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January 10, 2006



First, am I ignoring the possibility that the truth is so inherently good as to outweigh any adverse effects it has? And if not, in how many other cases do truth and utility conflict?

I'd like to ask commentators to refrain from replying to these questions as I doubt that knowing the answers would benefit Chris.

John East

Truth has one overall benefit that trumps all of the other pros and cons you've listed. In those cases where the truthful (or otherwise) fact will be used to inform some action or strategy it's pretty damned important that fact is actually true rather than perceived to be true.

Back to the religious context, I'll accept the actual truth that a blood transfusion might save my life if I've lost a lot of blood, over the perceived truth of Jehovah's Whitnesses that I will rot in hell if I follow this course of action.


Sometimes it's better to believe the truth. It helps sort through the next steps.


Okay, I went to the edge list and read Ventner, and came back feeling very burned. What a pack of dumbshit genetics fairy tales pass for dangerous ideas. Wow, and Pinker suggested the question.

So, perhaps we need another dangerous question. Why do white folks (men, really) need to believe that stories that explain why they are so great are actually dangerous truths?

John East

Excellent piece by Ventner on Edge,

"We attribute behaviors in other mammalian species to genes and genetics but when it comes to humans we seem to like the notion that we are all created equal, or that each child is a "blank slate". As we obtain the sequences of more and more mammalian genomes including more human sequences, together with basic observations and some common sense, we will be forced to turn away from the politically correct interpretations, as our new genomic tool sets provide the means to allow us to begin to sort out the reality about nature or nurture. In other words, we are at the threshold of a realistic biology of humankind."

Watch the liberals squirm.


Do you think that the Americans and Australians gain by their patently false belief that their societies have no class distinctions? "Which Americans and Australians?" would be my reply.

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