Tag Archives: Misfortune of Knowing

Links: Eating animals, Vitruvian man’s hernia, etc.

1. A small-scale livestock farmer says he’ll keep raising animals to counter industrial-scale livestock production, but he wonders if we humans shouldn’t outgrow eating animals.

2. A possible hernia in Da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man starts a biology lesson in how our human bodies have weaknesses because of evolutionary adaptation from earlier, non-vertical-walking creatures.

3. A commenter at The Dish makes a point about “epistemological” Original Sin — that is, examining one’s own ideas, actions, with the idea that these may be in error, that people are prone to error.

In other words – if I may be permitted briefly to mix religion and politics – Original Sin is a concept that liberals can embrace, from an epistemological if not a theological perspective. Perhaps after all it’s not something that should be “laundered out of our culture” … We need Original Sin as a restraint against our arrogant – and possibly evil – self-certainty.

4. Norwegians like watching unedited TV — boat trips, train trips in real time. I’m having a similar inclination these days: I like movies that have no plot, and PBS shows that have no interruptions (and also have lightly accented English by people cooking outdoors in windy locations).

5. The Misfortune of Knowing blog has a welcome fact-check on George Packer’s recent New Yorker article about Amazon’s influence in the book-publishing industry.

A fair debate of ideas

I wanted to share a great post about those who seek to ban books with messages they dislike. I particularly like how blogger A.M.B. said this:

If the mere exposure to new ideas is enough for those old beliefs to crumble, then its proponents should stop to consider why their beliefs aren’t more persuasive. In my opinion, an idea that can’t withstand a fair debate isn’t an idea worth passing onto the next generation.

This is an excellent point. Why would someone be afraid of an idea? If one disagrees with an idea, one ought to be able to explain why, with a reasonable argument, no? Rather than condemn ideas outright, as if ideas were so dangerous as to require putting them away on a high shelf, why not just rationally debate them? Do book-banners perhaps lack debate skills? Or do they seek authoritarian solutions to what could and should be democratic decisions?