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Link: nourishing obscurity: [summary] ten points to put you off your breakfast.

Speech2There is much that is sad about James Higham's linked post, but perhaps nothing sadder than this:

"You can see from the blogosphere that everyone with a computer has his own 'take' on events and isn't really interested in anyone else's, except insofar as it supports his own conclusions."

Is it true? I hope not entirely, though there is certainly a grain of truth.

Months ago, I set myself the task of visiting political blogs of opposing views and trying to engage in debate. I called it my "smash the goldfish bowls" experiment, as I pictured each blogger as a solitary fish in a bowl. I didn't achieve much. One or two idealistic young chaps engaged with genuine pleasure but mainly it was, as James fears, a dialogue of the deaf.

Can we at least hope that in posting our views on the internet, we are laying ourselves open to be challenged? Can we at least hope that someone, somewhere may occasionally have a change of heart? And, if we can't, why do we continue?


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I visit as many blogs as I possibly can. In particular, I am always on the lookout for smaller blogs with quality content, containing views contrary to mine. One reason why I joined the excellent blogpower.

However, I have found that with many left of centre blogs, if you post a comment disagreeing with something and putting your own view across, they just ignore you. The blog author responds to every other comment in the post that supports his view, while neatly side-stepping yours, and fellow commenters do likewise. For this reason, when I visit many such blogs, I just read the posts but do not leave a comment. A pity really, as nothing impoverishes the quality of a blog's content more than when it discourages debate.

Dave Petterson

Interesting post, both of yours and James.

Personally I do blog just to get my views out but I'm more of a stirrer than a rebel. I'm happy to put my view forward and hope that people look at it and think 'Yep. That's true. I didn't think of that'.

At the same time I visit many blogs on my travels so I can get to understand others viewpoints and many times I have been torn between a long standing belief and a different perspective. Although I would agree there is a grain of truth in James post I believe that most people are good and just. If presented with information that makes them test thier boundaries they will do the right thing. Some can be swayed with a good point. Most will take a long time to finally give up a belief. Some however, will never change and no amount of reasoning will change them. Such is life. You do what you can and help those you can help.

James, however goes on about a much wider issue. One of society in general. I have similar beliefs but I don't believe they are related as much as James implies. Sure there are some links but imcompetance seems to be the main one. Sounds like he is just frustrated. He will get over it. I commented that he was in a personal Hell so that is bound to help. ;o)

In the meantime although I don't class myself as a debator, I'm too lazy, I hope that I can at least ensure that my point of view is put forward and I know I do it on my blog as well as with my friends and others that have the misfortune to meet me.


Strong sentiments, Nigel. I read the posts that upset you. I can see why, and of course your bookmarks are your own. However, James is happy to acknowledge his concerns may be "irrational" (his word). I am sorry you are upset with him. Everything I know about James says he's a good man. I know little about you, but based on that little I would say the same goes for you.

There aren't so many good men about that you should fall out over such stuff.

Nigel Sedgwick

I used to have James Higham on my browser's bookmarks until recently. He is one of only three bloggers, so far, about whom I have had a serious change of view, to the extent of bookmark deletion.

This is very sad, as he is, I feel, a thoughtful and decent person, caring of the world and its problems, and articulate too.

I must admit that part of my dissatisfaction arose through commenting concerning railway safety, and his responses. The relevant main blog posts are as follows:

[high speed trains] best of luck on your journey

[french tgv] are you willing to risk your life

[technology] only as an adjunct to experience

[the precautionary principle] blind technophilia is ominous

It was, in particular, James's comments in the last of the above four postings that got to me most. I am willing to accept that he is something of a technophobe (he puts it as being a Luddite). I am (and I hope not deluding myself) willing to argue with him, in public and win or lose as it turns out. However, I find the vehemence of his last post (which was not aimed directly at me) as too lacking in rationality and fair debate. [Note: His enamorment with (what are very likely) conspiracy theories does not help.]

It seems to me that his occasional vehemence indicates somewhat that his own take is not that open, though I must allow him to do what he wishes with his own blog, and also have the occasional off-day (as he is clearly doing today, with his kitchen). I hope he takes special care, given todays warnings of being particularly (and unusually) accident-prone.

However, I too must be allowed private property: on this occasion of my bookmarks, and my opinion which (at least sometimes) I choose to make public. James, for me, is no longer quite worth the effort of the regular daily visit: whether that was previously for self-congratulation or self-improvement.

As for his post today, it's a mixed bag as with his previous stuff. The main problem is, as I have seen previously, that there is too much black-and-white, and not enough acceptance of, and not enough rational argument to determine the limits between: "a bit is OK, but too much is a bad thing".

It's that last point that I think also invades current governance, especially in the UK (try Dick Tavern's The March of Unreason). [Please note that I chose the review from Sp!ked as it is not adulatory; also the book is broader than just environmentalism.]

So perhaps I think James's mindset is part of the cause for at least some of the problems he identifies.

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