The ‘Academic-Political Method’ & Mats Järlström’s Traffic Lights

Three years ago, LL&TNPOS used the example of the media dismissing the opinion of a citizen, Mark Levin, on global warming¹, as an insight into the concept of the ‘Academic-Political Method‘. In essence, an example of the bastardized syllogistic method went as follows:

  • Academic A believes that man is causing global warming.
    • Premise: All warming is caused by man and his filthy carbon dioxide
  • Politician B endorses Academic A, and uses B’s research to increase taxes and restrict freedoms.
    • Premise: All men must be controlled by higher taxes and restricted freedoms to create a colder earth
  • Citizen C is ambivalent and sometimes derisive to Academic A’s scientific opinion, and profoundly disagrees with Politician B’s anti-liberty policy
    • Therefore: Citizen C is an idiot

So, if a political party wants to shut down Citizen C, all they need to do is recruit a correct-opinion-having Academic A, have him endorsed by Politician B, and then have everyone laugh and point at and ridicule, and perhaps even criminalize, Citizen C. Far-fetched?

This is why I liked this current story about Mats Järlström’s and his traffic lights². He has an engineering degree from Sweden, and wanted to present his findings to Oregon state government engineers that the ‘red-light cameras’, in use to catch motorists running red lights, were unfairly timed in order to increase revenue. This was achieved, Järlström reasoned, by minimizing the amount of ‘yellow-light’ time in which a motorist could react.

Well, it seems questioning the government engineers (Academic A), and the Oregon government (Politician B), required that Mats Järlström (Citizen C), be pointed at, ridiculed and then – fined. Far-fetched? Nope.

What LL&TNPOS noted is actually a simple, but profound, concept, oft-complicated for needs of political expediency: no other person’s opinion, political, academic or otherwise, can interfere with your individual God-given right to ignore that opinion. You have the right to disagree, to dissent, to dismiss, as you see fit.

In a free state, your opinion may well be outnumbered; perhaps massively. But your right to have that dissenting opinion is extremely important. Having a right to dissent is never a cause for ridicule; your individual opinion can be ridiculed, but not your right to have an opinion. Let the societal and political arguments, and the results of elections and other referendums, rest on all opinions, academic, political, or otherwise. They all are valid, because each individual’s humanity is valid.


¹ The “Academic-Political Method” Against Free Speech
² Reason, Eric Boehm; After Challenging Red Light Cameras, Oregon Man Fined $500 for Practicing Engineering Without a License

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