Epistemic Failure - Manzi's Critique of Levin Misses the Mark

Ok- I couldn’t resist one more use of the word “epistemic,” as I am reasonably certain I will never use the word again unless I am making fun of supposed Republicans who fancy themselves intellectuals – guys like Jim Manzi who gratuitously, inappropriately and ineffectively attacked Mark Levin and his best-selling book, Liberty and Tyranny.


As you know, there was much ballyhoo (this word is more my speed) about the epistemic nonsense of Manzi’s attack of Mark in which he complained about Mark’s analysis and use of sources Manzi deemed unworthy. A few days ago, James M. Taylor, a senior fellow for environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, thoroughly refutes and discredits Manzi’s critique. It is worthy of reading.

Mr. Taylor approaches the issue with an open mind, but finds Manzi to be “disingenuous:”

Although I believe the science clearly supports “skeptics” in the global warming debate, conservatives and libertarians can believe in alarmist global warming claims without giving up their conservative and libertarian credentials, just as liberals can be “skeptics” without giving up their liberal credentials. The fact that a conservative might believe we are facing a global warming crisis should not necessarily come as a surprise, but the specific arguments made by Manzi are disingenuous.


He then goes on to break down Manzi’s arguments one-by-one. For example, Manzi criticized Levin for supposedly relying on only “[a]n associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist and an astronaut.” Taylor gives the impressive credentials of each and then says, “Manzi is either ignorant of the scientific accomplishments of these three scientists, or sought to score a cheap point by taking advantage of uninformed readers.”

In the end – Mr. Manzi’s analysis was epistemic failure. I commend to you Mr. Taylor’s explanation of why this is so.


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