Guerrilla epistemology

Adapted from some of my comments on an article at OpEdNews.com, leaving in the redundancy from multiple comments.

Vantage Points

People often see things from a vantage point which seems strange to me. This is not just a right-left thing, since I am almost certainly far to the left of many, and I am often have views at variance with those of the left. (This left-right distinction is always a simplistic way of looking at the world anyway).

Understanding a Complex World

The more I read, opinion and interpretation disguised as fact, the less I think any of us are able to understand the complexity of the world. Some can tell a plausible story, some can tell their story in an elegant way, and some can augment that with scholarly references. Nevertheless for any position, however well articulated, there will be others, equally articulate, taking an opposing stance. They can’t all be right, but there is no guarantee that any are.

I suppose this is just a restatement of some form of skepticism.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius

Covert Operations and Head in the Sand

I am always perplexed by those who fail to see the 9/11 elephant in the room. False flags are the modus operandi of the shadow government. I am pretty sure that the historical precedent for these sorts of deceptions span millennia. Some can accept historical accounts of deep state operations remote in time, or in remote theaters, but can not fathom that to covert operatives, the theater is irrelevant, and people are expendable regardless of where they are.

Ruthless mercenaries or ideologues have few qualms about killing foreigners, brutally, in large numbers. They have no compunction when it comes causing large numbers of their own to to be sent off to kill or be killed in foreign lands. Why in the world would they hesitate to do the same on their own soil?

Counter objections such as “someone would have talked”, “they could not keep a secret”, “they would not be so bold”, “the government is incompetent” have been well rebutted by others as rather lame debating points.

With 9/11, the forensic evidence for atypical explosive demolition of two towers, and classic explosive demolition of a third which was not not hit by an airplane is extraordinary strong.

Many progressive writers ignore this aspect of the political world. It means that their analysis is woefully incomplete, inaccurate. I won’t speculate as to their motivations to ignore or to denigrate as conspiracy theorists those others who do think is vitally important to address these covert operations.

Reading the Entrails

Everyone reads the entrails a bit differently it would seem, even on the socially progressive side of values and belief. It is all entrails.

Telling a Good Story

Some tell a better story than others. One might think he/she is following the evidence, others think they are puffing smoke, and that is not even considering what those on the other end of the political spectrum might think. I remained underwhelmed in general with the human ability to make sense of the political world. I include my self in this.

Determinants of Belief

To me, the clear implication of this is that all belief depends to a large extent on prior belief. This is of course recursive. I can not see how any thinking being could operate apart from this principle, nor do I see how any “intelligent” machine could escape it as well. Of course there are other factors, emotional factors, social factors, and other things, but in the end, we can not reason without taking our prior belief system into account. It both enables and constrains how we assimilate new ideas.

Understanding a Complicated World

With respect to truth, the more broadly I read, and I do read broadly, the less I think any of us are particularly capable of understanding the more complicated aspects of the world. This is independent of political, religious, or other belief system. I do not believe any groups or individuals have a monopoly on understanding. In fact, it is my strong suspicion that we all fare pretty badly in that regard. Some cling to their ideas more strongly, valuing their own opinions more than those of others. This is all some sort of arrogance, or perhaps some neurotic defence mechanism, affecting a large percentage of us, myself included.

Anyone who thinks they understand current political events is delusional and not to be trusted. I mean “not to be trusted” in terms of their judgment.

Divination

I think that for a large number of reasons, we are doing not much better than the diviners who read chicken entrails. Of course, a person cannot live with that level of uncertainty, and will draw some boundaries about that which they think is most likely, and that which is most unlikely. Unfortunately, some people mistake their limited understanding of events for the omniscient one’s own truth, and act accordingly.

Guerrilla Epistemology

I have been trying to articulate these ideas in writing for years now, with no success. I am now filling a notebook with ideas on this, and may turn it into a website. How about “Guerrilla Epistemology?”

Opinions Do Differ

Take any number of people at random, and ask them for their opinion on something political, religious, or some other complex topic. You will probably find that some agree on some points, but it is unlikely that all will agree on all points. So, logically they can not all be correct. It does not follow that any are correct in whole, and perhaps none are correct even in part.

Telling a Good Story

Any number of people can tell a good story, plausible and well-articulated. It does not follow that the story is correct.

Hold you Views Lightly, but Keep Your Values

This sort of thinking of mine does not serve as an intellectual basis for strongly held opinions, although I am as opinionated on some topics as the next person. In addition, I have some firmly held values that I try to keep at the core: honesty, compassion, kindness, fairness, equality, brotherhood, freedom, and the golden rule. Going from there, things get a little murky at times, trying to figure out what will advance these values, and more broadly, where the truth lies.

Political Views and Certainty

With regards to certainty, you can be anti-war, and probably get a pretty good idea of who the war mongers are. You can be anti-prison-industrial complex, and be pretty certain about the soundness of your position.

On the other hand you can speculate on what some leader will do that is bad for the average person, and what he will do which might be good, and be on shakier ground. You can look at the evidence for right-wing vote rigging, as produced by progressives, and look at evidence for left-wing vote rigging, as produced by right wingers, and find that the contradictions are glaring. Some go with the party line and condemn according to party loyalties. Others, such as myself, who read broadly across the political spectrum, admit to no certainty on this.

Very Intelligent People Routinely Disagree

You can take in the words of Pepe Escobar, The Saker, The Duran, Moon of Alabama, John Pilger, Justin Raimondo, William Blum, David Swanson, Chris Hedges, Paul Craig Roberts, Mike Whitney, Robert Parry, Peter Laveille, Michel Chussodovsky, Abby Martin, and so on for a few pages, for any topic, and find that smart, well-informed people with good intentions disagree on so many things, yet each argues their case so expressively. Again, they cannot all be right. All can be convincing.

Why is this so Hard to Understand

I don’t know much of this makes sense to others though it does to me. Most people give me looks of incomprehension when I make such “epistemological” suggestions to them. It is obvious to them where the truth lies, and they know what it is.

Judging by the comments at OP Ed News, and some progressive columnists, I am not alone in my thinking.

Denigration of the Other


I read a lot of left opinion and a lot of right opinion every day (a simplistic distinction by the way), and there is a lot of anti-war, anti-police state, anti-military-industrial-financial complex thinking in a both camps.

One thing the right is agreed upon is that the left are snivelers, boneheads, libtards, spawn of Satan, you name it.

One thing the left is agreed upon is that the right are boneheads, fascists, corrupt, evil, …. and so on.

They Can’t All be Correct

There are any number of people of any political orientation who can eloquently justify why they are right, and the others are all wrong. Logic says that they cannot all be correct, and there is no necessity for any to be correct, in part or in whole.

In the US (an outsider’s perspective by the way), the political polarization, and the idiocy, know no sectarian lines.

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