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December 09, 2011

Is Obama's Intellect Stunted by Epistemic Closure?

This occurred to me due to Obama's claim that paying people not to work creates more jobs than actually creating jobs.

It is a thoroughly stupid and ignorant statement. Even as a weak bit of political spin, it verges, apologies for the word but I mean it, on being mentally retarded.

A year or two ago one of those guys who's supposedly a libertarian but seems to make his rent attacking conservatives posited that the right suffers from "epistemic closure," a mis-named term which he claimed to mean "closed off to information or experience inconsistent with one's prior views."

A tasteless and unnecessary neologism for the very old idea of a Community-Based Reality, a group which decides what reality is according to a group. Contrary information will not be permitted to interfere with the Community-Based Reality the group is deciding upon; they reason backwards from their conclusions to decide what the Facts are which prove those pre-supposed conclusions.

Not a particularly new idea. But he made up a (poor) neologism for it, and attacked the right, so of course he got lots of links and probably a few invitations to MSNBC.

Using this terminology: Is Obama's mind epistemically closed?

Obama is supposedly a learned man. We are told he is a rara avis, in Chris Buckley's dribblings, a true intellectual.

When was the last time Obama actually learned something about the world?

Did he, as the book's title might have it, Learn Everything He Needed To Know By Second Semester Sophomore Year?

When was the last time Obama was actually confronted by new information and new experience and actually adapted his beliefs to fit the new fact-pattern, rather than consistently adapting the new fact-pattern to fit his old beliefs?

For, we were told, anyone who does not do this is is "epistemically closed."

So when has Obama done it? I'm sure that book Bill Ayers wrote for him contains moments of realization, but those are of course set deep in Bill Ayers' past.

One question the media loves asking Republicans is "What have you learned in office?" By which they really are asking: "Which hidebound conservative beliefs are you finally ready to jettison?"

They fret when a Republican dodges the question, saying something bullshitty about learning about the greatness of the American Voting Public, and cry "unteachable!"

Very well.

What has Obama learned in office? Which of his pre-existing beliefs has he learned to is wrong?

Don't say gay marriage; he's still "evolving" on that, so he is not ready to discard that old stance against gay marriage (not until January 2013, at least).

What has Obama learned?

The man is besieged by evidence of his own failures, after all. Even if one were, like his liberal media Praetorian Guard, to take the position that Obama's failures are really Hidden Successes, surely he must have changed some of his beliefs as he sees the practical effect of his hitherto entirely-theoretical knowledge of how economics, and the world, works.

Oh sure he'll claim he's learned he hasn't communicated his vision and his successes enough.

That is just a dodge, of course. That is not confronting his failures and learning from them; that is merely attempting to claim his failures are successes, and his only real failure is being President of a nation whose voters are too dumb to understand how amazingly he's succeeded.

That, in other words, is simply another proof of epistemic closure.

So: If Obama is such a learned man, what the fuck has he learned since age 19?


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posted by Ace at 01:58 PM

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