Posted: 31 January 2011 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]
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What do you think was the motivation for writing this piece?

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Posted: 07 February 2011 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think we are all Authors.  We act like Librarians out of fear, because herding is safer than leading.

I also think that the “cacophony of fakes and phonies” that drown out “[t]he few credible sources of reliable information” is useful toward the end of the abuse of what you called “authoritative expertise”.  As you point out, for many people, the distinction between “real and pseudo-science” is impossible to make.  It always has been, but they’ve been protected from it by that authoritative expertise, permitted to simply accept the claims of those who know better.  Anyone who wishes to make the distinction on his own must study, and be honest with themselves.  Authorities lie to us, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes by mistake, sometimes only through bias, and sometimes through direct deceit.  So we have started to drown the “authoritative expertise.”

When I was in high school, they taught me about a thing called “yellow journalism”.  Supposedly, there was some kind of crackdown or something that put an end to it.  I’m wise enough now to know that such a crackdown could never have happened, unless there be angels among us who would perform such a miracle.  Journalism has always been yellow, but it is the yellow favored by the author, and recognizing the hue is the job of any human who wishes to become enlightened.  Of course there are many who sophomorically assume the “entitlement to omniscience”, and too bad for them and those they lead into darkness.  As for me, I encourage everyone I know to do their own research, even on my own claims.

Reputation is important, and it has largely been replaced by brute force - for example truancy laws that force children into accepting yellow knowledge (read some history books) and government contracts that force taxpayers to pay liars for the pseudo-science that supports the governments actions.  When people are free to remain as stupid as they want to remain, reputation will come back as the touchstone for the kind of authoritative expertise that existed in the past.  So I guess I see your trends as follows:
1) Helps to let people be stupid (arrogant, if you will) if they want, so I don’t mind that.
2) Helps take away the power that authority uses to make things look black and white when they’re actually gray (or yellow!).
3) This is the one on which we agree, but you see the other trends as helping this one to cause a problem, whereas I see them as helping to fix the problem this one causes.  A great majority of people have not been allowed to suffer from their arrogant stupidity enough to let it go and humble themselves before the altar of philosophical and scientific inquiry - that is, accepting most of “what we know” as working assumptions, and proceeding to improve them wherever that’s possible.
4) The trend of people looking for more certainty does not seem to me to be a cause of your “ominous developments”, but rather a result of them.  This trend might encourage more people to follow trend 1, and for that they will suffer, but it will also encourage more people to do what you and I are doing: expose what we’ve authored so that it might be critically analyzed and thus improved, both for us and for all those who feel safe assimilating our ideas.

5) - I’d like to add a trend, and that is the centralization of power.  John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt have written books about how the American Federal Government has put the American Public Education System to work leading the children in every state in the same direction.  This direction, of course, includes a strong affinity for the federal government, regardless of how much damage it is doing to its people.  I believe most governments follow the same strategy.  One small example which I’m sure most parents can relate to if they think about it a little, is that when some adult other than their child’s school teacher proves to be an excellent educator, they feel powerless to have that adult be the child’s schoolteacher - not only because the “official one” is “free” but also because local relationships as such don’t really have “official sanction”.  Another is worrying about being in compliance with the law when we start a business.

One of my great struggles is that society generally coerces individuals to help relieve the suffering of others (ie the welfare state).  This destruction of the ability to freely choose to give such help has damaged me and is damaging society in the same way.  It is a tragedy, and it seems that trying to heal from it - that is to show charity more easily - only encourages society to continue its coercive efforts (What Dave is doing is great!  Let’s make everyone do it!).  I ought to have a very strong reputation as a teacher (and it seems to me that you should too), but I don’t think we do, and it is because people nowadays expect authorities to tell them who is right, rather than judging for themselves.  Everyone should have a mentor, and each of us should choose his own mentor, and be encouraged by others to choose a new one at any time.

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