Censorship Kills, by Barry Brownstein

One of humanity’s evolutionary adaptations is the ability to process information and use it to our advantage. Anything that stifles the flow of information, including censorship, can have potentially deadly consequences. From Barry Brownstein at aier.org:

Whenever I write an essay critical of expert opinion on Covid, I immediately receive indignant replies. Some assume I must be a bleach-drinking supporter of President Trump. Others label me a dangerous libertarian since, in their view, I challenge the “best” source of expert opinion.

Among my critics are well-meaning people who see no alternative but to follow the policy prescriptions of their favored experts. They do not see they are on the path of illiberal, anti-science, authoritarian thinking that is endangering the well-being of so many people today.

Karl Popper helps us understand why an “authoritarian attitude to the problem of human knowledge” hinders scientific progress. His essay “On the So-Called Sources of Knowledge” appears in his collection In Search of a Better World.

Popper explains, “The question of the sources of our knowledge, like so many authoritarian questions, is a question about origin. It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may be legitimate itself by its pedigree.”

Popper explains how the mistaken belief that knowledge has a pedigree leads us to seek the “‘best’ or the ‘wisest’” to be our political rulers. We make the mistake of assuming there are ultimate authorities best suited to rule because of the knowledge they possess. Popper explains that there are no such ultimate authorities, and “uncertainty clings to all assertions.”

Popper argues that instead of focusing on who should rule, our focus should be on “How can we organize our political institutions so that bad or incompetent rulers can do the minimum amount of damage?”

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