Written by 4:25 am News

I Keep Calling For More Apathy, but Nobody Cares!

Roger Skoff shows how taking some idea of “truth” and casting it in stone, never to be examined again, is exactly the opposite of the scientific method…

What would you say if I told you that I don’t care about what you think? Would it bother you if I said that I don’t give a rat’s a** about whether your system is tubes or solid state? (I own both) Or if your speakers are cones, planars, line sources, horns, or something else, entirely? (I own all of those, and in some cases even more than one pair) Or whether you believe in cables (I used to design and manufacture them), cable lifters (I’ve published articles on how to make your own good ones FREE), or Mpingo discs, cable wraps, magic bowls, quantum purifiers, magic clocks, magic ceramic AC cover plates, or any one or all of a thousand other audiophile tweaks (Think about them what you will; I think most of them are absurd and wouldn’t throw rocks at them)

Thumbnail image for AR-truth2.jpgThe fact of it is that, although I hope you have a great system and that you absolutely enjoy, but it’s no skin off my nose if you don’t.

It’s the same with music; if you love what I love (just about everything except death metal and rap), I’m happy to share it with you and be pleased by your enjoyment. And if you don’t – if you’re secretly Captain Hip-Hop or a huge fan of stuff that I don’t even want to be on the same planet with, too bad for you, but I’m never going to put you down for it (although, if you’re playing it at a volume level that threatens my health, I hope that you’ll turn it down for me)

This unconcern works both ways, too: I don’t expect you to care about me or what I like or use, or even what I write. If you like it, that’s wonderful, and I’m greatly pleased and complimented (and I’m particularly pleased and complimented if I can feel that I’ve been of some help to you) , but if you DON’T like it or you disagree with me, I’m not going to tear my hair out, turn purple, and break out in pine cones. I write because it pleases me to reminisce or to pass along the fruits of my experience so that you can either benefit by the good stuff or avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way, but it’s your choice to read it or not. If yes, good; if not, not.

Frankly, (Scarlet), I don’t give a damn, and I think that that’s a truly fine (and even necessary) thing: Not caring — not having (beyond my personal and product goals and rigidly-held ethical and quality standards) a commitment to any idea, any process, or any particular side of virtually argument allows me to learn from my experience; from what I read; and from other people, and it doesn’t keep me locked in some trap of my own making. Even more, having experienced its benefits first hand, it causes me to want (and here comes the paradox) to help other people to not care either

One of the things that I regularly see and hear, not just in Hi-Fi but in many other areas as well, is a cry for less (politically partisan, religious, economic, or whatever) dogma and a more “scientific” approach to the issues that face us.  Apathy – simply not caring one way or another – may possibly be the single most important element of that approach and of the much-vaunted “scientific method”.

AR-truth3.gifIn science, what one does is to have a problem or question; posit a hypothesis to solve, answer or explain it, and then CHALLENGE that hypothesis, to try to prove that it doesn’t work. If the challenge is successful, you know that the hypothesis is wrong, and you try to come up with another one – and KEEP ON coming up with them until you have one that CAN’T be proven wrong.  

And even then, you don’t know that it’s right; all you know is that – to the extent and in the ways that you have tried thus far – it can’t be proven wrong. Orthodoxy; taking some idea of “truth” and casting it in stone, never to be examined again, is exactly the opposite of the scientific method, and yet, on the internet, in daily conversation, and elsewhere, we see it all the time – especially from the very people who so adamantly proclaim themselves correct and everyone else wrong.

The people I’m referring to here are not trolls, but something else, entirely:  Trolls seem to take their pleasure from attacking or disrupting things, and not to care at all about facts or the truth — or even about the subject matter of the issue or article they’re commenting on — unless those things can be used as weapons or tools for either their own self-aggrandizement or the destruction of somebody else.

Instead of trolls, the people I’m referring to here are those others – call them “true believers”, maybe – the ones who DO care for facts, and care for them to such a degree that, to them, the facts become sacrosanct, and any deviation from them by anyone, regardless of how trivial that deviation may be, must be corrected and the violator’s view of them re-set to whatever may be the orthodox position. These people are the “Guardians of the Public Truth” and, where they are correct in their comments, they may actually be doing those who read them a service. A real problem, though, is that they are not always right, and in this world where the total volume of human knowledge is now doubling every twelve months (soon to be twelve hours), that’s not at all surprising: Even if what they know was absolutely true when they learned it, it may no longer  be true now, and their valiant effort to defend it may actually be counterproductive.

AR-truth4.jpgEven if it’s not, though, I always find myself wondering what they are trying to accomplish. Do they really hope to change other people’s minds? Or are they just trying to show off what they know and the other person presumably doesn’t? Are they like “Tar Babies”, trying to snare the writer or other commenter into some kind of a personal encounter – sort of an intellectual “private lap dance” that they can drag out for as long as possible? 

The whole thing reminds me of some of the advocacy bumper stickers I’ve seen, or the “Baby on board” signs that were popular on cars some years ago. Does anybody actually think that they’ll really change the beliefs or behavior of the people who see them? If so why? And so what? And if not, why do they post them? Why do they care? Why should they?

What the world needs is more apathy, and I don’t care who knows it.

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