The left is hampered as much by moral superiority as by intellectual arrogance.  The right tend to think the left is ignorant. If they would only read, ” (fill in the blank).”  The right will likely acknowledge that the left is at least well intentioned, but short sighted.  The left on the other hand thinks the right is evil and will speak of their opposition in hateful terms usually reserved for existential threats.  The right does something similar, but the wing nut factions of the right usually speak of their nemesis as more diabolical than just stupid. The right seems to be more prone to conspiracy theories.

All of this is just a form of intellectual laziness. Rather than debate an issue  it is much easier to dismiss opponents as anti- intellectual, anti-science, racist, misogynist, stupid or a fanatic. It belittles those cases where this description is proper- like the boy who cried wolf. Worse it averts the examination of missteps to learn from. We delude ourselves into thinking a policy failure is merely an issue of competence.

It is a form of intellectual bigotry filled with group stereotypes and intolerance much like the racial forms we are quicker to detest.

from The New York Times, Nicholas Kristoff writes The Liberal Blind Spot


Sure, there are dumb or dogmatic conservatives, just as there are dumb and dogmatic liberals. So let’s avoid those who are dumb and dogmatic, without using politics or faith as a shorthand for mental acuity.

On campuses at this point, illiberalism is led by liberals. The knee-jerk impulse to protest campus speakers from the right has grown so much that even Democrats like Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, have been targeted.

Third, when scholars cluster on the left end of the spectrum, they marginalize themselves. We desperately need academics like sociologists and anthropologists influencing American public policy on issues like poverty, yet when they are in an outer-left orbit, their wisdom often goes untapped.

In contrast, economists remain influential. I wonder if that isn’t partly because there is a critical mass of Republican economists who battle the Democratic economists and thus tether the discipline to the American mainstream.