Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams

Anonymity When Dealing With Controversy

The Federalist Papers were written and published under the pseudonym "Publius" so that the arguments would be evaluated as arguments, rather than disintegrating into an attack on personalities. It worked, and they were quite persuasive, though there were arguments against published in the same papers. It's a good technique, especially in the current culture, where racists continue to assume that particular arguments are reflective of skin color, and that "no real black would say X" (as CNN put it).

As you can imagine, a blog dedicated to exploring argument and understanding, and the problems that arise from it, would be a good time to be anonymous. "Scott Alexander" ran a weblog called 'Slate Star Codex' which had long discussions on argument, understanding, misunderstanding, and generally, how our brains get tricked. He's a psychiatrist, a profession which frowns on patients knowing much about the psychiatrist, because that acts as a detour and a barrier between the patient and the doctor and makes the journey to mental health harder. That was another reason he was anonymous.

The New York Times decided to do a story on this famous blog and... well, read it from the horse's mouth. Those of us, like me, who have had pleasure following the blog for years are now left without it, and we know whom to blame. The New York Times, bastion of ignorance and poorly-thought-through articles, gets the credit. Read the New York Post.
Tags: anonymity, argument, understanding

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