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The Irresponsibility of Intellectuals

Here’s a letter to Spiked:


Christopher Snowdon rightly criticizes the modellers whose “projections” of Covid calamity spread panic throughout society and state, but who refuse accountability for their errors (“The catastrophe of the Covid models,” Jan. 21). Equally deserving of such criticism are the many pundits and professors who – well-equipped with laptops, Zoom accounts, and DoorDash apps – effectively collaborated with these modellers by electronically spitting venom at anyone who proposed alternatives to lockdowns or who insisted that there’s more to life than avoidance of one particular pathogen. These savants and sages will never acknowledge, and much less apologize for, their recklessness and blunders.

Such behavior is par for the course for too many intellectuals. As Joseph Epstein astutely observed, “[o]ne of the delights of being an intellectual is that one is expected to have opinions about everything while incurring responsibility for nothing.”*

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Joseph Epstein, Narcissus Leaves the Pool (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), page 25.