Asphalt rule of criticism

Asphalt rule of criticism(aka Asphalt rule of the road)

Asphalt (noun) - A sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid

Pronunciation – Rhymes with “Ass fault

We invented this tongue-in-cheek rule on 24th Feb 2010

We tend to speak of things that we may not have full knowledge of. We tend to disagree and express that we do not find certain ideologies, methodologies, theories, worldviews useful, if they contradict with what we currently subscribe to and believe to be useful. This disagreement could be without comprehensive knowledge of the ideology, methodology, theory, worldview that we are claiming that we do not find useful. Unless we do that, philosophical discussion is going to be either very boring or non-existent; as we are not supposed to reject anything unless we have learnt the topic exhaustively. This will not be possible in most practical circumstances. The burden of proof thus lies with the proponents of such and not with us. If you are someone who subscribe to something that we have criticized, feel free to disagree and enlighten us with information, if you care to. As stated in the disclaimer, we do not have convictions regarding any of these topics that we cannot let go of. Once proven wrong, we will gladly stand corrected.

Following two convictions are still negotiable, but will be relative harder to convince us otherwise.

(1) We do not hold that religious doctrines should be immune from criticism. We tend to be careful not to hurt religious feelings too much, but there is no such guarantee.

(2) We do not believe that we need to know something inside out before criticizing it. Please do not blame us for criticizing something without knowing it fully. Knowing it fully is relative position anyway. Rather than blaming us for the action of criticizing, please feel free to criticize our point of view regarding the matter and educate us.

Rationale of the asphalt rule: 9 out of 10 times (ok, we made that statistic up, but you get the point) over-the-top religious/philosophical mumbo jumbo is actually worthless if not harmful. Challenging or outright rejection of such is good for keeping the ideological landscape relatively clean. There is a risk that you may be subsequently proven wrong; given the odds, it is a valid risk to take.

Refer Kalama Sutta for a complementing rule of skeptical inquiry from Buddhist philosophy.

If a group of educated elites suddenly started saying that they have been contacted by very advance alien civilization, and they are the first few people to receive the gift of new knowledge from the aliens, and started preaching the new path to salvation, great many people would reject their claim and label them “nut jobs” immediately. We might do the same. Perhaps, we will be careful not to label them nut jobs, but skepticism and rejection will be our first reaction, until we are convinced that they are indeed making a lot of sense and advance alien civilizations do exist after all.