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Reason vs. Rock and Roll April 23, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

I’ve been following Ace for, I don’t know, 14 years? But I think Ace is completely missed the mark with his latest post:

Jonah Goldberg: I Don’t Love Rock n Roll

First, George Will told us that jeans were The Devil.

Now, Jonah Goldberg tells us rock n roll is a tool of the pagan gnostic neo-Marxist conspiracy, and he cites lyrics from up-and-coming indie band Jethro Tull to prove this.

Like Ben Shapiro, Goldberg argues that part of the trouble with modern life is the elevation of feelings over facts. This is tied to Romanticism, which Goldberg describes as an “emphasis on emotion and the irrational, the significance of that which cannot be seen or explained through science but can be felt intuitively, is the tribal mind’s way of fighting its way back into the centrality of our lives.”

Now, Goldberg may be unfair to rock and roll, but the thing he does not say is that emotions are unimportant or that they can be completely isolated from rational thinking.

Since he doesn’t say those things, you can skip most of Ace’s post. But here are a few more excerpts in case you still care:

Reason is most useful to help figure out how to get more of something you’ve decided is valuable and good, or less of something you’ve decided is worthless and bad. But the initial assignment of value to things or ideals is famously non-rational — not exactly arbitrary, but extremely hard to explain by recourse to reason alone.

Aaaaannnnddd…that’s complete nonsense. Reason may not be responsible for the “initial assessment of value,” but that’s only when it hasn’t been used to previously build up a rational framework on a particular topic. Reason is “most useful” in all planning and decision making, in self-evaluation, in tempering emotional responses, and in writing posts about reason that aren’t knee-jerk emotive pieces of claptrap.

Goldberg’s ultimate (and anodyne) point, I’m pretty sure (didn’t read the book, just the quotes from Ace and the Daily Caller), is that elevating feelings over facts generally leads to very poor policy making and personal decision making. This doesn’t mean that rational people lead an emotionless existence, merely that they make sensible judgments about topics like budgets, welfare, immigration, defense, etc.

If he’s gonna yammer about reason, maybe he could pick up a pop science book on the science of cognition.

One should never pick up a pop science book and claim that they understand anything about science.


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