How to Spot Enlightenment Peddlers

It can be difficult to distinguish genuine public intellectuals from false ones ("enlightenment peddlers"). These are people who present themselves as public intellectuals but who violate basic rules and norms that define intellectual responsibility. 
This was as true in Plato's time as it is today.  However, the internet and the subcultures within it have made it much easier for such people to promulgate their views.
Here is a list of "red flags" that a person may be a truth peddler which I hope will be of help to the consumer. None of these on its own is definitive, but the more of them that apply, the more it is advisable to treat the person with caution.
  1. They ignore, dismiss, ridicule, or belittle those with whom they disagree. They may use slurs to characterize them, or derogatory terms to characterize their views.
  2. They seem certain that their views are correct, and do not seriously consider shortcomings or weaknesses of their own position.​​
  3. They ignore disagreement amongst scholars, and cite only what supports, or appears to support, their own views.
  4. They do not seriously consider alternative explanations for the phenomena that they site.
  5. They appeal to fear, depression, and anxiety—and offer deliverance from these.
  6. They offer answers to almost every question that they are asked, and offer solutions to almost every problem that is presented to them. They rarely if ever admit to not having an answer to a question, or confess ignorance or confusion.
  7. They offer simple—often monocausal—explanations for complex phenomena.
  8. They rarely if ever admit to error, and retract what they have said. 
  9. They do not discourage idealization of themselves and uncritical acceptance of their views. 
  10. They make sweeping claims about whole groups of people, without using terms like “some,” “few,” “many,” or “all."
  11. They are prone to divide humanity into types or kinds, rather than as a patchwork of diversity.
  12. They present themselves as “prophets of virtue” battling against moral or intellectual decay. Following them makes one feel righteous.
  13. They often use slippery slope arguments.

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