Bias in the Invisible Market

TEAThe Texas State Board of Education debate (previous posts here, here, and here) brings to the forefront the concept of bias, which is often a contentious subject. It’s a subject that is too complicated for just one post, so I’ll split it up, each post approaching the subject from a different angle. I’ll start with a practical treatment.

The most practical way to approach this debate is to ask: what should be in the school standards? If there are things missing, then we need to add them. If there are things that need to be removed, then we need to do that, too. The problem is that there are a lot of viewpoints out there (both well-thought-out and otherwise) and everyone wants theirs to be addressed. Well, if our failed experiment with ‘multiculturalism’ has taught us anything, it’s that some viewpoints are less important than others. Continuing with a wrongheaded approach will only compound the errors of the past and make them harder to correct. So what can we do?

Let’s take a tip from Albert Einstein and perform a Gedankenexperiment (or thought experiment): What would happen if we tried to include everyone’s viewpoint? The answer is obvious. We’d be bogged down in crazy debates between people with contradictory information, with everyone swearing that their viewpoint is just as important as everyone else’s and must be given equal time. We’d never get anything done, and the weak-minded would be so confused that they’d start believing all kinds of ridiculous stuff. There’s only one way to realistically determine what gets included and what gets removed: the free hand of the invisible market.

The free hand of the invisible market is the only way to unerringly determine which ideas have worth and which don’t. Popular ideas are popular because they are widely believed. They are widely believed because the ideas have merit. And through the power of the market, they have merit because they are popular. Circle of logic closed. The more people that believe an idea, the better that idea is, and the more it should be included in any debate. Although I theoretically agree with protecting the right to express unpopular ideas, in reality it couldn’t matter less. If those ideas were any good, they’d be popular, and wouldn’t need protection in the first place.

So that answers our question. We should assemble a representative group of people, let them debate the standards, and whatever ends up winning in this marketplace of ideas is what deserves to be in the school standards. And that’s just what has happened. Democracy wins again.

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