The Manifesto

I’m tired of being lied to. I don’t like it when other people do it to me, and I really don’t like it when I do it to myself (by which I mean, when I fool myself into accepting as true something that’s false, or accepting as false something that’s true, merely because doing so matches up with my pre-existing biases). So I’m going to do something about it.

Henceforth, for the purposes of my posting and commenting on this site, I’m going to make a conscious effort to evaluate claims without regard to who’s making those claims.

If someone is bullshitting, and I find out about it, I’m going to call them on it, regardless of who they are or what position they’re advocating.

If someone is telling the truth, I’ll acknowledge it, regardless of who they are or what position they’re advocating.

In either case, I will be do my best to evaluate sources objectively, without regard to whether their statements happen to conform with my pre-existing biases.

Also, I will do my best to clearly distinguish between my statements of fact and my statements of opinion, and in the case of the former, to provide supporting information (like links to outside sources) so you can make your own evaluation of my conclusions.

I’m asking you, the readers of this site, to help keep me honest about this. If you think I’ve violated one or more of the commitments given above, say so, either in email or (preferably) in a comment on the item in question.

This manifesto isn’t really new, since I’ve been trying to do this all along. It’s called “being honest,” and I think most people try to do it, at least when dealing with themselves.

What’s new here is that I’m stating the guidelines explicitly, and publicly pledging to adhere to them, and commiting myself to take it very, very seriously whenever someone asserts that I’ve violated them.

Note that I will be using this same approach when evaluating users’ asserations that I’ve failed to live up to the manifesto. So to the extent you can provide actual evidence (for example, in the form of links to supporting sources, which naturally will be subject to the same sort of evaluation) rather than merely asserting that I’ve blown it, that will tend to give your words more weight.

Disclaimer: There is one form of bias I intend to preserve. In fact, I intend to strengthen it. It’s this: I will, as I said, do my best to evaluate the truthfulness of sources objectively. Before putting someone in the “demonstrated to be unreliable” category, I will perform a careful and, to the extent I can manage it, unbiased investigation of that someone’s truthfulness. But having once determined that someone’s assertions are unreliable, I’m going to be strongly biased against accepting that source’s assertions at face value in the future. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… er, um… won’t get fooled again.


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