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Sunday, March 20, 2022

John Higgs on context

John Higgs

 In his latest newsletter, John Higgs quotes Robert Anton Wilson, then argues that if you are outraged by a quote on Twitter taken from a famous person, perhaps you should check the context:

"We have probably all had the experience of being mortified by the news that a person we admire has said an appalling thing, only to read the actual article and realise that they were not talking about that appalling thing at all. Instead, they were using that sentence in the context of a wider argument about something else that was, annoyingly, fairly reasonable. And conversely, there are many single statements that seem admirable and empowering, but which in context are being used to seduce you into terrible worldviews. Everyone from crypto grifters to white supremacists know how this works.

"So - it’s worth being aware of this, because it is something that politicians, tech giants and media companies will use against you. When you see a lost statement, try and return it home to its original context. Even the most appalling headline you encounter will be true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true, false and meaningless in some sense. It may also, if you’re lucky, be part of something more."

More here.

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