Sunday, March 07, 2021

Being Objective About Objectivity

In writing Part III about Red, Blue, and Gray Tribes, I am finding that my examples sometimes undermine my point. This usually follows the pattern of 

1. Hmm, he's not as good an example as I thought

2. He might be a good example of the inconsistency of Gray Tribe, issue to issue

3. He seems to be objective only in narrow areas

After a few of these I start to wonder whether my entire premise is collapsing.  Maybe no one but Siskind and Lewis are in the Gray Tribe as described, and the real Gray Tribe is just  guys (usually guys) who sit at computers and like tech stuff and don't feel beholden to either Red or Blue.

I have a few ideas I think are going to hold up against all attacks, but I think it is important that I be fanatic about being objective if I am writing about objectivity. There is a long history in publishing of people making grammatical errors when writing in to the editor about an unconscionable solecism* in an article, which has become even more humorous on the internet, where everyone can see what an ass you have been. 

Stay tuned. This is emerging in real time.

*The people of the city of Soloi were known for their grammatical errors.  We would now understand this as simply speaking a slightly different dialect, with the other Greeks trying to shame them back into line, asserting their cultural dominance.  And an anecdote: I had a friend years ago, Paul Riley, who wrote in to Dear Abby to correct the word "ignorance" when what she really meant was "nescience," which is simply not having the correct information, rather than getting the information wrong. She replied in the column, acknowledging his correctness, and he had it up on his refrigerator.  In later years he took to carrying a sharpie and correcting signs, such as "grocer's quotes" or adding a comma where necessary in a poster at Burger King. His adult daughter was mortified. The followup is that I was speaking with her about a gray-green color at one point  a few years later and she took pains to be extremely accurate about what that particular shade was called. I laughed and told her she was her father's daughter. She froze briefly and tried to be gracious, but I could tell I had struck her to the heart and I felt bad about it.  We said no more on the subject.


james said...

Grey = "objective in unfashionable/annoying ways" ? A Red or Blue can be objective about things that don't touch his tribal membership. Someone who doesn't take sides with some tribe cheeses everybody off, even if the refusal is principled (perhaps especially if it is principled).

james said...

Taking a different tack: Red/Blue is one way of partitioning people into cultural/ideological/religious tribes. There have been other, equally compelling approaches. Not enough survives to tell us if there were "Greys" in the Blue/Green conflict, but perhaps the Dreyfus affair might illustrate something comparable. It seems as though many took sides based on their pre-existing tribes--but I don't know this one well enough to tell anything about "greys."

Texan99 said...

So would this be a bad time to suggest that it's "solecism"?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Fixed. Thanks