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Thomas Sowell's Hemispheres

My first attempt to flush out the phenom that is Thomas Sowell

Sowell's Hemispheres
Thomas Sowell in a hemispheric nutshell: He doesn't seem to be a man with robust right-hemispheric qualities, but he's a man who refuses to let his left hemisphere control him.

Thomas Sowell's right hemisphere: First, I have no idea how robust his right hemisphere is. Does he connect strongly with the Tao? I don't know and it is, quite frankly, none of my business, but his writings don't seem to display or use any right-hemispheric propensities. He simply digs into facts. He doesn't appeal much to tradition or intuitive knowledge, though I like to think his thinly veiled preference for the constrained vision in his classic, A Conflict of Visions, effuses a right-hemispheric sense of things.

Thomas Sowell's left hemisphere: He keeps it bridled as much as possible. He accepts any fact and incorporates it into his analysis. He accepts that people are religious even if he's not. He acknowledges that prejudices are unavoidable so they need to be respected. He understands blacks themselves cause the negative stereotyping, even though he's black, suffered from racial bias while growing up, and appreciates that whites have contributed to black culture today (by celebrating its excesses and killing initiative through welfare programs). Sowell is one of the best practitioners of American Pragmatism in the vein of William James.

It's not easy to do. The left hemisphere loves abstractions: ideals that it sets up so it can better conduct its affairs. These ideals quickly morph into opinions, which can turn into judgments, and then turn into Standards against which other things must be measured, kinda like the way a Christian Fundamentalist measures everything against the Bible. (The Gnostic, Voegelin pointed out, tends to embrace a "koran" to help provide these Standard: the Puritans embraced the Calvin's Institutes for such purposes; the Marxist embraces Das Kapital; the Muslim embraces the Koran.)

Intelligent people tend to have more robust left hemispheres, with the result that they produce these intellectual abstractions at a faster rate than the less intelligent. On top of that, intelligent people know they're intelligent, so they're more cocky, with the result that they tend to be less aware that they're obeying abstractions more than reality.

As a result of all that: Intellectuals are the most likely to embrace and defend the stupidest and most dangerous things in the teeth of reality. Their left hemispheres have erected a Standard (a logocentric idea, a mini-god, etc.), and everything else must be subservient to it, including the facts, and if the facts contradict it, the facts either haven't been fully flushed out yet or we just need further facts to undo the contradictions, hence a hundred million people killed by Marxism doesn't deter the Marxist because, after another hundred million are killed, the blessedness of Socialism will finally become known and the intellectuals' god realized.

McGilchrist on Smart People and Their Biases

"[I]ntelligent people are every bit as likely to have biases as less intelligent people – and to deny their own prejudices. . . . Being a scientist doesn’t help, either, by the way . . . [S]ome evidence shows that people with more education are more likely to cling to ideological beliefs in the teeth of evidence. . . [T]hese are the dangerous ones: those that think they lack prejudice. . . . ‘If anything, a larger bias blind spot was associated with higher cognitive ability’, conclude Richard West and colleagues, leading researchers in this area."

The Matter with Things, Chp. 18

"There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship." David Foster Wallace. "And if you're not aware you're worshipping, you're likely to worship Moloch and think you're doing a good thing." Eric Joseph Scheske