How do we know what we know?

Why do we believe what we believe? How do we decide what is true, and what is important?

· internal consistency (details of the narrative agree with each other)
· external consistency (details of the narrative agree with information previously verified)
· insider details (information available only to an authentic source)
· dialog and dissent (narrative welcomes questions and challenges; fosters better understanding among divergent opinions)
· awareness of objections (narrative recognizes legitimate counter-arguments and seeks to refute them)
· nuance (recognition that a proposition may hold true in general and still admit of exceptions)
· the human voice (an intangible quality that may include a distinctive personality, awareness of ambivalence, self-analysis and self-criticism)

The internet is anarchical, and therefore makes great demands on the individual user in terms of critical thinking skills. How do we know to trust a site? We compare information from multiple sources, listen to different analyses, learn to weed out irrelevant input and compare the picture with what we know from our own previous experience.

With the traditional media, this is all delegated to the editor, publisher, producer, or university. Often we have to do this, because the material is specialized or technical in nature, or because individual contributors don't have the credibility to reliably provide the information we need.


Originally posted 2004.


Behold their shining liberal utopias.

They were the smart ones, the enlightened ones, the ones with all the answers. They were going to show the way for the rest of us. Their wise governance was to be the model that would inspire emulation across the country and around the world.

So, are we impressed yet?



Fifty governors walk into a bar ...

If you take 50 random people off the street, and you want to find out which ones are alcoholics, invite them all into a bar and buy them each ONE drink. And then watch to see what happens. Because some people can't stop at just one.

Those 50 people are the 50 state governors. The COVID-19 crisis gave them their first taste of unchecked, raw, 200-proof power. And we saw which ones got drunk on it.


Recent posts.

facebook and youtube and twitter are ACTING like they've got something to hide. That's the thing. That's what they don't get. You may or may not have had an opinion about HCQ and C19, you may or may not think Stella Immanuel is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. But when the tech platforms suddenly come marching along in jackboots and disappearing articles and screaming about MISINFORMATION!!!! - they you've got to think something looks suspicious. They are showing with their own actions that there's something there.


A lot of young people and wanna-be young people came to Portland from small towns out of state, and bought into the hipster myth. Their conservative old towns and churches and families weren't cool enough for them. They deserved better. So they set about the task of making over themselves - and the city - into something ever more exciting, exotic, glamorous, and dangerous. And we've seen the result.


My observations about debating. (1) All of us have a filter in our brain, like the spam filter in your email inbox. What looks like junk, gets filtered out. If they are programmed to filter out your message, all the facts and logic in the world will be of no avail. Their thinking will not change until they update their spam filters.

(2) Visibility is the key thing. The left used its influence to exaggerate its own numbers, and to keep conservatives believing they were few and isolated. When this illusion collapses, the left's power to shame disintegrates.

3) At the end of the day, people go by experience. When day-to-day experience conflicts with the accepted narrative strongly enough and consistently enough, the narrative will have to go. People can only watch riots and Bible burnings for so long. At this point, a coherent, articulate alternate narrative will help them make sense of their world, and will be welcomed.

(4) Putting all of these factors together, what's going to win the day is for all of us to keep speaking out, courageously and clearly, and putting the lie to the leftist establishment's castle of illusion.


"Stay home, stay safe." Because if we could come out of hiding, we might learn how many more of us there are. And then their spell of fear would lose its power.


If I convince myself that most people are ignorant bigots, then I get to feel "special" just by not being a bigot.

If I believe the other guy is a nazi, then I only have to be 1 percent better than a nazi to be the good guy.


You put a whole population of law-abiding citizens under indefinite house arrest, sooner or later incarceration is gonna lose its value as a deterrent.