by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
There is expert consensus on the feasibility of light rail in Wake County. Six different transportation experts, including light-rail advocates, have all explained how the area is simply too decentralized, too spread out, and not nearly population-dense enough to support expensive light rail.
That is formidable consensus. It is something no responsible civic leader should ignore.
N&O editorialists have tried for months to get Wake County commissioners to ignore it. You can watch their arguments evolve here, here, and here. As I noted, with the last evolution the N&O editorialists
are now trying a new approach to expert consensus: reductio ad abstinentis. That is, ignoring it. Pretending it never existed.
How it works: if Wake County commissioners are in fact heeding expert consensus by not raising taxes and blowing resources on a scheme that’s doomed to fail, then they are being responsible servants of the community. They are doing their job.
What is next?
Having established by calculated ignorance that the expert consensus does not exist, the N&O has now moved on to the next progression in its argumentation: ipse dixit. The term means “he himself said it,” and in rhetoric it is the unproven assertion, the “Because I said so!” fumbled retort. Memorable uses of ipse dixit in the movies include the “strenuously object” discussion in A Few Good Men and the legless, armless Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail shouting from the ground, “The Black Knight always triumphs!”
The N&O described Republican commissioners as seeming “lukewarm to rail, period” (“period” because they obviously have no rationale for it, now that it’s been ignored) and instead “see the campaign for light rail as a grandiose adventure that will end with huge costs and few passengers.” (Oh, those guys; where do they get their ideas?)
In sum, the N&O writes (emphasis added),
Wake’s leaders are right to be careful about transit costs, but there’s now a consensus that the region is crowded enough that people soon will need alternative ways to get around.
Look, there’s a consensus! and the N&O strenuously objects to Republican commissioners not acting on consensus — as long as it is the consensus the N&O made up and not the actual consensus from six different transportation experts they have worked so hard the past several months to obliterate from memory.