CBB '24 - Week 9: The Era Of Knowing Too Much

The Era Of Knowing Too Much

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Week 9 Card - Mar. 2
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In December, the former editorial editor of the New York Times, James Benet, penned an article in the Economist titled, "When The New York Times Lost Its Way," which is actually a thinly-coded defense of Benet's own firing from the publication.

For a moment, I had to check to make sure I wasn't reading the old Economist, the one that in the 2000s and 2010s was almost relentlessly bi-polar (educated British, all-text-no-photos) in its blunt-force love of reason, not the one that's turned itself into a mirror for ideology and that hires Disney executives.

As Benet tells it, longtime NYT publisher A.G. Sulzberger gave him the go-ahead to print an op-ed from conservative Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton on public safety in the wake of George Floyd-related protests and rioting across the country.

After Benet published the piece, Sulzberger called Benet, irate, and fired him.

Why a publication committed to featuring "debate from all sides" needed permission from Daddy to publish a viewpoint from one of the "sides" remains a mystery, as does why Sulzberger allegedly gave it and then wanted take-backs, though Benet offers a clue when noting that the NYT's union said that printing Sen. Cotton's words constituted, "a clear threat to the health and safety of journalists."

Benet, of the liberal persuasion, claims the NYT has gone from a publication with a liberal bias (he does not even acknowledge a period before this) to illiberal bias, and that this is a direct response to Trumpian politics.

One of the glories of embracing illiberalism is that, like Trump, you are always right about everything, and so you are justified in shouting disagreement down.

I think this passage is even more powerful if the words "like Trump" are removed, because it makes the sentiment more universally applicable (which, critically, it is) and also because disagreement implies that you've first cogently acknowledged what your opponent has argued, which I'm not sure I've ever heard Trump do.

You are always right about everything...

If we're truly going to make the 2016 election as epochal as Benet implies, then let's make it epochal. Let's move its implications past politics and into daily discourse about barely-political or non-political things. Let's recognize that not only have our political institutions and our entertainment-cosplaying-as-media institutions been overtaken by a starting point (and therefore, an inevitable conclusion) of I'm-right-you're-wrong. So, too, has general discourse.

I refer to this as a symptom of The Era Of Knowing Too Much. We have so much curated information at our fingertips and have so many ways to express it that we can not only "ascertain" knowledge but we can be righteously infallible about what it is that we know. When you are always right about everything, what is left to discuss? Not much, other than ad hominems about how shitty your detractors are.

The poster child for this, in a way, is discourse around Climate Change. One of the most common refrains from anyone pontificating on the issue is a preemptory warning that, "The debate is over, there's nothing left to discuss." It's almost always this wording, as if it's on cue-cards behind the camera.

The poisonous part is that this mentality can be true for very few, very high-stakes issues. It's not true for the vast majority of issues in the world. It's certainly not true for an opinion you have about, like, whether a company's stock price will go up or down, or how a sports team will perform the next day (yay, Robn!).

The Era Of Knowing Too Much is Climate Change, but on every issue, every interaction, ever.

I am right. You are wrong. I am not only factually right (look at my internet of curated facts) but I am morally right. And if I am morally right and you oppose me, you by definition are morally wrong. If you're morally wrong, then you're a bad person, so I don't need even to discuss a topic with you, nor do I need to validate your right to an opinion, I just need to fast-forward straight to establishing how ill-intentioned and evil you are. This will reinforce my own beliefs, show everyone else how good I am, and take down someone from the opposing team. Win-win-win.

And so, we have Marvel Movie-d ourselves into largely a deluded version of good-vs.-evil internecine-conflict-driven civilization.

Nevermind that we have vastly separate definitions of what "good" or "moral" even refer to.

I ask the good Robn'er to think only of this:

Are you routinely in discussions, or undertaking tasks, or making pronouncements, that start from your preferred conclusion? That assume bad faith? That shows how good you are while establishing how "bad" someone else is? Are you blissfully confusing righteousness with self-righteousness?

Or are you brave enough to take anything left in the world, from the smallest things to the largest of ideals, at face value?

Alex "Ranger of the North" Aragon is our new David Carl. As you'll see in the leaderboard below, he's opened up a sizable lead thanks a 1000-point win on Kentucky last week.

...BUT... there is hope. He just had a baby. (There's an opening, fellas. Charge to the top).

Separately, the people who call themselves Fred Flinstone, Josh Pearl, Kevin Tone and Kevin Chaney are all well within striking distance of hitting the 7,500-point threshold required to earn their first nicknames.

Week 8 Leaderboard

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Week 8 Graded Picks

2024 College Basketball Contest - Master File - Google Drive