Friday, November 21, 2003

How Noam Chomsky Thinks

This is an interesting snippet about Chomsky because it puts Chomsky's whole modus operandi in a nutshell:

The dust jacket [of Chomsky's book] bears the legend, which one can't be around a Chomsky fan for long without hearing:

"Arguably the most important intellectual alive" - The New York Times

This very old quotation from the newspaper of record is in fact truncated. The full quotation reads as follows:

"Arguably the most important intellectual alive, how can he write such nonsense about international affairs and foreign policy?

I've added the emphasis, because I think you will agree that the elision of the italicised passage does subtly change the meaning of the sentence.

And that's the way Chomsky does it. He leaves stuff out. He relies on the fact that his supporters don't know, don't care, or are too lazy to read up on history for themselves, and the things he leaves out are all important details that would totally change the meaning of his accounts. It is a dishonest way to write history, but it is a tactic he must use because the truth almost never supports his thesis.