Sunday, January 08, 2006

Engaging Conspiracy

I've been following this exchange on Tbogg with some interest since its not everyday that the center of a controversy deigns to post about said controversy. After reading the comments left by Mr. Rawls and the rest of the commentators I've two observations about this entire debacle. Observation 1: Controversy over the memorial design is something that everyone should have expected. When the design of the Vietnam memorial was unveiled people were concerned about about the overt and covert meaning of the monument's geometry, color, minimalistic style, etc. Conspiracy is nothing new either; people think that The Washington Monument (and apparently all of The Mall) is part of some big ol' Masonic plot or something. Observation 2: The interpretation of architecture is completely non-deterministic. Where one person sees Islamic propaganda another person sees a design which is "pagan, or at least New Age". I think that the commentators on Tbogg were engaging Rawls incorrectly. Rather than tell him that he's nuts or try to engage him empirically, they need to engage in a meta-debate about the nature of proof and meaning (though some did get pretty close with responses which amounted to "so what"). If Rawls is claiming some kind of conspiracy someone needs to stand up and ask him what it would take to falsify his theory. As someone who claims a background in philosophy he should realize that until he proposes a mechanism by which his theory can be falsified he's just blowing hot air.

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