Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Comments enabled ...

It's a somewhat amusing jest that perhaps nobody is reading this weblog but me. That's entirely possible. Given the vastness of information on the net, there's no real reason why one more "amateur" pundit should make any particular impact. It wasn't ego that led me to writing this blog. It was more ... one could call it consternation. After spending the better years of my life dedicated to the discovery of pragmatic truth and practical perfection, it felt disturbing to tune back into "planet earth" - a world of misdirection, half-lies, and deceptions made up whole cloth and embroidered with confusing ambiguities. It wasn't that the world confused me. The most confusing thing was that people were confused by the world. It is if one is watching one's fellow citizens be befuddled by a silly carnie shell game, and seeing their money taken from them.

That sense of outrage mixed with slight chagrin led me to begin writing. What's the point of truth if no one is willing to test their ideas? What is the point of rationality and reason if the very presumptions and assumptions we use as our premises are riddled with holes poked by doubt and ambiguity? No wonder why people can't tell what is going on, and in that vacuum the unscrupulous move into the void with their every step rationalized by gilded lies. There's a reason why we tell children not to take candy from strangers. An equally good rule in life is that if someone tells you that it isn't going to hurt, it probably will hurt like hell. The third rule in life one should follow in the oldman's handbook of hopeful cynicism is that if anyone tells you that it's for your own good, it's probably for their's.

Is that delightfully optimistic enough for you? On the contrary, my experience has found that the more skeptical I am of other human beings the more happy I am myself. Not only am I fooled less often, my own actions gain a clarity and confidence of purpose that would be impossible if I went around doing something as foolish as actually believing what people said. Even people who have no intention of lying will often confabulate (tell tall tales) in order pretend to know more than they do. Others will quite honestly argue from ignorance or prejudice that black is white, and that B is A, because they heard it somewhere. As P.T. Barnum once said, no one ever lost any money underestimating the public's intelligence. Some dishonest souls will loudly sell you a bill of goods and then shrug when you call upon them to explain the shortfall in the case they argued so passionately before. They were passionate certainly- about taking you in. The older I get, the more I long for the code of Hammurabi. There's this neat clause in there supported by Persian culture: public lying is a death penalty offense. If only we could get that kind of values back into the mainstream! (Now my Republican roots are really showing)

This sort of deception does not arouse in me existential doubt however. Remember? I've spent my whole life harshly testing myself as much as possible against a variety of academic, conflict-oriented, personal, and organizational challenges. I know how to win. I know how to prevail amidst doubt and uncertainty. I know how to call my own fouls. This sort of confidence is rare in a world where people first take as an assumption that we should believe in what others tell us, and then test truth by examining their credibility. Instead I believe in myself, and then test the truth by examining how well I stand up to the harshest rigors I can contrive to face.

A Neo-Darwinian ethical "survival of the fittest" epistomology is what I call it. My dad would have called it being harder on yourself than anyone else, and then demanding high standards. So I don't know if anyone is listening, besides those friends and family I've clued in to where I'm wasting copious amounts of my free time. It doesn't matter. Like always I'm doing this for me. This is another chance for me to become better than I am - in writing, in argumentation, and in ideas.

But I was curious if anyone WAS reading at all, so I enabled comments. We'll see. Right now it's even odds no one ever comments. ;-)


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