In the preface of The Fabric of Reality, David Deutsch writes,
This seems to me to be a very good approach. If we spent all our time defending the theories we have, we wouldn't have time to come up with even better ones.
But look at my previous post. It's devoted to defending TCS! What gives?
Well of course defending theories sometimes is fine, and I could try to write it off as just a coincidence. But it's not; virtually all my interaction with readers comes in the form of attacks on my ideas and my defense of them.
Now, I could ignore these attacks, and sometimes I do, perhaps I should more often, but I think this line of thought misses a more important issue:
Aren't my readers doing something wrong?
Why not, instead of attack, try to understand? Asking questions is a good way to learn about something. So where are the non-hostile questions? Shouldn't they far outnumber attacks? I think there's a moral failing here.
To be very clear, the point is not "don't criticise" but rather "don't focus on criticising something you don't understand". How can you tell it's bad if you don't understand it?
And what's especially frustrating is this flaw is exactly one I find myself often accused of. Even by the very people who commit it here. This is frustrating because anyone who understands the flaw enough to accuse me of it, ought to consider it a flaw and not do it.
As to the accusations, dare I defend myself? Hum. I don't do it. Stop underestimating how much I know and how fast I learn. That is all.
At the risk of offending Dan, here's an example:
When the quality of objections deteriorates to the level of stuff like:
- demeaning the importance of winning WWI or the Cold War
- saying the Soviets weren't much of a threat
- attacking the importance of Israel not being destroyed as just making one little part of the world a bit better
then maybe it's time to tentatively accept some new ideas to try out.
And notice that even if I slightly overestimated the importance of those things ... so what? That wouldn't ruin the logic of any of my arguments. So attacking that point is kinda an irrelevant distraction that doesn't further understanding the issues.