ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context: CriticalRationalism

OK. This is an idea which is a bit nebulous and I'm still feeling for.

But it's something I'm becoming increasingly aware of and thinking about.

I was watching a YouTube video today, criticising something. I won't link it. Or even say what it was about. Or what the criticism was.

But it was a very typical polemical YouTube video with a rather bold title, which was somewhat validated by the video. But also not quite.

And the kind of video which feels like a devastating take-down, but also leaves you feeling a lot of "OK. But ... " and "that's true but not quite fair" type thoughts.

And I was trying to grasp what the issue is.

And today I think it's like this ...

You have a topic ... researchers are investigating something. And seem to be coming up with new and valid insights into the world. And then the video comes along to say BUT THIS IS WRONG.

But in doing so it implicitly rejects the legitimacy of the research in the first place.

Or rather ... criticism of failures in research is an essential part of improving our knowledge. We must point out when researchers failed to collect the right data, or conjectured the wrong model, or were too optimistic, or too pessimistic, or too dismissive that something wasn't important or was an outlier.

All of these are valid and important.

But this is a genre which thrives on delegitimizing the research. Or builds a strong impression that the researchers were "bad" or wrong to be doing what they were doing.

A constructive criticism is one that recognises that the research or model is a progressive step towards improving our knowledge. And then says "but you're wrong about X, here's how we improve and move forward".

But this kind of video doesn't do that. The focus is entirely on undermining the original research, leaving you with negative feelings about it and about how wrong they all were. Without really opening up any new ways forward. Without showing how the criticisms raised really do improve and move forward.

I phrased this in my mind as "throwing shade from all directions". Because the hallmark of this kind of criticism is that it often attacks the original researchers from both sides. It says the researchers were both too optimistic AND too pessimistic. Too much to the North and too far South. Too much X and too little X.

That's why this criticism can't be "helpful" and progressive because it doesn't tell you where it thinks you should be going to correct the faults. It only cares about highlighting the faults and discrediting the people who had them.

It doesn't even really imply what it wants you to think the better way forward would be.

Now obviously it's important to uncover and point out errors even if you don't know a better way forward. But, even so, finding faults is not an end in itself.

Anyway ... I'm sorry I'm not explaining this very well. But I want to note it and give it a name anyway : Two Shade Attack

That's how you recognise it. When the critic attacks from two almost contradictory directions. Saying the researchers are bad for doing both too much X of something and too little X of something. Revealing that they aren't trying to push the research forward. Just trying to undermine it as an end in itself.

There maybe a parallel with DoctorsAndLawyers.

Obviously I tend to see this kind of attack often from the right-wing. But I don't want to claim it's exclusively from the right. It's plausible there's a lot from the left which I just don't notice. (JimmyDore maybe?)

But there may be parallels with lawyer-mind.


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