Saturday, August 05, 2006

How does a smart guy like Michael Medved get so screwed up in his thinking?

I had a horrendous drive from the Beaumont area of Texas to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to make a flight on Friday - about a 350 mile trip taking me right through Houston in the middle of a work day. It wasn't the road or traffic conditions but the length of the drive with a specific timetable that made it so onerous.

From Houston to Dallas I didn't really have to concentrate on the route (straight up I-45) so I had the radio on to help fill the time and Michael Medved was doing his talk show. Now, you don't have to listen for long to realize that Michael Medved is no dummy. I've heard him before and often wondered how such an obviously intelligent man reaches so many dumb conclusions. (A problem I don't have with someone like, say, Rush Limbaugh - whose adequate intelligence is so obviously overpowered by his xenophobia. But I digress.)

Michael Medved was expressing astonishment over the full-page ad that appeared in the August 3rd New York Times calling for a popular movement to "...Drive out the Bush Regime". The ad is endorsed by a number of well known names including the predictable (like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon) but also names that caused Mr. Medved some consternation. The sense that I got was that Mr. Medved couldn't reconcile that people for whom he apparently had some respect (my memory is that he specifically mentioned writer Kurt Vonnegut, Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter, film-maker Paul Haggis and actor Mark Ruffalo) held views in disagreement with his own.

Medved's conundrum seemed to be: "How can these respectable people be so wrong?" Never - not once in what I heard, and I think I heard the entire segment - did he even come close to considering the obvious thought: "Maybe I ought to re-examine my own assumptions here." The mere thought never even began to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing his mind. (HGTG reference but, again, I digress.)

Is that normal?

I mean, sure - when a xenophobe with merely adequate intelligence like Limbaugh fails to even consider an obvious question you take it in stride - it's the nature of the beast. But when someone with obviously high intelligence and little or no indication of xenophobia does the same thing you have to wonder about their psychological make-up. (Or - at least - I have to wonder about it. And, keeping in mind the New Age admonition ...if you spot it you got it, I have to wonder about my own psychological make-up.)

Confidence is generally a good thing. That is, I think it's better to have confidence in one's own thoughts and ideas than to lack confidence in them. But when such confidence causes us not to consider obvious questions then it is working to our detriment and not to our advantage.

Just another of one of the thousands of things that I need to consider.