Saturday, 15 May 2004

Blog Post of the Year

It’s a little early to nominate entries for Best Blog Post of 2004, I suppose, but I think it will be hard to beat Mark Kleiman’s list of five epistemic principles for thinking about politics:

  1. Being aware of your own tendency, and those of your allies, to demonize the opposition.
  2. Being more skeptical of news that tends to confirm your presuppositions, and more credulous of news that tends to challenge them, than is comfortable.
  3. Trying to imagine how the people whose actions you dislike can see those actions as justified.
  4. Discounting somewhat, in figuring out how far you're justified in going to make sure your side wins, your subjective certainty that you're right. Given that means and procedures are immediate and easy to see, while outcomes are hard to see, this means giving more weight to means and procedures, and less to outcomes, than a simple decision analysis based on your current beliefs would justify.
  5. And still, in spite of your carefully-cultivated doubts, fighting hard for what you believe in, because if the people capable of irony allow irony to demobilize them, the fanatics will win.