In Praise of Intellectual Discourse

14 09 2012

Unless you are completely unplugged and disconnected (in which case you would not be reading this now) you may have noticed the extra helpings of guano and compost that are currently being flung by nearly every media source. It’s called politics. You would think that a process which affects us all profoundly, namely how we are governed, would demand rigorous debate and concern for hard facts. Difficult decisions require sober reflection and as much good information as possible. Decisions which will affect millions of people also require compassion, empathy, and a broad understanding of humanity.

Instead we get propaganda, accusation, warped opinion, vague and ominous prophecy, posturing and pandering. Vote for them, and the world will end. Vote for us and everything will be all right. And the major news sources do little to critically assess this mud wallow. If they are not actively wallowing themselves (*cough* Fox Network *cough*) they are merely reporting poll numbers, as though gullibility was equivalent to veracity.

Fortunately, in this age of the Internet, anyone who wants to can filter out the noise and find sources of accurate information and intelligent discussion. It takes critical thinking skills and a good bullshit detector. Just because somebody posted it on Reddit doesn’t make it true. Even the NY Times is owned by somebody with an agenda.

But there are a lot of us out here who want to talk about stuff, and we don’t want the discussion muddied with empty rhetoric. We would like to form our opinions based on understanding, rather than hate and fear. We find it more productive to think with our brains rather than our guts. If someone makes an extraordinary claim (“Legitimate rape doesn’t cause pregnancy.”) we would like some extraordinary evidence to back that up. (BTW, it was recently pointed out to me that this claim is at least in part scientifically verifiable; if a man is raped, he does not get pregnant.)

I have a good number of sites and sources I like to visit when I have a moment, places I can go to read and be a part of stimulating discussions. One I have discovered recently and taken part in is called “Poor Richard’s Bloganac“, created by Rick DeCost, who I knew from a classy experiment in publishing called “Absent Willow Review” (and I insist that I am not prejudiced because they had the good judgement to publish, and then choose for their Best Of anthology, my short story “Chimera“). I am favorably impressed by the caliber of the submissions to the Bloganac so far, and hope that the site flourishes. We desperately need refuges from the hysterical nonsense that floods the media.




2 responses

29 09 2012

This is so true. Fox “News” is reprehensible. Thanks for the cool link to help us weed away the bullshit. I like what I’ve read there so far.

30 09 2012

Rigorous and free discussion of ideas, following civil rules of argumentation, analyzed by critical thinking and supported by verifiable facts, is the only hope we have of collectively pinning down this wibbly-wobbly, enigmatic state of affairs we call Reality.

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