Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

“That's No Fair! You Know More Than I Do!”

Neil Levy has written a philosophy paper “Open-Mindedness and the Duty to Gather Evidence; Or, Reflections Upon Not Reading the Volokh Conspiracy” on why we should ignore experts we disagree with. I won't quote it on the grounds we should ignore it, but I realized his attitude was summarized more succinctly by James Blish in his story “Watershed” (found in The Seedling Stars):

Dimly, Capt. Gorbel saw where Hoqqueah was leading him, and he did not like what he saw. The seal-man, in his own maddeningly indirect way, was arguing his right to be considered an equal in fact as well as in law. He was arguing it, however, in a universe of discourse totally unfamiliar to Capt. Gorbel, with facts whose validity he alone knew and whose relevance he alone could judge. He was, in short, loading the dice, and the last residues of Gorbel's tolerance were evaporating rapidly.
On the other hand, Captain Gorbel was an obvious racist.

I suspect that the major beneficiaries of an attitude of “ignore experts you don't like” will be racists and fundamentalists


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