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April 09, 2013 9:39 AM David Brooks on Technical Knowledge and Moral Wisdom

By Andrew Gelman

P.P.P.P.S. I’ve added a paragraph above (“Brooks is citing Oakeshott, whom I haven’t read …”) to be clear that, when using the term “technical knowledge,” Brooks is referring to a particular meaning of the phrase. I still don’t think that “memorizing by rote” has anything much to do with understanding what market researchers do, etc., but I was mistaken in criticizing Brooks’s use of the term without making this clarification.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University.

Comments

  • Snarki, child of Loki on April 08, 2013 1:34 PM:

    "Itís hard for me to believe Brooks actually believes something so dumb."

    I think I found your problem, right here.

  • Walker on April 08, 2013 3:23 PM:

    Itís hard for me to believe Brooks actually believes something so dumb.

    That leads me to believe that you have not read his writing in the past. Brooks is a well know "stupid or evil" propagandist.

  • RC on April 08, 2013 6:30 PM:

    "To say that Brooks has written something stupid is not to say that he is stupid. "

    But you should.

  • Col Bat Guano on April 08, 2013 7:04 PM:

    Brooks's record of writing stupid things is fairly substantial.

  • Patience on April 09, 2013 8:49 AM:

    To document what my fellow commenters have pointed out, Brooks doesn't even have sincere conviction for the phrase you single outó"fornicate meaningfully." Just a few months ago he was decrying the fact that college students were getting caught up in a campus hookup culture, which is all about having sex without strings attached. So, sure he can use a witty phrase, but he seems the sort to just rush on blithely not bothering to figure out if he actually means it.

  • RaflW on April 09, 2013 10:25 AM:

    To say that Brooks has written something stupid is not to say that he is stupid.

    No, but your column does rather suggest that he's lazy and all too happy to 'take a stab at' puffery in lieu of actual thought, analysis and reporting.

    So, all-in, I'd say he's more intellectually lazy than stupid.