Online discussion ennui

I used to blog at Internet Commentator but have let that pretty much lapse. The principal reason for neglecting it was the overwhelming sense of ennui which had begun to descend (almost) every time I considered any kind of internet commentary, whether by blogging, or even just commenting on websites. This ennui stems from a growing awareness - thanks to discussions here and posts at blogs such as Overcoming Bias - of both my own capacity for bias and - from all sorts of online discussions - of how tenacious and irrationally held many entrenched beliefs are.

The key implication of the former insight is that it's worth checking for over-confidence in the correctness of your opinions and your assessment of the opinions and motivations of your opponents. It's not so much that I'm embarrassed by my blog postings between 2003 and 2006 but I have had cause to revise my opinions on some issues. I don't think that I was overly uncharitable to those with whom I disagreed and if anything my cynicism towards political "activists" has even deepened, but I do think I could have tried harder, say in the case of Iraq, to find the best possible argument against my position as opposed to taking on the median argument or a biased interpretation of a better argument.

An implication of the latter insight is that most online discussions are futile and a wasteful use of precious time and energy. It's so easy to get sucked into a discussion, let it occupy a lot of your thinking and achieve nothing at the end of it save the pointless satisfaction of besting your opponent for the benefit of some hypothetical (and probably non-existent) "neutral" observer. It's not that I seek to restrict online discussions to an echo chamber populated by those with whom I already agree, far from it. It's just that I don't have any interested in getting sucked into debates with those who have entrenched opinions on the matter. Such entrenchment is mercifully rare here so I do hope to get involved.

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Welcome aboard, Frank! What

Welcome aboard, Frank!

What we're trying to do here in the DR is precisely to engage ideas and positions, so I hope you stick around and enjoy our free hosting ;)

Thanks, Brian. I'll do my

Thanks, Brian. I'll do my best!

I do think it's an interesting format you're trying here and I hope it does work out...