The Glittering Eye's Dave Schuler, in commenting on the departure from the blogosphere of an empirical thinker, wrote "It's getting lonely out here."
I can't remember how many years ago that was, but I remember the chill that came over me when I read his words. Dave isn't given to histrionics.
I am remembering, too, my alarm when I learned that a man who might be the most incisive thinker writing for the blogosphere had turned his laser intellect to a blistering attack on Leftists that twisted facts.
My first reaction was that someone had gotten to him, bought him. But when I went back through his writings I saw that his passion to defend the greatest of American ideals against what he saw as certain destruction by the Left had eventually caused him to weaponize his intellectual gift.
Mark Steyn once observed that one by one the lights were going out all over the world. But he was talking about the quashing of public speech by governments and political factions that are clear enemies of the free exchange of ideas. The greater threat is from those who subvert truth to defend an ideal they consider noble.
It comes down to faith, faith that noble ideals are grounded in the quest for truth. It is on this faith that the whole of the empirical approach, the whole of scientific inquiry, is based.
Those who quote the adage "In the long run we're all dead" to defend lying as a means to persuade aren't thinking straight -- not in an era when the long run can be a year or two.
Weaponizing the intellect in the service of ideals isn't like picking up a gun in self defense. You can put the gun down when you're finished shooting but you can't disengage so easily from a corrosive way of thinking that has become habitual.