Monday, February 20, 2017

Dumpster Diving Behind the Marketplace of Ideas




The Marketplace of Ideas can be a crowded, confusing and disturbing place to shop.  It is not always well organized and the people, who claim to know where everything is, invariably don’t show us everything we should see.

Shopping in the Marketplace for Ideas can be expensive. It requires users to pay attention, spend time and invest critical thinking. When that cost is too high, there are those who shop in the discount aisle or maybe pick at some things thrown in the trash.

The Marketplace of Ideas is one of our most apt and resonant metaphors. It is no wonder that a concept pioneered by John Milton, John Stuart Mill and Oliver Wendell Holmes is as relevant in the internet age as it was 400 years ago.

The Marketplace of Ideas is not about facts, it’s about opinions. There are bad opinions, ideas that are discredited, wrong or destructive. National socialism, racial supremacy, scapegoating and genocide are a few that come to mind.  Some ideas deserve to be on the trash heap. Pulling them from the dumpster does not mean their time has come again,  sometimes it means the idea is still garbage.  


I vote with Thomas Jefferson, “Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

Best to be suspicious of the folks lurking out behind the Marketplace for Ideas. 

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