Is It Ever Better Not to Know? | Quillette


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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46 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Secrets are power. If information about the nature of the world we live in is being concealed, one does have to wonder who gains power from that.

    Of course, this should not be read as support for secret systems that let cars be fueled with water that the oil industry doesn’t want you to know about.Report

  2. Avatar Pinky says:

    Typical, horrible misrepresentation of the Galileo controversy.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Pinky says:

      Yeah; but it’s become one of those stories that’s too good to check, like “Columbus learned the Earth was round, before that Christians all thought it was flat” and “I can see Russia from my house”.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to DensityDuck says:

        These are all the more unnerving in an article about the spread of knowledge. Indeed, it seems particularly common for this kind of myth to be spread this way. We all lie to ourselves about “them” – the Dunning-Kruger people who aren’t as smart as we are – but we’re all idiots about something.Report

  3. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    I think it’s a harder question than my side likes to acknowledge.

    If we take as an assumption that political sausage making is a nasty business that can be “disinfected” by openness, is it better to do that disinfecting and risk not having sausage made, or just focus on whether the resulting sausage is good?

    I’d posit, for example, that part of the dysfunction in Washington is that we no longer have tools like earmarks to quietly slip into bills at the last second in order to get things done. I honestly don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, since the earmarks themselves were often wasteful but not usually enough to tilt a given policy from “good” to “bad.”Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Nevermoor says:

      An important skill for watching political sausage-making is learning to not care when you see tongues going into the mixer.

      And some people just can’t do that. Some worry that the tongues were unsustainably harvested using non-carbon-neutral means. Some thing the tongue is haram. Some throw up at the thought of eating tongues.Report

      • Avatar Nevermoor in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Indeed. I think not focusing on minor distractions is going to be a real problem going forward, as we’ll soon have political candidates who got drunk in College and posted pictures on facebook/twitter/etc. instead of those who did so without leaving a digital trail.

        People are going to need to learn not to care about imperfections rather than moralize over them. I predict it’ll be a long hard slog.Report

        • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Nevermoor says:

          Remember when Douglas Ginsburg’s Supreme Court nomination was derailed because it came out that he liked to blow a doob or two in college?

          Remember the same thing happening to Neil Gorsuch? Didn’t think so. It never even came up as a thing. (Not saying Gorsuch did or didn’t. He’s just of an age that it’s unlikely that he didn’t at least try it.)Report

  4. Avatar Will H. says:

    One of the characteristics of digital media is that the official word on things is no longer the official word.
    That’s a paraphrase. You can find the original in Pavlik & McIntosh.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Arguing in the affirmative against Commissioner Val is Agent Kay

    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.


  6. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Youtube believes that you really don’t want to see pictures of cats removing people’s eyes.
    I could give you half a hundred other examples of things you probably don’t want to know about.

    The issue is that if you don’t know about it, Law Enforcement also doesn’t know about it.

    Kid sits around all day playing video games in a diaper. Other kid videotapes this (including kid yelling at his mom to get his diaper changed)… Child Services gets called. But to do that, you need to leave the video up.Report