An open thread until I get around to posting again.
In a recent post, here and on Crooked Timber, I remarked on the fact that hardly any self-described climate sceptics had revised their views in response to the recent years of record-breaking global temperatures. Defending his fellow “sceptics”, Crooked Timber commenter Cassander wrote
When’s the last time you changed your mind as a result of the evidence? It’s not something people do very often.
I’m tempted by the one-word response “Derp“. But the dangers of holding to a position regardless of the evidence are particularly severe for academics approaching emeritus age. So, I gave the question a bit of thought.
Here are three issues on which I’ve changed my mind over different periods
I started this blog about 14 years ago in mid-2002, when the world of the Internet was young. On a whim, I thought I’d look at the Wayback Machine which archived the site (then hosted on Blogspot) in July 2002. Amazingly, some of the links still work, and some of the posts are still relevant today. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone on the blogroll is still going as an independent blogger. I’ve been a bit slow lately, but it looks as though I’m the last of my kind.
A few updates on recent posts.
1. In my post on a better way of collecting fines, I linked to a paywalled article in the Australian Journal of Public Administration which I wrote with Bruce Chapman and others. Wiley (publishers of AJPA) got in touch and kindly arranged to make the article available free of charge. I had some trouble with the enhanced PDF version, but the basic one worked fine for me.
2. Hours after complaining about the conventional wisdom a Coalition win as a foregone conclusion I found a piece by Mark Kenny finally making the point that the evidence against this claim has been in plain view for weeks.
3. I was a bit disappointed by the discussion of my post on Labor and the Greens. Most of it consisted of arguments about the relative merits of the two parties, predominantly but not exclusively favoring the Greens (as I mostly do). The question for Greens supporters (and Labor supporters for that matter) is not whether their party is better but whether they regard the differences as being so great as to justify doing deals, implicit or otherwise, with the LNP. To my mind, at least, this would require identifying at least some major policy issues on which the LNP is preferable to the other left party.
Video autoplay, regularly described as one of the most hated features of the Internet, seems to be becoming more common. It’s unsurprising that sites should autoplay ads: that’s how they earn the money they need to serve. But news sites seem to have started autoplaying videos of inane commentary on the stories that they publish. Typically, they take a while to load, so I am usually halfway down the page when the computer starts blaring TV commentary.
Question: Why do news sites do this ? Surely it will just drive readers away, while people who want video will presumably go to sites that provide nothing else.
Answer: For the moment, at least I don’t care, since I have found a way to block them. At least for the moment, and at least for Flash, it seems to be working.
Former Minister Eric Abetz was in the Oz the other day, complaining that
How often, for example, have I had to put up with the tag of ‘religious Right’ or ‘far Right’, whereas you hardly ever hear it of the ‘religious Left’ or the ‘irreligious Left’ or the ‘far Left’ or the ‘extreme Left’ when talking about the Australian Greens or vast elements of the Australian Labor Party,
That reminded me that I needed to update my testimonial list with one from Michael Stutchbury, then at the Oz. It’s appropriately placed on the far right of the page.
OK, threading still doesn’t seem to work. See what you think of the other tweak (100 comments, first page shwon first)
It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.
I’m going to switch on threaded comments. If it works you can try it out here. I’m not sure what will happen to older posts.
Also, I’ve tweaked the settings to show 100 comments at a time, and to begin at the beginning, rather than showing the last page first.
Going through my settings in an attempt to block sockpuppet posts from a banned commenter (you know who you are, Mel!), I discovered that the WordPress setup now offers the option of threaded comments. Given the frequency of long debates between a handful of commenters, I think it’s an appealing choice, but I thought I would throw it open for discussion first.
Thinking about various interchanges on the Internetz, a great many have the frustrating property that, while they appear to be couched in consequentialist terms, some or all of the participants are defending claims that they actually hold for deontological reasons[^1]. For example, a follower of Pythagoras (who, apocryphally, forbade the eating of beans) might appear in a discussion about beans and claim that we shouldn’t eat beans because
* they cause flatulence
* bean production is environmentally destructive
* the bean industry is dominated by exploitative multinationals
The problem for someone seeking to counter these arguments is that, even if they are all refuted, the Pythagorean will not agree that it is OK to eat beans.
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