Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pith and Prolix

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, for shits and giggles, friend of blog "Kate," comments on Thursday's Science Not Sales, and, possibly, by extension, of Sunday's far more interesting Science, Politics, and Administration, the acorn from which sprung Thursday's addendum, that: "This reads to me like a very long explanation for the term 'self-delusion.'"

Making much more out of this innocuous comments than I should as I drink my first cup of coffee and contemplate a day of garage cleaning, I reply, rather too expansively (mmmm coffee...):

Don't grow too complacent about the adequacy of short explanations, even if you're right to appreciate them once you've arrived at them via the hard road of working through longer ones.

With short explanations arrived at too hastily and too often you're too easily left with the delusion that the bumper stickers you've memorized constitute masterly intelligence when in fact you're one of those silly people who can't distinguish differences that make a difference.

It's like people who watch TED talks online who fancy themselves intellectuals in consequence. (Often just as true of the ones who deliver TED talks. Me-ow! Me: ow!)

It's not just science that isn't sales, neither is thinking more generally.

And so, to your point in particular, there is more than one way to be deluded about the beliefs one affirms as scientific, but also more than one way to be deluded about one's beliefs more generally, since there are, after all, reasonable and unreasonable beliefs we hold in matters of morals, aesthetics, ethics, and politics, too.

For me, personally, the interesting thing about this post, and the one that preceded it, is that it concerned itself with the proper demarcation of the scientific from the political while attending to those elements in each that render them most like one another. I agree with you that there are vulnerabilities to delusion that inhere in that fraught and porous demarcation. Understanding it requires many long explanations.

For them as has the patience and hankering for it, and are edified by such things, these long explanations are the occasion for thinking, and for understanding. An end in itself, for those who are drawn that way, the unexamined life is not worth living, and so on and so forth, and the beat goes on.


Kate said...

Well, the comment was meant at least in part in jest, but you bring up a good point. Thanks :)

Dale Carrico said...

Going on endlessly while missing the point is the spécialité de la maison.