Bertrand Russell above is invested in conveying something meaningful. His speech is measured and exact. He pauses rhythmically. Let’s focus on these pauses, briefly.

In a discourse between a speaker and an audience – why pause?

  1. To judge if the mental model matches the words just spoken, and adapt accordingly.
  2. To construct and connect the next thought.
  3. To find the most audience-palatable means of conveying that connection and thought.
  4. To breathe, and gauge the impact on the audience.

Fine, and what does the audience do during a pause?

  1. Append the last thought to the mental model created out of the narrative so far.
  2. Judge whether the ideas presented so far are sound and whether it’s worthwhile to continue following the speaker.

The last bit is troublesome: if the presented ideas are rubbish, it’s in the pauses between thoughts that the audience decides to shut the book, or leave the conversation, or close the browser tab.

YouTube commentators deny the judgement of whether the ideas are worthwhile by excising the pauses in their speech. The product is a rapid-fired barrage of content. The result is a hyperstimulated audience – “entertainment”.

Why does this matter?

Entertainment is all well and fine, but it isn’t the aim of this blog. The aim is to produce original thought, to generate value, to maintain an intellectually honest conversation with the paper.

If I simply present two dissimilar ideas and link them in a novel fashion: the end result is a hyper-stimulation of sorts – shallow, valueless entertainment. It’s exactly what Youtube commentators produce above. It’s *interesting* and perhaps exciting in some way, but none involved – myself or the 3 SEO bots – are larger humans having read it. Without critical thought and a fought-over insight, the post is without value.

The ‘intellectually honest discourse with paper’ bit wasn’t a side remark: a discourse is what it is, and it ought to be of quality.

An acid test I’ve discovered for the quality of a discourse is whether the participants leave both having discovered some new insight they did not have previously. There’s a number of ways a human argument can go wrong:

To come to such a place, there’s obstacles to overcome. The two most prominent in my mind right now are:
1. Ego. “Hahaha, look at me, I’m so smart, I proved you wrong. Take that.” Instead of truth and logic, the conversation degenerates into logical fallacies and conversational terrorism (http://www.vandruff.com/art_converse.html) fueled by the need to be right, to feed the ego.
2. Timidness. “Well, everyone has a right to their own opinion, and I don’t agree with you, but I respect your right to have it.”
It’s by a spirited and merciless defense of an idea that its true flaws and limitations can be discovered. With a vague or timid defense, only limited insight can be gained into what exactly is wrong, what exactly can be prodded further.

A good conversation is a fighting of ideas, with as much humanity (emotions, egos, agendas) suppressed as possible. Because when two humans fight on behalf of ideas, then by a stout application of intellect, some new insight or idea is discovered. Light is shed on a flaw or misconception of the original ideas. Value is gained.


So this blog must follow that acid test: in order to be valuable, and not simple entertainment, a post must be rigorously intellectually honest. By following that standard, I can hope to produce something meaningful, something of value – not just entertainment.

Post scriptum:
Writing cogently is incredibly difficult. The above is the sixth draft of these thoughts, and it still subpar. It’s very obvious that I’ve overestimated my writing abilities. This blog’s early history will be filled with subpar articles. It’s only through a disciplined schedule of shipping words that I will improve.

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