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Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline. Richard A. Posner (2001)

June 11, 2013

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“There is reason to believe that competition may indeed be less effective in producing a quality product in the public-intellectual market than in other markets in symbolic goods, especially though not only me academic market, and this despite the fact that academics increasingly dominate the public-intellectual market as well. Consider the matter of the public’s short attention span. People are very busy today, and information overload is a reality, not a cliche, as indicated by dramatic increase in the number of television commercials per viewer, the equally dramatic reduction in the average lenght of these commercials, and the concomitant shift from informational to rhetorical advertising content. The many competing uses for a modern American’s time crowd the time available for the consideration of public issues at the same time that the complexity of those issues has grown. The limiited time of the “consumers” in this market implies limited capacity to evaluate the wares of the sellers (the public intellectuals) and so invites exploitation. And the sellers, at least the majority that are academics, are uniquely insulated from the retribution of disappointed consumers by virtue of being part-timers, able at any moment to leave the public-intellectual market at low cost.”

[op. cit., pp. 79-80]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

A vision of way many people that have a public presence get away with lightly worked out opinions about everything …

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