The War On Curiosity

Authored by Brian Balfour via The Mises Institute,

Last March, protestors at Middlebury College in Vermont sent professor Allison Stanger to the hospital with a neck injury. Stanger’s crime? She had the nerve to ask the protestors to allow the conservative/libertarian author Dr. Charles Murray to speak, and then to engage in a debate after his speech.

According to news accounts, after about 20 minutes of protestors shouting down Murray’s ability to speak, “Professor Stanger then took the microphone and asked the students, ‘Can you just listen for one minute.’ Many in the audience replied, ‘no.’ She added that, ‘I spent a lot of time preparing hard questions.’ Finally, she conceded that, ‘You’re not going to let us speak.’”

Stanger is a liberal professor who chose to combat Murray’s ideas with words, not violence or the heckler’s veto. This was simply unacceptable to the protestors.

After moving to another location on campus, Stanger and Murray were confronted when attempting to leave following their discussion. What followed was minutes of pushing and shoving, and “(w)hen Stanger tried to shield Murray, according to a Middlebury spokesman, a protester grabbed her hair and twisted her neck.” Stanger ended up going to a hospital where she received a neck brace to treat her injuries.

Over the last year and a half, we’ve witnessed a rash of accounts of college campuses being turned into riot zones by Leftist protestors hoping to shut down conservative or libertarian speakers. Middlebury is just one, and far from the worst , of such examples.

These protestors would rather incite violence than listen to a viewpoint that challenges their own.

The War on Curiosity

Why is the Left so afraid of an opposing opinion? How do they justify resorting to violence to shut down a dissenting voice rather than engaging in debate?

One such explanation is the war on curiosity.

This war is engaged by anyone without the faintest interest in learning about political philosophies, economic theories or moral principles that challenge their existing worldview.

Are you a soldier in the war on curiosity?

Take this litmus test:

How do you react when presented with new information or a viewpoint that contradicts your beliefs?

If the revelation stimulates your intellect and makes you thankful for the chance to expand your knowledge and gain a better understanding of an opposing position, you have the gift of curiosity. You welcome the opportunity to challenge your beliefs with this new information, a process that may enable you to more strongly confirm the justness of your belief and sharpen your argument in favor of it. Or, if the new viewpoint is persuasive enough, you alter your belief, owing a debt of gratitude to the one who opened your eyes.

On the other hand, if you react with anger, anxiousness or a general feeling of being threatened, you are likely allowing your emotions to snuff out your intellectual curiosity.

“Motivated Ignorance”

Social psychologists, writing in a 2017 LA Times article , described such reactions as “motivated ignorance.” People engaging in motivated ignorance “neither know — nor want to know — what the opposition has to say.”

Indeed, in one study cited by the authors, “people we surveyed said they anticipated getting angry if they were to listen to the other side, and suspected that it might damage their relationship with the person spouting off.”

Those who are not curious close themselves off to other views. Over time, they can’t figure out how any normal human being could possibly think differently than they do on political issues. Sinister motives, or stupidity, must be the only explanation. This is where the nastiness comes in. If one disagrees, surely they must be evil, dumb, racist or transphobic.

And because those who are not curious become convinced the other side is some sort of cartoonish villain, the uncurious feel compelled to not just ignore opposing viewpoints, but to silence them. Nobody should feel the indignity of being exposed to such “hate speech,” they’ll reason.

Using Shaming or Bullying to Silence

Violence is the most extreme and dangerous tactic in the war on curiosity, but far from the only one.

Safe spaces offer protection for those who feel threatened by opposing viewpoints. There are campuses that offer mental health counseling to students who cannot bear “ even the thought of an individual coming to campus” to express non-politically correct views. That the mere thought of someone with opposing views setting foot on your campus can threaten your mental health takes motivated ignorance to the Nth degree.

Public shaming or bullying is another popular tactic. Anyone who disagrees with a Leftist is obviously a racist, or homophobe or a tool of the rich and therefore must be discredited through name-calling. Why bother with debate when mindlessly dismissing other viewpoints as “not worthy” of discussion is so much easier, and empowering? After all, moral authority is valuable currency in the Left’s desire to gain the top slot in our social hierarchy, and demonizing opponents has proven to be a more convenient route than open debate of ideas.

Leftists Tend to be More Uncurious of Opposing Views

To be sure, the war on curiosity is being waged by people of all political stripes. However, Leftists seem to be outgunning their opponents when it comes to motivated ignorance. Indeed, social scientist Jonathan Haidt in his book “ The Righteous Mind” reported on a study which found “clear and consistent” results that “(m)oderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions” when people of varying political bents were tested on how well they understood their ideological opposites.

In other words, Leftists don’t understand their opponents’ views as well as their opponents understand theirs.

When is the last time you heard of a Leftist speaker being shut down by violent protestors?

The Role of Confirmation Bias

Enabling this war is confirmation bias – the strong tendency in us to interpret all new information through the lens of our prior beliefs. Whatever your political philosophy is, you can easily immerse yourself into media outlets, social media and internet content that exclusively reaffirm your convictions. One can comfortably spend hours a day consuming political information without once encountering a differing viewpoint.

Moreover, most Americans can go thru thirteen years of public education, plus four or more years in university, and never be confronted with a viewpoint counter to the orthodox Leftist vision of government as benevolent dispenser of justice.

Lack of exposure to other viewpoints may help explain why so many Leftists can muster no greater argument than “shut up, racist.”

The war on curiosity serves only to dumb down political debate. Non-Leftist viewpoints get silenced, while progressive arguments need never be thoroughly presented because intimidation and name-calling prove much easier and satisfyingly self-righteous. History proves such trends lead to ugly outcomes.


Cognitive Dissonance Fri, 07/13/2018 - 22:47 Permalink

When we refuse to confront something, let's say the surveillance state, the Federal Reserve, the deep state, endless wars, the imploding pension and Social Security system, endless suffocating debt etc etc etc, we must find some other scapegoat to rail against.

Those who are cognitively and emotionally impotent must find some way to salvage their pride and ego. The best way to do this is via righteous indignation. It silences all doubt and indecision and sterilizes the mind of any question about the self.

See how perfect I am in my righteous indignation.

El Vaquero Cognitive Dissonance Fri, 07/13/2018 - 22:57 Permalink

At this point, I'm not even sure how to confront those, beyond letting them collapse, then stepping up and ensuring that the federal government remains a lot less relevant in the future than it is today.


As for where the leftist violence leads, it's not as ugly as the author might think for one very simple reason:  The leftists in this country are absolute pussies, and when the gloves come off, only the most diehard will fight, and they'll likely do so via IEDs, attempts at assassination and other methods that lack direct confrontation.  

In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance

wee-weed up King of Ruperts Land Fri, 07/13/2018 - 23:23 Permalink

I'll tell you why the Left...

Is so afraid of opposing opinion...

It's because they know they cannot defend...

Their own agendas in the arena of sound logical arguments.

Have you ever wondered why they go low...

And always resort to stupid name-calling?

Simple - that's the only argument they can drum up...

They simply have NOTHING else!

They are totally bereft of any workable solutions.

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

any_mouse NidStyles Sat, 07/14/2018 - 02:32 Permalink

Republic is as much a lie as "democracy".

The USA was founded by corporate colonies with charters granted by the King of England. A hundred, or so, families of nobility. The same families that still run the show that benefits only them. They came seeking Profit.

The "Revolution" was a lie. The Founding Fathers had more in common with the King. More like a hostile acquisition by activist shareholders.

America of the Articles of Confederation was overthrown in back rooms.

Then they came up with the "Republic".

Eg. Republic of France compared to Confederation Helvetica (Switzerland).

Switzerland issues military weapons to keep at home.

Switzerland holds national referendums on important issues. Such as building of mosques and immigration and currency.

The Cantons still have Rights and are equal to the central government.

Three language groups with different cultural styles that work together.

The USA?

Take a critical, logical, unemotional look at these United States of America.

United Corporations of America.

In reply to by NidStyles

Tarzan NidStyles Sat, 07/14/2018 - 05:45 Permalink

Why is the Left so afraid of an opposing opinion? How do they justify resorting to violence to shut down a dissenting voice rather than engaging in debate?

They run around with their hair on fire, because they have no logical answer for their positions, no rebuttal to common sense.

The louder, more loony, they get, the less control they display, the more they reveal their ignorance and weaknesses.

Have you ever watched a parent with child pitching a fit, when it spirals out of control, as the parent joins the screaming child, demanding obedience at the top of their lungs?

The louder they get the less control they display.

I currently have 4 dogs, had 5 until not long ago.  Occasionally my wife and the dogs have a disagreement.  When this happens their usually still waging their tails, hopping around doing something that's ticked off the wife, while she screams at them, and they continue on, ignore her.

Then I'll come in the room, and with a whisper and a hand gesture they all stop and listen to what I'm telling them, because they recognize control, and know my yes is always yes, and my no is always no. 

I don't tell them they can't have another bone, and then later give them a second, because they wont stop begging.  That's a game they play with my wife, because they know who controls who....

The louder they shout, the more they display for all to see their dwindling control, their fall from power, and the ignorance of their position, as their voters pitch a Cissy fit, and their leaders scream orders that go ignored.

The progressives system of government only works if they can control top down, the opposite of Government for and by the People.

In reply to by NidStyles

Bemused Observer Tarzan Sat, 07/14/2018 - 12:51 Permalink

Dogs are a great way to see who is really the 'boss' in a household. Because of their make-up, they will only hold one individual as 'Alpha', and it isn't always the one you think it is. But determining who 'Alpha' is is critical to a dogs survival, and so they will nail it each and every time.

It sounds like you are the Big Dog in your house, and most folks expect it to be the guy I guess. But sometimes the guy just THINKS he is, and puts on a good show.

But watch who that dog really responds to...that tells you who his instinctual knowledge of pecking order has tagged as the true leader, the one he should follow.

My husband does the same thing your wife does, and gives in to the begging. When we had our Barney, he used to 'ghost' my husband mercilessly if he had food...because he knew that eventually my husband would give him something, even as he yelled at him to 'leave me alone!". He'd say he couldn't stand the begging.

Neither could I, but Barney never bothered me beyond an initial hopeful glance. Because when I say 'No', it is not my opening in a negotiation. He waited until I had finished, and THEN he could have anything that was left...IF he behaved.

And I just remembered...Barney would pee in my husband's Army boots when he'd return from drill weekend. Every time. We finally had to put them up on something as soon as he took them off. Just the boots though, he never peed on the uniforms or duffel bag. There was a message there, we just never figured out what it was.

Now we have cats.

In reply to by Tarzan

unklemunky any_mouse Sat, 07/14/2018 - 11:33 Permalink

Well somebody loves themselves some Europe. In case you haven’t noticed, the entire EU is pretty much run by the same criminals who ran the former Soviet Union. Same circus, same clowns with a new name.  As I recall, General Washington could have been king of this country but he declined. Doesn’t sound like he had the same disposition as England tyrants. Our founding fathers put their lives, fortunes and the colony’s future on the line to tell the king to fuck off. They established a bill of rights that enshrined what the govt could NOT do to us. So, instead of watching Harry Potter / racheal Maddow to get your history lesson pull your head out of your ass and educate yourself. You America haters crack me up. I get it. USA sucks everything else is better.  Start typing your fucking posts in German or French.

In reply to by any_mouse

any_mouse Dindu Nuffins Sat, 07/14/2018 - 02:44 Permalink

Farther back than 1945.

Plymouth Rock and Religious Freedom is a lie.

European History.

Related monarchs battling among themselves and bankrupting their kingdoms with usurious debt to the Usual Suspects.

The 1917 Fall of the Russian Empire. The Imperial Treasury was put on trains westward to the financiers.

The 1991 Fall of the Soviet Union. The properties of the State were privatized by financiers from the West on the cheap. Debts were made good to the financiers.

Layer upon layers of Lies.

In reply to by Dindu Nuffins

Scipio Africanuz wee-weed up Sat, 07/14/2018 - 00:43 Permalink

They got away with intellectual chauvinism for so long, because conservatives were well, conservatives, minding their own business, as long as they were left alone. Because of that, conservatives seemed dumb and inferior. Along the way, they enroached on so much freedoms, conservatives lost patience, and brought out their intellectual bazookas, lo and behold, the intellectual chauvinists lost their perch upon the tower of intellect for not only are the conservatives brilliant, they are sound, grounded, and precise!

The horror! They could no longer claim intellectual superiority, so they shifted to violence. So far so good, conservatives are still conservative in that aspect too but as events are shaping up, conservatives might bring out the kinetic bazookas too, then what?

Take a global poll of folks, and you'll find out that in reality, folks are majority conservative. But because conservatives conserve, there's not a lot of noise until absolutely necessary, and then, the leftists cry, reach ear splitting decibels!

Grow up folks, don't bring petulance to an intellectual fight!...

In reply to by wee-weed up

Kidbuck wee-weed up Sat, 07/14/2018 - 06:38 Permalink

Thomas Jefferson, Albert Jay Nock, Henry L. Mencken, Ludwig von Mises, Hayek and many others won all the intellectual arguments against the left before any of us were even born. Until right thinkers also learn to deliver a well deserved good old fashioned physical punch in the nose to the savages interfering with free speech those advocating liberty will continue losing the war. 

In reply to by wee-weed up

Peg C. BrownCoat Sat, 07/14/2018 - 14:11 Permalink

Curiosity is a key indicator of intelligence.  I've always known this but learned it anew during the Obama regime.  He is a towering know-it-all with the least amount of curiosity that I've observed in 6 decades.  I've never for one moment believed he was/is bright.  There is zero evidence of it.

The deranged Left aren't just irrational, psychotic, emotionally damaged, etc.  They are demonstrably low-IQ, fact-averse cultists.

In reply to by BrownCoat

lew1024 King of Ruperts Land Sun, 07/15/2018 - 15:08 Permalink

We did not use those with our son, not needed.

If they grow up in the company of adults, rather than other children, you don't have nearly the behavior problems, the rebellions, etc.

We are raising children in a completely un-natural environment, single-age large groups where they must conform to an un-natural standard of self-discipline at too-early ages. We get completely un-natural behavior as a result. If not active rebellion, passivity.

Don't blame and punish the kids. Fix their environment.

Take your children out of school, it is very bad for them, and the worst for the brightest, most active, least conforming, the ones with the most to contribute to our society, long-run.

End of 7th grade, our son dropped out.  He is getting A+s in community college courses, e.g. his recent Astronomy course. School isn't necessary, contrary to school teachers.

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

BigJim El Vaquero Sat, 07/14/2018 - 07:02 Permalink

As for where the leftist violence leads, it's not as ugly as the author might think for one very simple reason:  The leftists in this country are absolute pussies, and when the gloves come off, only the most diehard will fight, and they'll likely do so via IEDs, attempts at assassination and other methods that lack direct confrontation.

"IEDs, attempts at assassination and other methods" all sound pretty ugly to me.

In reply to by El Vaquero

El Vaquero BigJim Sat, 07/14/2018 - 10:08 Permalink

Sure, but it's going to be a minority of them that does this.  It could be a lot worse.  We could get a civil war, but I doubt it's going to be around this issue of hard left v everybody else.  The irony with the left is that, so long as they are firmly resisted, they are not a threat to the security of a free state because they'll devolve to something manageable, but if they are not firmly resisted, they are extremely dangerous.  They're like the thug who comes up to beat your ass and mug you, until that thug figures out that you're armed, and he runs away.

In reply to by BigJim

FreeMoney Cognitive Dissonance Fri, 07/13/2018 - 22:59 Permalink

Central planning and central thinking are twin brothers. 

We cant have a top down centralized decision making process where the superior direct the inferior, if the inferior are always mouthing off with dissenting ideas.  So it is in your best interest not to do any thinking, and certainly not to do any talking about ideas that you came up with on your own.

Now get back to work before have to have some executions.

Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Che, Fidel.  none of them needed your opinion.

In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance

snblitz Cognitive Dissonance Fri, 07/13/2018 - 23:31 Permalink

When we refuse to confront something ...  we must find some other scapegoat to rail against.

Wow, so vicious.

You are saying that since there is nothing "we" can do about the things in your list or at least we think there is nothing we can do, we find some bum in a gutter and start kicking him.

You and I rail against the things in your list all the time, so no need to kick bums or shout down opposing views on our part.

But, per your statement I **must** rail against the evil, or I become the evil.

Though is not "we" "railing" against "the evil" from their point of view?

I suppose that means that kicking bums and shouting down opposing views is what identifies the evil.

It has never made me feel better to punch someone or to shout someone down and yet per your argument "we" salvages their pride and ego with such behavior.

And they do so because they are "cognitively and emotionally impotent".

How did they come to be this way? Is it that their IQ is simply too low?

I hope not, we cannot fix IQ.  Are they poorly informed? Seems unlikely as being poorly informed could be fixed with information but this is exactly what they fight against.

If it really is IQ they are un-fixable, and we are left rounding them up for their own safety and the safety of others.  Hmmm. were have I read this sort of reasoning before?





In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance

BrownCoat snblitz Sat, 07/14/2018 - 08:10 Permalink

How did they come to be this way?

It goes unnoticed that Common Core is a very powerful indoctrination tool. Common Core uses Classical Conditioning techniques.
For example, Common Core "math" is a tedious activity of drawing circles. This puts the student in a state of mind which is easier to implant beliefs. 

Spoiler. We were all conditioned to some extent when we were young (and reinforced throughout life). The conditioning is more severe today!

BTW, sleep depravation in Boot Camp is another technique. Late night comedy has changed to late night 'bash Trump' because a tired or exhausted mind accepts ideas easier. 

In reply to by snblitz