Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Glenn Beck's Epistemology

I have somewhat perverse interest in the epistemological claims and commitments advanced in the world of pop political commentary. Michael Savage thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is ipso facto suffering from a "mental disorder," Al Franken thinks that being wrong is sufficient for being a liar, and Ann Coulter thinnks that one should avoid conversations with those with whom one disagrees. And so on. But Glenn Beck, easily the stupidest in this pool of incredible stupidity, takes the cake. He's reported to have said the following:

Believe in something! Even if it's wrong. Believe in it!

Good to know that Beck countenances the belief in / belief that distinction. Anyway, since believing in what's wrong is OK with Beck, he must have no problem with those who believe in suspending judgment, or believe in not believeing anything in particular, or believe in changing what they believe in every day, etc.

BTW: Does anyone have the exact source of this claim by Beck? A link to a transcript or clip would be cool.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Daily Show ran the clip last night...

http://www.thedailyshow.com/index.jhtml

You can find it here under "Glenn Beck cries"

Anonymous said...

Direct Daily Show link...Glenn Beck: IndigNation!

Anonymous said...

I don't know to which of Al Franken's pronouncements you are referring, but in his -Liars...- book he mostly documents cases that are best explained by lying.

Dustin Neuman said...

I remember hearing Wolf Blitzer say, with a straight face, that "the new poll is in and it seems 48% of the country thinks [then] President Bush is a divider, and 48% think he is a uniter. I guess the jury's still out on this one..." At this point I started crying blood and jammed a hat-pin in my ear...

Chris Johnson said...

I'd have to go back and dust off my studies in epistemology, but I'd have to say that Glenn is probably "right."

All beliefs have the possibility to be wrong. And if wrong in this case means the inability to be knowledge then OK whatever. If it means morally "wrong", then whatever as well.

I have contended that we are all "wrong" in our beliefs until the moment that something becomes knowledge. Although some beliefs may be "more true" than others, it takes action to know, and therefore if most beings are inactive in that relation to knowledge then most of us just walk around merely believing anyway.

We have to believe in some things that are unsured, or at least things that we cannot fully understand. One could argue that in our subjective perception of the world "wrong" could mean something non-cohesive to our world view.

Let's say I don't understand how radio works. In my belief system the underlying science behind radios are "wrong" to my sets of belief.

Well, whatever, I know that this argument sucks balls, I was just killing time at work.

Honestly though, "belief" to me in my overall epistemology (whenever I decide to go back to school) means shit. Hell I don't even think we "own" knowledge. I'd call them fleeting mental states or something.

----
Although interesting and to the point, I find the emotional/reactionary view points both alluring and absurd.

Irrationality somehow IS alluring. Being courageously stupid would be considered "noble" if a good end was met.

Hell, I find the story of Abraham courageous, but I can't fully understand why.

The end point being, Glenn seems to be channeling some sort of moral from the novel 1984. Where he thinks we are being lulled into conformity and we NEED to believe in something "other" than the current social belief, whatever that is in Beck's mind.

Glaucon said...

He's a loser, baby. So why don't you kill him?

Rob said...

I believe Glen Beck likes to wear a giant diaper and soil himself. God I hope that's true.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous defending Al Franken: He's a pretty big idiot. Have you ever heard his radio show? It's probably not even on anymore, but he exposed his lack of knowledge and his tendency to equate incorrectness with dishonesty on a daily basis. I tend to dislike the same people Al Franken dislikes... but he's an embarrassment to his/our cause.

Krinos said...

I'll do my best to be charitable to Beck and try to come up with a non-obviously-stupid interpretation of his seemingly-obviously-stupid statement. Here goes. Being right or wrong is, in the sense that the truth isn't something we make up, not up to us. But having commitments is up to us, and if we are to err, let us err boldly. Perhaps there is something Popperian about the view -- state the strongest and richest version of a view and hold to it so as to uncover what is right about it and also what is wrong about it. We should go only for qualified and weaker versions of views only after the stronger versions have been refuted. To *believe*, as I see Beck's point, is to hold unflinchingly to the view, to find the ways in which it can answer criticisms, to bite bullets for it, to see how well it can withstand scrutiny. It is not necessarily a form of tenacity where one ignores critics, but a tenacity where one bears the responsibilities for holding true to a cause.
Now, that's a plausible view, one that, even though it promotes an exceedingly adversarial perspective on intellectual exchanges, seems even to be something we promote when we tell students to write papers: have a thesis, hold to it... the worst kinds of papers are the ones without theses...

Krinos said...

Sorry, but I just re-watched the Beck clip. I was wrong, very wrong. I have no charitable interpretation of Beck's line other than he's crazy pants.

Anonymous said...

Although I think Glenn Beck is pretty much one of the dumbest men who talks to me through the funny little moving picture machine that lives on my bookshelf, I did actually understand what he meant when he said this. Philosophers tend to take statements a tad too literally, a fact I am reminded of every time I attempt any one of the following with my comrades in philosophy: metaphor, allusion, irony, hyperbole, etc. Now I don't want to defend Glenn Beck's stupid beliefs about belief, but I think it's fairly obvious what he meant: stop being apathetic; have some f**king passion and commit yourself to something (believe in something), even it's wrong, you will have been nobler for having believed it than for having believed in nothing at all. Beck's pronouncements arise from a certain moral self-righteousnes, always. Now, he could have said it better if he weren't an idiot and it's not exactly a novel thing to have said to begin with. However, it's clear what he meant and the fact that those statement don't make any literal sense is irrelevant. We should question the ethical soundness of the ideas he is propounding about beliefs, epistemology has no jurisdiction here. Oh, and for the philosophers: I don't mean to literally suggest that epistemology has a jurisdiction, okay?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard [Franken's] radio show? It's probably not even on anymore...

It's not. Because he's the presumptive winner of a seat on United States Senate.

Are you sure you know what you're talking about?

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