Sunday, February 9, 2014

Specificity versus Generality

The same person who asked me about "Lewontin's Fallacy" in the comment section of my post on Canadian Health Care also asked me a much more open ended question, followed by one that is kind of in the same field. They were as follows:

1) Why do your topics seem to address very specific issues as opposed to large groups of issues. For example, a refutation of a single race realist instead of refuting all of race realism?

2) What political party did you used to affiliate yourself with, and why do you not affiliate with it now?

As I said, these two questions are kind of intertwined, but I believe I can generally answer the second question by addressing the first one.

It seems generally to be true that my topics deal with very specific issues as opposed to general schools of thought. Instead of attacking any specific political party, I specifically address accusations made against Canadian Health Care. Instead of attacking all of radical skepticism, I specifically address topics like global warming (and, although I haven't made a post about it on my blog, water fluoridation). As the Anon pointed, instead of refuting all of race realism, I initially only addressed one race realist. These are all partially as a result of personal interaction -- that is, I made the posts because I had personally encountered the specific debate of those topics -- or a result of chronos. This being said, there are deeper reasons for why I only address specific topics on my blog as opposed to entire schools of thought.

When someone learns the scientific method, they begin to see that it can be applied as a general discipline to many practices. In every day life, it's possible to apply the scientific method in either simple decision making or even as a type of theory for actuary when going shopping for things like skin care products. When doing this, you learn that you can almost never make simple generalizations about groups.

I'm one of those people who believe that groups, in a social context, are illusions. They're mental barriers that associate some people with shared interests and values, but in the end, there are only individuals. This being said, if I were to make a sweeping statement that "the Tea Party (and its members) are ridiculous," I would be ignoring the fact that within that "group" exists a broad range of people with different thoughts and ideas. Individually, however, I can make proper assessments.

Political polarization in the US: The mammoth and the ass.
This isn't the only reason I don't dismiss entire "groups" of people. It's also due to the fact that, at least in my own eyes, I'm not so conceited and closed-minded so as to think that in all cases and at all times, one mindset is better than another, or that a mindset is, with 100% absolute assurance, dismissible and idiotic. If I were to call Democrats idiots, that's dismissing their existence and mindsets in all cases, probably based on only one or two incidents. This coincides with applying the scientific method, because when you use the scientific method, you can't just say "liberals are stupid." You have to look at a situation, examine the suggestions, and find, with all honesty, what is the best resolution to that particular situation. In America, a Democrat may be correct in one place of debate, but a Republican may be correct in another. Issues need to be observed individually, not by generalizations and stereotypes.

This is why I address specific issues. I like to observe different topics of debate, analyze them, collect data, and draw conclusions not from a partisan line, but from the perspective of somebody who actually wants to get things done the way they should be. This is why, in order to answer question #2, I dropped my affiliations with my previous political beliefs.

As I said in my comment, I used to be a minarchist, but for the sake of ease, just label my previous self as being libertarian. Of course, there is much confusion over the libertarian position, and where on the political spectrum they lie, but that only adds to the difficulty of things. While assuming a political position such as this, whenever I observed a situation, I would often find myself asking what the "libertarian solution" to that situation was, not the "best solution." If I skipped that question, I would often times find myself coming to conclusions that would violate, for example, the non-aggression principle. My views of free speech are a sterling example of this (I take an ancient Greek approach to it, such that freedom of speech is allowed but to the extent of public disturbances). The resulting cognitive dissonance was concerning.

So eventually I figured out that declaring partisanship will often just lead one to being intellectually dishonest. Yes, I know, there's nothing special about being an Independent or an Indeterminate, but I feel like all of this needed to be explained.

Of course, this doesn't make me unbiased. Every human being on the planet, I'm willing to bet, is affected by the values and principles they were raised on, and the decisions they make or positions they take are influenced by those things -- "where you stand is based on where you sit." This is inevitable, as it's a part of human nature. All I'm saying is, I'm not afraid to challenge my values if it means finding a better solution. As my dad would say, in this sense, it's very easy to be correct.

This is why I don't have partisan affiliations anymore. It dismisses the scientific method, leads to intellectual dishonesty, and is far too dismissive to be of any practical use.

It's also rather dangerous; in my post on "Lewontin's Fallacy," I came very close to "dismissing" all of race realism, and this resulted in high traffic to my blog from people who were foaming at the mouth, ready to defend their positions, even at the risk of completely ignoring the post they had a contention with. That post is now my most popular, exceeding my second most popular by several hundred views.

Similarly, if I made a post entitled "why anarchists are wrong about everything," I could expect high traffic as well.

I have a busy schedule. I have things I like to do, and life is too stressful to get caught up in these debates which are so polarized that nothing is ever accomplished. Besides the fact that it's dishonest, offensive, and impractical to be partisan, it's just not worth it based on the backlash you'll get from people who take labels as the be-all, end-all definition of a person's identity, personality and concept.

Thank you very much for reading.

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  1. You claim to have a heart in the fine arts, but it seems to me that you also have a deep love for science and objectivity. Something to think about.

    1. Sure, I love many things, and my public identity is that of somebody (according to what I've been told) who is well-rounded; however my private identity suggests that I can only express myself through the arts.

      I have a lot of interest in the sciences (both biological and social), but I find it difficult to express my personality through such objectivity. Some people can, I can't.


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