(Photo by j zamora on Unsplash)

What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

Thou know’st we work by wit and not by witchcraft,

And wit depends on dilatory time.

—Othello II: iii.

Have you abandoned your engagement with the project of the enlightenment, liberty, and progress because you have grown cynical about the effectiveness of sound argument? When someone tells you you’re wasting your time arguing with them because argument is an illusion, do you have an answer?

Today, it’s popular to depict people as irrational puppets of charismatic leaders, drawn unwittingly along by the emotional…

Error-Correction Everywhere

Ruiqi Kong (Unsplash)

A Ministry of Truth is Impossible

There are insuperable logical barriers to systematically stamping out fake news and, therefore, to any project of large scale “mind control,” the kind envisaged in Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Orwell’s book is fiction, of course. However, many, such as Joe Rogan, suppose that such a fictional ministry is at least possible. They would accept that such a ministry presupposes the idea that falsehood could be determined on key issues. One key question is, could there be a ministry of fake news?

When people complain about the “pandemic of fake news”, they…

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Nineteen Eighty-Four Parallels

The most well-known dystopian novel of the 20th Century, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, featured a Ministry of Truth, the centre of mind-control, with tentacles sprawling over the news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The BBC recently expanded into education and wishes to “partner” with other major British institutions, such as the Royal Society. Ought one to feel uncomfortable with such an expansion and its potential unintended consequences? Could it herald a dilution of mutual criticism between such institutions that entered into such association, laying the groundwork, brick-by-brick for a monopoly on truth-claims?

One coherent…

Original artwork by Ray Scott Percival

Truth, Science, and Fake News

A mendacious conspiracy theorist posts a staged interview with a bogus researcher on YouTube claiming COVID-19 was intentionally released to sell vaccines. Some people believe this immediately and post to others, who believe the story immediately and pass it on. It goes viral. Posting such a fake report is unethical, of course. But is it stupid and irrational that people believed the fake report? How can we minimise…

Dr Ray Scott Percival

Author of the book The Myth of the Closed Mind and director of the documentary Liberty Loves Reason, starring David Deutsch F. R. S. and Prof. Paul Levinson.

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