Objectivity is a myth, and a single tweet explains why

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/16/objectivity-is-a-myth-and-a-s.html


As a white dude, I know firsthand that it’s easy to assume that you’re coming from the “default” perspective, and thus, are more capable of being rationally objective than other, non-white dudes.

Good Goddess how I get sick of that! (So thank you for saying that.)


if you’re brainwashed into seeing your popular mainstream status quo assumptions as “default,” then you’re actually not objectively considering every possible factor.

On a mass scale over time, this can lead to disastrously unsustainable outcomes:

It’s no co-incidence that “debate me” dudes who fancy themselves as beings of supreme reason and logic also tend to be privilege-blind Libertarians. I’ve seen these types on every on-line forum I’ve been on, going back to Usenet.


Um, education? Expanding one’s imaginative, emotional, and intellectual horizons by reading, studying, or just paying attention?

Education doesn’t turn you into some omniscient omnipresent being experiencing all of humanity at once.



Unearthing and communicating one’s presuppositions and assumptions is a very difficult and dangerous thing. Difficult because they are the foundation upon which all is built in our heads (even that very statement that I just made!). And dangerous because others then categorize and venerate or vilify you based on their unspoken assumptions.

I am a white, male, age 60, engineer/artist/writer who believes that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness.

Or maybe I’m an adopted mixed black/Hispanic (not Latino) from Antigua whose forebears were slave-traded there and I would like to see reparations.

Your assumptions and presuppositions about either group flavor your conclusions and categorizations of me.
Just as my assumptions and presuppositions flavor all that I do - including writing this reply as I think of the classic XKCD cartoon about ‘someone is wrong on the internet!’

BTW the first is true of me, I assume that we are all corrupt to the core in many ways and need forgiveness and a change of heart. I look at my own heart minute-by-minute and see the painful, and yet gloriously freeing, truth of this.

In my mind, ‘Objectivity’ is a non-starter, even in the sciences. Just ask any statistician about the ‘P-value’ - it is essentially a number representing the level of ‘surprise’ at a result not matching one’s original assumptions (such as ‘standard distribution’). I refer you to ‘Statistics Done Wrong’, a great little book.

I am flavored with garlic, you are flavored with cilantro. Once we are flavored we can just barely taste our own flavor.


What is this water that you speak of?



And here’s GA Barr from a speech he just gave:
“The fact of the matter is: that in waging a scorched earth, no holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systemic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law.”

Note that it is the FACT of the matter.

Our presuppositions are implicit and internally universal.


Becoming aware of how you’re not being objective is about the closest we can manage. And that involves listening carefully when someone else points it out to you, because they have a vantage you cannot match.


Well yeah, but especially those of “normal” white guys.

Others tend to have been made more aware that they see things differently because of who and what they are, i.e., how society categorizes them.

Sounds about right. Especially for “normal” white guys.


­ ­ DMT?


I’m decidedly not making my comment that specific. Anyone who has even a small sense of compassion and humility gets that the world doesn’t revolve around what any singular person thinks and believes. And I’m aware that there will be people who disagree with me on that. And around & around it goes…


The common white-male tendency to universalize strikes again?


This idea that the white dude viewpoint, especially the white dude sky god, isn’t objective reality is all just Cultural Marxism.


I’ll rephrase it your way:

Commonly those who have even a small sense of compassion and humility get that the world doesn’t revolve around what any singular person thinks and believes.


Probably won’t help with what?


Sorry, I just edited that out. It was a snarky thing for me to say, it didn’t belong in the conversation we were having.


Okay, but why not address “normal” white guys with that?

Isn’t it more useful to say that about them, then about others who’ve been minoritized?

After all, it’s the latter who have already been forced to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around what they think and believe. (And it’s not “compassion and humility” that leads them to that realization.)


True for everyone, but especially for the dominant in-group that holds power.