Incompetent Podheads

Thomas Sowell’s criticism of intellectuals who are competent in some area of scholarship but who espouse opinions on topics on which they are not competent, made me think of those so-called public personalities who are not competent in any intellectual area at all.

By “competent,” I do not mean having a certificate from some academic institution, or having a track record of publications, simply because a person may be self-educated, which probably is a necessary and sufficient condition for being educated at all.

As a paradigm of this incompetence, I will focus on the interview of Noam Chomsky by Patrick Bet-David, who is an example of the new sophists of the internet — “podheads.” [They are not to be confused with potheads who do not make public appearances as a practice.]

To make my point I would like to first contrast competent interviews with this incompetent interview.

Below are examples of competent interviews of Noam Chomsky:

Bryan Magee, who himself was a philosopher, interviewed other philosophers. A list of some of these available interviews are give here: The Great Philosophers.

And here is his interview of Noam Chomsky in 1977:

Bill Moyers interviewed Noam Chomsky in 1988:

Charlie Rose interviewed Noam Chomsky in 2003:

The Stony Brook Interviews in 2003

Part 1: Bill Zimmerman interviewed Noam Chomsky:

Part 2: Peter Ludlow interviewed Noam Chomsky:

Part 3: John Kuo Wei Tchen interviewed Noam Chomsky:

Chris Hedges, who himself is a journalist and political writer, interviewed Noam Chomsky in 2014:

Ralph Nader intervewed Noam Chomsky in 2016:

Ezra Klein interviewed Noam Chomsky in 2021:

Chris Hedges again interviewed Noam Chomsky in 2021:

Unlike the competent interviews, where the interviewer has taken the effort to read some of Chomsky’s writings, incompetent interviewers come off as naive students who have not bothered to do any relevant homework.

So, here is the interview by Patrick Bet-David in 2021:

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