Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Unsinkable Rubber Ducks

In terms of building up a robust world-view, it's understandable that one would want to make it as durable as possible. If an idea is internally incoherent or easy to dismiss then it's not going to survive very long in the marketplace of ideas, not to mention it's incredibly unsatisfying to hold such a frail belief. In other words, we want to make our ducks as unsinkable as possible.

Once someone forms a belief, they seek to justify it. There are plenty of ways to do this, some better than others. No-one wants to see their precious duck in the bottom of the bath, so through the use of the metaphor of a rubber duck here are a list of different arguments and concepts that people use to justify why they hold their duck as being unsinkable.

Presupposition rubber duck - For you to even test whether my duck is unsinkable, you first need to have an unsinkable duck. Since you can't demonstrate that your duck is unsinkable, then you don't have grounds to see whether mine sinks.

Revealed rubber duck - The great duck in the sky has revealed to me that this rubber duck is unsinkable. And who are you to call the great duck in the sky a liar?!?

Last rubber duck standing - All other rubber ducks I tried appeared to sink, all suffering from fatal design flaws. Since there must be an unsinkable rubber duck, it follows that my duck is unsinkable because all other ducks have sunk.

Faith rubber duck - I have faith that my duck is unsinkable. Even if you show it to be sinkable and even demonstrate that it has sunk, I won't stop believing that my duck is unsinkable.

Comfort rubber duck - Believing this duck is unsinkable gives me great comfort, so why would I want to abandon it?

Anecdotal rubber duck - I heard from Bob that Jill is in the possession of a duck that, get this, is unsinkable. Bob's usually pretty reliable when it comes to these matters, if Bob says Jill has one then Jill has one.

Conspiracy rubber duck - All signs point to my duck floating, that evidence you presented of my duck sinking is proof that my duck floats. Just think of who gains to profit by my duck's demise!

Ancient rubber duck - This rubber duck has been part of our culture for thousands of years. If it were sinkable then why would our ancestors have kept it for so long? By even claiming that the duck is sinkable is belittling my culture, why are you so intolerant?

Alt-med rubber duck - Why should we pollute our bodies with the artificial toxins your duck offers when my duck is natural? Big Pharma uses your duck to keep us sick and handing over our money when my duck only seeks to heal.

Psychic rubber duck - My duck is unsinkable, I've seen it float. It doesn't matter that it doesn't float all the time, when it floats or not is at the whims of powers well beyond our comprehension. Suffice to say that when it floats it is unsinkable.

Secret Rubber Duck - The only reason my duck seems sinkable is because you didn't want it badly enough. If you had truly wanted my duck to be unsinkable then it would have been so.

Post-modern rubber duck - The construct of a rubber duck is a cultural phenomenon, the subjective point of reference defeats the inference that there can be a quality such as sinkability nor can it articulate the desirability for said construct to achieve such a state, whereby the imperialist tendencies to impose the masculine notion of rubber ducks without consideration for the quantum efficacy of articulating through fluidity a thought supposing fascism of the mind forced onto those unsuspecting and without any need to value the construct of a rubber duck.

Freudian rubber duck - What an interesting duck you have, of course your duck can be explained in terms of my duck. How do you feel about your mother? My duck explains that too. In fact everything can be explained by my duck.

Sceptic rubber duck - I can't be certain this duck even exists. While I'll live my life as if the duck is unsinkable, I can't ever know that it's real let alone unsinkable. Sufficient introspective analysis should show the same about yours.

Empirical rubber duck - This duck is the culmination of thousands of failed designs that have come before, we have learnt from our mistakes and subjected it to rigorous testing. But go ahead and try to sink it, I'll take on board that failure and come up with a better design.

Agnostic rubber duck - (Weak) I don't know whether those claiming their duck is unsinkable really have an unsinkable duck. (Strong) Those who claim their duck is unsinkable cannot know and therefore aren't justified in saying so.

Atheist rubber duck - (Weak) I'm not going to believe you have an unsinkable duck until you show sufficient information to make that case. (Strong) That duck has definitely sunk, look it's at the bottom of the bath with a huge rip in the side.

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