Here is a list roughly in ascending order of how much attention I think these different sorts of people who express their ideas deserve. You, of course, have every right to engage with ideas and the people who express them however you wish, but I will say that if you don’t have anyone from categories 7-9 on your bookshelf, feed, or coffee table you will find your own capacity for thinking and engaging contract to a very small size. I reserve the right to expand or contract this list in response to comments.

  1. A person who is popular because they say things that other people like to hear, regardless of whether or not they are true.
  2. A person who is popular because they are good at making arguments for things that are untrue, but who is not willing to learn from someone who disagrees with them.
  3. A person who is popular by virtue of the fact that they say things which are sometimes true but cannot be bothered to examine whether everything they say is true.
  4. A person who, mostly by virtue of not shutting their mouth as often as they should, says a lot of things not worth listening to but still occasionally says something that is worth reading, pondering, or even responding to.
  5. A person who says true and important things, but who also very tenaciously holds to vile untruths.
  6. A person who says true and important things and is not willing to learn from someone who disagrees with them.
  7. A person who is popular because they are good at making arguments for things that are untrue, but who is willing to learn from someone who disagrees with them.
  8. A person who is popular because they have very good and important things to say, some of which may be extremely influential, but who have committed especially vile acts either consonant or not consonant with the things that they say.
  9. A person who says true and important things and is willing to learn from someone who disagrees with them.

Not included in this list is “a person who I can classify as being part of a coalition that I enjoy despising because it gives me status in my ingroup”, because, c’mon.

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Posted by Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org

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