Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jonah Lehrer has an interesting post on the heuristic benefits of mixing it up by making online social contact with complete strangers.
A political scientist, a professional empiricist and intellectual urbanite, makes a new discovery: talk to people, on the web.

The most pathetic piece of writing on that site I've ever read. And the post Lehrer discusses makes it even sadder. Farrell, realizing his mistake, digs deeper.

commenter qb
 A similar attempt at self-improvement gone patronizingly wrong.
Farrell
oh god – that is in fact the post that Lehrer links through to, which I had not read (stopping with Lehrer’s own argument). Don’t think it invalidates the underlying point (that it is good and enlightening to read people writing and thinking from very different perspectives), but it does point to the ways in which this can go horribly, horribly wrong if these people are treated as funny/quaint/weird inhabitants of some human zoo.
What can it mean that he's discovering, if that's the word, that "it is good and enlightening to read people writing and thinking from very different perspectives."

Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s presence on the Supreme Court is not just the result of intelligence, hard work and luck, but of the common recognition that there's a need on the court for minds affected, colored [shaped? built?] by the experience of womanhood. Ginsberg's experience is bounded by a thousand other things, but she's a woman and Farrell is not. Perspectives matter. And this is a discussion of experience not biology. If he's admitting something similar now -for the first time?- not in the context of a discussion of representative democracy and the Supreme Court but Twitter, what does this say about the underlying logic of his interests? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't argue that female judges are only a political necessity. I assume he's just too self-absorbed to see the crossover, but who knows.

Farrell is living an absolute fantasy of his own universalism. It may not be any longer a fantasy of white male universalism, or white heterosexual universalism, but it's still class-based, and based on the professional boundaries of academic life. He's just admitted that his life is himself and his friends talking about others. And though he may have heard their voices and their words he didn't listen to them. It was all just data. The only perspective that's mattered is the one he shares with fellow professionals. It goes to his general preference for fantasy: his philosophy like his choice of literature is science fiction.

Henry Farrell is the product of no culture. His views [As a scientist? Unlike Ginsberg?] are not restricted by his past decisions and those decisions can not themselves be the result of limited, individual experience. Experience is constitutive of nothing. There is no possibility that he is anything but first cause. He is outside. He is free.

He's lying to himself first, then to the rest of us.
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adding details I didn't add before. The post Lehrer links to
Why I Stalk a Sexy Black Woman on Twitter (And Why You Should, Too) 
It all started one day when Anil Dash pointed out how many black people use Twitter. I realized most of my Twitter friends are like me: white dorks. So I picked out my new friend and started to pay attention.

She's a Christian, but isn't afraid of sex. She seems to have some problems trusting men, but she's not afraid of them, either. She's very proud of her fiscal responsibility. She looks lovely in her faux modeling shots, although I am surprised how much her style aligns with what I consider mall fashion when she's a grown woman in her twenties. Her home is Detroit and she's finding the process of buying a new car totally frustrating. She spends an embarrassing amount of time tweeting responses to the Kardashian family.

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