Monday, February 16, 2015

Low-information rationality and agnotology at Crooked Timber.
Discussing Israel
by HENRY on NOVEMBER 7, 2004 
One of the things that I find most depressing about discussions on Crooked Timber and elsewhere is that it seems to be absolutely impossible to have a civil argument about Israel and the Palestinians. I’m now very reluctant to post on Israeli or Palestinian politics, as, I suspect, are my co-bloggers (and very probably bloggers elsewhere). For some reason, it seems to be difficult for supporters and critics of Israel’s policy to argue reasonably with each other – or at the least, the unreasonable voices very quickly swamp the reasonable ones. Why? And why do arguments on this issue become so much more heated more quickly than on other issues, given there is at least some potential for agreement (barring the crazies on both sides, most people seem to be prepared to accept some kind of two state solution)? 
NB - lest this post become an example of what it’s seeking to criticize, I’m going to be especially ruthless in deleting comments that I think are unhelpful or that lay the blame all on one side in an overheated way. 
Update: to be clear about my deletion policy for this post – if all you have to say is that (a) the treatment of Palestinians is part and parcel of the plot to oppress brown-skinned peoples everywhere, or (b) that Palestinians are inherently untrustworthy and all bent on destroying Israel, or anything even vaguely along these lines then please take your comments as already stipulated – whatever their intrinsic merits, they’re part of the dialogue of the deaf that I’m complaining about, and will be deleted.
Snide claims to distance, pretension to objectivity, the air of superiority and refusal to engage, to question foundational assumptions even as to basic logic: the contradictions of liberal ethnic nationalism. Except for a glib reference to lebensraum that I wouldn't make now, my arguments haven't changed.

Their beliefs have changed but not their methodology, and the result is unacknowledged drift.

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