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comment by Quatrarius
Quatrarius  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Wired | Sam Harris and the Myth of Perfectly Rational Thought

i was thinking a few seconds ago and i'm going to call these people "thought daddies"

a thought daddy is some guy (they're almost always guys) aged >30 with a college education, generally white (or off-brand white) - they can be gay, but they aren't normally, and the crucial part is that they're all writers or scientists. if they're a scientist, their specialization basically doesn't matter at all

because all thought daddies have big thoughts about the whole world, and they write so many books, and they know why everything sucks so much (there are no optimist thought daddies)

and science fetishists cluster around these people because they're just opinionated turbonerds with power, as opposed to them (the powerless ones)

i don't understand why cynicism means you have to take people at face value when they say they have all the answers - when somebody tells you "i'm the rational, right one and the people that disagree aren't logical," doesn't that set off some alarms? why are these people exempt from questioning? just because they say they're right? because they confirm the beliefs you already have? i'll never understand that

was freud right all along? is it a father figure thing - they fit the dad mold so well, they're so comforting with the answers, sometimes they have beards

i guess it doesn't matter too much in the end

tacocat  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    there are no optimist thought daddies

I counter with Stephen Pinker

nil  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Pinker might be optimistic, but in a pretty naive way. His method is ignoring the problems. He's very much an advocate of business-as-usual. There really isn't a lot of wiggle room in his philosophy as he (the thought daddy) has already figured out exactly how the "mind" works and therefore his political prescriptions MUST be correct. Christ.

tacocat  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I was just pointing out that he exists. He seems like the USA Today of armchair academic philosophers who philosophise outside their area of expertise

Odder  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Dude did you see how he wrote a book on the Enlightenment despite having a presumably high school AP History level of knowledge on the subject? It went over poorly.

nil  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I thought so too, until Bill Gates declared it his favourite book of all time. Clearly you can be a billionaire yet remain very ignorant of certain things.

Odder  ·  273 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I mean yeah, I wouldn't trust Bill Gates on history either. He could potentially not remember who the main combatants were in World War 1 and still be good at all the things he is.

tacocat  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

No and based on your statement I was assuming it was a history. I'm disappointed it's not a history of hundreds of years of European history based on a class he took in the sixties. I was expecting this

But serious and starring Immanuel Kant, the Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton

Odder  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Nope! Pinker is just that rare idiot who actually managed to fall for all the propaganda they fed us in school while still somehow being aware and intelligent enough to remember or care about it.

Quatrarius  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

that's a good one

goobster  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thought-Daddy checking in.

Only difference between you and a thought-daddy is caring about something enough to research it. Once you become informed on a topic, then you are the daddy, and the newbie is the disgruntled one who wants their untenable idea to be considered equal to anyone who has actually bothered to educate themselves on the subject. (See Megan Fox's new archaeology show, where she proudly claims to have no education - or interest in educating herself - about a deep field of constantly evolving knowledge. Because what... she's pretty?)

And Michael Pollan is an excellent, positive, and upbeat Thought-Daddy. (The Omnivore's Dilemma.)

And yeah... I realize the irony of being a thought-daddy while dismantling your thought-daddy idea. It's one of the benefits of the gig. =>

Quatrarius  ·  273 days ago  ·  link  ·  

i'm sorry, but you've misunderstood the concept slightly

i'm talking about the wave of public figures that, in general, speak outside their area of expertise and often have weird fan cults

it's not just "somebody who knows things", because that's just an expert

kleinbl00  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thought Daddy checking in.

It's a pernicious cycle - you're curious about the world, so you think about it and research. Then you form opinions. Then you have a conversation about something and you espouse that opinion. Because you've thought about it and they haven't, you become "someone to ask questions of." Do it enough and eventually people come to you with questions you haven't thought about. Then, to please your friends, you do your research on the spot and attempt to provide reasoned guidance. Before you know it, you've become an authority.

It's reassuring to think "that's okay, they'll only stick to their areas of expertise" and true to form, I go out of my way to say when I don't know something. But I also know that espousing ignorance about something solidifies my authority when I profess knowledge. When I take pains to lay out my bias, I convince myself that I'm giving a qualified opinion. But I know on some level that laying out some biases gives my audience permission (encouragement) to disregard any biases I may not be aware of.

I don't do this shit for money. I'm not qualified to take it. The Internet has been encouraging me to write my memoirs for fifteen fuckin' years now but sweet holy jesus nobody wants to read that shit and I sure don't want to write it. But the fact that I don't consider my own experiences worthy of praise doesn't stop people from asking me for life advice about all sorts of shit they should be asking a psychologist or counselor.

And I try.

(didja notice how the last paragraph is a painful exemplar of the paragraph before?)

If I believed my own press more, or if I was interested in a public-facing career, or if I hadn't decided 15 years ago that "blogger" sounded too much like "leper" for me to have much interest I would have been one of those wannabe Jordan Petersons or Sam Harrises. I mean, I can see there from here. Learning is like slapping your hand on a Van de Graff generator. Talking publicly is like jumping in a giant box of packing peanuts. They stick to you. If you like it, you become a thought daddy. If you don't, you become a cranky-ass curmudgeon on some internet backwater.

Odder  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree but I don't think it's just science fetishists who fall victim to this kind of bullshit. I mean, look at Jordan Peterson. He's gained a massive following of mostly twenty-something males with no direction in life, mostly by virtue of being a fifty-something male who has a direction in life and isn't shy about it. Shame about the whole bigotry thing he's got going or he might be an inspiration.

I think there's just a subset of people at any given time who are in a vulnerable place in their life, and as a result are more susceptible to bullshit that provides them with easy answers that they want to hear.

galen  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    i don't understand why cynicism means you have to take people at face value when they say they have all the answers

It doesn‘t.

The „New Atheists“ and their superfans were never real cynics. They‘re ideologues who like to play the smart one while spouting their special brand of tribalist hate.

Jolly_Giraffe  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

"why are these people exempt from questioning?"

How is Harris exempt from questioning? The Wired article is clearly critical of him and it's not like they are breaking ranks either. Lots of people have been critical of Harris and similar public intellectuals.

Quatrarius  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

exempt from questioning by their fanatical fans, not by outsiders

tacocat  ·  275 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The fanatical nature of their fans would be your answer to why they can't be questioned