The Bubble and the Pickup Truck

 

John Ekdahl asked a simple question Tuesday night:

This not at all complicated query should generate one of two answers: yes or no. Instead, Ekdahl got hours of contempt, confusion, and rage.

Ekdahl never mentioned guns, immigration, country music, race, or “real Americans,” yet a flurry of journalists and other progressives tried to shame him with each for daring to ask this non-political question. All because they didn’t want to admit that they live in a bubble.

Many Americans, left and right, live in monochrome cultural enclaves. Many of my friends at DC think tanks and my relatives on the farm don’t interact with many people who live different lives than themselves. Admitting this isn’t a black mark on either group; it merely helps us understand our limited perspective.

Since I live in the Phoenix suburbs, I know plenty of people in both groups. The economist PhDs make me feel dumb and the ranchers make me feel wimpy, so I learn a lot from both. Humility is a requirement if you want to learn or write about the many subjects outside your ken. Journalism would be a lot better if our media accepted this truth.


A longer version of Ekdahl’s question was posed by Charles Murray in his now-famous Bubble Quiz (which includes a question about pickup trucks, natch). I was in the middle of the pack with a score of 58 out of 100. Let me know what you get in the comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    Excellento!

    • #1
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:01 am
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  2. Profile photo of Quietpi Member

    Gasp! They SO don’t get it!

    BTW I know a lot of farmers, ranchers and dairymen. Every one I can think of has at least a Bachelor’s degree. And many of them can make many a PhD economist look like a fool.

    • #2
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:05 am
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  3. Profile photo of Songwriter Member

    Wow. The responses demonstrate a thin-skinned sort of defensiveness, as well. None of them assume it was an honest question, worthy of a simple answer.

    • #3
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:13 am
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  4. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    I got 60. I would be a first generation upper-middle-class with middle-class parents, but I got extra points for the time I spent working my way through night school.

    • #4
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:15 am
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  5. Profile photo of Manny Member

    I got a 45 on the bubble quiz. The problem with me is that I don’t watch TV or go to movies.

    • #5
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:24 am
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  6. Profile photo of Ekosj Member

    Outstanding article! The source of the Twitterers’ ire is, of course, the the very idea that their perspective might be ‘limited.’ They perceive themselves as near omniscient and anything or anyone that highlights their narrow viewpoint must be destroyed.

    bubble quiz – 47

    • #6
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:25 am
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  7. Profile photo of James Gawron Thatcher

    Jon,

    This is a veritable jamboree of left-wing strawmen. These people should be ashamed of themselves. If they don’t know somebody who owns a pickup it isn’t the end of the World. However, to go into a fit and smear the person asking the question with vitriolic phony motives is ridiculous.

    Why it must be a sign of “virtue?” not to know someone who owns a pickup truck.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #7
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:25 am
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  8. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Manny (View Comment):
    I got a 45 on the bubble quiz. The problem with me is that I don’t watch TV or go to movies.

    I totally lost out of the TV side. I did okay on the movies, because I watch the comic book blockbusters.

    • #8
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:26 am
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  9. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    54, mainly because I don’t go to movies very often and all those TV shows suck.

    Those guys whining at John Ekdahl not only live in a bubble, the oxygen supply is running low.

    • #9
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:35 am
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  10. Profile photo of drlorentz Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: The economist PhDs make me feel dumb and the ranchers make me feel wimpy, so I learn a lot from both. Humility is a requirement if you want to learn or write about the many subjects outside your ken

    Exactly. This is a valuable lesson for everyone, most particularly for leftists apparently. This is also why Charles Murray made such an important point in writing Coming Apart.

    Edit: I got 25. Pathetic, I know but I’m working on it. I’m not watching broadcast TV to improve my score, though.

    • #10
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:36 am
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  11. Profile photo of iWe Reagan
    iWe

    49.

    • #11
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:37 am
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  12. Profile photo of Kevin Creighton Contributor

    Shorter version: “How DARE you question my commitment to sympathizing with the common man!! Jeeves, have this person thrown off the grounds of this estate!”

    • #12
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:38 am
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  13. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Quietpi (View Comment):
    Gasp! They SO don’t get it!

    BTW I know a lot of farmers, ranchers and dairymen. Every one I can think of has at least a Bachelor’s degree. And many of them can make many a PhD economist look like a fool.

    I hung out for a day on a ranch way out in the Arizona desert. Two crusty old cowboys straight from a ’60s Western were talking about heifers and manure. Five minutes later, they were talking about their doctoral dissertations on water management.

    • #13
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:40 am
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  14. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    But, don’t they have some justification for feeling put upon by questions that are dripping with self righteousness?

    I know people who own a truck so I am more virtuous and noble than you subway riding liberals in Manhattan. Is that not the interpretation everyone takes from that question? It is just another form of virtue signaling among the intelligentsia. The equivalent of going around your auto-shop co-workers and asking how many have read Chaucer. You ask the question to prove that you belong to some special sub set of your own particular group.

    These kinds of arguments reminds me of an old Romanian joke.

    (A crude translation)

    A gypsy decides to attend the local Communist Party meeting. After patiently listening to the talk for half an hour he raises his hand and asks the presiding chair who “Comrade Marx” is? The room is aghast.

    “You don’t know, who Karl Marx is?” Asks the Chair.

    “No”

    “Friedrich Engels?”

    “No. Sorry.”

    “Surely you’ve heard of Vladimir Lenin?”

    “Apologies. No.”

    “If you don’t even know who these people are why are you even here?” Asks the Chair.

    Feeling somewhat embarrassed the Gypsy responds “Well, do you know who Ionel Albu is?”

    “No.” Answers the Chair.

    “Mircia Balan?”

    “Never heard of him.”

    “Everybody knows Teodor Funar?”

    “I’ve never heard of any of these people.” Replies the Chair.

    “Well, see. Everyone with his own clique.”

    • #14
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:40 am
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  15. Profile photo of AmishDude Member

    There was a very specific point that Ekdahl was making, that is obscured by the doth protesting too much that you see from the responses.

    He was talking about reporters. While it’s a cultural problem that Americans live in bubbles (and the fracturing of pop culture ensures even more bubbling), reporters should know a wide variety of people.

    Living in a bubble is a problem for most Americans, it’s disqualifying for a reporter.

    • #15
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:41 am
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  16. Profile photo of Kevin Creighton Contributor

    Oh, and 47, because like others, my TV-viewing these days is quite limited.

    I’d suggest that Charles Murray should add in questions about NRA membership, then watch the gulf REALLY widen.

    • #16
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:41 am
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  17. Profile photo of Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    55 for me

    • #17
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:45 am
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  18. Profile photo of Kevin Creighton Contributor

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):
    Gasp! They SO don’t get it!

    BTW I know a lot of farmers, ranchers and dairymen. Every one I can think of has at least a Bachelor’s degree. And many of them can make many a PhD economist look like a fool.

    I hung out for a day on a ranch way out in the Arizona desert. Two crusty old cowboys straight from a ’60s Western were talking about heifers and manure. Five minutes later, they were talking about their doctoral dissertations on water management.

    One my uncles up in Canada had a medium-sized chicken/hog farm, where I spent the summers of ’78 and ’79 cleaning dead chickens out of the barn and feeding hogs at ridiculously early hours of the morning.

    He also managed the farm with the aid of a personal computer (a HeathKit H11, IIRC), the first person I know who owned one.

    • #18
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:45 am
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  19. Profile photo of AmishDude Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    But, don’t they have some justification for feeling put upon by questions that are dripping with self righteousness?

    That’s the “doth protest too much” part of it. Obviously this inferred accusation bothers them. Why?

    It’s because they’ve been trained, since college, to think of themselves as white knights for the “little guy”. I’m sure Marxist professors still to this day talk about the “working class” unironically.

    With this question, the inference they take is that they have undisguised contempt for the “little guy” and it truly bothers them.

    • #19
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:46 am
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  20. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    AmishDude (View Comment):
    There was a very specific point that Ekdahl was making, that is obscured by the doth protesting too much that you see from the responses.

    He was talking about reporters. While it’s a cultural problem that Americans live in bubbles (and the fracturing of pop culture ensures even more bubbling), reporters should know a wide variety of people.

    Living in a bubble is a problem for most Americans, it’s disqualifying for a reporter.

    Exactly. Living in whichever bubble is going to happen, but not being honest enough to admit it is a huge problem. I think of myself as a pretty smart guy (okay, a SuperGenius), yet whenever I research a new subject, I realize I’m completely ignorant about most things. That humility, and the curiosity it creates, is essential for reporting.

    If a lousy reporter thinks he knows everything about, say, building an oil pipeline through North Dakota, he will begin writing a story with a pre-planned narrative and a tidy little moral lesson. A good reporter will chat with people on all sides and simply share what he learned. It’s not complicated; perhaps that’s why smug elites don’t like straight-forward reporting.

    • #20
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:50 am
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  21. Profile photo of Matt Balzer Member

    Kevin Creighton (View Comment):
    Oh, and 47, because like others, my TV-viewing these days is quite limited.

    I got 65, and I don’t watch any of the TV shows they mentioned either.

    • #21
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:51 am
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  22. Profile photo of Archie Campbell Member

    I noticed that @rachellu didn’t like the question either. I’m hoping that she might expand on that here.

    • #22
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:52 am
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  23. Profile photo of Quietpi Member

    It just occurred to me – VDH is a farmer.

    • #23
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:53 am
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  24. Profile photo of Matt Balzer Member

    AmishDude (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    But, don’t they have some justification for feeling put upon by questions that are dripping with self righteousness?

    That’s the “doth protest too much” part of it. Obviously this inferred accusation bothers them. Why?

    It’s because they’ve been trained, since college, to think of themselves as white knights for the “little guy”. I’m sure Marxist professors still to this day talk about the “working class” unironically.

    With this question, the inference they take is that they have undisguised contempt for the “little guy” and it truly bothers them.

    I get that feeling when people are talking about unions, too. Outside of maybe teachers’ unions, do these people actually know anyone in a union?

    • #24
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:57 am
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  25. Profile photo of Ekosj Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    “I’ve never heard of any of these people.” Replies the Chair.

    “Well, see. Everyone with his own clique.”

    the Poles tell a very similar joke but it ends differently….I’ll clean it up a bit tho…

    “Well see. If you weren’t always away at these meetings you’d know that they are the people having affairs with your wife.”

    • #25
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:59 am
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  26. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    All kinds of questions come to mind:

    Have you ever eaten an animal that you shot yourself?

    Have you ever ridden in the back of a pickup truck? (Not one of those extended cab abominations — I mean the bed.)

    Have you ever lived anywhere that was only accessible via a gravel road?

    • #26
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:59 am
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  27. Profile photo of AmishDude Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Exactly. Living in whichever bubble is going to happen, but not being honest enough to admit it is a huge problem. I think of myself as a pretty smart guy (okay, a SuperGenius), yet whenever I research a new subject, I realize I’m completely ignorant about most things. That humility, and the curiosity it creates, is essential for reporting.

    Oh, come now. You feel dumb next to economics Ph.D.s. I love them! They make me feel so smart. #PureMathFTW

    Seriously, though, you’re right. That’s all a reporter is supposed to do. But then Journalism got to be a profession.

    Even if you think journalism should be a profession, why journalism departments? Why not a simple English degree?

    Well, they say it’s because of ethics, etc. Then they abandoned ethics with “activist journalism” in which they explicitly abandoned the goal of objectivity.

    Now the chickens have come home to roost and they realize that all a news organization has is its credibility.

    • #27
    • January 4, 2017 at 10:59 am
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  28. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    But, don’t they have some justification for feeling put upon by questions that are dripping with self righteousness?

    I know John, so my perspective is a bit different, but I didn’t see any self-righteousness. He was just holding up a mirror. Showing my bubble, here’s one of my favorite quotes:

    Remember that it is not he who gives abuse or blows who affronts, but the view we take of these things as insulting. When, therefore, any one provokes you, be assured that it is your own opinion which provokes you. — Epictetus

    These journalists only took offense at the question because they didn’t like what it told them about themselves.

    • #28
    • January 4, 2017 at 11:00 am
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  29. Profile photo of Ryan M(cPherson) Listener

    I got a 60. I think I was hurt by not watching any TV or movies.

    • #29
    • January 4, 2017 at 11:01 am
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  30. Profile photo of Johnny Dubya Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    AmishDude (View Comment):

    Living in a bubble is a problem for most Americans, it’s disqualifying for a reporter.

    Exactly. Living in whichever bubble is going to happen, but not being honest enough to admit it is a huge problem. I think of myself as a pretty smart guy (okay, a SuperGenius), yet whenever I research a new subject, I realize I’m completely ignorant about most things. That humility, and the curiosity it creates, is essential for reporting.

    If a lousy reporter thinks he knows everything about, say, building an oil pipeline through North Dakota, he will begin writing a story with a pre-planned narrative and a tidy little moral lesson. A good reporter will chat with people on all sides and simply share what he learned. It’s not complicated; perhaps that’s why smug elites don’t like straight-forward reporting.

    James Taranto, in his final “Best of the Web” column in the WSJ:

    Our advice to journalists who wish to improve the quality of their trade would be to lose their self-importance, overcome the temptation to pose as (or bow to) authority figures, and focus on the basic function of journalism, which is to tell stories. Journalists are not arbiters of truth; we are, unlike fiction writers (or for that matter politicians), constrained by the truth.

    I got a 34 on the quiz. Thank goodness I own a pickup truck.

    • #30
    • January 4, 2017 at 11:06 am
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