Our society and economy would be much, much better off if debaters, especially on television, were able to call each others’ bluff with the simple use of the word “ignorant.”
“You’re ignorant and here’s why.” That is, “You do not know what you are talking about. Here’s why. Now, prove me wrong, right here, right now.”
Too often, we take a speaker’s word that they know what they’re talking about. Given the intellectual pedigree of most of the talking heads on television, this is not only a baseless claim, it’s contradicted by fact.
This culture of mediocrity, of baseless assertion being trotted out as studied fact is precisely what Stephen Colbert has satirized in a very public appearance before the U.S. Congress:
“Does one day in the field make you an expert witness?” Mr. [Lamar] Smith pressed.
“I believe that one day of me studying anything makes me an expert,” Mr. Colbert replied.
The apoplexy on the right over Stephen Colbert’s testimony to Congress is a loud, clear signal that he hit the nail on the head: he has exploded one of their most useful tools. (When your opponents protests a tactic, it’s often because that tactic is near and dear to them or they would like it to be.)
He and others should proceed to hit that nail again and again and again.