There is a big difference between what people believe and what they’ve figured out for themselves. One merely requires an empty vessel to be filled. The other requires frequent, arduous trips to the well.
Thomas Sowell makes that point in an interview with David Hogberg of Investor’s Business Daily, apparently part of his book tour for “Dismantling America,” a collection of columns on the disquieting topic.
At one point Hogberg asks Sowell about the use and abuse of rhetoric in the current political and economic debate.
“Somewhere Oliver Wendell Holmes says that the purpose of education is to create a mind that cannot be humbugged by words,” Sowell explains. “Well, that is not the purpose of American education now. Much of the humbugging by words takes place inside the educational institutions themselves. Students are not generally taught to see both sides of an issue and learn how to analyze in such ways to see what the differences are and how you would sort it all out. Instead they’re given one side and they’re told that one side is it.”
Sowell then adds this rathering telling anecdote: “Today when I see young kids, sometimes elementary students, carrying banners for some crusade, someone ought to tell them that you don’t even know anything. Or you hear they are writing letters to the president on nuclear policy and so on. Within the past week, I got a letter from a high school senior who was about to inform me about economics in general and about the reason why there was a Great Depression and why it is necessary that Obama does the things he does. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Cry for America, Dr. Sowell.