South African Skeptics

The Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame.

Offline BoogieMonster

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Ah but the beauty of truth and reason is that they outlive the fancies of the moment. They don't come with instant wins, but that's kinda the point.
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline Mefiante

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They don't come with instant wins, but that's kinda the point.
That’s true enough as far as it goes, but I can’t—won’t!—accept such a fatalistic position as the last word because the immediate cost of this widespread, selective, terminal conceit and ignorance is too high.  It compromises us all, and raises the pressing question of how/where/when it will come to an end.  Sooner or later, the elbow room for stupid has to shrink to a more manageable size for the sake of humanity’s future.  I’m probably being naïve, but the real issue is that this sort of nonsense, and the endless multitude of its misshapen siblings, is both the product of, and the ultimate nemesis of our collective prosperity:  Technological/scientific progress affords us more time and opportunity to pursue things that interest us; we inherited a gene for magical thinking from our ancestors, so we hound the stupid and easy uncritically; proportionally fewer and fewer of us care to test our beliefs; the savvy among us are cast out for not nodding eagerly and immediately; humanity becomes increasingly polarised between the knowledgeable and the soaked; the soaked win by sheer number.

No, there has to be a better way.

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.


Offline BoogieMonster

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They don't come with instant wins, but that's kinda the point.
That’s true enough as far as it goes, but I can’t—won’t!—accept such a fatalistic position as the last word

Fatalism in ultimate victory. Interesting.  :P

I should say that I'm finding this post difficult to write and keep coherent. It contains bigger themes. I apologise.

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because the immediate cost of this widespread, selective, terminal conceit and ignorance is too high.

I see it as the continuous project that is modernity. Our progress from ape to man and beyound has always been fraught with stops, starts, regressions, and then spurts of brilliance. The project of progress is indeed a messy, sometimes murderous, bussiness. Worse, the world is a dynamic system wherein everything is not always statically true. Physics, math, these are maybe fields in which things can be statically true (though that's not how my perception of the scientific process pans out, because obviously our UNDERSTANDING is not static...). What I'm trying to say is... as much as constant argumentation, whacky theories, validation, testing, debunking, etc. is a part of the scientific process, it is part of the process of civilization. Only worse, in the field of politics and human affairs there can possibly never be an "answer", and the results are more often than not deadly. I've been ruminating on this...

While metaphysically the absolute truth of politics may exist. IE: Ramaphosa may, in an objective sense, be a net good or bad for the country. Knowing which it is may be impossibly difficult to know to a high degree of certainty, and the outcome of which may be heavily coloured by one's own opinion of what constitutes desirability.

Moreover, in the court of public opinion nearly no one is qualified. If anyone.

I wrestle with this too: Because my thoughts are almost entirely post modernist in spite of myself: In the public discourse the objective truth may actually be of no significance, because the outcomes of opinion will overpower it in any pragmatical sense.

I guess, in this, I may be epistemilogically fatalistic? ie: I may be able to find the truth but it won't matter?

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It compromises us all, and raises the pressing question of how/where/when it will come to an end.

I think the answer is: at some point after science comes to an end. If science, which has hard truths (if you metaphysically agree with me), is still nowhere near being solved... Then in the fuzzy sphere of politics the answers must be much further off. And often, while the truth may exist in a desirability sense, Much of what occupies the mind of the populace may be ultimately unknowable: Did Prince Andrew do those things? Is Hillary part of a secret society running the world? One may have an opinion on it, but to know may not be in the realm of discoverability. These things... conspiracies, whispers, vague hand-waving ... may always be ripe for speculation and opinion exactly because their nature is tricky. We fall back onto "skeptical until proven", but designing a laboratory experiment which can be repeated is different than discovering truths about people and society. Sometimes just because the noise floor is impossibly high.

And, while I agree we may SHRINK the incredulity factor through constant teaching of critical thinking... This is diametrically opposed to what those in our power structures desire (state, religious, private enterprise, or otherwise). And they exercise their power often exactly because they understand the optics of the truth may be more important than the truth itself. This is the main mechanism they manipulate to gain and hold their power. Thus, we may be in a war of ideas that may last forever. My point being that in this war I do see a long term overarching trend of reason winning... if not always in local conditions. I do agree the entire world seems to be experiencing a local reasonability minima.

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Sooner or later, the elbow room for stupid has to shrink to a more manageable size for the sake of humanity’s future.

I think I'm saying it may be delayed but not indefinitely. The universe doesn't have some schedule it's trying to hold us to. In the big scheme of things a couple hundred years here and there may make no difference. Big picture, don't get lost in the weeds.

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.... we inherited a gene for magical thinking from our ancestors, so we hound the stupid and easy uncritically; proportionally fewer and fewer of us care to test our beliefs

I think we've made HUGE advances in public education about skepticism in the last 50 or so years. The internet has definitely made it much, much easier to go to battle with bad ideas and things like snopes or wikipedia have had an impact. Sadly these days I wonder about both...

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the savvy among us are cast out for not nodding eagerly and immediately

Yes the cancel culture thing isn't going well. But I do see more and more it being criticised and cast out as a bad idea.

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humanity becomes increasingly polarised between the knowledgeable and the soaked; the soaked win by sheer number.

You remind me of a quote from a longer diatribe on much the same subject.

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No, there has to be a better way.

Better? Not sure. But we continue the fight regardless.
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline Mefiante

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This is why I reject that fatalistic approach that says it’s all part of the/a game.  There’s too much at stake.

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.


Offline BoogieMonster

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So I remain optimistic that the rules of rational debate will ultimately prove more resilient than they now appear. Persuasion is a slow process

Exactly...
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline Mefiante

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I’m not refuting that it’s a slow process, bordering on the stagnant even, but you seem to keep missing my essential point which is that the slow pace is the problem, and that there has to be a better way to arrest, or at least put a brake on, the accelerating slide into unreason.  We’ve got huge and unprecedented powers of communication, able to reach vastly greater multitudes than ever before, but instead of mostly disseminating reliable and fact-based information, these powers are subverted willy-nilly to advance partisan and self-centred agendas.  To then resign oneself to this status quo by saying, “Oh well, nothing we can do really here, that’s just the way it is.” simply doesn’t cut it in my book.  We need some fresh thinking, and soon, about how to harness those powers in a more productive and focussed way.

Because, as a last resort, letting the whole shitty mess implode under the weight of its own stupidity will succeed only in dragging a gigantic throng of undeserving innocents down with itself, and those mainly responsible for the collapse won’t have learnt a thing from it.

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.