Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Wrote This

I believe in transparency. I love that phrase, the truth will out. I like to think that it is so true.

But solid, verifiable evidence, powerful as it may be, does not make up the whole of the arsenal there is to wage war between reason and unreason, to divide objective reality from... misapprehension.

Just as sure as there is a bullshit detector, there is a way to slip past or disable it. Just as sure as there is the scientific method, there is the art of apologetics. The arms race ever escalates, giving rise to new forms of subterfuge and cunning---but the tally becomes only more lopsided.

It's just increasingly difficult these days for bad ideas to make a living. Systematic nonsense belief as we've become accustomed to it in the First World comprises really only those articles which have been fortunate enough to acquire a certain set of highly-specialized, adaptive tools to fend off corrosion by skeptical inquiry. They are not without an ally in the human race.

We are selfish about our beliefs. We cherish and keep them. This can only be natural. We are made of our convictions.

"If it wasn't for Wicca, I wouldn' t be the person I am today." -some Wicca idiot.
So we should expect to see these biases being exploited by other biases, and they in turn exploiting us. We should all pay attention to the pinch of embarrassment that is deserved whenever we find ourselves sending up great clouds of obfuscatory bullshit in defense of one poor, vulnerable proposition or another that just happens to have come under assault, after the fashion of a squid's inky getaway. Who is in charge here? The defender of the proposition, or the design features of that particular strain of proposition that has managed to lodge itself in the brain of an accommodating host?

It would be interesting to find out whether it is simply a better bargain to rationalize or justify a wrongly-held belief than to adjust or totally reprogram. I wouldn't be terribly surprised, but is it that much a pain in the ass to reconsider one's point of view? Let's hope not. There is every sign that new ways of consuming media make the problem worse, not better. The insulation appears only to have gotten thicker that surrounds the echo chambers on left and right. More information just seems to fuel a desire for people to reinforce what they already think.

But I do believe it is a winning battle for sense. The many long shadows of human history are shrinking, as under a swiftly rising sun. I do believe the morning comes. For my part, transparency. Mystery is overrated, or inflated rather. One finds that the less of it there is, the more rare and fulfilling what is left seems to be. Making known is the highest virtue. In that spirit, a few disclosures about my intentions with public correspondence, and a motto.

First, I make no claims to special knowledge. My highest educational achievement is a "Good Enough Diploma". I have a biography that reads like an accident report. You probably couldn't trust me with your dry cleaning. But I'm a pretty good observer of the scene, and I can do some things well. Observing the scene, for instance. Actually, it seems that is all I can do. That, and correspond about it. Being an amateur, I will attempt to adhere to a few guidelines.

As a general rule, when making a fact claim, such as, "I wrote this," hypertext links will be accompanied for the reader's convenience. In sourcing material, established, credible, and (as much as possible) neutral publications will be preferred. The distinction will be made between opinion and everything else. I make generalizations at my own peril.

An imperfect list, to be sure, and one which is open to revision. I leave it to the very progressive words of our sixteenth president:

"I shall try to correct errors when shown to be error, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views."
Welcome to the Nose Pin Zone.


  1. Welcome back, I love the new "pledge" I think it is best for you to leave the partisan hackery to those of us who enjoy it. And a thought on your education. The words of Mark Twain apply here, "I have never let my schooling get in the way of my education."

  2. Chris, I think it's time to lose the beard and go with a Twain 'stache. Like that old porn star mustache you used to have, except thicker.

  3. I think you may be on to something.