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The Truth is Always Simple (APPLIED EPISTEMOLOGY)
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Mick Harper
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'A natural position' (in football, when considering whether it is handball or not) has achieved AE status. Yesterday, the ball came over, the defender went up to head it, he flailingly missed it. The ball reaches an attacker directly behind, also with flailing arms, but who does head the ball. The ball hits the defender's hand still flailing in the air. The ball has travelled six inches and the defender is facing away from it. It is hard to imagine a more 'accidental' handball than this, as envisaged in the Laws of Football.

Yet no-one questioned the validity of a penalty being awarded. As the commentator said, while the action was being replayed in slo-mo, his hand was certainly in an un-natural position, waving in the air like that. Obviously this is quite untrue. Just as defenders going around with their arms pinioned to their sides or held behind their back being 'natural' is untrue.

All this is a modern phenomenon but driven by what? We shall see...
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Mick Harper
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Some interesting AE points raised by this Guardian story

New Zealand pulls funding for school Shakespeare festival, citing ‘canon of imperialism’
Secondary school competition ‘did not demonstrate the relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa’

Al-Jazeera (English language service) has started referring to Turkey as Turkiye, pronounced Turkea. We are meant to keep up with these things without a by-or-leave. The Guardian thinks we already know that New Zealand is Aotearoa. I wonder how many New Zealand Maoris do. The story itself deals with a dispute between two impeccably liberal bodies. Their equivalent of the Arts Council (who give $30,000 a year to the festival) but have decided to stop doing so

Creative New Zealand has pulled funding for a Shakespeare festival that has been running in secondary schools for roughly three decades, after questioning its relevance to the country and because it focuses on “a canon of imperialism”.

My guess is they just think it's run its course but you have to be ultra-careful when dealing with the middle class intelligentsia. The Festival responded with a delicious use of 'the bogus list'.

Dawn Sanders said it was “totally wrong”, the funding assessors had made assumptions about relevance within the festival, adding that a huge number of students were Māori, Pasifika and other ethnic minorities who regularly adapted Shakespeare’s works in new and culturally meaningful ways.

Now I assume ‘Pasifika’ is a reference to Fijians, Tongans, Papua New Guineans et al who relatively flood into New Zealand. They may bulk out the NZ rugby team but I question their devotion to Shakespeare. What other ‘ethnic minorities’ does New Zealand have? Greeks? South Asians? Australians?

In the funding assessment document, the advisory panel said it “did not demonstrate the relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape”… “the organisation was “quite paternalistic” … “the genre was located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance”… “question whether a singular focus on an Elizabethan playwright is most relevant for a decolonising Aotearoa in the 2020s and beyond”.

It's asking quite a lot of Shakespeare but he was equal to the task, according to Dawn

"The opposite is true,” she said. “We’re dealing with what people are thinking, the human psyche, competition, jealousy, misogyny and so many things that are totally relevant.”

Yes, but not decolonising New Zealand, Dawnie. We can leave the last word to Nicola Hyland, senior theatre lecturer at Victoria University, Wellington

who said she recognised the poetry and storytelling of Shakespeare but believed he was overrepresented in the country. "British colonisers used Shakespeare’s works as an example of how people should act, Hyland said. “It would be a massive, awesome act of decolonisation if we discovered our own stories first and discovered Shakespeare afterwards. “Wouldn’t it be great if young people could come home and say, ‘Hey, Mum, Dad, I just found this story and it’s really similar to Hinemoa and Tūtānekai. It’s Romeo and Juliet’.”

And she should know, according to the Guardian

Nicola Hyland is of Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Hauiti descent.

But mainly, I would guess, of British descent. Like Shakespeare. Like New Zealand.
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Mick Harper
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One of the terms on the list of things I command my press cuttings service to look out for is Applied Epistemology. This morning I got a particularly rich tranche. The first indicates why our version of Applied Epistemology is maybe more useful than theirs

Applied Epistemology: Prospects and Problems Søren Harnow Klausen, University of Southern Denmark Res Cogitans 2009 no. 6, vol. 1, 217-254
Abstract: Surprisingly few attempts have been made to apply theories in normative epistemology to concrete questions about epistemic policies and practices, in spite of the fact that many of today’s most pressing and hotly debated questions are about the production, transmission and use of knowledge.

I should cocoa.

The paper discusses the prospects for an applied epistemology. Alvin Goldman’s conception of a social epistemology provides an important source of inspiration. But Goldman’s framework needs amendments which are likely to make the task of applied epistemology more complicated.

We prefer going in the other direction.

I argue that one needs to pay more attention to different forms of justification and knowledge and other epistemic desiderata. One cannot isolate the project of epistemic evaluation from pragmatic, prudential or moral evaluation.

Paying more attention to readability is something else one might pay attention to. It's as helpful to the writer as it is to the reader.

A pure applied epistemology is a contradiction in terms.

Oh. That's but the kybosh on it unless...

But this does not mean that the whole project must be handed over to pragmatism. By accommodating factors that are not purely epistemic, one might actually strengthen the position of truth-based normative epistemology vis-à-vis pragmatic or sociological approaches to knowledge.

Yes, indeedy. I think.
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Mick Harper
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The next one sent to me was entitled "Non-Scholarly Sources You Should Never Reference" which is a considerable hostage to fortune considering the mounds of scholarly ones that shouldn't be. But before it gets down to cases, there is some general advice

Credible sources are Up-to-Date. Most of your sources should have been written within the past ten years

Actually, we have found the opposite is true. Partly because of the daisy chain of citation, partly because of the Chinese whispers of 'academic chat', mainly because people were setting it down the way it was, not the way that will pass peer review. Talking of which...

Peer Reviewed. There’s only two sources that tend to be peer reviewed: journal articles and textbooks. Peer reviewed sources are ideal because experts on the topic have read over the sources and certified their quality, reliability and credibility.

Possibly so but how do you guard against 'garbage in/garbage out'. The system of peer review guarantees that only 'experts' can take part, so who shall guard the guardians?

I’ve compiled a list of seven examples of sources which you should avoid referencing at all costs. These are sources that are not credible or reliable.

We shall have to be on our guard...
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Mick Harper
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1. Wikipedia
Okay, so here’s the deal. Read Wikipedia. Your friends do, your competitors do, and even your teachers do.

Even I do. Religiously. Compulsively. What should I watch out for?

But remember it’s been written by anybody. Literally anybody could have written it. You can go online right now and change the Queen’s Wikipedia page to whatever you like.

It's amazing people still believe this. It's bad enough that the great unwashed believe it, but when it's somebody in authority laying down the law after he's made a special study of the subject, it is either outrageous or depressing, I can't tell which. Wiki material goes through hoops. Hoops within hoops if my stuff is anything to go by. In years of daily use, I have never once found anything in Wiki that I suspected was 'someone changing it to whatever they liked'. Just ordinary fare of the kind you would find in any conventional encyclopedia. Though one written in the last ten years.

So, you don’t know how good the source is. It could have been written by a high school student or an Ivy League professor. You just don’t know.

Either's fine by me.

People change the details on Wikipedia pages all the time. You could be being pranked, lied to or just getting really average information.

I've been getting really average information. I've no doubt there are pranks and lies but if they got past the Wiki scrutineers they got past me too. Same goes for all sources of information. You know... printed encyclopedias, peer-reviewed journals, textbooks.... things like that.
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Mick Harper
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2. YouTube
YouTube is used all the time by teachers. This doesn’t mean you’re allowed to use it as a source.

What is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.

The reason teachers use YouTube is that it’s a really engaging, useful way to deliver information. Teachers find it to be a useful way to teach hard-to-explain content.

I find it easy-to-learn, though without the teachers.

Sources need to be academically vetted through a process called peer review. Textbooks and journal articles meet that standard. YouTube videos don’t.

If you want to know what they know, if you want to think the way they think, goddamnit if you want to be what they are, read textbooks and journal articles. If you don't, and I can't think why you would, have a good wallow among the YouTubes. If you want to use any of it, you're on your own. Ah, yes, I see the point now.
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Mick Harper
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When I was studying at the University of Nottingham, it was a good but not outstanding university. I studied politics and the department had an academic staff composed of

Professor
Reader
Senior Lecturer
Lecturer

Nowadays Nottingham is still a good but not outstanding university and its politics department has an academic staff consisting of

Professor of Politics
Professor of Comparative Politics
Professor of Contemporary Slavery
Professor of Political Economy
Professor
Professor of International Relations
Professor
Sir Francis Hill Professor of European Politics
Professor of Political Theory
Professor of Political Science
Professor of War Studies
Professor of International Security
Professor of International Security
Professor of Political Theory
Director of the Rights Lab
Professor of Social Science Research Methods
Professor of Political Science Education
Associate Professor
Reader in Government
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor in International Relations
Associate Professor of Political Theory and International Relations
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor in Political Theory
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor in Politics
Assistant Professor in British Politics
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics
Assistant Professor in Political Theory
Assistant Professor in Political Science
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor in Politics and International Relations
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor in Political Theory
Assistant Professor in Politics and International Relations
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor in Politics and International Relations
Assistant Professor in Politics and International Relations
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor in Politics & International Relations
Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor in Modern History
Assistant Professor in Politics
Assistant Professor in Social Science and International Politics
Assistant Professor in International Relations
Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in Chinese Studies
Assistant Professor in Modern History
Visiting Professor in Silk Road Studies
Assistant Professor in Modern Chinese History
Associate Professor in International Studies
Associate Professor in Modern European and International History
Assistant Professor in Transnational History and Politics
Professor of Public Diplomacy
Assistant Professor in European and International History
Teaching Fellow in International Studies
Associate Professor in International Relations and International Security
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Mick Harper
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An illustration of why, though truth may be simple, it is rarely enough

Mick Harper on medium.com wrote:
Would Russia 'winning the war' be so bad? It would appear that the war will only end if one side or the other 'wins' and it certainly looks as though Russia has the capability not to lose. But if so, nobody -- least of all the Russians -- will be fooled into believing that Russia had won in the sense of gaining its original war aims. They will have to be content with Crimea and the Donbas -- which they had anyway before the war.

It only remains to see if Ukraine will accept international boundaries that it should have accepted in the first place. I fear they won't, and the war will go on until they do. For the rest of us? It is time to choose realpolitik over sentimentality.

Jaimie Hileman wrote:
Why should Ukraina accept the theft of its territory, borders guaranteed by the United States and the Russian Federation under the Budapest Memoranda in 1992? When Russia demands Alaska back under pretenses no more valid than Putin's in 2014, should the US hand it over as you seem to believe?

Sorry, but you're utterly wrong, and possibly a paid troll.
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Grant



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I’d love a job as a paid troll. I have to be content with an unpaid position
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Mick Harper
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The geezer blocked me so I wasn't able to use that one. Which reminds me, John Welford may have done so too. After months of receiving (at my request) his medium.com postings -- up to four a day! -- they have suddenly ceased.

This whole question of banning has profound lessons for AE but I'm still not sure what they are. Even after being banned maybe a coupla dozen times in my internet career. I like to think it's because I'm a very naughty boy.
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Mick Harper
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To my eternal shame I once blocked somebody. It was in these august portals when a relative newbie challenged my claim that I was adapting rather than stealing an idea about how to position people on a cross axis measuring 'left and right' in one direction and 'tough and tender' in the other. I kept saying it and he kept denying it until I lost my temper, threatened to delete his post if he did it again, he did it again, I deleted his post, I said I'd deleted it and we lost quite a valuable member. This underlines a point that took me many years to learn. Careful ignoral, on your own part, should be employed in polemics more than you might think.

But why is it rarely employed in the real world? Why do people always insist on having the last word even -- as I think was the case in the situation outlined on the medium.com exchange -- when your opponent has held himself up to ridicule without you needing to say so. (I exempt a Grant-style rueful acknowledgement.) The general rule is

Never defend yourself

It always lends credence to the accusation. Though you can defend your argument until the cows come home.
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Mick Harper
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I did John a grave injustice, communications between us are up and running. In fact we've got quite a good one on the go right now. It all started with this

Clovis: First King of France Cunning, ruthless and cruel, he created a united French kingdom and gave his name (as Louis) to 18 later kings https://medium.com/@johnwelford15/clovis-first-king-of-france-76ad0380bc1e

The usual folderol. The usual casual enquiry from me.

Got any contemporary documentation for any of this, John? You know, what we old-fashioned types call 'historical evidence'. Just thought I'd ask.

which received this prompt reply

All my historical stuff comes from books and journals - Medium doesn't expect full citations of everything, so I don't include it but could do if pressed (at the time of writing).

which received this prompt reply

I think I will press you on this occasion, John, if it's all the same to you. Remember, contemporary documentation.

We await developments.
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Mick Harper
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The Developments

John Welford wrote:
Sorry, but do you really think I can come up with contemporary documentation of something that happened in 5th/6th century France? When you learned history at school, did you insist that your teachers produced contemporary evidence for everything they taught you? I can refer you to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Ancient and Medieval History, if you like - I have a copy!

Mick Harper wrote:
So that's a no, then. Have a think about that some time, John. You will find there aren't any but whether, despite that, you will carry on believing the history they taught you in school will be, I predict, 'So that's a yes, Mick.'
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Mick Harper
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On It Goes

John Welford wrote:
Mick, On this matter, and on several others, I am still at a loss to work out what it is that you are objecting to and what you believe the truth of the matter to be. If all you are saying is that history is subject to revision due to later discoveries and interpretations, then I can certainly agree with you, but I get the impression that you want to go a lot further than that.

Mick Harper wrote:
You are being obtuse. All I asked for was some historical evidence for the history you are writing. Surely not an unreasonable request! You claimed to have some and, when challenged, offered an encyclopaedia. I know you are a librarian and not a historian but even you should know an encyclopaedia is not historical evidence. It has to be, you know, contemporary with the events.

You will note the AE aspect, careful ignoral. John is so convinced of the rectitude of his academic (albeit at school) training, that his mind cannot grapple with the idea that it is challengeable. He thinks the revisionism has already taken place!
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Mick Harper
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He Keeps On Digging

John Welford wrote:
Mick, That is nonsense, and you know it. According to you, nobody can write a history book that depends on on earlier evidence, because that is not itself "contemporary"! Of course an encyclopedia is not "contemporary"! It can, of course be unreliable if it relies on unreliable evidence, but equally so it can be counted on for accuracy if its sources are also reliable. History has to rely on trust to a considerable extant - subject always, of course, to later revision.

I might also point out that much contemporary documentation is far from reliable - partly because it is often written from a biased perspective, but also because it is often only by taking a longer-term view that enables facts to seen in a proper perspective
.

Mick Harper wrote:
OK, John, I'm giving up. I asked for evidence, you won't provide any evidence. You don't even think it's necessary!

I'm really not trying to smoke him out, just appealing to the audience over his head. It was notable that his replies were getting no claps, mine getting a dozen each time. That's unusual. And interesting.
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