Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

If you celebrate it.  The festival used to be for older children and pre-teens in the US.  That might be the only group which isn't that keen on Halloween these days.  Or so I judge on the basis of my social media surfing, where dogs, cats, adults and tiny babies wear Halloween costumes.

Speaking of social media, Twitter and the like, it might be worth confessing on this BOO! day that using logic, looking at the evidence and treating everyone with preliminary respect (as a possible human being, goddess. god, elf or whatever) is not the way to win hearts and minds in politics, be they the traditional type or sexual or gender politics.  You need something different.

Chews on a piece of straw while meditating on that.

You need to appeal to emotions, you need to  show only the data which supports your argument, even if it is the only study in the whole wide world which does so (looking at you, David Brooks), you need to look at only the extreme opposite ends of distributions (like compare Mother Theresa with Hitler or Einstein with Paris Hilton in gender analysis) or simplify complex evidence in weird ways (add apples to oranges, divide by lemons and get bananas), and when someone points that out to you, you need to move the focus of the argument to something quite different (you know how this is done).

Or just blow your stack (how DARE you analyze data!).  That always works wonders.

The other stream of stuff I'm unhappy with is the Twitter phenomenon of talking about the way we talk about what we talk about.  The circles go on forever.  It's not that linguistic analysis, including linguistic power analysis, wouldn't be useful.  But the infinite circles are not useful, and they never lead to any concrete resolutions or practical policies.  For that we need to look at the infrastructure:  health care, education, housing, jobs, utilities, clean air, voting rights, honest electoral politics, properly regulated markets and so on.

That was today's rant.

For its exact opposite (and anti-Halloween) here's Hildegard von Bingen: