Thursday, May 28, 2009

Voodoo History and Slow Time

to summarise david aaronovitch's fine book on conspiracy theories, then,
conspiracy theorists are losers,
who develop paranoia as a way to gain (or believe that they have gained) attention

you can detect a conspiracy theory by (at least these) two failings:
first, failure to apply occam's razor (principle of parsimony) in choosing between the official story and the alternative;
second, failure to develop falsifiable theories (i.e. insufficient self-criticism or adversarial argument).

Common other failings: ellipsis (turn a blind eye to inconvenient facts); repetition of early erroneoys data; beggaring belief ("there is no evidence" == "there is a cover-up").

on the other hand, "In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed", by Carl Honore, confuses speed with synchrony - the problem for socieity of time is the problem of synchronising disparate activities and places - wander, jitter and skew in a large system lead to inefficencies which are pleasant for humans, whereas the lockstep mechanism of clocks on all railway stations so that the UK became the first synchronous society was the real culprit behing the "sense of urgency" in modern society.....

I think we need to start a campaign for bad time-keeping

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