It seems to me, we swim in sophistry, every argument we face is steeped in spurious logic and all controversies boil down to politics, in such a society the foundation is rotted away, as the frame it needs to support, gets larger. Examples abound where any question at hand boils down to a political one. Usually where a person stands politically, on even scientific questions, is more informative of his or her position than any other reasoning. It would be enough if most people understood this and made a huge effort to stand outside politics and observe every question with a politically unbiased eye. This is important because politics is almost always the perspective that yields the worse outcomes.
There are so many examples of how we are immersed in sophistry, that I could get bogged down listing them so instead, I am burrowing into one. The collegiate system is the epitome of the old boy network. The utility of that paradigm is all but spent but the prerogatives it rewards academia are growing. It is in the system of academia’s self interest, to limit the product and by doing so, using the supply demand model or scarcity value, bestowing a higher value than it might otherwise have. In this they are no different than OPEC, limiting the supply of oil onto the marketplace, keeping the cost high, and their profits high as well. This is one reason the united States is a net importer of Medical doctors, colleges limit the supply.
The elite in academia would have us all believe that theirs is the only way, while the market system coupled with the Internet has offered a different solution, private online colleges. These colleges break the mold in several ways, they operate for profit and so are subject to market forces, they give those who have not been identified as above average an opportunity, an opportunity that the traditional system didn’t and couldn’t care less to, and private college’s self interest is to expand production not limit it. Market forces will be an unstoppable power lowering costs and profits until either the market reaches perfect competition or the government steps in and imposes limits that block competition.
Some of the spurious arguments, the politicians in the pocket of academia claim, run the gamut of insane to devious. The one I always get a laugh at is, “The dropout rate is higher in private schools than public institutions.” This is absurd in that it denotes nothing. There is no context with which to weigh the sentence, which makes the argument float in meaning. Since the public institutions have the best students from the get go why wouldn’t they have a better graduation rate? Moreover, are they saying that the education at private schools is higher than that of the public institutions, since the public institutions graduate almost everyone who enters and private institutions only graduate those who merit it? Or perhaps the maker of that argument believes certain people shouldn’t even be given a chance? The sophistic echos go on and on.
It is not in the interests of those who run academia today to embrace change. In that change coming, their cushy jobs preaching socialism to the youth, while having sex with someone from every graduating class, being revered by other elite, and receiving much better than average pay, the incentives to keep the system in stasis are mighty. Perfect competition might lower the cost of education, so doctorates could be common, but the value of those doctorates would drop commensurately, as would the profit to those who dispensed them. The market would drive down cost and raise quality inexorably. The powers that exist have to get us to believe their spurious arguments because as Milton Friedman argued, When a business faces competition that has a better product at a lower cost, that business can lower it’s price and increase it’s quality, or it can go to government…
That was only one of many examples that can be cited as proof that we do indeed swim in a lake of sophistry. Today the question is irrelevant, but who the political patron is, is. Arguments that appear to be logical are actually twisting logic to make truth into a lie and a lie into the truth. We have a whole class of people who have practiced, honed and perfected this feat. It is up to us to rise above the smoke they obscure every controversy with, and be rational maximizers, weigh the costs, opportunities and risks for ourselves. Only in that way, can we truly vote and act in our own best interests, instead of someone else’s.