Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Comments On Certainty

I love to read the comments on these Internets, as my constant readers well know.  Just a tip from the Tipster, most of you guys are way, way too sure of yourselves.  Internet comments usually feature a level of certainty that is wildly inappropriate.  

Most of the comments that we read come in the areas of the social sciences in general, politics, various cultural manifestations, sociology, history and the like, and all of these areas are gray, gray, gray.  There's no solid ground there people, no foundation for such bell-like clarity.

These comments, unless you are reading mathematics websites (good for you!), concern the subjective regions of human enterprise, where there is no certainty.  And I don't care how unusually erudite and well informed you are either.  What you have read may have been produced with biases unknown to you; important insights may be contained in sources that have escaped your notice.

Or, you may just be wrong.

So take my advice.  Instead of sounding like a high-powered-jerk-off-know-it-all, put a little "perhaps" in your comments, put in a little bit of "maybe."

This, however broad and difficult your experience;

. . . however well read you feel yourself to be in the academic literature of any particular subject;

. . . however impressed you may be with the quality of your insights.

Keep foremost in your mind the words of the Lord Protector, Mr. Cromwell:  "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."