, to call it poor judgment is actually a stretch, in that very few folks *know* enough, to pass judgement on what Qanon says.

I pass that stuff up, mainly because I see nothing to recommend it, above any number of other theories which get attn.

For more worthy thoughts, about how folks go about sorting out the slew of theories to which they'll be exposed, see the thread between Handle and aNanyMouse, at

http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/more-fits-news-2/#comment-603321 .

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There are certainly racial slurs that sound nasty under most contexts and likely always will. However, we're starting to come full circle where most of the other offensive words in the past are now banal, and the banal words are now offensive. In some cases, words like "normal" and "regular" are more offensive to certain folks than if you outright wished famine and disease upon their family and descendants for eternity. I'll also add one more useful tool that Steven and/or Richard have probably mentioned in the past. The easiest way to identify the lowest common denominators of society is to gauge how fatalistic/superstitious/zero-sum their world views are. Forget about anything else; that type of thought pattern will extinguish the lamps of civilization faster than anything else.

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Also, while Pinker might be one of your intellectual heroes, it would have been interesting to discuss his views on foreign policy. I saw him present the "Better Angels" a few years ago, and the level of foreign policy analysis was low and pandering to US official narrative. The long term trend is towards less fatalities in wars, and the uptick in global war deaths around 2015/2016 was because of Assad and Putin.

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