About this blog

My high-minded aim for this blog is to “change minds through well-researched writing.” This is a tall order, and I’ll inevitably fall short often. But I feel it’s important to try; here’s why:

Debate (particularly in Singapore) is becoming more polarised (though see this post for another perspective on “polarisation”). Things like news aggregators, curated opinion sites, and Facebook’s News Feed have made it easier to surround oneself with the opinions of like-minded people. Cass Sunstein has characterised this evocatively as an “echo chamber” [1]. He considers it deleterious for democracy that we are exposed less and less to alternative points of view, because it can lead to extremism (in other words, polarisation). Moreover, people tend to gravitate towards dichotomous (yes/no, pro/con, liberal/conservative) arguments and debates, which creates more polarisation (see p. 7 in this link).

I hope to use this blog to provide an alternative point of view; one that’s supported (as appropriate) with research from the social sciences and with normative ethical and political arguments. And to do that requires a lot of effort from the writer, undoubtedly (that’s why I’ll fall short).

But it also asks of readers one deceptively-modest commitment: the willingness to change one’s mind. This requires accepting that one might be wrong—that demands intellectual modesty. And this works, in a small way, against polarisation. On this blog, I hope to try to present ideas and arguments that aren’t heard all that often, reach across conventional partisan lines, and fight polarisation.

[1] Sunstein, Cass. 2007. Republic.com 2.0. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. See also this review of the book for a very quick summary.

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