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in

A broader context

Having the wrong argument

Once upon a time, there was a human named Alice and another human named Bob.

In their world, widgets were common, everyday physical objects that had recently started to fade in color.

Alice said that it was from the thinner paint.

Bob said it was from the greater exposure to sunlight.

Alice read many articles tending to show that thinner paint resulted in fading.

Bob read a similar number of articles tending to show that greater exposure to sunlight resulted in fading.

Alice thought Bob was wrong. She had never actually read or even heard of Bob’s arguments or articles. She just knew he had to be wrong. To admit the possibility that Bob was speaking a truth felt to her like giving in to the enemy.

Bob had reciprocal feelings.

Since this was a world of physical widgets and not cryptographic protocols, Charlie was not a snoop saboteur.

Instead, he considers that maybe one caused the fading, maybe the other, maybe both contributed to it in some proportions, perhaps it was a combined effect that required both, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps …

Since this is a fairy tale, perhaps he was the world’s fairy godfather.

He made a long list of possible causes and asked others to contribute to his list. He asked for quantification of effect. Alice and Bob read his article and realized that the other was neither an idiot nor a liar, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this was a fairy tale.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals

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