I’ve recently finished the maximal amount of time I’m willing to spend in school. Thus, I’ve been fairly bored as of late. So I thought, “why not start a blog?”
First off, let’s go over the name of this blog. My name is indeed Denver, from the Old English dena fær (dane fjord), indicating a place where the vikings would come into the British Isles.
Unfortunately, I was born with an inquisitive mind, often thinking about a whole host of issues that I had no business thinking about. I’m a computer engineer by training, a triathlete, have various food/drink interests, love philosophy, and listen to economics lectures in my free time. Needless to say, I expect this blog to be varied in it’s topics.
And while I don’t have a definitive topic, I do have a theme: common sense. This probably calls for a much longer discussion than I intend here, but my basic claim is this: getting at the truth is hard. It’s very hard. If you think that you can rationally consider opinions contrary to yours, you’re probably wrong. In my opinion, people can spend lifetimes arguing for complete nonsense (that’s probably a phrase you’ll hear often from me).
Thus, instead of trying to argue semantics, or construct some kind of logical framework, I instead ask myself simple questions. Does this make sense? How does this hold up to Occam’s razor? What is the probability that this is true? I think heuristics and appeals to previously held intuitions go a lot farther in determining “truth” than many of the common ways people tend to argue.
Switching gears for a bit, Scott Alexander opened up his blog talking about intellectual charity. How humans tend to dismiss ideas they oppose, and how we should overcome that reaction.
I disagree with Scott. Not because I think we shouldn’t try and be charitable to viewpoints we oppose. But because I think it’s impossible to be charitable in the first place.
Suppose I hold a bit of information. Now you come along and give me a new bit information that is in conflict with my previous information. One easy way for me to resolve these dissonant bits of information is to simply forget the new information, whatever it is.
So even if someone listens to an opponent’s argument without “dismissing” it. It is highly unlikely that they’ll take their opponents argument at it’s true value, simply because their brain isn’t going to be committing to the opposing argument as much as it commits to those arguments it already knows.
That’s not to say that no one can ever change their mind, obviously they can. Merely, changing one’s mind is much more difficult than we tend to give it credit for, and even then, people almost have to change their minds in irrational ways.
So that’s what you can expect from me. I’ll be just as irrational as everyone else, except I’ll try and be honest about it. Which is why I’m going to try and not waste your time arguing useless semantics, or making very strong generalized claims about abstract philosophical principles, but instead argue from specifics and concretes in a way that makes sense to me (which I hope would also make sense to you).