Monday, November 27, 2006

Deep thoughts

re the title- it's relative.

Thought #1: Recently ran across an exceedingly apt Aristotelian aphorism*, which I'm trying to wear out from overuse:
It is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it.

Thought #2: An open question -
I was talking with an old friend yesterday, trying to entice her onto the citizen journalism bandwagon. From a goal-oriented perspective, it did not go well. She said (echoing this MJ article but more pessimistically) -
"Why bother gathering facts? it's abundantly clear that people don't make up their minds based on facts, they just believe whatever they feel like believing, and keep on voting for corrupt candidates - look, even 'cold-cash Jefferson' got re-elected."

I placed the blame for this on the mores of the media (which, were she to join said bandwagon, she'd be helping to reform) -
"The standard he-said-she-said reporting is what's gotten us into this mess - if the press did its job and informed us, and didn't use false balance to maintain the postmodern pretense that all "realities" were equally valid, people would think and act and vote more rationally...and that's a delusion that I'm not ready to give up."

My question for you, dear thoughtful, reflective, not reflexively hostile reader*:

Is there any good, empirical evidence that it's not a delusion? or do we just take on faith, with no awareness of irony, that evidence-based "discipline-of-verification" journalism makes for a (substantially) more rational populace?

Related: Scott Atran's
... no convincing evidence presented that [scientists] know how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life and society other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based.

And if you wanted to collect data bearing on this assertion, where would you look, and how would you tease apart causation from [other reasons for] correlation?

Apologies in advance to Jerry Maguire, but: Show me the data. please.

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