Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dalrymple on Leading Questions

Some excellent thoughts from the good doctor:
“Do you care about the health of the planet?” is a question not quite in the class of “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?,” but it is approaching it. As it turned out, reading further, the health of the planet meant the health of the people on the planet, with a little biological diversity mysticism (the new paganism) thrown in. “Our aim is to respond to the threats we face: threats to human health and wellbeing, threats to the sustainability of our civilisation, and threats to the natural and human-made systems that support us.” The saintly editor was vouchsafed a vision, though expressed in the first-person plural: “Our vision is for a planet that nourishes and sustains the diversity of life with which we co-exist and on which we depend.” Hands up, then, all those in favor of spreading as widely as possible the threats to human well-being and of eliminating all forms of life but our own. 
It must be a terrible thing to have such boring thoughts, not occasionally but repeatedly, if not constantly, and feel obliged to express them. 

The last point is something I reflect on from time to time - most recently while standing in line to order at a restaurant counter, and listening to some boorish buffoon talking at full volume about insipid nonsense to his two friends. Truthfully, the two friends seemed a little uncomfortable at the volume, or at least the visible unpleasant looks and enforced distance the people nearby were applying. Though since they chose to spend time with our voluminous subject, maybe they didn't mind, and it's just me applying the false consensus effect.

One of the things I use to try to avoid getting annoyed in these situations is to reflect that I have to hear this clown's drivel for 2 minutes. His friends have to hear it for 30 minutes of a meal. But he has to hear it all the time, even when alone, even when in total silence. What a horrifying thought.

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