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Clash of Perspectives

In the letters column of the September/October SI, reader Norman Carlson accuses me of being untrustworthy, unintelligent, lobotomized, lacking in virtue, and entitled, and he perhaps accuses the skeptical movement of prostitution as well (he says liberals have “smothered and prostituted” the skeptical movement).

It is unclear whether Mr. Carlson read my letter, which presents not my ideas but those of Bruce Fleming, from Fleming’s book Why Liberals and Conservatives Clash, many within quotation marks. I found Mr. Fleming’s ideas to be interesting, suggestive of further lines of thought, and entertaining, but I have no way to know whether they are valid or true; it would take social science research to determine whether Fleming’s analysis describes how people really think, and if so whether it can differentiate liberals from conservatives—and if so, to what percentage of the liberal and conservative population it applies. Someone would also have to define liberal and conservative; Mr. Fleming says that liberals are always open to discussing things, but that isn’t how Mr. Carlson sees me.

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