Continuing…the review: The benefit/cost ratio

“It’s only through criticism that concepts receive proper scrutiny. “Repeatedly we

find that dissent has value, even when it is wrong, even when we don’t like the dissenter, and even when we are not convinced of his position,” she writes. “Dissent . . . enables us to think more independently” and “also stimulates thought that is open, divergent, flexible, and original.”

The forces against dissent, though, are mighty. Dissenters tend to be marginalized, if not in the course of one heated discussion then over time. They become the boat-rockers, the agitators, the people wearing the wrong pants at the corporate golf outing. Eventually they are forced out rather than promoted. Ms. Nemeth cites the example of Soviet dissenters, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov, who spent years suffering for their views, and Jeffrey Wigand, the tobacco-industry whistleblower portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 1999 film “The Insider.”