Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ideas should do battle... fairly

The process of memetic selection, while possible in the face of apathy, or even a lack of awareness that it is ongoing, appears best conducted with a certain degree of seriousness and passion for making progress. This entails not only that those involved should hear all new information introduced by a peer, but also that such information should be presented as though it bears considerable gravity upon the circumstance of being human.

The real issue, though, is that it's hard to make a fight of ideas fair; everyone seems to possess some kind of preconditioned conception of what the best course of action is, and either is unwilling to hear the opposition, or sees the fight itself as some kind of bizarre, frivolous game where the goal is to win (especially where an "in-group" is watching, or where there is some set of figurative "belongings" to guard and protect). Cognitive biases, when combined with a genuine lack of respect for the pursuit of understanding, breed cheating in the forms of: slander, trolling, character assassination, poisoning the well, group bullying, scare tactics, threats, red herrings, being louder than your opponent, sticking your fingers in your ears, propaganda, falsely associating an idea with something obviously stupid or horrible, hyperbole, making unfair comparisons....

You get the idea.

If you have your "thing" that you like to do, and define yourself by that "thing," you're going to do everything that you can to make sure that you are "the one who does his thing" -- even if it means throwing sand in someone's face, distracting the fighters, or otherwise throwing a wrench into the works. Not only is this unfair, it's unproductive, and usually an implicit admission of a lack of regard for the process of selecting the best ideas; this lack is corrosive to mutually beneficial "discussion" relationships, and often leads to unnecessary conflict, passive aggression, and other negative "forces" which have absolutely no business in any selection process -- whether of ideas or something else.

I couldn't fathom a scientific, peer reviewed journal being criticized by a particular institution with terse comments like, "Are you kidding me? Do you really think that Neanderthal DNA is present in the human genome?" or "Oh God, not more of that 'dark energy' crap again. Save it, Einstein," or "What you have to say about the structure of the DNA molecule is nice and all, but don't you hate Jews? Get out of here, Jew-hater!"

If you don't have respect for the rules of the game, don't play.

A note before you comment: There was a misunderstanding or two recently in some of the comments sections of my posts. It is unlikely that this post is referring to you personally in any way, regardless of who you are; clarification was provided in at least one instance. My mind works by relation, meaning that I get ideas based on tangential experiences; the ideas are very rarely direct reactions. This post applies universally, as far as I can tell, and is something that all of mankind should heed.

1 comment:

  1. 1. Contempt carries a lot of information.

    2. Perhaps some potential participants SHOULD be discouraged from participating.