05 January 2018

Intellectually Honest Link Sausage Platter

First, a short note for the entertainment industry and its various hangers-on and commentators:

If you review a work, and you've been provided with documentation that the purported "author" is one or more of a self-deluding narcissist unable to acknowledge third-party contributions, a selfish bastard claiming a third party's work as her/his own without attribution, or just an egotistical lying sack of sh*t regarding credit for co-creators, it would behoove you to mention this in your review… especially when said "author" has invited consideration of the issue with public statements regarding authorship and contributions (and even moreso when those public statements are themselves ghostwritten and internally inconsistent). You don't help the credibility of your review or the source it appears in by pretending that this type of context either doesn't exist or is irrelevant to the review.

This minirant has nothing to do with the Wolff/Drumpf "book"/gossip column. It's about works of avowed fiction… not works purportedly of "nonfiction" that are so inconceivable to a rational mind that they can't be accepted as coherent fiction or indeed coherent narrative of any kind. It was, instead, "inspired" by multiple reviews of multiple works (both printed and audiovisual) that have appeared in the last ten days or so. The general issue is called "intellectual honesty," you undereducated boors… and it matters.

  • On the "free speech" front, Germany has implemented some restrictions on online speech that don't pass First Amendment scrutiny… but then, there's no such thing as a hardcore, bright-line rule that does. The First Amendment is a standard, not a rule — that's what makes dealing with it so difficult, especially to advocates of alles in ordnung. Like radicals of all types. Like computer systems. Like advertising aggregators. Like management gurus and stock-pickers. All of which explains a great deal of the problem with online speech: Suppressing the "bad bits" requires both human judgment and trust in (and backing for) the humans exercising that judgment by organizations answering to the mythical gods of "Economic Efficiency." Nothing less than clones of top management will do for that purpose, and more is probably required; of course, top management doesn't want that because the clones will want top management's jobs…
  • Then there's the issue of museums. Whom to charge for admission, and whether whatever (admittedly difficult) decision is made in the face of general governmental disdain is appropriate. And whether to have them at all. Or what belongs in a "museum" in the first place.
  • An interesting piece on medical/health quackery leaves one wondering — as a good scientist might — whether there are boundary conditions beyond which having all the best soundbites and buzzwords is no longer a marker for self-defeating lack of humility. If there are, I haven't encountered them yet. Historically, the problem has come when those pushing back against questioning from nontraditional sources have allowed their own self-interest in power and economics to get in the way of the inquiry. Too often, that's what is happening now, even — perhaps especially — when the scientific inquiry has adverse financial/entitlement implications for entrenched interests. "Climate change denial" is just one obvious current example; there are lots of others, such as the handgun industry's historical (if often subtle) suppression of research on ranged nonlethal force, the opioid crisis, the Laffer curve