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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


  • Upgrading from a cardboard box for the homeless - Los Angeles Times
    Until a few weeks ago, he dozed on a thin mattress in the open air. Now he beds down in a snug mobile shelter called an EDAR (short for Everyone Deserves a Roof), a covered contraption that looks like the offspring of a shopping cart and a pop-up camper.

  • Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio - Nobel Lecture
    Why do we write? I imagine that each of us has his or her own response to this simple question. One has predispositions, a milieu, circumstances. Shortcomings, too. If we are writing, it means that we are not acting. That we find ourselves in difficulty when we are faced with reality, and so we have chosen another way to react, another way to communicate, a certain distance, a time for reflection.

  • Language Log » Linguifying outrage

  • The Truth about Hypocrisy: Scientific American
    Former U.S. vice president Al Gore urges us all to reduce our carbon footprint, yet he regularly flies in a private jet. Former drug czar William Bennett extols the importance of temperance but is reported to be a habitual gambler. Pastor Ted Haggard preached the virtues of “the clean life” until allegations of methamphetamine use and a taste for male prostitutes arose. Eliot Spitzer prosecuted prostitution rings as attorney general in New York State, but he was later found to be a regular client of one such ring.

    These notorious accusations against public figures all involve hypocrisy, in which an individual fails to live according to the precepts he or she seeks to impose on others. Charges of hypocrisy are common in debates because they are highly effective: we feel compelled to reject the views of hypocrites. But although we see hypocrisy as a vice and a symptom of incompetence or insincerity, we should be exceedingly careful about letting our emotions color our judgments of substantive issues.



I found this SciAm article abut hypocrisy to be pretty sloppy. The authors write:

One surprising truth about hypocrisy is its irrelevance...

One example he repeats several times is that it's irrelevant to the climate change argument that Gore is making that he has a huge personal carbon footprint. By the end of the article, though, the authors admit of cases where hypocrisy should rightfully influence people's positions:

when the preacher who presents himself as a moral authority gets caught having an adulterous affair, his followers may rightly call his teachings into question.

Why is the Gore hypocrisy ANY DIFFERENT from the Preacher's? I can only conclude that they are different because the authors of this SciAm article agree with Gore and tend to disagree with preachers preaching about morality.

The flip side is instructive. People who "practice what they preach" rightfully have a greater effect on uncommitted/ uninformed folks than do hypocrites.

I agree with the fundamental premise: that ideas should be considered on their merits. But the messenger of the idea can be seen as trustworthy or not, and one's trustworthiness is - rightfully I think - tarnished when one finds out that they don't practice what they preach.


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