Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Elitist Professor disses conspiracy theories

"Wouldn’t It Be Cool if Shakespeare Wasn’t Shakespeare?" is Stephen Marche's reaction to the movie "Anonymous," which posits the notion that Shakespeare's plays weren't written by Shakespeare. Of conspiracy theories in general, Marche writes:
... You don’t have to be a truther or a birther to enjoy a conspiracy theory. We all, at one point or another, indulge fantasies that make the world seem more dangerous, more glamorous and, simultaneously, much more simple than it actually is. But then most of us grow up. Or put down the bong. Or read a book by somebody who is familiar with both proper historical methodology and the facts. The errors in “Anonymous,” I should point out, do not require great expertise to identify. Any undergraduate who has taken a course in Early Modern Drama, and paid attention, should be able to spot at least 10. (That might make a good exam, come to think of it.) ...

... The Shakespeare controversy, which emerged in the 19th century (at that time, theorists proposed that Francis Bacon was Shakespeare), was one of the origins of the willful ignorance and insidious false balance that is now rotting away our capacity to have meaningful discussions. The wider public, which has no reason to be familiar with questions of either Renaissance chronology or climate science, assumes that if there are arguments, there must be reasons for those arguments. Along with a right-wing antielitism, an unthinking left-wing open-mindedness and relativism have also given lunatic ideas soil to grow in. Our politeness has actually led us to believe that everybody deserves a say.

The problem is that not everybody does deserve a say. Just because an opinion exists does not mean that the opinion is worthy of respect. Some people deserve to be marginalized and excluded. There are many questions in this world over which rational people can have sensible confrontations: whether lower taxes stimulate or stagnate growth; whether abortion is immoral; whether the ’60s were an achievement or a disaster; whether the universe is motivated by a force for benevolence; whether the Fonz jumping on water skis over a shark was cool or lame. Whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is not one of these questions. ...

Fun, huh? There is much more to Marche's article at The New York Times. The post's "comic strip" was obtained from the New York Times' article.


Anonymous said...

Is your title tongue-in-cheek? How is Marche an "elitist"? He's got a PhD in English drama from one of the best universities in Canada.

When your dentist tells you you have a cavity, do you dismiss her as "elitist"? What about when your doctor tells you your cholesterol is too high? Is he "elitist"?

Marche is weighing in on a topic he happens to have some expertise in. That you don't agree with him does not give credence to your "elitist" charge.

I sure hope you're being sarcastic and I'm wrong about your intent. He's not dissing all conspiracy theories. He writes absolutely nothing about Palin and the Trig issues. Get over it and get a thicker skin.

Joie Vouet said...

anonymous@10:08. Yes, "elitist" is tongue-in-cheek. Marche does, however, write, "You don’t have to be a truther or a birther to enjoy a conspiracy theory. We all, at one point or another, indulge fantasies ... ."

I am over Sarah Palin and have never been a "truther." At this point, I don't know which is the hoax: 1) sarah was pregnant or 2) sarah faked it.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 10:08 had a point. Stereotyping is never a good idea

Similarly, the labeling of an investigation into suspicious situations as a "conspiracy theory," is a feeble and empty attempt to diminish the validity of the accusations. One cannot stop asking questions simply because the perpetrators of the crimes discount the questioners by attacking their motives and/or sanity. This is akin to "shooting the messenger," which I note is one of Sarah Palin's favorite tactics.

Speaking of the devil, please don't stop asking questions about the crimes of Sarah Palin. We all got over Sarah a long time ago, but there are far too many questions that need to be resolved.

Joie Vouet said...

Yes, "The term [conspiracy theory] is sometimes used to automatically dismiss claims that are deemed ridiculous, misconceived, paranoid, unfounded, outlandish or irrational." -- from Wikipedia's entry for Conspiracy theory.