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Defeating the Tyranny of the ‘Conventional Wisdom’


I really feel sorry for Katherine Mangu-Ward: she walked into a hornet’s nest when she appeared on Fox News the other day and disparaged Ron Paul – or, rather, mocked his chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination. She might have thought she was merely expressing the Conventional Wisdom on Paul’s candidacy – which, indeed, she was – but her comments underscored an important point about how social change works, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first … 

As senior editor of Reason magazine, an ostensibly libertarian publication, the Paulians rightly expected her to stand up for her team. Oddly, it was left to the other panelist, journalist and author Liz Trotta – not a libertarian, as far as I know – to defend Paul, and her defense was interesting: she said the wars are a bigger issue than anyone realizes, and since Paul is the only Republican candidate calling for an end to US intervention around the world, the issue could conceivably catapult him into the top tier. Mangu-Ward, a former staffer at the Weekly Standard, sat there and rolled her eyes, as if someone had suggested the moon is made of green cheese. 

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