Hi. I’m Todd’s new girlfriend. Luckily I met him in “real life,” where he is a sweet, considerate guy who respects a thoughtful argument even if its conclusion is completely opposed to everything he believes in. If he wasn’t, I doubt we’d be together.
I am a left-leaning liberal and a feminist. I think of labor protective laws not as “unfair” burdens on business, but as legitimate ways to secure a public benefit. I believe the environment is in serious trouble — to a large degree caused by human activity. Todd is concerned that science funded by government or non-profit organizations is compromised by the scientists’ incentives to falsify or slant the research, but for some reason doesn’t suspect the same when it comes to research funded by industries that could make or lose money based on their findings [Editor's note: False, obviously -- learn more at HealthFactsAndFears.com, which I edit]. Needless to say (since I framed it in that almost inflammatory way), I disagree with him.
I don’t think the “free market” would solve all our problems if governments only went way. While I do believe government should be limited and mostly decentralized, I think that there should be strong public regulatory mechanisms to monitor economic activities, mechanisms based on something other than self-interest. The other historical name for self-interest is “greed.” I think unmitigated greed has not historically proven itself to yield great public good and free societies. It has always been the liberty to pursue your greed (as one aspect of broad personal freedoms) within a democratic structure (i.e., non-economic collective decision-making) that has led to free societies.
Given my beliefs, it is very fortunate that I met Todd in “real life.” Had I encountered him on his blog without knowing him, you can understand why I wouldn’t have had high hopes for our compatibility. You can, right?
Also, politics aside, I would never have answered his personal ad, except to congratulate him for being truly funny and maybe to offer some friendly advice on how to make himself sound like an actual human being with any human characteristics worth warming up to (as opposed to a self-important jackass).
I suspect he isn’t completely unaware of this, because he asked me rather earnestly not to read any of this before I got to know him a little better.
He was even more urgent in requesting that I not read his antifeminist post until I got to know him a little better. This gave me pause. The discovery that he actually has an “antifeminist post” made me think twice about agreeing to get to know him at all. But he seemed to be a good guy and a thoughtful guy, so I said to myself: what the hell?
He’s fun to talk to, remembers (and likes) R.E.M., smiles indulgently when I spontaneously burst into songs in an East Indian language he doesn’t understand, and shares my annoyance at the widespread misuse (and consequent loss of meaning) of the once useful technical phrase “to beg the question.”
Do I wish he was a feminist or at least a non-antifeminist? Sure, but, what are you gonna do? I’ll humor him and not read the rant yet. OK, I shouldn’t assume it’s a “rant” but it probably is [Editor's note: After writing this, she read the antifeminist entry and responded to it in another entry -- hey, cool, Donovan's "Season of the Witch" is playing as I type this, and owning that makes me a hippie, right?]
Interestingly, I think I plainly fail to meet a number of his criteria as outlined in his ad, and he knew about them before he decided he liked me (I’m anything but reticent about expressing my views).
I have indeed found myself saying, “Why does everything have to be rational all the time?” Todd knew this about me within an hour of knowing me. Formerly a self-proclaimed “hardcore rationalist,” I no longer think rationality is the only cognitive tool at our disposal. It is an epistemic device and a very good one for many, many things. But there is no basis for assuming it’s the only one.
I am open to the idea of a spiritual dimension to understanding ourselves and our world. That’s not the same as saying “creationism” or other elaborate religious theories of the world are just as valid as science in explaining the world or that they need to be given equal weight. All I’m saying is that to dismiss the possibility of any valid spiritual (or other non-rational) epistemology is to impoverish the whole process of knowing. It’s the kind of mindset that gives rise to dogma (and yes, even science has fallen prey to dogma throughout history).
I do think “just because something is logical doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right.” An argument can be constructed perfectly “logically” but still be untrue because it starts from the wrong premise or it fails to incorporate certain relevant variables. Of course, it can be argued that this kind of failure is a “logical” failure (making the original point “illogical”). But that isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes the disagreement about a premise or the “relevant variables” is a function of values, not “logic.” I am not saying values are somehow supra-rational (at least not invariably). I am saying that no matter how axiomatic they are to you, they may still be debatable; or worse, an entirely different value may seem axiomatic to me. In fact, see Todd’s rule #8.
I also believe that it is perfectly acceptable to defer judgment when you see the “logic” in someone’s argument but have not been persuaded at the instinctive or “gut” level because you have a “hunch” that something is missing. It’s perfectly OK to admit that and take time for reflection/research. To pretend you are persuaded when you aren’t is just as intellectually dishonest as arguing in bad faith.
I hear voices in my head, courtesy of my iPod. Some of them are truly divine.
I’ve had times that could be characterized as “really confusing emotionally.” In fact, I suspect anyone who hasn’t experienced (or even felt overwhelmed by) emotional confusion has probably lacked emotional richness in his/her life. Life is messy — stripping away the mess eviscerates it, in my opinion.
Yet, Todd seems to like me despite all of this. That’s pretty cool. And he’s a really, really great guy. Have I said that already?
Oh, and I want kids. I love them. So, this thing with Todd (as wonderful as he is) will probably not last. Sad. But true.
Well, there you have it. Is it any wonder I love her? As for the tragic tendency of women to want kids, despite their ignorance and ear-splitting shrieks — I will address that problem in another entry in the next few days and explain my hope that the robots will eventually overcome it. And remember, we can also discuss all this relationship stuff at Lolita Bar at 8pm on June 20.