Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Tyranny of Anecdotes

Taki's Magazine
Remember the good old days when you’d only have one tyrant per country and they’d usually kill a few thousand people? Today anyone can be tyrannical and use their shrill screams to kill millions of conversations.
In The Tyranny of Clichés, Jonah Goldberg talks about how clichés such as “Violence never solves anything” trump logic and end debates despite the evidence saying the opposite. (He says violence liberated America from the English and also ended slavery.) The perpetually misunderstood Sam Francis has a similar take but calls it “anarcho-tyranny” and describes it as
a combination of anarchy (in which legitimate government functions—like spying on the bad guys or punishing real criminals—are not performed) and tyranny (in which government performs illegitimate functions—like spying on the good guys or criminalizing innocent conduct like gun ownership and political dissent).
There’s a third kind of tyranny with which the seemingly oppressed like to oppress us: anecdotal evidence. Where freak occurrences and exceptions used to be treated for the aberrations that they are, they now define policies and dominate discourse. Right now, Putin is using one dead orphan to justify a total adoption ban on American parents because his ego is hurt. To be against him is to want orphans to die.
Safety culture uses this tactic often. Thirty-four children in Ohio died in car accidents! Are you OK with that? Are you OK with a classroom blowing up? To be against booster seats for 7-year-olds is to laugh at the atrocities in Sandy Hook. No wonder Ralph Nader has a career. If you don’t pay his extortion fees, you’re killing kids. When you have the emotions behind “common sense” on your side, counterintuitive truth is doomed.
In a culture where a Liberal Arts degree is considered education and “Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent,” replacing data with propaganda is easy.
 Here are 10 totally random occurrences that tyrants pretend aren’t random at all:

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