I find myself between laptops at the moment, and a lot of the drafts, notes and internet bookmarks I use to inform this blog are currently unavailable. Consequently, this month’s entry will be less about cynicism with footnotes, and more about some of the general thoughts and fears that govern my approach to this blog.
I rely on these because I’ve come to realise that, quite frankly, I haven’t a bloody clue about anything any more. That’s not to say I ever did; it’s just that these days I’m willing to admit it. I’m wary of falling victim to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, and dedicating yourself to avoiding it is a sure-fire way to knock the confidence out of anyone.
Committing something to words and sticking them on the internet where they can be remembered (or, more likely, lost and ignored in all the noise) for as long as the internet lasts is a daunting idea. There’s a lot of stupidity out there, uninformed, prejudiced, and mistaken. I’d hate to think I was adding to it.
While I’d love to speak freely and change my mind over the course of conversations (or even blog posts), I’m also aware that people can be selectively quoted, misinterpreted or misrepresented. We can say what we like, but we have no control over what others hear.
Another issue is the fact that we can change our minds. Sometimes cognitive dissonance will lead us to defend contradictions or ignore unpleasant realisations about some of our cherished notions, despite the mounting evidence that shows our thoughts to be misguided. Assuming you can accept that you believe in something that’s wrong, and you should really change your mind about it, what happens to all those former proclamations you made? Will people still hold them against you?
We change (and if you want to get technical about it, almost every cell in our bodies gets replaced, and the connections in our brains change as we learn and age too). I’m fairly certain that the person I am in my 30’s is not the same as the person I was when I was 20, just as the person I was when I was 20 was not the person I was when I was 5. If I acknowledge this about myself and use it to explain (or even excuse) things I said or did, I must do the same for others.
Ideally, I’d take a scientific/skeptical approach to life in general as well. I take science as the process of acquiring knowledge or models about how the world works, based on reason and open to testing or modification according to the evidence. Skepticism is (for me) a filter that allows me to keep an open mind, but not so open that any old bullshit could fall into it. When the facts change, I would rather change my mind than keep hold of a bad idea.
So when I’m blogging, all I can say is that if I’m going to make an assertion, I want to be able to provide a source for it. If I haven’t a bloody clue about something, I’ll only write about what little I know, or why it confuses the hell out of me, as part of the process of creeping towards an understanding. And if I find I’ve written something that’s incorrect, I’d like to think I have the chance to correct it – no harm, no foul.
So that’s what this blog is: me, still trying to figure out how the world works.
Because more and more, I realise I haven’t a bloody clue.