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Aughts

The Encyclopedia of Counterintuitive Thought

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Impulsiveness is superior to careful consideration.
2005, Book.
You could spend a lot of time trying to reason through a decision, or you could just go with your gut, which research indicates is actually more reliable anyway.
MALCOLM GLADWELL, BLINK: THE POWER OF THINKING WITHOUT THINKING.


Illustration by Andrew Rae  

The Iraq War was a success.
2008, Website.
After 9/11, a battle against the forces of totalitarianism, with Saddam Hussein as Stalin, became morally imperative. The fact that all the talk of the imminent threat that Hussein presented was revealed to have been invented or exaggerated didn’t matter because the invasion was an intervention “on the right side and for the right reasons,” such as Iraq’s “latent” WMD capacity and Hussein’s “forwarding and aiding the merchants of suicide terror.” Furthermore, Bush’s 2002 U.N. speech (heavy with misrepresentations of U.N. findings on Iraq’s weapons programs) was “was easily the best speech of his two-term tenure.”
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “HOW DID I GET IRAQ WRONG? I DIDN’T,” SLATE, MARCH 17.

Laziness should not disqualify one from being president.
2007, Magazine.
Fred Thompson is lazy, sure—but so were indisputably results-getting heads of state like Reagan and Churchill.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “IDLE WORSHIP: IN PRAISE OF FRED THOMPSON’S LAZINESS,” THE NEW REPUBLIC, OCTOBER 22.

Nepotism is good.
2003, Book.
Heirs care passionately about the survival and strength of family-owned companies, and they are usually held to high standards.
ADAM BELLOW, IN PRAISE OF NEPOTISM: A NATURAL HISTORY.


Illustration by Andrew Rae  

New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt.
2005, Website.

The city will eventually be hit by a worse storm and it was already one of the most impoverished and dysfunctional cities in the nation.
JACK SHAFER “DON’T REFLOAT: THE CASE AGAINST REBUILDING THE SUNKEN CITY OF NEW ORLEANS,” SLATE, SEPTEMBER 7. THIS IDEA WAS SECONDED IN THE NEW REPUBLIC PIECE “SUNKEN COST,” BY ADAM B. KUSHNER THE FOLLOWING MONTH.

New ideas aren’t important in politics.
2005, Magazine. New ideas are not inherently superior to old ones (Social Security, for example, is a very nice Old Idea) and the forward-thinking policy proposals of a minority party are generally ignored; they win only because of mistakes by the opposing party, which is often executing new ideas.
JONATHAN CHAIT, “THE CASE AGAINST NEW IDEAS,” THE NEW REPUBLIC, JULY 11–18.

Obesity is not an epidemic.
2004, Book.
Many fat people, as defined by the BMI standard, are actually healthier than many skinny people, who operate from an “anorexic mind-set”—the fat and active live longer than the thin and sedentary.
PAUL CAMPOS, THE OBESITY MYTH: WHY AMERICA’S OBSESSION WITH WEIGHT IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.


Illustration by Andrew Rae  

Parental involvement in education is a waste.
Past a certain fairly low economic level, the advantages bestowed on one’s offspring by class status make things like reading to your child irrelevant. (Also, it’s more dangerous to have a swimming pool than to have a gun in your home.)
LEVITT AND DUBNER, FREAKONOMICS.

Pimps are good for prostitutes.
Pimps allow prostitutes to earn more with less risk than they would working on their own, by providing protection and a steady client base, and the commission they take is more reasonable than commissions taken by real-estate agents.
LEVITT AND DUBNER, SUPERFREAKONOMICS.

Plagiarism isn’t a big deal.
2004, Magazine.
We accept—and even reward—borrowing and outright theft in music (albeit sometimes without realizing it) because we acknowledge that creativity depends on influence and interpretation. But in prose, no one is allowed to borrow so much as a sentence, even if they recontextualize it. That’s petty, especially because not even the most original author writes without borrowing.
MALCOLM GLADWELL, “SOMETHING BORROWED,” THE NEW YORKER, NOVEMBER 22.

Politically motivated appointments aren’t so bad.
2005, Magazine.
Political appointees are usually more passionate and thus more active than career civil servants.
CHARLES PETERS, “THE CASE AGAINST THE CASE AGAINST POLITICAL APPOINTEES,” WASHINGTON MONTHLY, DECEMBER.

Racial profiling is unconservative.
2001, Magazine.
Targeted profiling and police harassment undermine the successful instillation of core conservative values (like individuality and respect for authority) in minorities.
JAMES FORMAN JR., “ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: THE CONSERVATIVE CASE AGAINST RACIAL PROFILING,” THE NEW REPUBLIC, SEPTEMBER 10.


Illustration by Andrew Rae  

Radiohead isn’t a good band.
2009, Magazine. Radiohead used to be great, but now they play arty, noodling baloney that everyone just pretends to like because it sounds serious.
CHRIS NORRIS, “MYTH NO. 1: RADIOHEAD CAN DO NO WRONG,” SPIN, DECEMBER.

A raging temper is a good quality in a politician.
2007, Magazine.
Ted Stevens’s incredible vindictiveness made him a uniquely talented and successful senator: his legendary temper kept colleagues in line, made potential enemies scared to challenge him, and steered $3 billion in federal money to Alaska.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE JERK: IN PRAISE OF TED STEVENS, THE SENATE’S ANGRIEST MAN,” THE NEW REPUBLIC, SEPTEMBER 10.


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