Sean Hannity: Not even wrong, new report says
A report released by the Moral Philosophy Research Group this week confirms what many have long suspected: Sean Hannity’s commentary is entirely devoid of cognitive content. “Yes, except we mean it literally,” says Anthony Vega, the report’s lead author. “When Hannity utters a sentence, he’s not asserting a proposition that might be true or false – he’s simply expressing an attitude.”
The researchers first became interested in Hannity after noticing a startling contrast between his apparently successful use of language and what seemed to be a never-ending string of blatant falsehoods. “Most of what he says seems to be demonstrably false,” Vega notes, “and yet he engages in these back-and-forth exchanges in which his guests somehow just don’t seem to care. I found myself wondering: What if Sean Hannity isn’t even in the business of describing reality?”
The hypothesis turned out to yield remarkable success in interpreting many of Hannity’s otherwise puzzling statements, Vega says. Consider, for instance, Hannity’s repeated claim that America has the greatest health care system on Earth. “There’s just no plausible standard by which that could be true,” explains Vega. “What he’s really saying is: ‘USA! USA!’ It’s a little more obvious when he says things like: ‘The US is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth.’ This particular pro-attitude is a common theme for him.”
Hannity’s locutions often manifest the superficial grammatical and logical properties indicative of assertions, Vega continues, “which is probably why he’s typically interpreted as at least making an attempt at engaging in reasoned discourse. But don’t be fooled: his goal isn’t actually to describe some mind-independent realm of facts – much less to present others with reasons for believing his claims about those facts.” The full report, “A Non-Cognitive Analysis of Sean Hannity,” is available for download on the Moral Philosophy Research Group’s website.
[Speaking of assertion, I’ve just had a paper on assertion and epistemic regress accepted for publication in Thought. You can read the abstract and download the paper here.]