Evidence & Embodied Persuasion
Wow, Wilson quotes from someone I like, a very rare thing:
“Never write what you dare not sign. An anonymous letter-writer is a sort of assassin, who wears a mask, and stabs in the dark. Such a man is a fiend with a pen. If discovered, the wretch will be steeped in the blackest infamy.” Charles Spurgeon
This post will of course provoke Kirkers to declare that I am coming back to the light or waffling (in fact “The Princess” has already libeled me as doing just this over at Vision 2020). But this will be, when it does in fact occur, a silly suggestion. We have here a quote from Charles Spurgeon clearly and directly dealing with a contemporary event. How often does that happen over at Ba and MoBa? I particularly like how far removed Spurgeon is from these blog wars and American Christianity. And yet, what he writes applies directly; the internet is a medium that is in some ways little different than letter writing. This does not mean that I condone Wilson’s dishonest and inconsistent refusal to answer concerns or arguments unless the person is identifiable; Wilson has always needed identity so that he can attack the person and not the argument or evidence. And there are clearly times when anonymity might be appropriate given this kind of tyrannical dealing with criticism. However, this quote from Spurgeon lines up well with my concern about the connection between evidence given and the personal narrative behind its giving. This is a deep matter, but one more shallow way to consider this is through the idea of a person’s total body of evidence. The ideal rational observer, S, comes to B1 given how well grounded it is in all S’s beliefs: let’s say B2 to B5200. When S is listening to an act of persuasion then, we could take facts about the person offering the evidence as comprising S’s beliefs B2 through, say, B50. Facts about the persuader will always have some role to play in S’s total body of evidence — sometimes a large role, sometimes a very minor role. This is like I said a thin approach to what is likely a deep and complex reality. And all this becomes particularly important when internet assassins are manipulating the crowd with sophistry, and one person, or a handful, is posting under many different aliases.
By the way, I wanted to remind my readers that almost all the posts here without names have identities confirmed and approved by me off-line. I have received some emails with allegations against Doug Wilson, but when I am not certain of their credibility as attached to real people I can locate I will not post them here. I have also been preparing to request that the folks at Still Fed Up give their identity. They have gone from argumentative reply to eye witness testimony, and so I think it might be appropriate that they give us their identities and a little bit about their own personal narratives.