Tuesday, November 12, 2013

John Gray on The Nature of Beliefs

Philosopher John Gray, who is a favorite of this blog, has an interesting brief interview that was conducted by the Nexus Instituut.  He asks questions about the inability of humanity to advance ideological goals or systems due to the lack of uniformity of humanity as a whole and the innate simplifying nature of those goals.  Gray is always provocative.  Note here that he speaks of certain need for universal agreement around particular facts in law, medicine, etc (with the knowledge that these may need to be changed in light of new evidence).  Gray has also previously spoken about a sense of semi-universal ethics and I was disappointed that he didn't pursue this line further in his most recent book The Silence of Animals, which is especially notable given the world views Gray expresses in the video below and in his writings.

Gray's arguments are similar to those made by the likes of Daniel Dennett (in Breaking the Spell) regarding the nature of belief and the problems humans present for themselves by attempting to impose colonizing ideological systems.  Further, due to the confirmation bias, people are particularly bad at using feedback mechanisms and thus responding to data.  (I have written at length on this tendency here and here).  Science, the scientific method and Popperian "falsification" are ways of getting around these limitations, but they only function within particular narrowly defined constraints.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Mix Tape": Ethnographic Impostors and Other Outer National Nightclub Classics

Music has always been a big part of this blog.  This has a lot to do with it being a compulsive obsession for me.

Of recent, I've been making the occasional mix and posting them to 8tracks which is a great internet radio service that lets you upload your own music (unlike say, Spotify, which relies on what is made available to them under license).

I'm not actually sure how the fair usage works under 8tracks or how people get paid, all I know is that it has been a real boon for me because a lot of what I listen to is on vinyl, is stuff I have ripped myself, or is stuff I've gathered from obscure (many now sadly dead) international music blogs (particularly missed is the great library of ethnographic musical obscurities: Holy Warbles).

People that know me well know I have a pretty far reaching and sometimes weird musical taste.  I'm a big jazz guy, but I also listen to a huge amount of international music - particularly from West Africa, the Sahel, The Middle East, India, SE Asia, Brazil, Cuba and elsewhere.  I also tend to like a lot avant-
garde stuff and 'exoticism'.  That said, I try to make these mixes pretty accessible.

So that said, I would like to share with my readership my new mix: "Ethnographic Impostors and Other Outer National Nightclub Classics" available for your listening pleasure here or embedded below:

I have a handful of older mixes and I will be posting future new mixes to this blog as well.