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Blinking By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, January 03, 2006

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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Michael R. LeGault, the author of the new book Think: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye.

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FP: Michael R. LeGault, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

LeGault: Thank you Jamie.


FP: What inspired you to write this book?


LeGault: I wrote this book because I believe America is suffering from an intellectual crisis that is threatening our jobs, security and freedom. The crisis is a result of a decline in sharp incisive thinking based on logical reasoning and evidence, and a corresponding rise in thinking based on emotion and intuitive, snap decisions, an approach promoted by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking.  When considering things such as declining educational performance of American students relative to the rest of the industrialized world, the demise of the American automotive industry, the rise of the culture of image, my initial inspiration was to write something along the line of “Gee, we don’t sweat the details anymore.” Then Mr. Gladwell’s book came along and the idea coalesced around how we think and make decisions. But the anti-Blink theme is a minor part; more important, the book is analysis of the causes of the decline in critical thinking, their implications and what we can do about it.


I’ve always been intrigued by the way people think in a social sense, how they solve problems in everyday life; why some people make better decisions than other people. Since our decisions are based on our thoughts, it seemed clear that it is the way we think that ultimately determines the type of society we live in—-the United States, France or Nigeria. Thought preempts social and cultural conventions, government, even law. If we rank thought on a scale ranging from objective (that is rooted in sense experience and reason) on one end and subjective (founded on emotion and ideals) on the other end, we see that all advanced societies and civilizations have been objective—from classical Greece to the British empire. A society begins to decline when superstition, hearsay and preconceived notions about human nature and the world supercede views based on evidence and logic. I believe that on this scale, the United States is in a state of advanced state of decline. Think proposes a kind of unified theory for the way society, culture and politics arise out of our attitudes, beliefs and thought processes. The point of Think is to make people realize the direction America is headed, why we’re headed that way, and what we can do about it. It’s a realistic, positive book.  


FP: Tell us how this is connected to political correctness and the political Left and what it values.


LeGault: Political correctness is really just a type of deceit or dishonesty. It’s one thing to have a moral code, a sense of right and wrong, and another to believe this code is the world as it is or should be. Morals are a human invention. In the extreme, this moral code rigidly holds everyone and everything up to the standard of a “perfect” natural order in which every person is the social, economic and intellectual equal of every other person. This, of course, is delusion and deceit on a grand scale. There never has been such a perfect natural order—it’s a totally subjective belief, fantasy. Yet the pursuit of this delusion has become the central informing idea of the Left, and the idea had filtered into wider society. This is why in the mythology of popular culture, movies, etc., the Left has become associated with humanistic “good” and the right with self-aggrandizing “bad.”


This view of good as a society of absolute, universal social, economic and intellectual equality--equality by condition--has itself been ingrained into Western thought and political and social institutions to become a type of intellectual tyranny. In Think I argue that political correctness, because it is based on an advanced form of lying, actually works against the ends it hopes to achieve. When Harvard president Larry Summers is rebuked and professionally censored for proposing (as many, many years of testing suggest) that innate, gender-related cognitive tendencies and abilities account for the dominance of men in sciences and math, it largely hurts the cause of recruiting more women into the sciences. How can you work toward a specific end if you can’t openly discuss the facts?


All progress is a result of confronting the truth. Almost all great disparities between people arise as a result of individual decisions—the way people think and act on their thinking. The Left may find this view repugnant, but it is actually very hopeful and optimistic. In a political and economic system such as that of the United States’, the disparities can be erased fairly quickly by people deciding to change the way they think.


FP: You discuss how political ideology leads to “unclear, lazy thinking among smart people.” Do you think this is more characteristic of the political Left or Right? 


LeGault: I think there’s wacko ideological-influenced thinking on both sides of the political fence, but there’s a huge difference in the end result. Wacko beliefs on the Left have a much greater tendency to ingratiate themselves into the Western humanist canon that forms the basis for much of our law, education and government policy. Rachel Carson’s The Silent Spring, for example, falsely implicated DDT as a human carcinogen, which in turn set the stage for decades of questionable science used to justify massive regulations to manage risk at levels lower than it is scientifically possible to measure. Society, the media has a hair-trigger sensitivity to false or bad views from the right, but lets any half-cocked view from the Left pass unexamined.  When someone says that the Holocaust never happened he is denounced and marginalized. When Noam Chomsky compares the United States with Nazi Germany he is lauded, interviewed and paid thousands of dollars to make speeches on this theme.

There have also been some good environmental regulations based on sound science. I don’t mean to disparage every view of the Left as tainted by subjectivity.  One of the major points of Think is that thinking based on factual evidence and logical reasoning provides us with a common ground that is beyond political partisanship. The rise of strident, political partisanship is a sign we have abandoned critical thinking in favor of snap judgments made along political or ideological lines. But the root cause of strident partisanship is not directly ideology or politics, it’s the way we think. A conservative should be able to accept science providing firm proof an industrial practice is exposing people to a large health risk, just as liberals should be able accept a large body of evidence showing a free market is the best way to lift the living standards of people. 


FP: Tell us about what you think about Noam Chomsky as a thinker. And why in our society do these "thinkers" get exonerated from accountability for their thoughts and words?


LeGault: Chomsky is considered an expert in linguistics but his views on culture and society paint him as a dogmatist, pedant and anarchist, not a great thnker. He's also a hypocrite, as documented in Peter Schwiezer's Do As I Say, Not As I Do. If it weren't for the American capitalist system he so vehemently loathes, he would be most likely be an unknown pauper-philosopher. The popularity of Chomsky is accounted for the by fact that he is a high-profile supplier of rhetoric for the global anti-American movement, which includes, not just radicals, but educated, middle-class professionals around the  world who need to be smugly reassured that they are the moral and intellectual superiors of Americans. I think a lot of Americans simply aren't aware of who a Chomsky or Al Franken are; that their beliefs, if enacted in real life, would mean the destruction of America. I think there's a certain complicity in the press. I would tape one of Chomsky's speeches and play it on CNN or in primetime. I'm sure there would be a lot of Americans wondering how it is that this man is reverred and teaching at one of the country's top universities.


FP: Michael Legault, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.


Legault: Thank you Jamie.


Previous Interviews:

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Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.

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