Friday, September 01, 2006

Why is Don Boudreau Depressed?

Don Boudreau of Café Hayek is ‘depressed’! I think I will join him, but in my case because he is depressed about an obvious ‘garbage out’ result. I commented on 22 July 2005 when this poll was first reported. I was not depressed or remotely disappointed.

Anyhow, here is Don’s lament about what a year later he calls a ‘depressing fact’(!):

“Here's a depressing fact.

[In Britain] in a 2005 BBC Radio poll listeners voted Karl Marx "the greatest philosopher of all time.".... Marx received 28 percent of the votes cast, more than Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant combined. David Hume came second with 13 percent.
This from page 92 of Tony Judt's essay "Goodbye to All That?" appearing in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books (Sept. 21, 2006).” From Café Hayek 31 August 2006.

Before we get carried away by the tyranny of quantitative headlines, we might ponder that if 27.83 per cent voted for Karl Marx, then 72.07 per cent voted for other philosophers, which suggests the Red Dawn is postponed again.

That David Hume received ‘only’ 12.67% of the vote is remarkable, given general lack of knowledge of him and his works.

A deluded Marxist, Tony Sauvnois of the Socialist Party (UK), commented on the poll:

“This vote represents a blow to capitalist commentators. It illustrates hostility towards modern capitalist society amongst even sections of the middle class.”

That there is hostility to ‘modern capitalist society’ among ‘middle class’ youth is well-known, because their parents do well out of it, but not as well as they feel entitled; those suffering real poverty from an absence of ‘modern capitalist society’ where they presently live is reflected in the extreme efforts they make to get into the nearest ‘modern capitalist society’.

It is better that Tony Saunois dreams his dreams of a Red Dawn in a capitalist country; he would only have nightmares living in a socialist one.

Adam Smith attracted even fewer votes that David Hume, though not surprising in that most people consider Smith to be an economist, not a philosopher, though he was more of the latter than the former.

But features of the so-called poll of listeners to Radio 4 should raise worries when commentators jump in with silly assertions that even Don Boudreaux, of the otherwise intellectually sound Café Hayek Blog, seems to have bought.

The poll was ‘open’ – you could vote as often as you liked and many did. Several ‘left’ leaning people I know voted more than once (some do not even listen to radio 4 on a regular basis or at all) and some voted in what passes for ‘organised’ lobbying in Marxist fringe groups (‘Comrades, go forth an multiply votes for Comrade Marx!'). But even with this wide open goal, they still managed only a miserable 27.83 per cent!

But worse. They did not have to do better than 27.83 per cent to get the silly headlines in the ‘capitalist press’ and associated Blogs. With 27.83 percent turned into a ‘majority’, or, as good as, into more votes than the ‘respectable’ philosophers did, shows remarkable leverage on the critical faculties of those with otherwise intelligent and well-trained minds.


Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Error! Mea culpa.

Please note that my reference to google hits for Adam Smith and Karl Marx are in error. I did not discriminate between Adam Smith (everybody called Adam Smith) and 'Adam Smith' the philosopher; 'Karl Marx' on the same basis beats Adam Smith by 300,000.

Thanks to PJGoober and Swimmy on Cafe Hayek for politely pointing this out.

When an error of fact is drawn to you attention you must immediately acknowledge the error and wirhdraw it. Hence, I do.

My statements on the dubious Radio 4 'poll' stand. It was open to abuse and was abused in fact. Its 'results' are meanignless.

7:16 am  

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