For good or bad, the internet has been a boon to the mews and opinion media. True, there are very few of the ilk of Walter Cronkite reporting, or at least presenting the news of the day. Walter had integrity in the industry even if he has a bias. One could at least respect his opinion. So I look for sites that have intelligent writers. Notice that I did not say writers with whom I agree. If one only reads the reports that confirm one’s thinking or biases then one remains uninformed and truly unable to distinguish truth from lie. an important part of the process of learning is challenging what you believe. If you are familiar with the physical sciences as well as some of those social sciences that actually subscribe to the model of scientific enquiry, then you are well aware that the hows and whys of experimentation are often questioned rigorously. A great many results of the many experimentations have been called into question after failing the duplication process. It is a part of the need to affirm scientific knowledge that leads us to constantly question what we know.
If you reflect on the pseudo sciences such as political science, sociology, and some of the psychological sciences, as well as philosophy, then you know that such assertions as they may make are always on shaky ground. They suffer from the inability to prove their claims. Economics is one of those sciences which can prove some of its assertions by means of empirical data but other assertions are completely absurd and false. Economics, as a body of knowledge, has yet to thoroughly clean house of the deutritious of stupidity. Trying to popularize these pseudo sciences hasn’t helped their images as sooner or later the truth will out. The result is the collateral damage from untruths, non truths, half truths, and outright lies is severe. But then ignorance is always a crime against humanity.
So I make a habit of seeking new sources of information and opinion. Opinion cannot be evaded. Opinion is frequently loaded with bias. And opinion is often little more than ignorance hiding behind the mask of self righteousness. and my god, there are plenty of those people out there. As it is, I often stumble across the run of the mill stuff. Peoples thoughts, their plans for happiness or their general disagreement with the world. I may or may not leave a comment. If I do it will be something positive and short. When I run across a blog that is more substantial then I take an interest in what is presented. Now some of the people I have read are intelligent to a point, usually I can tell if they are out of their depth. They sound good but their writing reflects a certain lack of competence in that subject field. These people mean well, they just lack the necessary background to really understand their subject matter. One learns from them, there is always a lesson somewhere.
A few others are written by intelligent people who have a passion to express. The funny thing is that politics is like religion. If one is a socialist or a communist or a believer in democracy, one tends to treat its tenets as religious belief. It has been said that to be an atheist is to believe in nothing, but that is not really true. The use a Freudian term, we often compensate when we lack in some aspect in out lives. Religious converts are often over zealous in their faith and so try to convert friends and family. This often happens is science. When string theory came out in physics it was like a new religion was converted. Lately, that conversion has become something of by gone era as string theory has not made the leaps and bounds it promised. Ten years ago if you were a grad student in physics and in the string theory group you were watching your investment in time, money, and learning melt before your very eyes. Of course there are a lot of nice science blogs out there. I am amazed at how many different ways one can present the same material and still make learning appear special.
Back to the political and social side of the house. The problem with these subjects, unlike science, is that they tend to assume a top down perspective on human behavior. If all men are equal then they all act the same. They must all want the same things in life. All men are capable of governing their own affairs. But the reality of life suggests otherwise. Like the ideal of a free market were providers of goods and services compete with each other for buyers and buyers strive to make the best deal, very often as the number of participants rise competition becomes more and more stifled until some authority steps in and interferes with the free mark by issuing regulations and laws. Research has shown that when crowds gather in the streets and most of the individuals within these crowds are relative strangers to each other, that promise of anonymity gives vent to behavior of violence and destruction. When an individual feels that there will be no consequences to his action he may give way to violences, looting, and other acts of criminality he normally would abhor. Hence, political and social theories break down because they tend to state the general and apply it to the particular. However, the ideal is usually derived from the particular and generalized. Our idea of a normal and rational individual is based upon us, not some stranger we have never met and who may not think like us. If you are a psychologist conduction experiments on the need to achieve, what group of college students would you choose to best amplify your hypothesis? Students measuring in business. Do you think that would skew your results? If you wanted to show support for a politicalized system of fairness would you want business students, athletes, or social science students? Who would most likely the have more liberal attitudes?
I’ve read enough research, meaning experimental studies, from sociologists, education departments, and social psychology departments to know that these people are very weak on methodology. The average experiment is not well thought out, it tends to lack a more rigorous control of variables, lacks the true random choice of participants, and the actual administration of the experiment is mediocre. These people are idiots. They mean well and they want to do good but they lack the mental wherewithal to actually conduct scientifically controlled and valid experiments. Over in the political science camp halfwits and morons for they idea of science is to come up with a hypothesis and go searching for evidence that fits while ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit. Political theory proceeds from moral philosophy. The fun part of moral philosophy is reading the assertions made by these philosophers. The assertions are not always made on the best of premises, premises that may be only partly true or false altogether. And no matter how closely reasoned such arguments for the support of said assumption, it will always be false.
So back to blogs. As I have said in the beginning, I read a number of blogs that I disagree with in content. I make a habit of it, thinking that someone may v=have a new argument worth considering. Some are much better than others at stating their case. And sometimes I will make some comments, usually on points where they have failed to consider the import of their arguments. Perhaps they were generally ignorant of science or history or other subject and thus reached an incorrect conclusion. We all make mistakes, we all are ignorant on some subject or its level. But I don’t comment often as there is no profit in debating morons. If all you have is an angry and emotional rant without so much as a shred of evidence, let alone one single thought, I stop by the end of the second paragraph, if I get that far. The internet allows a great deal of exchange of ideas as well as the expression of rabid ignorance. Unfortunately there is far too much of the latter. Back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries men of leisure and usuall learning, had the time to take their world apart, so to speak, and converse with other individuals of similar situations. They exchanged correspondence and published tracts, pamphlets, and even books at their own expense unless they were in great demand by a wider array of readers. In a way, we have come back to that period and our choice of publishing is the internet blog (god, I hate that word). This also allows those who have little experience with the basic through processes to express their total ignorance in so often a savage manner. These blind followers are the real menace to society for they so very often act without thought of consequence. They are the crowd of supporters that go along with the lynching of ideas, the debasement of ideals for which their forefathers fought and died to defend. And when they pass the threshold of death leave little of worth or significance behind. These are the average population, they often mean well but live very short of their promise. These are the same people who elect or otherwise choose governments to rule over them. As the masses increase in density, the average man cannot be trusted to look after his own affairs the the exception man cannot be trusted to look after the affairs of the average man. What a conundrum.