Like Dan Benjamin, Matt Haughey, and Jeffrey Zeldman (all of whose websites are far more attractive than mine), I’ve gone under the iron to be interviewed by Jesper. It’s a long interview, but I think at least parts of it are interesting. Maybe I’ll highlight portions over the next week or so. I discuss:

But that’s not good enough for you, is it? You want more! So you can post questions there (and here too, I guess) and I’ll be forced to answer them.

A highlight:

You see a member of your tribe doing X and you find a way to rationalize it, but if your tribe’s enemy does the exact same X, it becomes the worst, most awful thing. And you can’t just say “well, the truth is in the middle” because it rarely is. Often one side or another is right, or both sides are wrong. You’re always finding a way to score points for your tribe, so even pointing out this tribal inconsistency is a way to score points. (“Joe says he’s pro-X, but when one of his guys didn’t do X he didn’t have any problem with it!”) It can seem inescapable at times — escalating rhetoric with biases on each side.

So people try to break away from the tribe system, saying they’re for rationality, but then they only become an anti-tribe tribe. Look at Objectivists for example. Their whole system was premised on rational thought and the validity of experience. But they quickly became the most cultish system of all. And the end result is usually a net loss for everyone. Intelligent people don’t want to get involved in politics because it’s such a mess. People who aren’t so intelligent or don’t have time to sort it all out, quickly pick one tribe and then stick with it, hoping never to be convinced otherwise (because if they ever left the tribe, they’d get stuck in the wilderness again). And there are tons of reasonable people who just ignore the whole thing — only a small portion of the country votes.

posted January 23, 2004 03:16 PM (Personal) (5 comments) #


TV Update: Monk back, 24 bad, American Beauty great, Zim good
Unintelligent Design
Shorter State of the Union
Liberate Libertarianism
Visiting Libertopia: The Magical Power of Property
Aaron Swartz: The Interview
Why Raise Children?
Freedom of Speech, or The DeCSS Haiku
The Media vs. The Facts
Trippi Dumps Dean


One comment on something you said - I wonder what this site looks like in “your browser.” While I don’t consider it ugly, by any means, it is rather plain. I would be interesting in knowing how it compares.

posted by David at January 23, 2004 03:48 PM #

Very nice interview. I think you communicate your ideas much better and clear when you are in interviewee mode than you do in pundit mode. Congrats on a stellar interview.

posted by Chris Karr at January 23, 2004 04:02 PM #

I like being an interviewee better too.

posted by Aaron Swartz at January 23, 2004 04:19 PM #

Well, all we need to do now then is find you an unending supply of interviews and you’ll have all of us skeptics convinced of your views in no time. :-)

posted by Chris Karr at January 23, 2004 05:57 PM #

Aaron: Read

posted by Jesper at January 24, 2004 07:38 PM #

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Aaron Swartz (