Philip Bump, the much-reviled and much-admired Washington Post columnist (whether you love or hate him depends entirely on your partisan leanings), has some advice: don’t read anything or watch anything unless it comes from the MSM.
Trust the MSM because doing your research leads to believing things that aren’t true. You might wind up believing things like the lab leak theory, that jabs don’t work, that kids aren’t so “resilient” after all, and that the Hunter Biden laptop is real.
Analysis by Philip Bump: The mantra of the internet era is that the abundance of information allows people to be better informed. That’s not always true. https://t.co/1oXcwnOFGV
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 18, 2024
Bump, a philosophy major whose career started out as being a designer at Adobe, now often writes about politics, climate change, polls, and everything under the sun. Epidemiology and virology are in his wheelhouse, too.
How he became an expert on all these subjects is beyond me. Perhaps he did his research?
Nah. I suspect he just parrots the “experts.” After all, he doesn’t believe in thinking on one’s own.
To be clear, I don’t think Bump should keep his mouth shut about topics in which he is not a recognized expert; if he did the work, researched the topic, and used reason to make judgments, there is no reason he shouldn’t share his opinions and expect them to be taken seriously. But given Bump’s argument that we should only listen to “experts,” I think Bump is only qualified to discuss Kant and Wittgenstein, not COVID policy, Donald Trump, polls, or anything else.
Not exactly shockingly, Bump makes the argument that doing your own research is bad, starting with a “study” which doesn’t even show what he claims it does. It turns out, according to this study, if you “research” obscure claims about which there is little available information, you might wind up giving the claim more credibility than it deserves because the only information on the internet tends to support that claim.
In other words, if an idea isn’t seriously contested or generally taken seriously, there is little balance in the data. You can go down rabbit holes online.
Yeah, so? That pretty much never applies to real-world disputes, such as whether masks work or the jab prevents infection and transmission. There was plenty of evidence to root out, if you knew how to look for it. Not that the WaPo and others didn’t try to suppress it, of course. Because thinking on your own is BAD.
In many of the issues actively disputed these days, the dissenters, not the “experts,” were more right than wrong. “Trust the science” and “trust the experts” turn out to be much worse guides than “do your research.”
Bump pretty much proves this every day, given his total belief in the prejudices of his class. He, for instance, thinks that there is a vast group of MAGA advocates who are QAnon enthusiasts. As I have pointed out many times, I have yet to run across one. The only discussion I EVER see about QAnon is in the MSM, who sincerely believe it is a thing. Bump trusts his colleagues and doesn’t actually “do the research,” so he is of course very often wrong.
Those people also believe that the “OK” hand gesture is used by White supremacists. And they believed that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian propaganda, that Russia “hacked” the 2016 election, that Trump was a Russian mole, and that James Comey was honest.
“Experts” and the MSM spread more misinformation than Alex Jones, and have a much bigger megaphone.
Can one be wrong after doing one’s own research? Of course.
But trusting experts has its problems. Experts tend to be wrong always in the same direction because their qualification as an expert is based on accepting a set of principles and beliefs a priori. Jim Cramer is platformed as an “expert” in stocks, for God’s sake!
The problem isn’t whether you trust experts or your own research- the problem is finding good data, diverse opinions, and using good judgment and proper methods. Sometimes you are right, other times wrong. But simply trusting the “experts” has a terrible track record.
Bump is not actually making an argument about “research” but about authority. His claim isn’t that reading and thinking deeply is a bad way to acquire knowledge and opinions–I assume that is how he arrives at his opinions on diverse topics in which he has no expertise. Although perhaps not, given that he is simultaneously intelligent and holds completely banal and thoughtless opinions.
He is instead claiming authority–trust the “experts,” the MSM, Leftists–not those creepy conservatives who keep telling you to think on your own and make your own decisions. His argument is about trusting his class of people, not the dirty smelly MAGA types.
Sit down, shut up, and do what you are told. Joe Biden is actually a really good president.