[Link] "On hiding the source of knowledge" (Jessica Taylor)

by Milan_Griffes1 min read27th Jan 2020No comments


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https://unstableontology.com/2020/01/26/on-hiding-the-source-of-knowledge (a)

Also there's some discussion on the LessWrong cross-post.


I notice that when I write for a public audience, I usually present ideas in a modernist, skeptical, academic style; whereas, the way I come up with ideas is usually in part by engaging in epistemic modalities that such a style has difficulty conceptualizing or considers illegitimate, including:
-Advanced introspection and self-therapy (including focusing and meditation)
-Mathematical and/or analogical intuition applied everywhere with only spot checks (rather than rigorous proof) used for confirmation
-Identity hacking, including virtue ethics, shadow-eating, and applied performativity theory
-Altered states of mind, including psychotic and near-psychotic experiences
-Advanced cynicism and conflict theory, including generalization from personal experience
-Political radicalism and cultural criticism
-Eastern mystical philosophy (esp. Taoism, Buddhism, Tantra)
-Literal belief in self-fulfilling prophecies, illegible spiritual phenomena, etc, sometimes with decision-theoretic and/or naturalistic interpretations
This risks hiding where the knowledge actually came from. Someone could easily be mistaken into thinking they can do what I do, intellectually, just by being a skeptical academic.
We can distinguish, then, the source of an idea from the presented epistemic justification of it. And the justificatory chain (to a skeptic) doesn’t have to depend on the source. So, there is a temptation to simply present the justificatory chain, and hide the source. (Especially if the source is somehow embarrassing or delegitimized)
Noticing this phenomenon has led me to more appreciate forewords and prefaces of books. These sections often discuss more of the messiness of idea-development than the body of the book does. There may be a nice stylistic way of doing something similar for blog posts; perhaps, an extended bibliography that includes free-form text.
I don’t have a solution to this problem at the moment. However, I present this phenomenon as a problem, in the spirit of discussing problems before proposing solutions. I hope it is possible to reduce the accidental difficulties in sharing sources of knowledge, and actually-try on the essential difficulties, in a way that greatly increases the rate of interpersonal model-transfer.


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