Saturday X • 28 April 2007

Flickrblockrs. Funny kids.

? Speaking of, why do some people/ inventions/ ideas fly?

1. Social structure (Your cultural capital/ cred, or, “ideas whose time has come”). 2. Quality / Merit (The “cream rises” argument). 3. Karma (The “the caste system is there for a good reason” argument. See #2.) 4. Power (The agent you hired does it for you, or your gun-penis-bank account is bigger than the rest. See #1.) 5. God (No comment.) 6. CHANCE.

Epistemologist of chance, archaeologist of self-deception, and deep self-promoter Nassim Taleb has a new book this out week. His project is to trace the ways we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we really do.

? Jack White, pasty and unrefined and exciting as usual. Is he channeling Eminem on a couple of levels or is it just me? Not that this ruins it for me.

? Larry Sanger, Wikipedia’s disillusioned co-founder, writes in Edge about the boons of Wikipedia’s egalitarianism and its revolutionary possibilities for reformulating common knowledge. Yet he also says Wikipedia is broken, both from a pragmatic perspective and ultimately from his realist position that, in the end, re-legitimizes traditional powerholders.

Wikipedia is the perfect vehicle for epistemic egalitarianism, since it allows virtually everyone to edit. [But] nobody really believes that reality is constructed by Wikipedia…. [T]he power to declare society’s background knowledge is awesome… political decisions are deeply influenced by that…. [T]he internet makes it possible for society’s background knowledge to be shaped by a far broader, inclusive group of people…. [But] if we reduce experts to the level of the rest of us…, we reduce society’s collective grasp of the truth.

? The TLS reviews I Am a Strange Loop, Hofstadter’s book on the science of (self)consciousness. Nice discussion of how investigating subjectivity is difficult for scientists, who work inside the ideology of objectivity.

? New Stuart Davis Show—an integral take on current events. Usually he’s hilarious, but this show is about Virginia Tech.

One Comment

  • MatthewK
    Posted 8 May 2007 at 4:42 pm | #

    Hofstadter’s book—though a couple hundred pages longer—roughly approximates a paper I wrote in my freshman year of college, after my second philosophy course.

    Coincidence? I think not.

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