Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Ignorance

Why It Matters that Gary Johnson Doesn’t Know What Aleppo Is

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson made a big mistake. Asked what he would do about Aleppo, he responded with “What is Aleppo?”:

Once the point was clarified, he then proceeded to give a meandering answer in which he repeatedly called Syria “a mess”. He did not address the refugee crisis and the closest he came to offering any position on Aleppo was to suggest that we need to “join hands with Russia”. There was no indication of what goals Johnson might have in a negotiation with Russia nor any explanation of how he would pursue those goals. A lot of people, including Johnson himself, are making excuses for this. Their excuses are bad. Here’s why.

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3 Reasons We Should Stop Watching TV News

Over the past several months, I’ve been paying increasing attention to an interesting phenomenon–voter tunnel vision. You may have noticed in recent months that mainstream media–particularly cable news networks–have devoted a remarkable amount of air time to a very narrow list of political issues:

  1. Russia/Ukraine Conflict
  2. Israel/Palestine Conflict
  3. Michael Brown Shooting/Ferguson Protests
  4. ISIS
  5. Ebola

Now, these issues are, to varying degrees, important. But why do they get so much coverage compared with more severe long-term problems like heart disease, malaria, poverty, climate change, education, and so on? Essentially, it’s because TV is a terrible medium for news, and I can show you why.

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Science Gandalf: When Technology is Indistinguishable from Magic

As human technology develops, the way our gadgetry operates grows steadily less accessible to laypeople. Before the industrial revolution, it was relatively easy to understand how most human tools worked. Hammers hammer, hoes hoe, plows plow. As we’ve industrialized, we’ve begun to rely on more complicated scientific principles. Chemistry, electricity, non-Newtonian physics, computing, these things all grow steadily more important, yet only a very small portion of the population truly understands how any portion of these things operate, much less all of them. The rest of us live largely in the dark, and this has a curious effect–we increasingly blur the conceptual distinction between science and magic.

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A Critique of Radical Democracy

A lot of smart people recognize that there are serious structural problems with the current political system, but there is much disagreement on how those problems should be dealt with. While I have often argued for sophiarchism, in many corners radical democratic theory remains more popular. I’d like to offer an argument for rejecting, at least in part, what radical democratic theory has to offer. “Radical democratic theory” is a lengthy phrase, so, for our mutual convenience, I will refer to radical democratic theory as “Rad-Demism” and those who believe in radical democratic theory as “Rad-Dems”. Read the rest of this entry »

The 8 Political Types

This morning in the shower, I came up with a really awesome theory. This theory systematically categorizes all citizens into eight distinct kinds, each of which has different effects on a given country’s political system. This piece will be one of the most original, and, in my view, important pieces I have written on this blog.

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