David M. Brown's Blog

August 23, 2016

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say any of the following things to me. I will be offended.

Filed under: Economics,Ethics,Philosophy,Politics,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 6:22 pm

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “Here are some words you may never use.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “Let’s soak the rich because they’re rich.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “A person accused of sexual assault is guilty regardless of the facts.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “A police officer who shoots somebody is automatically guilty of wrongdoing, regardless of the facts.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “I don’t have time to read the free Kindle sample of your new book The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “The earth, which I like to call Gaia, or Gaea, is in great danger from industrial civilization; therefore, we must outlaw plastic bags, incandescent light bulbs, and toilets that flush too vigorously.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “The meaningless, nihilistic smears and juxtapositions of modern pseudo-art are an eloquent and transcendent expression of something-or-other.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “As a journalist, facts are not important to me. What’s important to me is skewing or omitting the facts in service of my egalitarian or socialist ideological agenda, and always licking the boots of the politically powerful.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “Islam-motivated terrorism isn’t at all motivated by Islam and maybe it isn’t even terrorism.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “You will enjoy this movie as long as you turn off your brain before you start watching and desist with your importunate demands for originality, intelligence and honesty. It’s just a movie.” I will be offended.

#TriggerWarning: Don’t ever say “I don’t care how much wealth and survival is made possible by capitalism and ambitous profit-seeking; capitalism is evil. Why? Because production, division of labor, trade, freedom, human life and rationally fulfilling the requirements of human survival are evil, I guess.” I will be offended.


August 20, 2016

Aging is not a “disease”; nor is finitude

Filed under: Ethics,Philosophy,Science,Self-help,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 6:56 am

The blogger Instapundit, commenting on efforts to slow the inexorable advance of our decrepitude, says “Good to see aging being treated as the disease that it is.”

No, I veto this wording. A normal, universal and inevitable biological process is not a “disease,” even if it makes us more susceptible to disease as we careen toward the finish line. Is the intention here to be loose and metaphorical, deliberately inexact, in a sort of jovial and ironic way? Well then, fine. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the intention when the claim is being made repeatedly and emphatically. If biological limitations and finitude as such are a “disease,” living as such is a “disease,” and the concept of “disease” loses its meaning. Then we would have to find another word for colds, pneumonia, myocardial infarctions, et cetera. What’s next, prescribing penicillin for the Law of Identity? I’m all in favor of our slowing or stopping aging, and I’d also like us to slow or stop misuse of language.

A commenter at the Instapundit site, responding to the same Instapundit report on efforts to combat aging, wants to know: “So what gives the current generation the justification to live forever? Why shouldn’t they die like every other generation? I see no redeeming qualities about me to justify such a thing. In fact, I’d recommend resurrecting the Greatest Generation before letting the current morally and physically deficient generation continue for another breath.”

This is one of those strenuously nonsensical assertions that must exhaust and outlast any attempt to fully answer it. One may as well ask the commenter what “justification” he himself has to exert the effort required to live the next hour, month, year, decade, or whatever the full span is until he is no longer able to survive.

Justifications occur within the context of pursuing the ultimate goal of your own life. Taking medicine is justified to help keep you alive; you don’t stay alive to “justify” your taking medicine as an end in itself. If someone who might have died at age 59 instead lives until 89 because he improves his habits of exercise and diet, would this guy say unto him, “So what gives you [and other members of ‘the current generation’] the right to live longer? Why shouldn’t you have died at age 59 like every other person who dies at that age? I see no redeeming qualities about you [or ‘the current generation’] to justify such a thing”?

Organisms expend effort and energy to sustain their existence; that’s what it means to be alive. Whether a particular individual is “morally corrupt” or lacks “redeeming qualities” and is thus deserving of censure is a separate question. And no, there isn’t any mass indictment of all members of a generation as a group that can properly be made without consideration of what differentiates specific individuals in that group and their choices and actions as individuals.

Another commenter says: “This anti-aging obsession is very selfish….why do baby boomers and others think they are so special that they should live longer and grub more resources? Pathetic.”

This means that staying healthy and alive is a bad thing, because being alive is per se a bad thing. This also means that eating, exercise, shelter, medicine are all necessarily bad things too isofar as they foster the continued well-being and survival of a living individual.

Of course, doing the things you need to do to stay healthy and alive is indeed selfish, if selfishness simply means being concerned with and taking appropriate actions to foster and preserve one’s self. But I suspect that the commenter intends “selfish” to include also what he anyone would regard as bad and objectionable conduct rather than only acting rationally and peacefully to enhance one’s life–so that benign life-serving actions are guilty by association with the malignant actions. Note that he offers no argument or reasoning to explain why taking further steps to improve one’s ability to survive is bad. He offers only disapproval and guilt by association with some undefined evil, maybe bank robbery and murder.

Similarly, the production and consumption required to sustain human life are pejoratively transformed into “grubbing” if an individual should begin to do more than the commenter is willing to countenance in the way of living a healthier life. The connotation substitutes for argument. Folks have been “grubbing” to sustain their lives long before life extension or anti-aging research came along. No doubt each new advance of civilization making possible longer average lifespans was greeted with equal howls of protest by equivalent commenters in their day.

Read The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real

Read Omelet: A Tragedy of Bill Shake-a-speare

Read The Case of the Cockamamie Killer

August 18, 2016

A social media forum that won’t muzzle and ban? Sign me up.

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Publishing,Self-help,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 2:54 pm

If you do Twitter-like and other social-media communicating but hate Twitter-like, Facebook-like muzzling of too-contrarian views and banning of those who utter them, you may want to get on the waiting list for http://gab.ai/ , which is being founded with the explicit purpose of protecting freedom of expression on its forum. Its home page has this quote:

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”— Salman Rushdie

Gab.ai is small now. Will it get lots bigger? That’s partly up to us. I say we help it reach the tipping point that will make it competitive with the muzzlers and banners. I’m #8052 on the waiting list. Yes, I am a Number.

August 1, 2016

No, automation is not a productivity-killer

Filed under: Economics,Society and culture,Technology,trade — davidmbrowndotcom @ 9:36 am

Contrary to GeekWire’s Alan Boyle and, apparently, Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, automation is not “the biggest challenge to jobs” if by that is meant the biggest challenge to a high-employment and highly productive economy.

Automation improves productivity. It enables you to do more stuff with less time and grunting. Automation is not a “challenge to jobs,” even if it makes specific jobs irrelevant because people don’t have to do them any longer. Do we really want to lament that we’re not 90% farmers these days because of vastly improved technological methods of agriculture, or that the candle and buggy makers were once thrown out of work by light bulbs and automobiles? New means of productivity require new kinds of jobs.

The point of any productive work is to produce something of value so that one can directly and indirectly sustain one’s life; it is not to cling to a (static, never-changing) job as an end in itself. That technological progress has gone beyond flint, spears and bear skins is not a tragedy.

July 24, 2016

Frustrated, nihilistic losers are attracted to ideas that appeal to frustrated, nihilistic losers

Filed under: Ethics,Islam,News,Philosophy,Psychology,Religion,Society and culture,Terrorism — davidmbrowndotcom @ 4:08 pm

Why do some people think that if a Muslim terrorist has been psychologically screwed up in ways not directly related to a jihadist ideology of religious-political murdering of innocents in the name of Islam, then an evident Islamist motive becomes marginal or irrelevant to explaining his mass-murdering? So that, if so, we may no longer acknowledge Islamist rationalization of mass murder as a salient motive no matter how many times the guy screams “Allahu Akbar” as he takes people out?

New York Magazine‘s Claire Landsbaum last month:

“Since the shooting, police have been attempting to piece together what motivated Mateen to carry out the attack. He reportedly declared his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call just before the shooting, and police say he referred to the Tsarnaev brothers, who were responsible for the Boston bombings, as his ‘homeboys.’ But officials stressed that Mateen’s links to terrorist groups remained unconfirmed, despite the fact that he’d been investigated three times by the FBI for such connections.

“It’s still impossible to say what motivated Mateen, but it now appears the answer is much more complicated than Islamic extremism.”

So, there are complexities in life.

But no idea, good or bad, if it is grasped and acted upon in the world, functions in a vacuum outside of anybody’s psychology. It’s specific individuals who accept, implement, practice, spread ideas.

In his book The True Believer, Eric Hoffer observed that frustrated and despairing individuals who seek a way to submerge and forget their lousy lives and selves are open to mass movements that demand submergence of and sacrifice of life and judgment in the name of those movements.

Hoffer: “All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and singlehearted allegiance….

“Starting from the fact that the frustrated predominate among the early adherents of all mass movements and that the usually join of their own accord, it is assumed: 1) that frustration of itself, without any proselytizing prompting from the outside, can generate most of the peculiar characteristics of the true believer; 2) that an effective technique of conversion consists basically in the inculcation and fixation of proclivities and responses indigenous to the frustrated mind.”

In one case after another of a Disturbed Young Man slaughtering people in the name of Islam, we have a screwed-up self + obliterative jihadist ideas demanding sacrifice of selves, ideas which appeal specifically to frustrated souls eager to throw away their own moral responsibility and lives, and, incidentally, the lives of others. How does one indispensable part of this combination become irrelevant if and as we acquire information about the other indispensable part?

If we learn that a zealous convert to Nazism was frustrated and screwed up well before he ever became devoted to Nazism and der Fuehrer, does this mean that the collectivist Nazi ideology, Nazi movement, Nazi institutions, and Nazi mechanisms of force and murder to which the convert has pledged his allegiance—all the animating Nazi notions and apparatus which, in the mind of the true-believing Nazi, justify all manner of viciousness—no longer need be morally, intellectually and physically combatted?

The proto-killer’s bottomless personal frustration, zero willingness to struggle to make better moral choices in his life, and absolute willingness to throw himself and others on the pyre for the sake of ideas that both demand such sacrifices and promise that making those sacrifices will relieve the frustration…these are not mutually exclusive motives that cannot be enlisted together in consistent explanation of why somebody would shoot into a crowd or drive a truck into a crowd while screaming that he’s doing it all for Islam and Allah.

No, we don’t know everything about such individuals. But we know as much as we do know. One thing we know is that nihilistic losers and the ideas designed to appeal to nihilistic losers are perfectly compatible.


Read The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real

Read Omelet: A Tragedy of Bill Shake-a-speare

Read The Case of the Cockamamie Killer

July 17, 2016

Editorial to appease fact-averse racists apologizes for apt headline about cop-killer

Filed under: Media and journalism,News,Politics,Psychology,Society and culture,Terrorism — davidmbrowndotcom @ 5:33 am


A newspaper in Memphis quickly apologized after protestors complained about its choice of headline in the wake of the deadly police shooting in Dallas.

“Gunman targeted whites,” read the lead story headline in the Commercial Appeal, a member of the USA Today network. The headline was accurate, as Dallas gunman Micah Xavier Johnson explicitly talked about wanted to kill white police officers before he was eliminated via robot bomb.

That didn’t stop protestors from gathering outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis on Wednesday to express their displeasure, some holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”

Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham quickly apologized after meeting with the protestors, and wrote an editorial titled, “We got it wrong.”

Louis Graham’s editorial has stuff like this:

Those three big words in headline type stretched across Saturday’s front page — Gunman Targeted Whites — were true according to police accounts in Dallas at the time but they badly oversimplified a very complex, rapidly evolving story, and angered many of our readers and many more in the broader community.

In my view the headline was so lacking in context as to be tone deaf, particularly in a city with a 65 percent African American population. That front page minimized the broader refrain of what’s happening in our country with anguish over the deaths of young black men at the hands of police. It has been viewed as suggesting that this newspaper values the lives of white police officers more than young black men who have died in incident after incident.

This guy says he also received objections for a headline that referred to how a bridge was shut down because of a protest instead of referring, more content-free-wise, simply to “peaceful protests.” Anyone forcibly blocking others from going about their business is not being peaceful.

Graham says the “Gunman Targeted Whites” headline failed to capture the entire swirling cauldron of nuances of the fast-moving situation—and that this failure, somehow, makes the headline culpable, objectionable, bad. Bad headline. But the function of headlines is to function as headlines, not to substitute for the detailed report that the headline headlines.

Another thing this editor says is that in a city with so many black people, such a headline is tone-deaf. Some people—the ones who yelled at him—were irrationally upset by it, sure. But the headline didn’t say that all black people in the city target white people. It said the killer targeted white people. Nor did the black people of the town march en masse to protest the newspaper’s brazenly fact-stating headline. The fact-deaf BLM jerks, plus some equally fact-deaf and also vocally obnoxious ones in the “wider community,” were the ones protesting. (The editor reports no poll, by the way, nor even any casual conversations with any persons not offended by the headline. He feels chastised, and the persons of whatever color just minding their own business, unoffended by fact-stating headlines, affect him not. If you want to convince Graham to reverse course on any matter, don’t refer to any truths or facts, just storm his palace and demand craven submission.)

People were angry at the paper, Graham says. Why? For any good reason? How does merely being angry mean that the anger is justified? The editor also says he knows that other readers will be angry at his kowtowing (which he wants to believe he is not doing). How and why is their anger at his appeasement misguided? They’re angry too. What about their anger? I fear that we have competing anger factions here and that the only way to resolve the matter will be to resort to facts. Perhaps the fact that the killer was, by his own admission, targeting whites is relevant after all.

Will all future newspaper headlines need to be rewritten to ensure that they can’t possibly offend anybody for any reason? That would be doubleplusungood, but, what the heck, Graham and similarly brave editorial souls may use the following headline, which covers every contingency. But I require a royalty check to be sent to me oneach of the infinite number of times it will need to be deployed in preemptive appeasement of all unhinged protestors:

 -Story in article-

This catchall will be especially useful for readers scanning contents pages. I wish I could give the above lustrous gem away for free, but I put so much work into ensuring that nobody of any view could possibly take offense. (Not counting partisans of objectivity and justice, substantive content, etc., that is.) As for the story itself—no! Don’t start reporting any of the facts in the column inches of the formal report either. People could really get upset.


Read The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real

Read Omelet: A Tragedy of Bill Shake-a-speare

Read The Case of the Cockamamie Killer


July 9, 2016

Kill or be killed

Filed under: Society and culture,Technology,Terrorism,War — davidmbrowndotcom @ 8:16 am

A Los Angeles Times article says that Dallas cops’ use of sophisticated military equipment to kill someone before that someone could kill (more of) them raises “raises ethical questions.” One such is the risk that powerful technology like the bomb-ferrying robot used to kill the Dallas sniper could be misused. Yes, it could be misused…just like every other weapon and every tool in human history. Battering rams can be used to smash in doors of innocent home owners in the middle of the night solely because somebody told the police that drugs were on the premises. But battering rams don’t invade homes; home invaders do.

The only question relevant in a kill-or-be-killed situation like what happened in Dallas is whether there’s a way to kill the enemy without being killed yourself. If you’re the victim of the aggression, you already know it’s right, as matter of the ethical principle of self-defense, to kill the enemy.

The new tactic may “raise ethical questions,” but, contrary to what the LA Times headline seems to be implying, not any new ethical questions, not with respect to what to do in certain situations given the materials available to you. If you can stop the guy shooting at you most quickly and definitively only by dropping a giant rock on his head, do that. If aiming a satellite-based laser beam on his head is the only way, do that. All the considerations about risk and effectiveness that are relevant with respect to deploying any other weapon against the killer are also relevant with respect to deploying the bomb-ferrying robot.

And it turns out that the police were correct. The robot-delivered bomb did kill Micah Johnson, and only Johnson. Good job, remote-controlled devices.

July 2, 2016

From “micro”-bad to “mega”-worse?

Filed under: Language and grammar,Politics,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 5:53 am

Appeasing bullies doesn’t shut them down, true. Giving credence to dishonest concepts with no basis in reality, concepts designed to obfuscate reasonable distinctions and preempt thought, doesn’t shut those down either.

“Microaggression” has become a fashionable term in the academy, but it applies better in the realm of international relations, where American adversaries are constantly needling and testing the world’s sole superpower.

The Iranians did this in January when they detained two boatloads of U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf. …

The Obama administration, as far as one can tell, has been equally supine in the face of numerous microaggressions from Russia. Josh Rogin of the Washington Post recently reported that the Russian intelligence services, the FSB, is harrassing U.S. diplomats all over Europe. According to Rogin, “Diplomats reported that Russian intruders had broken into their homes late at night, only to rearrange the furniture or turn on all the lights and televisions, and then leave. One diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.”

The harassment is most intense in Moscow, with diplomats reporting “slashed tires and regular harassment by traffic police.” In Obama’s first term, Rogin continued, “Russian intelligence personnel broke into the house of the U.S. defense attache in Moscow and killed his dog.”

Beating people up and trashing property are not “micro”-aggressions. They are full-fledged violent aggressions. The notion of “micro”-aggressions was concocted to impugn any incidental speech that somebody somewhere might be offended by—whether on rational, or, more likely, irrational grounds—and thus provide a pseudo-justification for mega-censorship and mega-harassment of the “offenders.” One needn’t muddy one’s thought with such a delusive notion as “micro”-aggression in order to observe that doing nothing proportionate and effective to oppose scattered instances of egregiously bad conduct encourages wider and worse perpetration of the same.

December 22, 2013

There is no God

Filed under: Bible stories,Philosophy,Religion,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 10:58 pm
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I sometimes hear that although an atheist may be entitled to not believe in God, he is not entitled to believe or flatly assert that there is no God. The atheist, supposedly, cannot be sure that there is no God.

It is true that lack of belief in any gods, i.e., an absence of theistic belief, is all that is required to make one an atheist. I agree with George H. Smith there. But any atheist, if he comes at the question with the appropriate epistemological greaves and cuirasses, which consist in nothing more than uncomplicated and explicit acceptance of the self-evident and inescapable axioms at the base of all thought, is also fully justified in asserting that there is no God. Not only has the burden-of-proof requirement never been met by proponents of notions of supernatural entities of any sort, but it is impossible for this burden of proof to ever be met. How can there be “evidence” for the existence of entities that cannot possibly exist? One is entitled to believe and to positively assert that impossibilities do not exist and cannot exist.

In addition to the theist’s claims about God’s impossible powers (e.g., although theists often quarrel about points fine and not so fine, God is said to be able to violate the law of identity via miracles; is said to be omniscient, omnipotent, creator of the universe, etc.), God and any gods are the kinds of entities for whose existence no evidence is ever provided. (Storytelling is not evidence, so no need to “contradict” me by pointing to Homer or the Bible.)

If somebody were to arbitrarily assert that there exist winged elephants (elephants of the bulk and weight we we are acquainted with, using wings to fly with), and I say that I don’t believe in winged elephants, then I would be an a-winged-elephantist, a non-believer in winged elephants. I am such now. I am also sure that winged elephants don’t exist. (I am sure only because I have paused to consider the notion; normally it would not come up and I would not be expending any epistemological effort to assess it.) The proposition contradicts everything we know and cannot be substantiated by any direct or indirect evidence.

Now, if (actual) evidence could be provided for a winged elephant, rendering the claim of the existence of winged elephants non-arbitrary, I would have to examine that evidence to come to a judgment about what if any value it has. This evidence would have to show that under certain natural conditions, a certain kind of creature could and evidently does exist (perhaps in another star system) that I would be willing to call a “winged elephant” because of its similarity to elephants and the similarity of the unexpected limbs in structure and capacity to wings. But this new evidence, requiring a new conclusion in light of my new knowledge, could not be of the sort that stipulates that winged elephants are invisible, or “beyond human understanding,” or capable of contradicting the nature of things, etc. I can be shown actual evidence for winged elephants only if the winged elephants are part of the natural world. Thus they would have a specific, finite nature, interacting with other things in nature and having some kind of effect on those other things.

To be is to be something, a something that cannot be what it is and not what it is at the same time and in the same respect. If the entity that men call God, an entity currently invisible and imperceptible, were in fact a part of nature; if this “God” did in fact have a specific identity that could not be violated and this “God” could not wield magical identity-violating powers, etc., then it would not be “God” or a god in any familiar sense of the term. The entity would be a part of nature, interacting with other parts of nature, leaving evidence of its existence, footprints and so forth. But it would not be able to alter any part of the universe (let alone bring it into existence) by saying things like “Let Their Be Light.” For the entity to secure effects, it would have to enact causes. There would have to be a light bulb or a candle involved, or at least flint or lightning.

The God we’re told about is not only implausible, but impossible. What we’re entitled to take as self-evident starting points of thought are the facts that the things that we perceive exist, that they are what they are, that they act in accordance with their nature. Any claim about the existence of an entity whose very nature is supposed to be exempt from the constraints of nature is an impossibility. I know that impossible things can’t exist. Not only is there no God, but I also know that there isn’t.

December 6, 2013

We can still have a Propaedia

Filed under: Media and journalism,Society and culture,Technology — davidmbrowndotcom @ 2:39 am

The lament of this New Republic article on the demise (in 2012) of the print edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, to the extent not merely nostaligic, seems to be based on the difficulty of updating links if one wants a Propaedia-style outline of the whole.

But the great paper encyclopedias of the past had other, grander ambitions: They aspired to provide an overview of all human knowledge, and, still more boldly, to put that knowledge into a coherent, logical order. Even if they mostly organized their articles alphabetically, they also sought ways to link the material together thematically—all of it. In 1974, for instance, the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica added to the work a one-volume “Propaedia,” which sought to provide a detailed outline of human knowledge, while referencing the appropriate articles of the encyclopedia itself. Large headings such as “Life,” “Society,” and “Religion” were subdivided into forty-odd “divisions” and then further into hundreds of individual “sections.”…

In theory, there is no reason a digital encyclopedia could not have ambitions similar to these. A digital “Propaedia” could of course provide hyperlinks to individual Encyclopedia articles, which would work far more efficiently than printed cross-references. But in practice, to have an encyclopedia even try to provide a systematic overview of knowledge requires a fixed, stable body of articles—a discrete edition.

But the job of providing an overarching perspective on human knowledge per se—of which a a classifying directory of encyclopedia volumes is only one example—is just as tough and just as doable as it ever was.

If Britannica keeps a record of all extant articles on line, it should be possible to produce a synthesizing overview of the encylopedia that, if not exhaustive or kept perfectly updated, is nonetheless as much or as little useful as an Adlerian overview of one of the print sets. The task would have to be properly formulated and delimited. Doesn’t sound easy; what was accomplished synthesizing the print sets was doubtless not easy. Whether there’s a need for such a volume that goes beyond the benefit of feeling the warm feeling that “Ah! Such a volume exists!” is another question.

Will the next Will Durant be stymied for lack of acquaintance with an outline of a print encyclopedia to consult as he confirms or supplements background knowledge on a subject more easily than ever?

Durant’s 11 bulky volumes of the Story of Civilization don’t say everything about everything about what men have learned and accomplished over the centuries; and no doubt many of his details must be corrected or updated. (It’s not hard; read a section of Durant, then search the Internet, Google Books, the online Britannica to find some results of later scholarship.)

The first volume of Durant’s Story was published in the 1930s, the last in the 1970s. It can hardly be up-to-the-minute in its use of secondary sources. But anyone who glimpses the achievement of The Story of Civilization knows that its wisdom and its value do not rest on being perfectly up-to-date and perfectly exhaustive. In addition to the talents and drive of the Durants’, what made their detailed and readable synthesis possible was their philosophic bent. They could see and they were eager to see so many of the connections among the details of mankind’s story, both within each volume and across volumes. Also, they must have been pretty darn good at organizing their notes.

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