12 May 2006

Tool, Flaming and Falsifiability

Well, I’ve been flamed and by, some definitions, engaged in a bit of flaming myself, over at Thought Mechanics. I do tend to take the bait, that’s true. But for crying out loud, all I wanted was a decent debate about the relative merits of Tool’s new album. But it’s reached the point where if I put up a post saying ‘come on, what happened to the debate’ I will have lost, in so far as that will elicit another response from the idiot Stefan, who will conclude that I have to have the last word, that I am a smart-arse trying to prove that I am smarter, and that he has won. So instead I will back off, because there is no longer any point. He will, of course, conclude that he has won because he has ‘shouted me down’ and I have given up. There is no possibility of 'winning' against - or countering, or responding to - such arguments.

Every viewpoint should meet the basic criteria of falsifiability. It should admit the possibility of counterexamples. If, as in the case above, everything that I do or say will prove my opponent right - in his view - then there is no longer room for any debate, and his view - not mine - is shown to be inadequate. Objectively speaking, he has lost. And I am not a smart-arse for saying so - it may be that I am a smart-arse, but for different reasons - because his argument has defeated itself.

I know that I argue in detail, at length, and that I try to do so persuasively. This does not, in fact, mean that I believe that I am right and you are wrong. One black swan will disprove the theory that ‘all swans are white’; I’m looking for the black swan in your argument, and hope that you will do the same to mine.

As far as the Tool debate goes, I’ll not go back until someone else has posted something worth responding to. In my last post I quoted Oscar Wilde:
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.

Of course, this too can be falsified. It just seemed to encapsulate the general tone of the debate well…

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