Go Read Merchants of Doubt

25/06/2020

Merchants of Doubt, a 2010 book written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, is a must read. As one of the testimonies on the cover of my copy says, if there is one nonfiction book you read this year, it is the one to go for (obviously try to read more than one, but make Merchants of Doubt a priority). It follows a number of stories that mar the history of scientific progress by telling them from the perspectives of actors we often don’t hear from in the modern “debates”: the scientists themselves.

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Defunding the Police and Changing Focus

21/06/2020

There is a post going around at the moment that is supposedly meant to paint the police in a positive light during the recent global protests again police violence towards native peoples and people of colour. Honestly, it really sounds like the author (unknown, at least I’ve not seen a name with it) is telling the population to submit to power because… it’s power.

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Trump Calls Antifa A “Terrorist Organisation”

01/06/2020

Does it surprise anyone that Trump’s rhetoric has labelled anyone involved in the protests and riots in the US as a “terrorist”? That isn’t hyperbole, that is the implication of him trying to designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation, even though he can’t actually do that on a whim despite how he’s acted during his first term (yes, first, there will probably be a second even after this).

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Politics Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Like the Planet

30/05/2020

I’ve made the observation before that a lot of what we consider to be political issues are, in fact, a collection of other issues given a controversial spin that generally leads nowhere but a breakdown in discourse and understanding. The main example I used at the time was that abortion was a healthcare and women’s rights issue, not political, and certainly not religious. The most impactful on a global scale is, of course, climate change.

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Report Truth, Not Views

23/05/2020

The idea of journalism being an adversarial “pillar of democracy” is laughable, as I have written a few times on this site before. One of the books I am reading at the moment, Merchants of Doubt, provides examples of how the “fairness” and “balance” aspects of journalism, however desirable in theory, are corrupt and abused in practice. As “conservative intellectuals” of the Internet age love to say, facts don’t care about your feelings, folks.

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The Purpose of Science

21/05/2020

Controversial opinion on a site with “anarchist” in the name, but I don’t think science should be commercialised and portrayed as a product for consumers. Scientific research and exploration should transcend material goals, particularly monetary ones, and should strive to reach a forever receding horizon of knowledge.

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Is Renewable Energy Not the Capitalist Dream?

19/05/2020

I am currently reading Merchants of Doubt, a 2010 book written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway about how a number of global issues have been corrupted by a small number of “experts” and powerful special interests. The topics covered are quite varied, from smoking, to environmental concerns like acid rain, to Reagan’s Star Wars plans, etc. Probably the most important one is climate change, which I have not reached yet, but it’s an obvious one. But why? The free market loving capitalists should be flocking to support renewable energy, not because they give a shit about the planet, but because it could be the freest market ever created.

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Invoking 1984: Chomsky and Silber

27/04/2020

I always enjoy it when people turn to George Orwell’s 1984 in a debate. It must just be the interviews and videos I stumble across, but in a fair number of them they do so from a position of ignorance about Orwell himself and/or in a way to smear their opposition despite them being the founts of questionable information. Words have always been louder than actions in “democracies”.

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Ignorance, Instruction and Rhetoric

14/03/2020

I am partway through Daniel DeNicola’s Understanding Ignorance: The Surprising Impact of What We Don’t Know, and while it has been interesting (if, at times, stumbling over seemingly simple questions as philosophy often does), there are a few lines that have really stood out for me. Lines that instantly made me draw connections with other works and ideas, prompting some questions I thought worth exploring.

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Anarchism and the Neutrality of Technology

15/02/2020

The more varying anarchist literature and essays I read (which is, admittedly, not even that much overall), the more I realise that, beyond the central theme of “opposing” all forms of authority and hierarchy, anarchism only has one other uniting feature – it can’t really decide or agree on much more than that. One such field is that of technology, with anarcho-primitivists and crypto-anarchists essentially being on opposite ends of that particular spectrum.

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