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A Coda on Closure

April 22nd, 2010 · 139 Comments

epistemicclosureOver the past couple of weeks, a pair of posts I wrote about what I dubbed “epistemic closure” on the right kicked off a surprisingly broad set of conversations and debates—mostly, I suspect, because it slapped a name on a phenomenon that a lot of people already recognized, and which many conservatives were themselves feeling increasingly uneasy about.  Since so many smart folks took up and tried to elaborate on the idea, I figure it behooves me to try to round up some of those responses and see if I have anything useful to add.

First, just for the sake of clarity: When I initially dropped the term (apparently subconsciously borrowed from my undergrad philosophy days, where it has an unrelated technical meaning) the particular phenomenon I had in mind was rather narrower than the full range of issues people have been discussing under that rubric. What I had meant to describe specifically was the construction of a full-blown alternative media ecosystem, which has been become more self-sufficient and self-contained as it’s become more interconnected. There is, I argued, reason to think that more consciously conservative news outlets could serve as a valuable counterweight to a professional class of journalists who largely self-identify as liberals. But in practice, I believe, it has instead become worryingly untethered from reality as the impetus to satisfy the demand for  red meat overtakes any motivation to report accurately. That does not mean conservatives are completely cut off from outside information—as David Brooks notes today, research suggests that frequent visitors to partisan sites are actually more likely to also visit “the enemy”—but it tends to be approached in roughly the same spirit we might read the Korean Central News Agency. The press are no longer seen as even biased refs in the public debate, but as members of one team or another in a conflict whose only referee is victory.

Also, perhaps slightly less obviously, the “closure” I’m talking about is above all a collective or systemic property, not a property of individuals: It is not primarily about the propensity of conservative persons to be “closed-minded” or “dogmicatically rigid” or anything like that.  I wasn’t really trying to coin a phrase in the original post, but this was part of my rationale for not going with these more familiar terms. Closure is the universal tendency toward confirmation bias plus a sufficiently large array of multimedia conservative outlets to constitute a complete media counterculture, plus an overbroad ideological justification for treating mainstream output as intrinsically suspect. Nor, as Jon Chait and Jonathan Bernstein stress, was I making a point about a lack of “new ideas” on the right or even a general lack of intellectual diversity—at least until the internal disagreement begins spilling over into the mainstream and threatening the boundary between mediaspheres.  (Fierce debate in the pages of National Review might be OK—though as Jim Manzi demonstrates, there are limits—but the ultimate sin is taking your criticisms to CNN or NPR. You don’t talk smack about family outside the family.)

These are related and interesting topics, but my use of the term was focused on the way the conservative mediasphere is increasingly able to resist incursions from the “MSM” narrative and picture of reality. Sometimes this results in a skewed perception of the importance of a story—the obsession with ACORN or the idea that the “Climategate” e-mails were some kind of game changer in the larger AGW debate. At its worst, it manifests as a willingness to hold and circulate factually false beliefs that a simple search ought to explode.

As a few folks have objected, I don’t really make any attempt to “prove” that the right is worse on this front right now.  I think many of the responses from the right, even where they disagree on various points, bear out the broad intuition that this is a real phenomenon and a problem. Nobody’s saying: “What on earth could he be talking about?” I could marshal a tedious list of examples, but they’d be redundant for people who already see the problem, and probably unpersuasive to people who don’t—especially if they happen to hold some of the beliefs in question. Still, just as a brief refresher, recall that over the past two years, the movement’s flagship publications and most prominent pundits have found it urgent to discuss: Bill Ayers’ potential authorship of Obama’s memoir, the looming threat of death panels, the president’s crypto-Islamic background and allegiances, his attempt to create a “private army” via the health care bill, his desire to see America come to ruin, the imagined racism of Sonia Sotomayor… I could go on, and others could try to compose a list of equally nutty notions in circulation on the left to show it’s just as bad on the other side, and presumably still others could argue earnestly that one or more of these are actually Very Serious Issues after all. It would be a spectacular waste of time and change nobody’s mind. So I won’t bother, because no enumeration in the span of a blog post will, or really should, outweigh the general impression an attentive person will have already formed from observation of the media landscape.

If you  think this is all crazy talk and don’t see a problem, the rest of this is probably not very interesting. But since it seems like a fair number of people do see something awry, it may be worth going ahead and asking what happened and what it would take to correct course. It might be useful even if you also think the left is bad too, or has historically been worse, and bears some responsibility for the conservative reaction. (Cue Jack Nicholson’s Joker: “You IDIOT! You made me. Remember?”)  God knows nobody’s more epistemically closed than the claque of collegiate Marxists who won’t trust a word in the corporate press. Sidney Hook was probably a smug jerk. But that’s not really on point. I’m not broaching this because I want to hold a contest for history’s most awesome and open-minded ideology; progressivism does not win the Internets if people talk about their concerns with the intellectual climate on the right.

It’s fair to ask why a libertarian would burn cycles on this when it’s the left that’s high in the saddle, growing government and guarding the executive’s prerogatives as zealously as Bush ever did. The answer is that, while I’ve never called myself a conservative, I’d like there to be a functioning opposition to that—an opposition that’s capable of governing if it gets good enough at opposing. I think Ramesh Ponnuru nails it in a videoblog with Jon Chait: A closed right stops being concerned with persuading  outsiders by serious argument and contents itself with revving up the base.

Consider the reaction to Jim Manzi, who took up Ross Douthat’s challenge:

Conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.

Manzi answered the call with a scathing analysis of Mark Levin’s pop-con bestseller Liberty and Tyranny, in particular a shallow chapter on climate change that can only be called an insult to the reader’s intelligence:

I get that people often want comfort food when they read. Fair enough. But if you’re someone who read this book in order to help you form an honest opinion about global warming, then you were suckered. Liberty and Tyranny does not present a reasoned overview of the global warming debate; it doesn’t even present a reasoned argument for a specific point of view, other than that of willful ignorance. This section of the book is an almost perfect example of epistemic closure.

Cue apoplexy.  This response from RedState may be my favorite:

Mark recognizes that when you are at war, while it is important to get facts right (and I think Mark did a darned fine job sourcing his book, giving you the chance to criticize it), it is also important to inspire the troops and to do so by distilling the realities of the fight into useful information. I frankly don’t know if every statistic in Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative was correct or not. Nor do I know if every statistic or number in Reagan’s A Time For Choosing speech in 1964 was correct. I DON’T CARE. I know the facts were in the ballpark, and more importantly, the principles were timeless and correct. I have read Mark’s book, and I know a little about the topics in question – and it’s a good book, with good citations and a lot of good facts.

Nope, no problem here. Why fuss about the quality of arguments when you already know you’re on “Team Levin”? Except, of course, that folks not already on Team Levin may take greater exception to being treated as uncritical dunces by the movement’s opinion leaders, even if those who are on the team accept the condescension as a sign of affection.

So how’d we get here?  I’ve laid out some of my thoughts already. Matt Yglesias suggests that the left is less prone to systemic closure because it’s more of a patchwork of interest groups.  There may be something to that, but I think it’s common for partisans on both sides to think of the opposition as far more unified and ideologically coherent than they really are, and in any event, I don’t know if this works as an account of why the problem seems to have gotten worse lately. Noah Millman had a long and thoughtful post that I won’t really try to summarize, because it really demands to be read in full. But I will just quote the most fatalistic of the explanations, a sort of cyclical “all this has happened before, all of it will happen again” theory:

To a considerable extent, the life cycle of movements derives from the life cycle of the people who grow up within those movements. Young conservatives in the late 1980s and early 1990s saw their movement go from strength to strength – and learned that conservatism was always right and that people who didn’t see that were fools. These same folks in the Bush years tutored their successors in appalling intellectual tactics: bullying and sophistry and identity politics. By contrast, the generation of liberals who came of age in the Bush years had to weather that bullying, had to cut through that sophistry – and were vindicated by events. I am continually impressed by the intelligence and sophistication of liberals ten years younger than I am. They are the leaders of tomorrow’s left even more than today’s, and the right is just not in the same league. It was, once, in 1960s and 1970s, when left-wing ideas were dominant and left-wingers intellectually complacent – even as their intellectual roof was falling in. The bright young things who saw that the roof was falling in, and who debated what their new home should look like, became the rising generation of conservative leaders.

Fatalistic, but also reassuring in a way. I’m under no illusions that all this discussion has sprung up because my original posts were saying something earthshatteringly insightful; this was obviously something there was a measure of latent (and sometimes not so latent) discomfort with on the right already. And while it’s easy for me to snipe like Waldorf and Statler from the libertarian balcony, it takes some chutzpah for the folks within the movement to start openly allowing that the trend to closure is unhealthy, and begin talking about rolling it back. Maybe we’re starting to see that correction already—though it’ll take a while, and sustained effort, to make the cracks in the wall resemble a door.

Update: Conor Friedersdorf and Ross Douthat propose that it would help if the right could just be up front about the difference between base-servicing conservative entertainment and serious intellectual work—though Conor thinks it’s unlikely. Jon Stewart, incidentally, has some funny (and musical!) thoughts on the distinction, and on the asymmetry between mainstream liberal reporting and the conservative counterestablishment:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Update II: As a writer at the Corner notes, the technical meaning “epistemic closure” has in the philosophy of logic really has nothing to do with what we’ve been talking about these last couple weeks. Presumably it was in the back of my head somewhere when I posted, but I had no intention of referencing that technical sense, and any attempt to link them is just going to yield confusion. As I mention above, I don’t think it would be preferable to simply use “closed-mindedness,” because that’s not really what I meant either, and I don’t want to confuse a group phenomenon with an individual disposition. So much as I, too, am getting a bit sick of the phrase, I figure I’ll stick with “epistemic closure” and assume any logicians who happen by will divine readily enough that we’re not using it in the technical sense.

Update III: Actually, come to think of it, there’s a sense in which “epistemic closure” is not only  distinct from individual “closed-mindedness” but almost its opposite.  To be closed minded is to be unwilling to consider new ideas. But folks in the conservative media bubble often wind up far too willing to entertain all sorts of outlandish new ideas—provided they come from the universe of trusted sources.

Tags: Journalism & the Media · Sociology



139 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Julian Sanchez // Apr 28, 2010 at 1:23 am

    RAW is an old favorite

  • 2 MadamDeb // Apr 28, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Thanks so much, Julian, for not only putting a name to this phenomenon but for recognizing and defining it.

    I’ve been trying to figure out the black-is-white, hot-is-cold belief system ever since the Swift Boat damage.

    It’s so gratifying to see that someone not beholden to the whims of votes or the right-wing media actually has an intellect, and one that he shares. Thank you again!

  • 3 Paul // Apr 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Interesting to see this conversation.

    A conservative movement stripped of the dishonesty (or more accurately, “bullshit”, following Harry Frankfurter’s usage) would be a formidable thing, if it could survive the loss of its voting base.

    There is a coherent core of conservative values that would serve the country very well, if only it could be separated from the wingnut army used to promote those values. I’m not at all sure that we liberals could make the same claim – while our “wingnut” problem is far less serious than the right’s, so is our core (that is, if we could even be said to have such a thing).

    If an honest, non-bullshit laden conservative movement were to appear in the United States, I would be very tempted to join it, despite a lifetime of self-identification as a liberal. I hope that the Republican Party someday manages to find the courage to look beyond the easy votes of the angry mobs and the discipline and patience to build a new coalition around the honest efforts to improve the national condition.

  • 4 K. Chen // Apr 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Epistemic Closure made nytimes print edition today. Looks like you’ve created a legitimate phenomena. Online copy http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/books/28conserv.html?src=me

  • 5 » One Order Of ‘Epistemic Closure,’ Please, With a Little Bias On the Side - Big Journalism // Apr 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    […] Republicans seriously.  Mainstream conservative voices are embracing theories that are, to use Julian Sanchez’s phrase, “untethered” to the real […]

  • 6 fred lapides // Apr 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I had begun to feel pretty much the same way about the failures of conservatives and also wasted time of the liberals (progressives) and decided that joining any of their rallies or adhering to their positions was fruitless and foolish, and found a number of like-minded people. We have brought together a large group of like-minded people and formed an Anarchist Against All Assemblies group, and now number about 3 thousand people. We are against and all groups or organizations or collections of people.

  • 7 The Story Behind ‘Epistemic Closure’ « The Modern Independent // Apr 29, 2010 at 1:22 am

    […] offered a rebuttal to the copious words written on the subject over the last couple of weeks. His blog post rebuttal is well worth reading in its entirety, but, in short, Sanchez notes that the reason this […]

  • 8 on conservative groupthink « // Apr 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    […] From Julian Sanchez: [The epistemic closure trend] does not mean conservatives are completely cut off from outside information—as David Brooks notes today, research suggests that frequent visitors to partisan sites are actually more likely to also visit “the enemy”—but it tends to be approached in roughly the same spirit we might read the Korean Central News Agency. The press are no longer seen as even biased refs in the public debate, but as members of one team or another in a conflict whose only referee is victory. […]

  • 9 The What-Have-Yous « The Regimen // Apr 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    […] Epistemic closure, week four. Julian Sanchez offers a coda, and Ezra Klein and Henry Farrell wonder if it’s something that can be empirically […]

  • 10 Connecting the Dots on Epistemic Closure - 2parse // May 4, 2010 at 10:52 am

    […] Klein: “Epistemic closure,” Julian Sanchez writes, is the toxic result of “confirmation bias plus a sufficiently large array of multimedia […]

  • 11 matoko_chan // May 4, 2010 at 11:08 am

    hai Julian Sanchez…..since you are The Expert….is IQ denialism an example of epistemic closure on the left?
    I offer this example.
    And thoreau.

  • 12 matoko_chan // May 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

    “That said, the “black/white” vs “grey” style may well be related.”

    umm….if i can offer my personal theory….i think it is a business model. It is a game theoretic accessibility model. In the gaming world its called rubber band theorem…the worse you are at playing, the easier the game gets. The model levels the skillarchy.
    Conservatives have been disenfranchised from mainstream culture (the game of RL). They aren’t good at it….they can’t compete culturally.
    So conservatism offers a skill leveling axis for them…. intellect/education…..unlike RL, conservatism doesn’t give points for intellect or education….Liberalism offers a skill leveling access too….social justice leveling…liberalism doesn’t take away points for skin color or SES.
    It makes the Game accessible.
    So people keep buying what they want.

  • 13 jeff house // May 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Epistemic closure is wholly pervasive on the right, both elected and unelected. On the left, it’s largely absent among the nationally elected leaders.

    But try to persuade a campus or other communist of anything; it’s hopeless because they only tune in to Znet.

  • 14 The Closing Of The Conservative Mind, Ctd – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan « Firesaw // May 7, 2010 at 7:15 am

    […] Sanchez puts a coda on the debate he began: I’m under no illusions that all this discussion has sprung up because my […]

  • 15 Here we go. – Tiptoeing and Backpedaling // May 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    […] the most-watched American cable news channel, which happens to be conservative – can become untethered at times? It is not surprising. Fox’s conservative brand of populist infotainment is more […]

  • 16 Old Topic Update — The Future of Conservatism « Civilized Conversation // May 13, 2010 at 12:50 am

    […] Old Topic Update — The Future of Conservatism May 12, 2010 DavidG Leave a comment Go to comments We last discussed this topic on 8/20/9.  Apropos, in recent weeks, a fascinating discussion has broken out among the political blogs on whether today’s conservatism has reached “epistemic closure.”  The debate was prompted by a prominent conservative complaining that the conservative media machine  — talk radio, Fox, blogs, even think tanks — has become self-isolating and harmful to the party’s long-term health.  I highly recommend both his original post and his followup.  […]

  • 17 Matt X // May 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    This guy is just bitter that nobody knows who he is, coupled with his frustration that Rush isn’t a Ron Paul bot. Jealousy of Rush’s successs plus frustration that liberterians don’t rule the GOP is what this longwinded post is all about. 🙂

  • 18 Matt X // May 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Written By: James M. Taylor
    Publication date: 05/14/2010
    Publisher: The Heartland Institute


    National Review Online contributing editor Jim Manzi, in an April 21 post, uses Mark Levin’s book Liberty and Tyranny as an example of conservative writers (quoting Ross Douthat) “offering bromides instead of substance, and … pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.” I think he’s wide of the mark.

    Although I believe the science clearly supports “skeptics” in the global warming debate, conservatives and libertarians can believe in alarmist global warming claims without giving up their conservative and libertarian credentials, just as liberals can be “skeptics” without giving up their liberal credentials. The fact that a conservative might believe we are facing a global warming crisis should not necessarily come as a surprise, but the specific arguments made by Manzi are disingenuous.

    The global warming debate should be decided on the basis of science and economics rather than politics. If there were plausible arguments for each side of the scientific issue, and if people based their opinions on science rather than political convenience, one would expect each side of the debate to have adherents from all ideological persuasions.

    This has proven true of global warming “skeptics.” As the organizer of four international conferences on climate change, I have had the pleasure of meeting scientists and concerned citizens from a wide range of ideological backgrounds who share my own view that humans are not creating a global warming crisis. Two of the most passionate skeptics at these conferences have been Richard Courtney, a socialist from the United Kingdom who is an expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Lawrence Solomon, an author and lifelong environmental activist from Canada.

    I have also had the pleasure of meeting and discussing global warming with legislators – both Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal – who also believe humans are not causing a global warming crisis.

    In contrast to the diversity of thought among skeptics, true believers in global warming alarmism tend to be overwhelmingly liberal. This isn’t because conservatives and libertarians are stupid or refuse to think seriously about the issue. It’s because if manmade global warming were indeed a crisis, its cause would be capitalism and its solution would be an all-powerful central government. Liberals happily skip over all the missing links in the argument – the dubious science, whether government action would stop or delay climate change, and whether it would be worth the expense – and jump to this conclusion.

    Conservatives and libertarians, having seen this skit before, are more likely to pause and demand evidence and explanations. They quickly find evidence that the “attribution” issue is still unresolved, that reducing emissions is unlikely to have any effect on climate, and that cap and trade programs are vehicles for massive fraud. Only a few conservatives “don’t get it,” which brings us back to Mr. Manzi.

    At first, Manzi says his chief complaint about Liberty and Tyranny is:

    “Levin does not attempt to answer this question [whether carbon dioxide affects temperature levels] by making a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view. Instead, he argues from authority by citing experts who believe that the answer to this question is pretty much no. Who are they? An associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist, and an astronaut.”

    This is unfair to Levin and, by extension, to others in the global warming debate who sometimes choose to write about the issue without delving into the science. The science is there for anyone who wants to read it, from Anthony Watts’ excellent Web site at http://www.wattsupwiththat.com to the 880-page Climate Change Reconsidered, a chapter-by-chapter rebuttal of the latest IPCC reports with more than 4,000 footnotes. Not every book by a conservative or libertarian that comments on global warming needs to provide a summary of this scientific research. And it’s pretty fair to guess that if Levin had done so, Manzi would have nit-picked him apart anyway.

    Manzi doesn’t bother to identify who the professor, geologist, and astronaut who Levin cites are, so allow me. The associate professor of astrophysics is Nir Shaviv, one of the most accomplished solar physicists in the world. He has already been published many times in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and has forever made his mark in the world of solar physics by redefining landmark principles of stellar gravitation and radiation known as Eddington luminosity. Shaviv used to believe carbon dioxide was the primary driver of global warming, but in recent years has published groundbreaking research showing solar activity and cosmic rays may be more important factors.

    Dudley J. Hughes, the geologist, is a recipient of the Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni Award, which according to Texas A&M University, “is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University.” He is a recipient of the Texas A&M Geosciences and Earth Resources Distinguished Achievement Award. He is a recognized expert regarding earth sciences and carbon dioxide, and authored the 1998 book, A Geologic Reinterpretation of the Earth’s Atmospheric History, Inferring a Major Role by CO2.

    Phil Chapman, the astronaut, is a scientist with a degree in physics and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked as a science researcher in Antarctica, a staff physicist at MIT, and a propulsion scientist at the Avco Everett Research Laboratory. He worked closely with the inventor of the solar power satellite, and contributed to NASA research on power in space. Oh, and amidst all these scientific accomplishments, he also found time to be an astronaut.

    Manzi is either ignorant of the scientific accomplishments of these three scientists, or sought to score a cheap point by taking advantage of uninformed readers.

    Manzi then criticizes Levin for citing the Oregon Petition, signed by more than 31,000 scientists. He says its phrasing is “dodgy,” but it’s hard to imagine a more explicit denunciation of global warming alarmism than the petition, whose signers say they “reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposal” and state “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” I’ll return to the “dodgy” claim in a moment.

    Manzi says “more than 20,000 of these ‘scientists’ lack PhDs in any field.” This is an odd if not misleading way to admit that more than 9,000 signatories have PhDs, and another 7,000 have Masters in Science degrees. That is more than 16,000 scientists with advanced degrees in science. The remainder are mere “scientists” with standard degrees in science. This seems quite impressive to me.

    Manzi claims “there was very little quality control” exercised during the collection of signatures for the petition, and “at least one person signed it as Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.” A call or email to Arthur Robinson and his colleagues would have laid this myth to rest, as well as shown some gratitude to the volunteers who invested thousands of hours in the Petition Project. They have long insisted and documented the fact that they vigorously follow up on and verify the identity and credentials of all signatories.

    Robinson is quick to admit that global warming alarmists sometimes submit forged signatures in an attempt to discredit the Petition. This is similar to the documented efforts of Tea Party opponents to slip moles into Tea Party rallies with misspelled signs and racist rhetoric in an effort to discredit the Tea Party. On one occasion global warming activists were briefly successful in submitting a petition “signed” by a Geri Halliwell before it was discovered and removed.

    Manzi claims “Scientific American did the hard work of actually contacting a sample of individual signatories, and estimated that there are about 200 climate scientists who agree with the statement in the petition among the signatories.” What actually happened is a global warming advocate with Scientific American claimed to have tried to contact 30 of the 1,400 signatories holding a PhD directly related to climate science, but was successful in contacting barely half of them. Of course, he could have contacted the Oregon Petition staff, who could have given him contact information for the sample of names he was pursuing. Instead, he made the unsupportable determination that anybody he could not personally hunt down without the assistance of Oregon Petition staff was not a credible signer.

    The Scientific American writer asked the few signers he reached if they would “sign the Petition today” with yet-to-be-updated information. Roughly one-third of the scientists, predictably, said they would not sign the petition “today” with data that had yet to be updated. The Scientific American hack deceitfully claimed this meant the scientist now disagreed with the core message of the Petition.

    Manzi musters a final attack on Levin with his own appeal to authority. He lists several scientific organizations that allegedly “didn’t reject the notion of man-made global warming.” This evidence of professional opinion, Manzi says, means skeptics must believe in some kind of “conspiracy” to conceal the true science of climate change, which he dismisses as “wingnuttery.”

    But how meaningful are the resolutions and statements that Manzi cites? Such statements invariably express the opinions of members of small and politically motivated committees or individual leaders of organizations rather than the views of the organizations’ members. They are often thinly veiled calls for more government funding. Their authors are often transparent in their motivation to use their positions in scientific organizations for political ends.

    For example, Manzi lists the American Chemical Society as an organization that “didn’t reject the notion of man-made global warming,” but the ACS position was reached with little or no input from the ACS scientists themselves. The ACS membership is currently in open revolt regarding the ACS position statement, but Manzi forgot to mention that.

    It is interesting, moreover, how Manzi states his proposition. By saying these organizations “don’t reject the notion of man-made global warming,” he glosses over the very ambiguity he accuses skeptics of indulging in when they say “global warming is not a crisis.” Both statements are broad enough to embrace the idea that there is a small human influence on climate but that it is not enough to merit efforts to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions. By Manzi’s own logic and words, the scientific organizations he cites do not contradict the position of most skeptics.

    Here’s another way to think about it. Attempting to discredit skeptics by producing a list of organizations that “didn’t reject the notion of man-made global warming” is like attempting to discredit the notion of organized crime by producing a list of experts who don’t believe the nation is beset by a La Cosa Nostra crisis.

    In conclusion, Levin does a fine job conveying the real doubts in the scientific community about the causes, extent, and consequences of climate change. It’s because of his efforts and those of many other conservatives and libertarians that barely a third of the American public still believes in man-made global warming.

  • 19 The Greenroom » Breathe easy, Establishment: the MSM still controls the Narrative (even on Climategate) // May 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    […] PEJ study illustrates the vacuity of the complaint that Climategate was overhyped, which later gets lumped into the category of “overhyped or bogus,” as though they are […]

  • 20 How I learned to stop worrying and love the zeitgeist « Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Aug 6, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    […] a vote for “epistemic closure” (am I using that phrase right, boys? I willfully ignored that whole debate; Slow-Journo street cred, score 1 me …?), but I more or less agree. It fits the theory that […]

  • 21 Epistemic closure and Julian Sanchez « Though Cowards Flinch // Sep 9, 2010 at 7:00 am

    […] blog today on the epistemic closure on British conservatism. In it I begin by introducing Julian Sanchez’ reappropriation of the word from epistemology to […]

  • 22 Against Intellectual Provincialism | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen // Nov 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    […] ago in blog-years, Julian Sanchez provoked some indignant responses by suggesting that conservatives are too dependent on a closed, self-referential media ecosystem. Sanchez’s original post elicited a sharp reply from Jonah Goldberg, who argued that for all […]

  • 23 Where’s the Credible Conservative Debate? « F+S Journal | Filthy Skies // Nov 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    […] it is hard. Not because they don’t exist — serious Republicans — but because, as Sanchez and others seem to recognize, they are marginalized, even self-marginalizing, and the base itself […]

  • 24 How I learned to stop worrying and love the zeitgeist | Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog // Nov 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    […] a vote for “epistemic closure” (am I using that phrase right, boys? I willfully ignored that whole debate; Slow-Journo street cred, score 1 me …?), but I more or less agree. It fits the theory that […]

  • 25 rebecca // Apr 14, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Intriguing posting! The info is given right here is really fantastic and knowledgeable about the origin of…

  • 26 genomegk // Nov 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    “epistemic closure” works for me. But the phenomenon is motivated by more than the need for information. Those who rely entirely on Fox News, talk radio and serial e-mail belong to an identity cult. These people call themselves “conservative” but rationalize and defend GOP administrations that regularly contradict the principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government, the constitution, free markets and respect for individual accomplishment and integrity that the members of the cult claim to believe in.

  • 27 エドハーディー // Jan 20, 2012 at 3:34 am

    the need for information. Those who rely entirely on Fox News, talk radio and serial e-mail belong to an identity cult. These people call themselves “conservative” but rationalize and defend GOP administrations that regularly contradict the principles of fisc

  • 28 Welcome back. Your dreams were your ticket out. « ranchandsyrup // Sep 5, 2012 at 2:58 am

    […] A couple of years ago I named my fantasy football team “epistemic closure”. It was a few months after I had read about the term coined by Julian Sanchez here. […]

  • 29 47 Percent or Bust! // Sep 20, 2012 at 4:39 am

    […] Depend on You!” When conservatives tell Romney to come out and say this, they’re revealing what Julian Sanchez has called “epistemic closure.” They know this is true. Their trusted media sources tell them that it’s […]

  • 30 Jim in Texas // Nov 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    I had a boss once who said “People tend to make up their minds about something and then go around looking for opinions to support it.” I’ve never seen this phenomena more in place than in today’s political climate. When I was a kid, we watched Crinkite at night. Was he a lefty? A righty? I don’t remember anyone even questioning his place on the political spectrum. What has changed?

  • 31 blahblah // Dec 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Great article! I love Noah Millman’s article/essay too!

  • 32 yer a genius // Oct 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    “only referee is victory”

    OMG that’s such a great phrase it must be from somewhere

    google says no, it’s another sanchez original

    why have i never heard of you before

  • 33 ąłóęż // Mar 24, 2015 at 6:10 am

    są anemiczne zaprezentować suma transakcji ślubnych, ogólnie z nastrojowymi, gdyby ogarniają że założenie się na nie
    przyniesie im zarozumiałą przewagę. Są poważnie oziębłe tudzież gdyby oczywiście obecne mogę
    schwycić – bezwyjątkowe. W 4 epizodach na 5
    niewymuszenie spostrzegawcze zatrzymaniem ustawodawstw do uzbieranego

  • 34 Mhal // Nov 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Supporting LEAF is reflective of good comminuty citizenship and values in support of our comminuty of Scenic Acres as a whole. Having recently canvassed around my home streets, I have been encouraged by the demonstration of such values from so many neighbours. Conversations around all sorts of issues that are valuable to our comminuty arose and gave us something to connect about. As comminuty residents we should take any advantage to be part of making our comminuty better for everyone, not just our personal property but showing pride and support for others. I particularly like the fact that we, as residents, will have control over how our comminuty greenspaces are cared for. This will only increase property value for everyone. Just taking a walk around one can see the neglect in these places. Being neighbourly and comminuty-minded is one of the great strengths of our comminuty I was pleased to see so much of those values being upheld still by so many comminuty-minded citizens!. What a great place we live in!

  • 35 http://www.sorethumbsblog.com/ // Apr 28, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    IS A CONNECTICUT SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, NOT MASSACHUSETTS.That mistake is OK. Get Obama to deny it. LoL. Or at the very least, get his batty OBots to defend his fraudulent CONN SSN. LoL. 😉

  • 36 http://www.autoinsurance.dtdns.net/ // Jul 20, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Very, very nice photography Rachel, and you have a lovely family.Now if you could just align your artistic perspective to open conversation and stop the name calling and profanity your kids, might have someone to look up to.

  • 37 On “epistemic closure” and other maladies of the Right – Samuel Sotillo // Jan 29, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    […] Leaving aside some conceptual imprecisions – Sánchez himself addresses them on another post – I should say that he does an excellent job discussing “the effects of technological […]

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  • 39 ВалокТюмень // Feb 15, 2017 at 10:29 am

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