A local skeptic friend of of some Vancouver rationality community members takes issue with how so many of us can keep up with epistemology, and laud SSC for its excellence in that regard, when according to him the opposite is true. So he's going to try convincing us, and I quote, "Scott Alexander is a pseudo-intellectual not worth reading." For the life of me, I don't know why, but a lot of community members are way more interested than I expected in seeing this happen. It's to the point there have been multiple requests to film the event, or have a web presence, for those who won't be physically present.
Since we'll be willing to field some tough questions, I'd thought I'd see if, curious or skeptical, the rest of you want to dig deeper or throw us some hardballs too.
The first speaker will be expounding on how SSC bungles history and philosophy in general, and the history and philosophy of science in particular, among other things. Feel free to ask questions about what general patterns he sees in what SSC consistently gets wrong in this regard, or what's wrong in particular he will use as examples:
- Were There Dark Ages?
- Book Review: Capital in the Twenty-First Century
- I Myself Am A Scientismist
- Book Review: Seeing Like A State
- How the West Was Won
- Against Murderism
For a long time I myself have felt SSC is subtly but crucially wrong about some discourse norms and memes which have become rote in the rationality and effective altruism communities, and stymie much intellectual progress in both. I'll be touching upon and dissecting on mistakes I feel were made in the following posts:
- Right Is The New Left
- How Did New Atheism Fail So Miserably?
- If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing With Made-Up Statistics
- The Virtue of Silence
- In Favour of Niceness, Community, and Civilization
- Guided By The Beauty Of Our Own Weapons
- Conflict Vs. Mistake
- Kolmogorov Complicity and the Parable of Lightning
- I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup
- Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism
- Can It Be Wrong to Crystallize Patterns
- The Ideology Is Not The Movement
- CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
While I can't speak for my fellow presenter, in the week between now and then I'm going to try to write up some posts responding to Scott at length, which should make it easier to ask myself more pointed questions. The event will be done in the style of a colloquium, so sort of a lecture that will field questions during and after the presentation. So questions posed in the comments will be answered during the presentation, which will be filmed and uploaded online shortly after the event takes place.
Please note you can ask us anything, but that doesn't entail we'll answer everything. In particular, begging the question of why this event is taking place in the first place, or why we feel justified in disagreeing with SSC, of the form:
- 'why are you interpreting SSC so uncharitably?'; or
- 'why do you think challenging ingroup shibboleths so is legitimate/valid/etc.?';
probably won't receive a response on the grounds the answer to those questions would be self-evident based on the cases we're trying to build, in addition to the fact such questions smell logically rude. But we welcome you all to ask away!