Knowledge speaks, Wisdom Listens: Hypercertainty Undermines Credibility

“Knowledge speaks, Wisdom Listens.”

Here’s my 1993 letter showing how national Political Pundits’  

over-certainty and their Firewalls against listening or learning, 

explains why they are not of classical calibre.


Thursday, January 21, 1993

Robin McNeil & James Lehrer
MacNeil Lehrer News Hour
356 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019

Not Listening Undermines Advocates’ Credibility

Dear Messrs. McNeil & Lehrer,

Am I missing something?

I just listened to your show on Zoe Baird’s confirmation hearing.

While I’m expert on several subjects, and have an opinion on several more,  I’m happy to be right just half the time.

So I find it difficult to understand how your guests can have such opposite opinions, and yet each is adamantly always correct.

Is it futile for me to wait to hear someone on your show say — 

“That’s a really good point Susan (or Irwin or John) just made. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I believe I’ve changed my mind.”

Does anyone truly care about reason unless they are genuinely able to say:

“I am willing to change my mind if presented with suitable reason. I could be wrong. Maybe I haven’t thought of everything.”

You bring a multitude of thoughtful people and their reasons to the world
every evening. But when each advocates their conclusions without ever
having their positions changed – even slightly – by the other thoughtful
people, I can’t help but think there must be better minds available.

Advocacy is fine, but aren’t true statesmen and stateswomen those who are
willing to listen and learn with the same degree of passion with which they

But then. . . maybe I haven’t thought of everything.


David Dilworth

Carmel, California


Postscript – I never received any response.


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