Q&A with @L0m3z: Wages of Fear, the Rejection of Falseness, and Navigating Hell
Q: Mike Elias at Idea Market has written that low-status information and sources should be prioritized in the current environment, and in epistemic warfare, or info wars — whatever we’re calling things now — the ongoing battle is not against lies, necessarily, but the fact that most people don’t want to face the embarrassment of being deceived or being wrong. Along similar lines, changing one’s opinion to align with “the truth” might require allowing yourself to be changed, which can be painful.
I know you’ve said many similar things, so I was interested in hearing your thoughts on this, and also this 4Chan post, which suggests that certain people don’t look at information and ask themselves “is this true”; they look at information and think “will others be OK with me thinking this is true”?
A: Yes, I think most people do not have the time or capacity to sort out big (or even little) questions on their own. They outsource this work to people in their lives they regard as successful, or properly credentialed, or wise, or who otherwise possess some epistemic authority. This often just means taking on board whatever position prevails within the particular social milieu they find themselves. These are largely rote beliefs. And this is fine. We all do this to some extent. It is a fact of human nature, and I think it is perhaps naive to try to convince most people they should be “thinking for themselves.”
The concern for me is that our totalizing information stream–this kind of digital web we are all now stuck inside of (pardon the mixed metaphors) –– and the way that a particular kind of bugman epistemology flows through that stream and embeds itself pretty much everywhere you look – schools, churches, corporate boardrooms, sports, whatever – produces a single set of prevailing beliefs with no meaningful outside contestation. So what we might do, and amplifying “low-status information” is an example of this, is try to scramble that network as much as possible. Try to disrupt what counts for authority. Break-up key nodes in this reinforcing digital web somehow and return people to more localized, more dispersed kinds of authority.
The Q&A in its entirety is available here. I’ll be back posting at this blog soon, although the entire Second Power household currently has COVID, so ‘soon’ may be a relative term.