Future, Present, & Past:

~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.

Oυδεὶς άμουσος εἰσίτω

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

please ask the New York Times to not risk ruining someone's life in exchange for five minutes' worth of "scoop"

I was deeply sorry and not a little alarmed to find Slate Star Codex entirely subtracted from the internet, with the exception of a post explaining why, to wit: that the New York Times was planning on blowing Scott Alexander's cover by publishing his full name.

Scott has real and very non-trivial reasons for wanting this not to happen, some of which I sympathize with deeply and personally; some of which I just think are obviously good reasons. He's a psychiatrist, and he doesn't want his patients to be able to look up his blog. He has enemies, and he doesn't want them looking up his name and address. Whatever the NYT thinks it has to gain in a little momentary journalistic frisson will be tremendously outweighed by the disastrous effects on Scott. I can't come up with any guess about what part of the public good they think is being damaged by Scott's pseudonymity, and I suspect they can't either. Scott, on the other hand, has a very good idea of what would be damaged by making him easily identifiable.

The delphic imperative is Know Thyself, not Make Thyself Known. I don't know that Scott thinks of himself as a philosopher, but his work -- exemplary in eschewing easy answers and asking for rationale and evidence while remaining in touch with human suffering -- is fraught with implications for those who do philosophy, and his blog's disappearance is a brutal blow to the overall intelligence quotient of the web. Seriously, the entire internet is several points more stupid with the deletion of SSC. If there is a kindness quotient, or a fairness quotient, or a sense-of-humor-in-the-face-of-grim-reality quotient the same is true of them. I have explained somewhat more about why I would think this elsewhere, before. Scott's fostering of an online community in which decency and capacity to listen to each other charitably across (substantive and deeply-felt) disagreement has not been perfect (otherwise there would be no enemies with whom he prefers to remain pseudonymous), but it has been amazing, and far more successful than, I'd conservatively say, 70-90% of the rest of social media.

Please go sign the petition asking the NYT to do the right thing.