Tuesday, March 27, 2007

[unpopular opinions] why not, if they're true

This post is about the Holcombe Syndrome.

Whether you re studying the early Eutychians who believed the Logos preceded the Trinity or the 4th century Collyridians, [AD, not CE, which is not historically accurate], who offered cakes to the Virgin Mary; whether you are fascinated by the Persian Koh i Nur or why Ben Jonson was called Horace by Dekker, the most important thing is to approach them with an open mind.

Sherlock Holmes has always been a hero of mine for his pragmatism and open mindedness, his refusal to follow the majority opinion and for his ability to clear the mind of all prejudices and judge by what he observed, in the light of what he had earlier observed.

Miss Marple was always a hero of mine for her ability to see what was likely to be the case, shorn of all popular reputation or clever manner. If a man was of a type which could do murder and there had been a murder, then there was a likelihood that it was him.

I've just been making myself obnoxious over at Tiberius' site by countering climate-scepticism and the notion that moderate Muslims do not hold strong views and that 12th century thinking does not have relevance today. This flies in the face of popular opinion amongst the thinking class of blogger, which I'm more than comfortable with, as it is not germane to the issue of its essential truth or no.

Surely one should always seek truth, wherever it might be found, however many toes it might step on socially but it does condemn one to the outer shadows, where there is a weeping and gnashing of teeth. What can one do?

Just as the aeroplane disappearing into thin air over the Bermuda Triangle may have an elderly scientist aboard who is claiming it is not happening because it's not scientifically possible, so the argument over climate change, which is happening for the following reasons:

1] measurable records of atmospheric and temperature changes over the last decade showing a much greater fluctuation than the norm;
2] vastly too many humans, cars, factories, cutting down of forests, atmospheric experimentation by the elite [e.g. HAARP and Woodpecker] and coal burning in China and elsewhere;
3] simple observation - it's not just temperature rises but a shift in the seasons and the poisonousness of the atmosphere we're now breathing, coupled with strange goings on in the earth with more frequency than hitherto.

One can get tied up in a debate over whether CO2 is the result of warming or whether it's a minor fluctuation over some decades, a mere blip on the charts or whether this scientist or that is to be believed or not or whether Exxon has paid scientists to come out with sceptical opinions - these come to nothing against observation and simple logic.

Ditto with the comment by one commenter on Imams, paraphrased: "I don't know which Muslims you've been dealing with, James; the ones I know are not like that." This might be so but it doesn't alter what was said from what had been observed, for either of us.

When things are said in the English language, some of us have receptors and can decode the sounds into lexical meaning. "The Jews have no right to be in Palestine" does not present semantic difficulties - it seems to indicate that others of the faith are being exhorted to accept this point of view.

These opinions are expressed. So what should I do? Tell me what to do. In order to remain accepted by the thinking blogosphere, should I pretend they've never been said?

I'm always terrified of falling for the Holcombe Syndrome, which dislikes a factual snippet which doesn't accord with its theory and simply ignores it. Terrified of blind prejudice. Of dismissing the veracity of something just because I don't like it.


This is where the pursuit of truth is pure science - it has regard neither for fashion, theory nor prejudice - it simply takes what exists and deals with it. Surely that's what we should be doing.

5 comments:

Gracchi said...

James I think your attitude to the truth is commendable. I agree with you on climate change. On Islam- I think there are moderate Muslims who don't beleive in bombing Israel off the map, and there are plenty. There are also some who might call themselves moderate who do beleive in that. I think there are many different kinds of Muslim out there in the world and my only quibble is that we shouldn't treat them like they are all the same- no more than we would with Christians or Jews. Its a simple point, I think there is much more complexity out there and once you start examining Islamic history, theology and politics today that's what emerges, that complexity. There isn't really an Islam, there are lots of different Islams. Anyway that argument is going on nicely on my blog at the moment and I'm sure you'll put more in.

I do think your attitude ot the truth is commendable though- I always think that your blog gets a lot wrong but you are so open to ideas that that is going to happen but one of the best things about this blog is that openness. I never know any day what I'm going to read on Nourishing Obscurity- what I'm definitely not going to read will be the conventional wisdom. That's a really good trait because it reflects the fact that you think through everything for yourself and you consider arguments on their merits- sometimes we disagree but that's fine and I think the overall impression I get is of complete honesty and straightforwardness and that's why I like this blog even when I disagree with you (that and the fact that this must be amongst the most friendly blogs on the internet). Keep it up sir!

james higham said...

Thank you very much for your extremely gracious words and by so doing, you've simply confirmed in the eyes of any reader who peruses them just what a fine person and fine blogger you are. Tiberius.

Lord Nazh said...

There are probably millions of muslims who think 1) Israel deserves its homeland 2) terrorism is wrong and 3) Islam is a choice

Unfortunately they don't matter if they do not stand up to the ones that do think Israel should be killed off, terrorism is ok and Islam is the only religion. It does not matter if 3/4 of the community is against something if they don't DO ANYTHING about it.

"1] measurable records of atmospheric and temperature changes over the last decade showing a much greater fluctuation than the norm;
2] vastly too many humans, cars, factories, cutting down of forests, atmospheric experimentation by the elite [e.g. HAARP and Woodpecker] and coal burning in China and elsewhere;
3] simple observation - it's not just temperature rises but a shift in the seasons and the poisonousness of the atmosphere we're now breathing, coupled with strange goings on in the earth with more frequency than hitherto."

1) Temp change over a decade does not = global warming, otherwise we would have had global warming many times in the past few centuries.
2) This statement makes no sense. How do you (or anyone) decide how many people is too many? Currently something like 5-10% of the land is being used for the people. Seems there's plenty more room. Cutting down forests - bad, but no comment on the reforestation going on?
3) The atmosphere is better than it was just 40 years ago. The climate ALWAYS changes. And again, if you claim this is much different than before (and an epidemic) it has to be backed up with facts. Not the type of facts that Al Gore puts out or most climate porn.

Yes I don't agree with global warming or man-made global climate change. Until they can tie the SUV's and coal plants into the warming on Mars/Saturn et al and scientifically rule out the Sun, then the argument loses alot of credit.

And IF global warming were occurring and man-made, what would need to be done? Since we have no right to tell the undeveloped countries in the world to starve and die (and China will NOT go back in time) what would you do?

Lord Nazh said...

tag for you

Something you may like on CO2 vs what the UN tells you about CO2

james higham said...

Oh dear. The power of self-delusion. The sceptics really do believe what is clearly happening all around them is not happening. There's nothing can be done with such a mindset.