Do excuse me – I just feel like making a small boast. Doing a little auto-back-patting. I won’t take long – and anyway there is a sort of point behind it.
It’s Normblog’s first birthday, by the way – and he chose the occasion to mention his favorite blogs, in which select group he included B&W. I blushed unbecomingly to see that. And the same day – the very same day, I tell you – a guest poster at Pharyngula (guests are posting there to keep things going while PZ is at a conference in Calgary or Saskatoon or Kamloops) told the world of his discovery of B&W – so that my face became even more frighteningly florid. But I couldn’t help it, I did like what he said –
a website devoted to rationalism called Butterflies and Wheels. It’s providing all sorts of new stuff I hadn’t seen or thought about and is really helping my research.
See? Providing all sorts of new stuff he hadn’t seen or thought about. Is that our goal or what. M’colleague and I were talking about this on the phone yesterday, as a matter of fact, in a different context – about whether it’s possible to change people’s minds or not. I’m a little more optimistic than he is. I certainly don’t think one can change people’s minds just like that, every time one opens one’s mouth, or anything – but I think it can be done. And surely one reason it can be done is that people haven’t already thought of everything, and some people are honest enough to realize that. One can simply point out things – facts, implications, evidence, verbal trickery – that people haven’t noticed before, and that may change their minds. May for one thing change their minds in the sense we were discussing in the post on the reading lists – the sense not of persuading them to think the opposite of what they thought before, but of expanding or refining or slightly altering what they thought before. Enriching or broadening it to take in more factors.
I get email that says the same sort of thing. That people are excited to find B&W because they don’t know of anything else like it – anything that has this particular point of view and this particular combination of subjects and material. So that’s good. Since being involved with B&W I’ve learned to feel slightly sorry for people who work for more general and miscellaneous publications – for magazines with no real point of view. Oh well, that’s not right, is it – the truth is I feel slightly sorry for people who work for publications that aren’t B&W. Ha! There’s modesty for you.
But I said there was a sort of point behind this, and that point is that it’s a good sign that people like B&W. That anti-rationalism isn’t quite as unopposed as one might think. That there are more than three or four people in the world who don’t like fuzz and wool and nonsense. So be of good cheer, even when the nights are too hot to sleep.