Why am I so often right while you are so often wrong? That is the question, isn’t it. Kathryn Schulz did an excellent job of explaining why it’s so hard to be wrong in her book Being Wrong. I refer you to that source if you want some great contemporary examples of right and wrong. Yet despite how challenging it is to be wrong, you persist. Why is that?
Let’s start with a great contemporary example: I am right that CRT is wrong. If you think that CRT is right, then you are simply wrong. Critical Race Theory, or Critical Social Justice Theory, or Critical Queer Theory, all of it is wrong for the same reason. These various theories simplify things that are complicated, which is wrong. They create categories of good people and bad people, which is always wrong. Besides which, none of them help solve any real problems which is also wrong. Good. That question is solved.
Should we be more accommodating of Black Lives Matter? After all, surely it is right to agree that black lives matter, no? While it is true that black lives matter, it is wrong to endorse Black Lives Matter. BLM is a political entity that, by its very nature, cannot always be right. Therefore it is wrong to support it without examining the details of what you’re endorsing. Again, simple is wrong. Everything is complicated. Therefore it is wrong to support BLM, though it is right to support black lives.
Now let’s consider some Covid concerns. Why is it right to get vaccinated and wrong to reject vaccination? First, let me say that I consider it acceptable to have hesitated for a month or so. It was not categorically wrong to want to see a bit more data on side-effects before getting in line for a jab. But with tens of millions of examples of people getting vaccinated with a handful of bad experiences, you need to get in line. Vaccines reduce the incidence of serious disease and deaths. It’s right to listen to skeptics, but it’s wrong to only listen to skeptics. It’s wrong to remain willfully ignorant of good information. That’s really all you need to know. It’s wrong to hold out. Get vaccinated.
Is it also wrong to resist wearing a mask indoors? Yes! Wearing a mask indoors is the right thing to do. Perhaps you have heard that masks are ineffective, that there’s no good evidence that they help. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Again, you are wrong to believe the skeptics. It’s right to realize that it’s hard to prove anything about masks, but here’s the right question to ask: Would you want your surgeon to mask up or not when standing over you with a scalpel? See how simple that is? Masks are the right thing to do; resisting masks is just wrong. Good, Covid is solved.
What about politics? Is it possible to correctly judge right and wrong in politics? Yes, absolutely! Here’s a tiny qualification, however: Many laws, policies, regulations, and proposals are both right and wrong. You might think that means that you and I can have differing opinions and both be right, but you’d be wrong. I will carefully consider the right and wrong aspects of laws and policies, and I will carefully weigh the right and wrong values in question, and I will come to the correct judgment about how to proceed. You will listen to the wrong people, give weight to the wrong values, and come to the wrong judgment. When in doubt, go with me. I could offer many examples, but trust me on that.
Finally, let’s get to the real existential threat that is facing us right now. Should we trust the 2020 presidential election? This is a source of much comic delight this year, but sadly, there are real world consequences for being wrong on this issue. It is wrong to think that the entire US court system, with a preponderance of conservative judges, made wrong judgments about claims of fraud. Actually, that’s beyond wrong; that’s just silly. Imagine the conspiracy that would have been required to pull that off.
It’s also right to recognize that the majority of Americans had serious concerns about the character Donald J. Trump. It is right to acknowledge that our constitution is a bare bones document that assumes that citizens will adhere to norms of human behavior. It is right to get worried when norms are obliterated, when the Justice Department becomes the president’s law firm, when the fox is put in charge of the chicken coop. It is right to believe that the majority of voters will choose to preserve our democracy rather than destroy it.
So, there you have it: I’m right. Agree with me, and you can be right, too!