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Principles of Applied Epistemology (APPLIED EPISTEMOLOGY)
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Mick Harper
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From a strictly polemical point of view his best course was to ignore me. I'm always urging this policy on people, it's a very powerful weapon. Instead he decided to take me on. Whether his pride was hurt or because he genuinely believed his thesis I don't know but his justification holds some lessons for polemicists. He begins with a complete irrelevancy

Caetano was the nominal head of a collegial dictatorship, as were Videla and Galtieri in Argentina. Collegiality doesn’t make a dictatorship less dictatorial if you’re a tortured imprisoned dissident. A single Fuhrer isn’t required to oppress a population that can’t fire its leadership.

Notice his sly attempt to get the audience on his side. A policy he continues with his second defence

In 1982 Argentina seized and occupied islands where the population was not Argentine. Both were colonizers, in sequence, though the Falklands were uninhabited when Britain claimed them, which makes the British in the Falklands an empire with penguins as subjects. A pity Anatole France didn’t include this as a chapter in Penguin Island.

He is quite cute with the third

Italy lost Libya to the British in 1942. Sicily was invaded on July 10, 1943. The Fascist Grand Council deposed Mussolini on July 25, 1943. Italy’s failed war against Greece starting October 1940 brought Germany into the Balkans. They all looked like failed wars of colonial conquest to me.

But of course he did not address, much less concede, my point that it wasn't losing colonies that did for Mussolini. He then, quite unusually, responds to my invitation to provide other examples.

Other regime-killing colonial wars: Germany’s Lebensraum invasion of the USSR, Japan’s invasion of China and SE Asia, Russia’s war of imperial rivalry against Japan in 1904–05, Spain in Cuba in the 1890s and the Rif, Morocco, 1909–21, the USSR in Afghanistan, 1979–89, France in Algeria, 1954–62, LBJ’s presidency died in Vietnam. Autocracies that fail in war fall harder than elected governments.

This is a truly 'bogus list'. I'll leave you to examine which of them are examples of failed colonial wars killing off dictatorships (none, maybe one would be my verdict) though characterising the Fourth Republic and LBJ as dictators probably tells you all you need to know.

I will take my own advice and not reply despite Lester (and I imagine the audience) thinking I've been crushed. I'm not proud.
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Mick Harper
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A lovely example of the 'bogus list' cropped up this morning (though the reference is years old)

On Harper’s claim that Language A cannot be ‘grammatically and syntactically distant from Language B and yet share a vocabulary with it’ (page 92): yes, it can. To give just one of many possible examples

So, the dude has many examples and they are drawn from several thousand possible languages. The first thing to note is why one? It is true that my use of 'cannot' means that one is enough but since he is writing a polemic it would serve his purpose much better to list half a dozen, implying, "He didn't have to look far, the jizzock." This is important for AE purposes because when someone does something that is correct but sub-optimal, one's attention is drawn. Anyway, this is the example he did use

Tok Pisin, in origin a pidgin language and now one of the official national languages of Papua New Guinea, shares almost its entire vocabulary with English, but its grammar is wildly different from English grammar.

In other words an artificial language that has grafted the vocabulary of one language (English) on to the structure on another (Papuan of some sort presumably). The spectacular dishonesty of this tells us that I was right.
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Mick Harper
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I actually just had a literal Eureka moment. A triff new idea while in the bath. But more... I thought to myself, 'I must post this up.' But then had second thoughts, 'It wasn't that triff, suppose they demand details.' But that spurred me on to furious ex-bath cogitations and now it is!

I owe you all so much.
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Ishmael


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Mick Harper wrote:
only the one I sent to Graham Hancock's website (quite why I still don't know) had any lasting effect. And then only because you were the editor.


I've been riding around Tanzania on a motorbike. I wanted to get to Lake Victoria to at least lay my eyes on it. Sadly, I just got exhausted and had to turn south, before crossing the Serengeti.

I may yet go. But next time I'll take the train.
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Mick Harper
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You always were a wuss.
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Mick Harper
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Keep your eye on El Salvador. After street gangs terrorising the whole country for years, El Presidente has locked them all up. "Two per cent of the entire workforce," as El Jeezira told us breathlessly. "The policy is wildly popular with the people. Gang attacks on buses are reported as down 95% but [pause] at what cost?" Then some stuff from Amnesty International et al about dozens dying in jail and people getting weighed off in large batches without any evidence being offered, rounded out with a clip from an outraged gang member's wife.

Why am I telling you all this in the Applied Epistemology Principles section? Well, one of the principles is never to have principles, and it is a principle of the Great & The Good that civil liberties comes before all things. Applied Epistemologists say, "No, it doesn't, it's just another service provided by the state and if El Salvador is any guide it comes a little way below going peaceably about your lawful occasions. Yes, we understand that El Presidente may well turn out to be worse than the gangs but "Suck it and see" is another AE principle."
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Mick Harper
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I am busy exploring the world of Kindle since we are bringing out the new book in the format as well as in hard copy. Many of my earlier books are available in an electronic format -- or at any rate I am constantly being bombarded with news that this or that mysterious outfit has one available if I do x and y. I have not yet done so for all sorts of reasons. Why is this an AE matter? Because while having a physical book and an electronic version of that book is one thing -- and not an AE matter -- having only an electronic version is something else and is potentially an AE matter.

Consider an academic reading one of my books (a difficult concept to picture but bear with me) and he rings up a colleague, "You're being given a roasting in this book I'm reading."
"Oh yes, what book is that?"
"Roasting Academics by M J Harper. He's a fruitcake so I shouldn't worry about it."
"You'd better send it round all the same."
"I can't, it's only available on Kindle."

Now I don't know enough (yet) about how electronic publishing works to know what happens next but it's definitely different to the printed word. I think I will bring my next book out in Kindle-Only and find out.
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Mick Harper
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I will make it free (something I've discovered you can do and which quite a lot of authors do for all sorts of reasons). That too is potentially an AE matter because we treat free things differently from bought-and-paid-for goods. This is irrespective of whether we have ourselves bought and paid for it. Knowing they are freely available makes a difference.

What that difference is I'm not sure about. Looking around at freebies generally, our tolerance level goes up as our expectations go down. Both of which would benefit the reception normally accorded to my books. Take-up presumably rises which would be exceptionally good for me on recent form while use presumably goes down. But that's down to me. Get sucked in, suckers!
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