After Jim Manzi skewered Liberty and Tyranny’s section on climate change, calling it “an almost perfect example of epistemic closure,” I wondered how other writers at The Corner would react, and how Mr. Levin and his fans would respond. You’ve probably seen the offering from Kathryn Jean Lopez, who is upset that Mr. Manzi would write such a post “at a time when Liberty is actually endangered,” and Andy McCarthy, whose pained call for civility is surely a wry attempt at humor.
But what about Mark Levin fans outside the venue where this conversation started? Does the way they react to Mr. Manzi’s critique suggest that they exist in a closed information loop, or that they’re in fact epistemically open?
On the Mark Levin Facebook “wall,” fan Lisa Donnelly writes:
I’m sure Manzi is just taking his marching orders from the West Wing as debate over cap and trade legislation heats up…my guess is you Mark will welcome the debate!
Or conclude like Al Gore he has a small fortune invested in “Green Technology.”
On the same “wall,” Jim Crue writes:
For someone who graduated from MIT, one would think Jim Manzi might be smart enough to put Liberty & Tyranny into its proper context. I guess not – What an Idiot! Its no wonder the only praise he gets comes from David Brooks.
John Hawkins writes (emphasis added):
Over at National Review, global warming true believer Jim Manzi lands on Mark Levin with both feet because the Great One treats the theory of manmade global warming with the scorn it deserves.
On Red State, a user named Hogan posted this:
Yesterday, our good friend Mark Levin was attacked on The Corner over at National Review Online by one of his fellow contributors there, Jim Manzi. I am not going to link to his hit piece. I found it to be beneath what I thought I knew of him and beneath The Corner.
In the same post:
I have neither the desire and time nor the expertise to analyze in detail Manzi’s specific criticisms of Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny – most of which centered on the chapter on what Mark calls Enviro-Statism. What is striking about his burn-the-forest-down-to-find-the-tree approach is that it dismisses Mark’s book in entirety because he disagrees with some of the sourced (Mark’s book is well documented with numerous footnotes) material Mark provides in this one section in particular. And Manzi does so rather violently… accusing Mark of “epistemic closure.”
Now, I had to look that term up. Cuz I ain’t as smart as those guys who sit around in circles over at the New Republic, the New York Times, and increasingly, sadly on occasion, the National Review, and blather on endlessly about topics that would make even wonky professors’ eyes roll, much less a regular-old American like me who enjoys watching the DIY network and American Idol after getting back from the driving range and playing with my son.
Look – reasonable people can disagree about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. And I would, prior to yesterday, have said I was glad a guy like Manzi was out there trying to sift through some of the nonsense out there on global warming to put it all in context, even if I thought him a little squishy for my taste. But, I am sorry there Jim, no matter how much research you’ve done or no matter the extent to which I might even agree with you at times, while you are sitting in your little circle with a bunch of other self-indulgent asses that no one else in the world gives a rip about putting out posts like yesterday’s nonsense, Mark is out on the front lines inspiring a generation of Americans to fight back against statism.
I frankly don’t know if every statistic in Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative was correct or not. Nor do I know if every statistic or number in Reagan’s A Time For Choosing speech in 1964 was correct. I DON’T CARE. I know the facts were in the ballpark, and more importantly, the principles were timeless and correct. I have read Mark’s book, and I know a little about the topics in question – and it’s a good book, with good citations and a lot of good facts.
These are all the defenses of Mr. Levin that I’ve found via Google’s blog search, and searches of Mr. Levin’s Facebook page and fan site. Obviously I may have missed some responses elsewhere, but suffice it to say that thus far — and it is yet early, so we may see better responses today — the reaction to Mr. Manzi’s post suggest that Julian Sanchez was right, and ought to persuade Jonah Goldberg that there is indeed an epistemic closure problem on the right, regardless of whether or not the same things exist on the left.
In the aftermath of a serious, substantive post that offers specific criticisms of Mr. Levin’s writing on climate change, Mr. Manzi has been called impolite, a tool of the Obama Administration, a financial opportunist, a “True Believer,” a blathering intellectual, and a self-indulgent ass. It is glaringly evident that no one has even attempted to refute his arguments — and since the folks at National Review know Jim Manzi, his honorableness, and where he stands on climate change, it cannot escape their attention that his critics occupy a closed information loop that has misled them about the truth.
UPDATE: I see that Andy McCarthy has responded again to Mr. Manzi. It seems like only yesterday that Mr. McCarthy frowned upon “awful,” “Trilateral Commission,” and “wingnuttery” as “gratuitously nasty” words, especially when arguing with a fellow conservative. I take it as vindication of my “wry humor” hypothethis that today Mr. McCarthy calls Mr. Manzi’s post “appalling” and “pompous,” and implies that it is characterized by “illogic, nastiness and outright dishonesty.” It would take several paragraphs to list all the ways that Mr. McCarthy mischaracterizes the substance of Mr. Manzi’s post. This minute I don’t have the time for it.
UPDATE II: Mark Levin responds on The Corner. It’s a strange post. Its opening basically argues that, having criticized Liberty and Tyranny’s passages on climate change, Jim Manzi is hypocritical (or something) for failing to denounce Andrew Sullivan’s writing on Trig Palin. I can’t say this is an unexpected response, but on reflection, it’s a pretty weird reaction, right? Having criticized me on issue X, will you now call out a person with no connection to this conversation on issue Y? It is worth adding that Mr. Sullivan, whose doubts about Trig Palin’s parentage are unfounded, has repeatedly aired dissenting viewpoints and counter-arguments on his blog, including forcefully argued pieces by Patrick Appel, his “underblogger” and assistant on editorial matters — see here, for example. It’s just one of countless demonstrations that The Daily Dish isn’t engaged in epistemic closure, regardless of what Mr. Sullivan gets wrong or right on a given subject.
Elsewhere in the post, Mr. Levin says that Mr. Manzi is “classless” and “very very angry,” attacks that have got to earn some sort of prize for lack of self-awareness. Do check out the more substantive parts of Mr. Levin’s rebuttal, which I won’t remark upon on the presumption that Mr. Manzi will soon engage in his usual back-and forth with critics.
UPDATE III: On Facebook, Mr. Levin writes, “I had to Smack Down a Global Warming Zealot on Earth Day.” So let me direct a question to Andy McCarthy, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and any other Levin defender: you all know full well that it’s absurd to call Jim Manzi a global warming zealot, as does anyone else with half a brain who has paid any attention to the debate on the subject. Will you acknowledge as much?
The comments on that Facebook post include:
— Listening to Mark smack down Libs always makes my day.
— Nobody can take down the libs like Mark Levin!
— Mark Levin RULES!! I love how he slaps Liberals in the face with common sense when they call in flapping their trap.
— Mark’s treatment of leftists always puts a smile on my face.
More evidence, as if it were needed.