Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Link Love 5

It is with regret that I note the passing of the Sixteen Volts blog, destroyed by political pressure in Canada. Fortunately, a math student at UC San Diego has archived all his work. Here is one of his translations of a Finnish writer named Tommi who writes on Christianity: the Religion to End All Religions.

Agnostic writes on the way the dating and marriage markets actually work.

From 1998, Osama bin Laden on how he hates the West.

Razib over at GNXP has an article that seeks to analyze the geopolitical circumstances in which Islam arose and spread, compared and contrasted with those in which Christianity spread, and how this possibly explains the different character of the religions.

Now Razib is a really smart guy. As the article and his subsequent comments show, his ability to wrap his mind around copious amounts of information vastly exceeds my own; hell, I have to get out my notes to remember how to solve a 2nd order D.E. Razib has written that the actual content of a religion at an elite or Platonic level is of minor value in predicting how the religion is actually lived out by its followers at any given time. (Razib: sorry if I didn't get that quite right, but I'm doing my best.) I'm not sure I entirely agree with him, but I give him credit for presenting a new way of thinking about the matter. But something in the comments struck me: Razib goes thermal on a poster for, as he put it, "spouting talking points from LGF". Now I haven't read Little Green Footballs in a while. I am vaguely aware that it is devoted to warning of the dangers posed by Islam, so its world view is likely the same as my own. I am also aware that it was desperately wrong, as so many of us were, as to the expected course of the Iraq war. Which is probably why I stopped reading it regularly. But I got to thinking: what is the point of all this analysis? Yes, information is a good thing. But information you can use is even better. There will always be more data out there, and I appreciate that Razib's mission is to gather it. But the quest for more data should not paralyze us in the face of the threats we face here and now. Whatever the limitations of LGF's analysis of the character of Islam, it is good enough for policy. Razib promised us that, eventually, we would get to "paint ourselves with the blood of our enemies." How long, o master, must we wait?

Update: Razib writes,
To be clear, my objection is more to the comments boards than the posts on LGF.

Yes, information is a good thing. But information you can use is even better. There will always be more data out there, and I appreciate that Razib's mission is to gather it.
Data leads to models. I'm not a gatherer, I'm a builder. The models can be interpreted in various ways, and those depend on your values. My own bias is to focus on the "war within" the West, and minimize involvement with a "clash of civilizations" and allow the house of Islam to be mired in its own squalor or evolve beyond it. Stop muslim immigration, rollback multiculturalism, etc. As it is, the focus on outside threats, from Iraq to Iran, is wrongheaded. We all work with data. There is good data, and bad data.

1 comment:

Razib said...

to be clear, my objection is more to the comments boards than the posts on LGF.

Yes, information is a good thing. But information you can use is even better. There will always be more data out there, and I appreciate that Razib's mission is to gather it.

data leads to models. i'm not a gatherer, i'm a builder. the models can be interpreted in various ways, and those depend on your values.

my own bias is to focus on the "war within" the west, and minimize involvent with a "clash of civilizations" and allow the house of islam to be mired in its own squalor or evolve beyond it. stop muslim immigration, rollback multiculturalism, etc. as it is, the focus out outside threats, from iraq to iran is wrongheaded.

we all work with data. there is good data, and bad data.