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October 17, 2008

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How about the all-time great, now better than ever:
This time it will be different

Another good candidate may be revealed in the following Dostoevsky quote:

"If someone were to prove to me that Christ is outside of the truth, and it were truly so, that the truth was outside of Christ, I would prefer to remain with Christ, rather than with the truth."
[http://books.google.co.uk/books?ct=result&q=%22Christ+is+outside+of+the+truth%22&btnG=Search+Books]

Substitute 'Christ' for your favourite deity/belief system. This was the epistemological line I was not able to cross during my christian journey. Others may however, and once it is crossed, there may be little that can be done to rescue that person (other than perhaps pure shock and awe at the reprecussions of such a departure from reality). If this is not the root of a 'dark side epistemology', it is certainly the pinnacle of it, the final lie that must be accepted to justify all the ones that came before it.

An interesting contrast to that is C.S. Lewis (through one of his characters): "I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn’t any Narnia."

I agree with Thom Blake: "Everyone has a right to their own opinion" is a defense against unreliable hardware. Your opinion is wrong so I must kill you and take your women, or even just your opinion is wrong so I must repress you.

For a long time, I've had problems with phrases that treat Pride as a good thing. i.e. "Take some pride in X" "Where is your pride?" "Have you no pride?"

I realize that in the past, Pride may have had many positive evolutionary values, but in modern times, we have more efficient and accurate ways to test for usefulness and prowess among our population.

There are two of these Generic Defenses, iterations of this species of logical fallacy, that I've found particularly vile. They may collapse into one. First, the extension of "tolerance" to assertions, e.g. "Be tolerant of my creationist beliefs", which means "My creationist beliefs are immune to discourse or thought: they command respect simply because they are my assertions," but disguises itself in the syntax of a honeyed pluralistic truism like "Be tolerant of people who hold opinions that aren't yours."

The other is the notion of false balance, which is a palatable and pervasive trope of people who are talking nonsense, e.g. "There are two sides to the dinosaur debate: Some scientists believe in dinosaurs, and others think God has put fossils in the ground to test our faith in Him. Isn't it interesting to consider the arguments of both sides? I guess we'll never know the real answer!"

That stuff drives me mad.

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