Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Reading this review of Ross Douthat's new book, I'm reminded of the chutzpah with which professional op-ed columnists assume they are experts about everything. Speaking as someone with a Master's in Theology, there's some pretty risible stuff in this review. Say what you will about the opinions of Elaine Pagels; it's pretty presumptuous for a man with a bachelor's degree to call someone with an endowed chair at Princeton a "half-educated evangelical guru."

This is a problem with our news and, in particular, the political opinions we read in the news. Most of these guys are gifted writers who don't actually have expertise in anything but writing, but think they can read a few books and have a special insight on the subject that even those who've spent their lives researching the matter never figured out. Douthat does a little research on the side and thinks he can talk down at a woman who wrote her first groundbreaking book on ancient theology literally when he was still in diapers.

How often have Paul Krugman and Elizabeth Warren been accused of being idiots or ignorant of basic economic truths in our news shows and papers by guys whose sole exposure to the field of economics was a 101 class they took as college freshmen?

Socrates believed that wisdom lies in understanding the depths of one's own ignorance. Our bookstores and newspapers are filled with the scribblings of fools.

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