Tim Urban on ‘Social Authoritarianism’

Tim Urban, on Twitter:

We can illustrate this by comparing how people react to an upcoming talk by a speaker they disagree with. High-rung thinkers find a lot of value in having their beliefs challenged. Low-rung thinkers, not so much. But only the idea supremacist tries to cancel the event.

Low-rung thinkers may not be great at learning, but as long as they don’t prevent others from learning, it’s fine. Even the social bully is fine — they only hurt people who choose to be their friend.

But idea supremacy is a direct affront to the workings of a liberal society.

A short thread, but a good one. If you refuse to listen to people you disagree with, let alone try to prevent them from even speaking, how do you even know you disagree with them? Perhaps because I was young at the time, I often think back to Bob Dole’s “nightmares of depravity” broadside against popular movies and music in 1995, when he began his campaign for president:

Natural Born Killers, the story of a couple on a killing spree as they cross the country, was one example of films and recordings cited by Mr. Dole as “nightmares of depravity” for their depictions of gratuitous sex and violence. He also attacked the film True Romance and the rap groups Cannibal Corpse, Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew. Aides to Mr. Dole said he had not seen the movies he cited but had read about them and had also read offending rap lyrics.

The thing that got me then and still gets me now is that Dole had not seen the movies. Railing against a movie you haven’t seen is more offensive to me than the actual contents of any movie could be.

Anyway, Urban’s Twitter thread is promoting his new book, What’s Our Problem: A Self-Help Book for Societies, which is at the top of my reading pile.

Monday, 20 March 2023