A polypragmôn?

Professor Hanson gives us a word from ancient Greece as a means to describe what he sees.

“The Greeks called such a busybody, non-stop talker a “polypragmôn,” someone who jumps from here to there, always talking, persuading, speechifying, but never really accomplishing anything. The more Obama promised, the more I thought I had amnesia: did he not have two years of a Democratic Senate and House, and in the beginning with a supermajority that was filibuster-proof?”

Do We Believe Anymore? A list of examples is provided from recent events that is enough to make one wonder. He relates that list to his experience.

“Each time you encounter such a Starbuck the Rainmaker or The Music Man, the experience still is discomforting, given the vast abyss between the eloquent grandstanding rhetoric and actual achievement — and the deliberate way in which you, the instructor, were to be conned. And if such students are athletic, dapper, charismatic, and sharply dressed (and for some reason they so often are), the disconnect becomes ever more arresting. Sometimes the debacle even worsens when they come to office hours after the first bad grade, “shocked” that the professor might underappreciate their rhetorical gymnastics. Similar is the gulf between Obama’s teleprompted verbiage and his actual performance of governing since 2009.”

What this, and other episodes of observation in the punditry, seem to illustrate is that the professor is suffering cognitive dissonance. That is why the belief is strained: “Again, I accept the welfare state, but not the lies about it. Perhaps that is why I quit believing.” There seems to be a wide gap between what can be directly observed and what one is being told. The fact that so many seem to rely on what they are told rather than what they can see for themselves is indeed scary.

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