Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 16:19:08 EDT
I think it's relevant to point out that some sort of skepticism towards
sources is healthy in this day and age.
We know that the CIA for example has engaged in deliberate, wide-scale
disinformation programs in many countries. We know it has created bogus
companies doing bogus things as covers. (This is not a conspiracy argument.)
If we know these things, I think there is good reason for a rational
intellect to wonder just how far-reaching such disinformation might be.
I think we are in the Orwellian Age of the Intellect. After hundreds of years
of living in empires (even With all the liberational effort expended!!), it's
hard to separate the "Big Lies" as Hitler put it from the small lies from the
Yet skepticism can become megalomaniacal itself, spinning you on your head
until you don't know where your ass is...
obviously logical consistency is not the only criteria for judging a
knowledge-claim, tho it is an important one ; we also rest upon
evidence-claims to validate those logic claims within the real world of
experience. This is necessary to ground us outside of complete solipsism and
And yet, since I WASN'T THERE, I still have to judge these evidence-claims.
Did the meter read .5 or did it read 7.8? Frankly, I may not have the money
or time to get the meter myself and check the reading!
Supposedly "repeatability" is supposed to be one of my hallmarks. This sounds
suspiciously like democracy encroaching upon truth. The more people who claim
something, the truer it is? Am I really supposed to believe this? As if
majorities weren't capable of being completely deluded? But further to the
point, since for me these are not really people but reports, am I simply
supposed to count the number of reports made in different positions and weigh
the one with the most reports? I see no logic to this.
I suppose "credibility" enters in when we are judging a source, but how the
hell do you take that out of a totally subjective criteria? (or should we?)
How do I keep from appealing to authority in weighing evidence? This is a
very difficult problem. If necessary, I'd rather appeal to the authority of
my desires, but as Rooney has pointed out, that's somewhat arbitrary : so You
desire it, so What? What about the Klansman who desires to bash in some
It seems possible the way we decide things is really more based on a
synthetic function than an analytic function with clearly articulated
criteria. I think as we "engage evidence", as we involve ourselves in
"radical listening", and as we LIVE IN THE WORLD, the more we do this, the
more these threads enter into us and begin to thread themselves, and begin to
self-sort. Perhaps what is important is to keep listening, keep feeling, keep
desiring, and to keep acting in the world in a committed way, and as we
engage the information available to us, certain synthetic criteria present
That's still not as elegant or satisfying as I would like, however. I'd
rather have discussions that have something more than "cuz I said so" at
their base or even "cuz I want it".