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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Why Criticism is Freaking Great

One trend that I and likely everyone reading this has observed is the rising increase of mindless hate-mobs; however, underneath the rise of hate-mobs is something much more damaging and insidious--the rise of sheltered opinions.

This post isn't about any one group or person, rather it's a commentary on a larger systematic issue that permeates every circle. The only "group" that's really under attack here is large entities; massive corporations, governments, companies and websites, etc. Of course, these massive entities aren't represented by any one person or peoples, but rather are run by thousands of people, and I'm not afraid to criticize these massive juggernauts. I will bring up a couple examples of smaller entities doing the same thing, but this is not meant to be a personal attack on them.

If you're trapped inside because of the #kung-flu and want to expand this discussion to a much deeper level, I'd encourage you to watch these two videos which were the inspiration for this blog post. The first is from Quinn Curio and is about the nature of criticism and the difference between valuable and mean-spirited critique, and the second is about the importance of the dislike button on YouTube. Feel free to watch them both if you've got lots of time on your hands and are looking for more content to CONSOOM.

Quinn's Video Essay on Criticism

Emperor Lemon's Video Essay on Dislikes

Of course these are both big videos spanning about an hour-and-a-half of watch time so if you don't want to watch them that's all fine and dandy, don't beat yourself up over it, but they're there for anyone who wants them or wants to have their opinions validated which is a hobby of mine. (And also the discussion of this post.)

Moving on, in order to understand the importance of criticism, we need to know what it is.
What is the fundamental difference between a critic and a hater?

Well, a critic has your best interest in mind, while a hater just wants to tear you down. However, dismissing criticism is even more egregious than haters hating. A hater offers nothing of value, except for one little thing which is the "I must be doing something right" moment. Due to the nature of statistical probability, it is virtually impossible to grow a base and succeed without garnering haters. If an author sells a million copies or if a YouTuber gets a million views on a video, it's statistically impossible for everyone to like the product or content. It's just not going to happen. So instead of curling in a ball and being a victim, creators should be glad that they have some haters.

It means they're doing something right.

That obviously doesn't make the haters "right," it just means that the existence of haters is more of a nuisance than an actual threat. Yet the issue is that creators have become to coddled and entitled to affirmation that they will do anything to sweep any negative response under the rug. The other issue is that it's too common now for creators to dismiss anyone who disagrees with them or some aspect of their creation and claim to be the victim of a hate-mob. More often than not, the creator or platform is much bigger than the group of people criticizing them.


The most disliked video on YouTube is a video by YouTube, and the next most disliked videos are by big celebrities and corporations, like Justin Bieber and Jake Paul. Suffice to say that getting a bunch of dislikes on one of their videos isn't making them the "victim" of harassment.

And this is all over the place. The tweets that get the biggest ratios (since there are no dislikes on twitter, disapproval is measured by "ratio," which is how many likes the tweet has compared to comments. If a tweet has 12 likes and 1,150 comments, suffice to say people did not like the tweet) are usually from big politicians, celebrities, or media corporations. This is because small twitter accounts don't get very much exposure, so it only makes sense that the media accounts that are the most popular will also be the most at risk for getting ratioed when they say something stupid or out of touch.

Yet it's vital that people have the ability to express disapproval. Without it, the creator or group would live in a cuddly bed of validation.


However that is precisely what people want. They don't want to be criticized or challenged, they don't want to experience any form of cognitive dissonance. Instead they want to surround themselves with a nice cohort of Yes-men who will validate everything they say and do.


This phenomenon isn't just something that happens on YouTube or twitter, it's all over the place. I think it's evidence of a larger systematic issue, which is that we as people have decided that anything that seems to not completely agree with us is somehow an affront against our very existence and should be either ignored or viciously attacked. I also believe this mob mentality of only interacting with people whose views and opinions are identical to your own is what led to the unfortunate politicization of art, which I talked about in my Art Doesn't Have to Be Political post recently. I don't think people would feel an "us vs them" mentality when it came to the arts if it wasn't already encroaching on daily life. Of course it's not just politics, it's every little thing no matter how nonsensical and inconsequential it might seem. I've seen people go to war over incredibly stupid things, like whether or not Shiki can kill servants (mad respect if you get that reference).

It conjures up images of a simpler time when people didn't go to war over stupid and inconsequential shit. Wait a second, people have always been going to war over stupid and inconsequential shit! I watched this mini-documentary about something called "The War of the Bucket," which was when two countries literally went to war... over a bucket.

But you don't understand, this was an important bucket!

The context makes it much funnier. In 1325 the European city-states Bologna and Modena were divided by the Roman Catholic Church, and had made an agreement that they would stop raiding and messing with each other. But then a small group of people crossed the border, stole a bucket, and then stood on their side of the border waving it around triumphantly. This was the declaration of war that thousands of people literally died for. A fucking bucket.

Fun fact: the side that took the bucket won the war and they still have it hanging from their church to this day.

Thousands of us died, but we still have the bucket. Who's laughing now?
However, the advent of the Internet has made it more easy than ever to surround yourself with a crowd of Yes-men and Yes-women. Essentially what's happened is that this phenomenon of growing echo-chambers both increases the number of mindless haters and the number of dismissive parties who refuse to listen to anything that doesn't align with their every tiny worldview. On twitter this comes in the form of either instantly blocking anyone who doesn't agree with them, or getting their circle of followers to fight their battles for them, neither of which is productive to a civilized society. I'm not saying that things like the "block" button shouldn't exist, if someone is being annoying and won't leave you alone or is saying something inappropriate, then of course it should come as no surprise that they get blocked, but the system is abused so that people can plug their ears and say "LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" anytime someone disagrees on whether or not The Fault in Our Stars was a good book or not.


Tuning out criticism doesn't nullify it; the dissent is still there. Blocking a person doesn't stop other people from seeing the blocked person's tweet. And likewise, when YouTube channels remove dislikes, they aren't making it so that no one dislikes their video, they're just making it so that they can't personally see how many people dislike it. And the thing is that even incorrect criticism is still valuable.

Any content creator with a shred of self-respect won't shrivel up and die at the sight of someone disagreeing with them on the Internet. In fact it's quite the opposite, any self-respecting creator will be totally fine with receiving criticism and even haters, because they aren't so fragile that they need constant affirmation and approval from everyone. And when people like Lily Orchard delete comments critical of them and hide the dislike bar, it doesn't make people respect them more; if anything it just makes them seem like they know they're wrong and are trying to avoid responsibility for it. And these types of people forget one of the most universal rules of the Internet; any exposure is good exposure.

Even Logan Paul, the scumbag who lost YouTube millions of dollars in advertising money because of his insensitive video on suicide, still is extremely popular today despite constant and extreme backlash. If anything the backlash and hate he got from his video only made it more widely circulated. He definitely lost a bunch of subscribers right after the video came out, but since then his channel has been doing just fine, and someone with millions of dollars and fans doesn't cry themselves to sleep just because one of their videos got a bunch of dislikes.

Yet things like dislikes and comments full of criticism are actually invaluable to the creator. If a channel with millions of subscribers usually gets an overwhelming majority of likes on their videos, but then one of their videos in particular gets a lot of hate, it's more likely that the content of that particular video is the reason why and not just because everyone is a mindless hater. If everyone was just a mindless hater, all of their videos would be bombed with dislikes, but if they all have 98% likes except for one, then it's extremely likely that the creator made a mistake or the content of their video was very flawed in some way that they aren't noticing.

We see this all the time from massive entities; when YouTube Rewind 2018 became the most disliked video on YouTube, they started flirting with the idea of removing dislikes from the platform, and as EmpLemon pointed out, every stupid and reckless decision Google and YouTube makes starts with them playfully teasing an idea before suddenly making it a reality out of nowhere.

They claim it's "to protect content creators from dislike mobs," but when only them and Justin Bieber's music video for Baby get that many dislikes, it makes it excruciatingly obvious that they're just talking about themselves. They're butt-hurt that their cheesy and extremely out-of-touch video was disliked by everyone.

I wished videos like this one had stayed in the realm of parody but I don't even know anymore.

I'd say the thing that makes criticism valuable is that, even if the critic is wrong or if their point is invalid, at least you're getting genuine feedback from someone who isn't lying to kiss up to you. It's why I wouldn't trust only having a family member or close friend read your work and provide feedback on it. Having a range of strangers with no motivation to lie to protect your feelings will open you up to more constructive criticism and honest feedback. And the truth is, I've gotten some pretty bad advice from beta readers and Internet friends who provided their feedback. But I've also gotten a lot of invaluable and honest criticism that opened me up to drastic improvement. Of course, I've also gotten mindless haters, but that's just a part of the fun. Getting haters means you're at least doing something.

You know who doesn't get any haters?

People who never do a damn thing. In order to get haters you have to first put your neck out there to get hated, and while I'm not saying I want to exclusively be hated, I'd much rather have haters than nothing at all.

We can't numb ourselves to criticism because to do so is to think yourself infallible. Because no one is infallible, no one can take all criticism with a grain of salt. Notice I say "all" because there will always be some criticism that should be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes you open yourself up to criticism and some dumbass says something so mind-meltingly stupid that you can't possibly fathom how they've survived this long.

Take the movie Frozen for example.

No, not the Disney movie, this one:


This horror movie got a shit-ton of stupid criticism. The thing is that this wasn't a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, it's in no way immune from criticism, but for whatever reason the only criticism it did receive was from mentally-incapacitated morons.

The movie is about a few college students who get stuck on a ski lift on a Friday night and are stuck there until Monday morning. There's one scene where a guy jumps off and breaks his legs. One critic said that it didn't make sense that he broke his legs when he landed in snow, but it was later proven that a 50-foot fall into snow would be like hitting concrete. Another critic said, "The movie was alright but the bad CGI wolves ruined it for me." The movie used REAL wolves, he couldn't even google that before leaving a negative review for the "bad CGI wolves"? Another critic said that the whole premise of the movie was flawed because no ski resort would ever be reckless enough for someone to get stuck on the ski lift, and then literally one week later it actually happened in real life. A man got stuck on a ski lift after the resort closed for the night, and he was only rescued when he started burning cash with a lighter and waved it around to get someone's attention. That critic deleted their bad review but never apologized.

Others said that the green-screen behind the actors looked fake, but just like with the wolves, the movie was filmed on an actual ski lift outside in freezing winter conditions, which just makes it seem like the only reason this movie has a bad rating is because people were too stupid to fact-check anything themselves.

And of course, I don't like this movie that much. I thought it was a good movie and it seemed realistic to me, but I'm not a die-hard Frozen fan (not this one or the Disney one). Yet all this stupid and plain factually-incorrect criticism against the film only made it seem like no one had any real criticisms.

Which leads me to my next point...

Criticism is not above criticism.

That sounds kind of odd when I say it like that, but essentially what I mean to convey is that the mere act of criticizing someone does not make the critic immune from criticism in turn. People can be wrong. Creators can be wrong. And people criticizing creators can also be wrong. Again, no one is infallible, so critics and haters of various degrees are not beyond reproach. Everyone and everything is fair game.


Dissent is like brakes on a car. When someone is heading in the wrong direction, enough opposition might make them come to a stop, but when people, groups and massive entities put on headphones and step on the gas, ignoring anything and everything that gets in their way (looking at you EU with article 13), they just speed on ahead until they crash.

The point of a world where everybody can openly criticize one-another is to create a system where everybody can keep each other in check.


You see, the point of receiving criticism is so that the person or group receiving said criticism can check themselves before they wreck themselves. When YouTube ignores its users and plows on ahead at full speed, their Rewind becomes the most disliked video of all time. When an author ignores reader feedback and self-publishes a half-finished book, they don't make any money. When Google ignores customer feedback and rolls out something like Stadia that no one wants, they waste millions of dollars, time, and human resources. Bethesda ignored gamer feedback and released the shit-show that was Fallout 76, which was a colossal failure that they wasted an ungodly amount of time, money, and effort on for nothing. Even worse than nothing, at least if they had done nothing they wouldn't have lost any money, but Fallout 76 was an extremely expensive and stupid waste of money that could have been entirely prevented by them actually listening to their own fan base.

Doctor Who writer Chris Chibnall flat-out says that he doesn't read any reviews, watch any video essays or read any discussions about his seasons of Doctor Who.

Source:

He says he ignores feedback because "It's not a democracy."

And he's right, it's not a democracy. The outside world doesn't get to decide how his own show should be run, he does, and he has every right to do whatever he wants with the show and can ignore critics and audience opinions if he wants to.

But you want to know what the consumers do get to vote on? Whether or not they like something by choosing how they spend their time and money. And it just so happens that Chibnall, the most dismissive writer in Doctor Who history, is also the most disliked one. His seasons of Doctor Who are called the worst by critics, and have the lowest ratings in Doctor Who history. The show went from a pretty nice 8 million viewers to barely over 3 million under Chibnall. So if you want to plow on ahead ignoring all feedback and criticism, that's fine, but you can't complain afterwards that you tanked. The point of criticism is so that you can check yourself before you wreck yourself, and Chibnall refused to check himself and now he's wrecked himself. The show-runners say the show will be renewed for a 13th season "despite the ratings drop," which only tells me they haven't learned yet.

The creators of Charlie's Angels (2019) said they didn't care about whether or not men liked the movie, then they complained afterward that no men went to see it and blamed it on sexism.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/11/20/elizabeth-banks-charlies-angels-flopped-but-not-because-of-sexism/

There's this bad habit of groups doing things that everyone says not to do, failing, then blaming it on someone or something else. This seems to mean that either the person or group in question will pull a Chibnall and pretend that they're not failing, or pull a Charlie's Angels and blame it on something else. Both are huge mistakes.

The worst thing a creator or business can do is ignore feedback and criticism. Ignoring the criticism does not dismiss the existence of any actual flaws that might be prevalent. In fact, how someone responds to criticism is often more important than the thing that's being criticized. If a person or group gets criticized for something they did wrong or could have done better, usually their reaction to the criticism will get more publicity than the thing that was criticized in the first place. if a YouTuber gets criticized on a video of theirs, ignoring the criticism will only make them a bigger target for more hate and dissent. And inversely, if they respond well to feedback and take authentic criticism seriously, it will make them look better. People will have more respect for someone who admit to their mistakes and fix them than someone who sweeps it under the rug.

Hiding and ignoring feedback is like the Streisand Effect. Whereas the Streisand Effect usually refers to someone making information more conspicuous by trying to hide it, it also applies to criticism. There won't be a massive mob after you if a few people leave negative comments on your tweet or video.

However, if people start to notice that you always hide or delete negative comments, that will draw more attention to the negative criticism that you're trying so hard to censor. It's best to let people say what they want and handle both genuine criticism and haters gracefully.

I've also seen YouTubers and creators who gained massive esteem because of how they handled criticism.It can actually be a blessing in disguise.

There's this trend that's been going on for quite some time now, the "Don't care what anyone else thinks" trend. However while there is some merit to that, it's usually interpreted completely wrong. The point of phrases like that is to bring attention to the fact that you don't need to vie for someone's attention or approval in order to do something. It doesn't mean that you should tell your customers that you don't care about them or what they want. Because if you do that--shocker--your customers won't give you their money. The same goes for fans.

But why listen to criticism or logical argument when you can just DAB ON THEM HATERS amirite bros?!
^How Chibnall thinks he looks
^How he actually looks
One thing EmpLemon brought up is punching up vs punching down, but not only is most concentrated criticism punching up, but large entities will tell you that it's the other way around. Black is white, hot is cold, and truth is lies.

Every small YouTuber on the planet will tell you that they didn't like the YouTube 2018 Rewind and want everyone to go dislike it, and YouTube will tell you they're considering removing dislikes to protect the small YouTubers. Not themselves, Jake Paul, and celebrities. Even when YouTubers criticize one another, it's almost always small or medium-sized channels critiquing larger channels. And when the opposite does happen--like how LeafyIsHere went after channels smaller than his own--he got called out on it by idubbz, who was, ironically, a channel smaller than his own, and the underdog idubbbz brought Leafy's hypocrisy front and center. (Although EmpLemon has a much more compelling theory as to what actually led to Leafy's downfall.) Also, idubbbz became a simp recently, please pray for his swift recovery brethren.

There are lots of things that are practically guaranteed to ensure that a person or group gets a lot of criticism or ridicule, but from my experience there is one single negative attribute that increases the likelihood of receiving unprecedented amounts of backlash. And it can be summarized in phrase I brought up earlier: out of touch.

If someone says something that's wrong or factually incorrect, or if they make a typo, there's usually going to be people in the comments or mentions pointing out the flaw. However, when a person or group insists that they have your best interest in mind and then try to represent you, when in reality they're lying, slimy know-nothings, nothing will get people more riled up. And it's usually larger groups that are the most out of touch.

However there are other sides of this coin besides creators and corporations ignoring their own customers and fans; I'd say one of the biggest examples is the scientific community. The most frightening thing about the scientific community today is that it's become a monolith, and that's extremely regrettable.

I won't purport to be some history expert, but one thing that I think should be noted is that whenever the "knowledgeable" community becomes a monolith, things go downhill. As annoying as Greek sophists were, one thing I can respect about them is that they tended to lean more towards trends than any type of consensus. The "trends" were completely flawed, but it was a breath of fresh air. Both before and after the Greeks, it was common for one group to rise to the top and form a consensus about what was "right" or "true." We saw this with the Roman Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition, and numerous communist an fascist entities. They usually formed an all-unifying philosophy to act as a cornerstone for all their actions and beliefs, and each time this happens the group doing it thinks they're different. The Nazis weren't like the Spanish Inquisitors, it was different this time, because this time they were right.

Don't misquote me, I'm not saying the scientific community is like Nazis. Or the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody is dying, that's not the point I'm trying to make. The point I'm trying to make is that the scientific community has drastically changed for the worst in the last few decades.

The Greeks were special in that every week they had a new snazzy philosophy to believe in. It was obvious trend-hopping and was pretty disingenuous, but it's quite interesting how they were always arguing about new ideas and philosophies that would more likely than not be abandoned by this time next week. They never had a "standard" belief. Everybody could disagree about everything and it was completely normal. The Bible pokes a lot of fun at the Greeks who treated sciences and philosophies like items they were shopping for instead of things to live by.

Sure, one could chalk up the Greek obsession with new ideas as them being the first logic-hipsters, and they were more interested in controversy and debate than drawing actual conclusions, but at the very least they never became a monolith. This is also why the stories about Greek "gods" read like fan fiction, because it totally is.

Yet our scientific community has only become a monolith recently; as early as 2000 they were still divided over topics, still debating over details and the conclusions that could be drawn from them, but suddenly every "scientist" agrees with one another. There's no more debate or disagreement on anything. Obviously things like gravity and the Earth being round are two things that were never disputed in recent history in the scientific community, but other things like astronomy and medicine have been hot spots for debate and rhetoric.

Where did all go?

My hypothesis is that social norms have pummeled dissent out of the equation. The scientific community is more concerned with the "widely accepted" answer than the correct one. And this belief is inherently flawed because it can only be accepted as true if people are infallible and incapable of making mistakes. Physicist Richard Feynman tried to warn people about this when he saw it start happening during WWII. One thing he wrote in his biography was:


“I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.”
Yet that's how it feels, it feels like the scientific community will tell us they have all the answers but that none of them can be questioned. Why? What's wrong? Do they not hold up under scrutiny?
At the risk of being labeled a conspiracy theorist, I've always been skeptical about the premise of global warming, but just recently it was socially acceptable to be. I remember back in 2008 it was a highly debated topic. Half of the scientific community claimed it was carbon emissions and the other half claimed that was mathematically impossible and the climate was more directly affected by the Sun.
But then just a few years later, around 2012 or so, suddenly everyone chose one side and it became socially unacceptable to not agree with them. Why? Do they think the leap in knowledge in that few short years was enough to completely make them infallible?
But this post isn't about whether or not global warming is real or not. And while that's the first thing to one to my mind about answers that can't be questioned, there are certainly others. And time and time again schools teach things that are flat-out wrong.
Were you ever taught that most of our body-heat leaves through our head? That was disproven, that was just a common saying in the military to make sure people wore their beanies. You might have also been told that Henry Ford invented the car, but in reality it was Karl Benz. This was likely taught in schools because American teachers didn't want to give the Germans credit for the invention of the automobile. You might have been taught that Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, but it was actually Nikola Tesla, Thomas just stole the invention and patented it under his name. And even that's dubious because several other scientists worked with Tesla, so it was more of a group effort. You might have also been taught that George Washington has wooden teeth, but that is also false. He wore golden dentures to supplement his real teeth, but he did not have wooden teeth or dentures. You might have also been taught that blood is blue before it gets oxygen, that's not true. Your blood is always red. It only looks blue when you look at your veins because of how the light filters through your skin.
These are all things that are patently wrong but are taught in schools to millions of people as undeniably true. And while these are relatively insignificant things, it highlights the biggest flaw in western education and that's that nothing can be subjective. Everything is a "common core" curriculum; one person in southern California will be taught the same things and the same "facts" as someone 700 miles away in northern California. Most states have a state-wide curriculum which is dangerous because it means that any mistake in the program is magnified millions of times, the same mistake being taught to millions of people. And as children we don't know any better so we have no choice but to accept everything that's taught to us is true.

This leads to adults who can't think for themselves. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten into debates with people about something scientific only to hear "Well, all the scientists say it's true." Have people lost the ability to think for themselves? To doubt for themselves, to investigate for themselves?

Just to clarify, there is some merit to that phrase; after all, if I had a math question, I would probably want to ask a math teacher, not a history teacher.

Yet what this neglects is the possibility that scientists aren't always right about everything. That doesn't mean that they're all wrong all the time and shouldn't be trusted, it just means that the things they say and the conclusions they come to should be examined to see if they make any sense.

Although, as opposed to the scientific community, politics is far from a monolith. And as cancerous as the political landscape is, at the very least there's still debate and disagreement. If tomorrow the Clintons and Trumps were best buddies and all holding hands singing kumbaya, I'd probably shit myself. Something would have to be seriously wrong for something like that to happen.

At least in politics we can safely assume for the time being that there will always being opposing sides keeping each other in check and neither side will have permanent power over the other.

Generally the mere existence of a monolith in any field of knowledge is problematic. It means that they get to choose what are the "correct" facts and any ideas or evidence that speaks out against them must be wrong.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not just trying to bash the scientific community; it would be just as bad if it were a different field of knowledge. If it were history, it would be one group telling their version of history and having it accepted as the "correct" one, and any evidence that contradicted them would be labeled fake news and could be swept under the rug. Many powerful dictators in the past and to some extent today maintain a certain level of authority purely on the basis that their own version of history is the only one taught. In the present day we see China censoring the free-flow of information and banning any mention of what happened in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The topic of the Tiananmen Square massacre is one that I've taken a lot of personal interest in because China's attempts to censor the event were so incredibly successful that even most of the west doesn't know how bad it actually was. The west knows that a lot of people died but many of the details aren't taught in school. You might say that's because it's a really macabre topic and not something appropriate for schools, but in my college history courses there was only a brief mention of the incident and that was about it. Most people in the west are probably familiar with this picture:

 
It's probably the most famous photograph regarding China's dark history, but most people don't know that this is a heavily cropped version. Nothing makes you say "Oh shit" more than seeing the full photo and the others taken surrounding it.
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This is the full photo.

 
Here are some more taken on June 4th, 1989.


No one knows the exact number of casualties, but hundreds if not thousands of students, teenagers and college kids were slaughtered. Chinese history books only mention the date as the day that "A small liberal group of protestors were stopped with force," but they leave out the part where they literally ran over crowds of people in tanks and mowed them down with machine guns. I won't share them here because I made the mistake of looking at some and almost puked, but there are photos out there of the.... aftermath. I really don't recommend looking at them, but if you have a strong stomach and wanted to get the full picture, it's there. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Most Chinese youth have no clue what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989, all they know is that they aren't supposed to talk about it. This is partly because of pictures like the ones above being changed into pictures like this:


Stuff like this meant to turn the whole thing into this big joke, hoping to trivialize the events so that no Chinese millennials will care about what actually happened. And it's worked; many western reporters have asked Chinese youth what they know about Tiananmen Square, and they pretty much always say that all they know is that there was a protest there and they aren't supposed to talk about it. That's really terrifying.

I don't think I need a whole lot of evidence to support this next statement, but you can probably think of several examples where one religious group became a monolith and that turned out to not exactly be a good thing for society.

I hope this clarifies that it's not the science community that is inherently flawed, rather the concept of any one field of knowledge becoming a monopoly. Right now in the states it's science, but in the UK it's the news (BBC News is government funded and run, who better to tell us about the events of the world than what's deemed appropriate by your own government, amirite?) and in China it's history and news. They're all quite dangerous, because no one group should run rampant unchecked.

These are the sorts of things I like to keep in mind whenever I think of criticism. When put into that context, criticism isn't such a bad thing. The mere fact that we have the freedom to openly criticize anything or anyone that we want is a powerful thing, and I'd rather be criticized by someone I disagree with than live in a reality where Tiananmen Square was just something involving a protest.

So next time you get criticized or see people bickering over relatively stupid stuff, we can at least appreciate the fact that that dissent exists in all of its ugly and flawed forms as opposed to not existing at all. Iron sharpens iron, so as long as there's friction there will always be improvement.

As always,

may all your cups of tea be your cup of tea,

and I'll see you in the next post.

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