The Daily View: Prescriptivism , Populism, and Why Democracy Doesn’t Work

In earlier posts I explore the possibility millennials are smarter and less impressionable than earlier generations. Some on the left argue millennials are sloppy at grammar and are careless, but there is an abundance of evidence to the contrary. For example on Reddit this user got rebuked in the comments for his ‘descriptive’ approach to grammar. To many millennials,prescriptivism is very important, as it signals competence and is important for clear, unambiguous communication.

From the comments:

Care with language has a whole lot of connotations. I would not use careless syntax and grammar just like I would not want to be 1 minute late for a business meeting. Laziness is not an appreciated quality.

It does make a small difference in the speed it takes us to register things. Research shows that unconsciously we like ideas conveyed in a more easily read/understood fashion (big, clear, fonts with nice contrast from background for example).

This ‘Life Pro Tip’ LPT: It’s better to have no opinion on something than an uninformed one recently went viral on Reddit. Millennials are correct that we have an epidemic of the uninformed spilling their opinions, which are seldom original but derived from someone else’s wrong opinion – the blind leading the blind, attributable to bad journalism and confirmation biases. The Daily Show and Colbert are especially guilty of this, telling their audiences what they want to hear even if it’s wrong or taken out of context, and then the audience regurgitates it later, thinking it’s the truth or the complete story. This ties in the post-2013 rise of centrism and rationalism and the rejection of ‘low information’.

Bernie Sanders’ brand of populism is another example – the belief you can grow an economy by spreading the wealth of the most productive to the least. Such a message is appealing to his low-information voters, like cattle corralled into the abattoir of reason and rationality that liberalism. Putting the fate of the country in the hands of the least informed, who tend to be of middling intelligence and aren’t economic stakeholders, is the best argument yet against democracy.

Even neoliberal Bryan Caplan, a contemporary anti-democracy pioneer who isn’t in any way affiliated NRx, agrees that the average person is too ill-informed, cognitively biased, or dare we say ‘dumb’, for democracy to work.

In a post-2008 world, tact, nuance, and not overgeneralizing has become important, compared to the shoot-from-hip style of writing that typifies independent blogging – which began its slow decline in 2008 or so with the rise of social media and professionally written long-form online journalism.

In the past, society was slow and uneducated, with interest rates too high. Now it’s smart and fast-paced thanks to the internet, education, financialization, technology, and other other factors. This is the transition from type-0 to type-1 civilization status, unfolding before our eyes…

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