META: The Problem of Subjectivity

Andrew Burton tuglyraisin at
Thu Mar 13 16:46:50 PDT 2008

Martin Phipps wrote:
> And yet it seems to me that
> if a reviewer admits that his reviews are "100% subjective" then he
> should give up any pretense of objectivity, accuracy or
> constructiveness.

And to me, anyone claiming that their reviews are at all "objective" is 
suffering from a severe case of dementia where they perceive themselves 
as a god-like being who has evolved to such a state where concepts such 
as "good," "bad," and the like are as factually defined as...well, I'm 
not really sure what I can list as a constant here since, as I learned 
in high school science and college Calculus, we can never never fully 
define something, only mark a certain number of decimal points and work 
from there.  Hm.  So if you're deluded enough to believe you can 
objectively review something, then you must believe you're the only 
constant force in the universe with the proper, omniscient perspective 
to state what is and isn't true.

Unfortunately, as God, Buddha, Allah, and the FSM all know, even if you 
are such a being, people are going to disagree with you...oh, sure, you 
can turn water in to wine and a firey angel told you to spread God's 
message, but who are you to tell someone they're not descended from 
monkeys.  They weren't brought up to believe what you state as fact, so 
who are you to impose your facts on them.

You know, come to think of it, I don't think there really is a 
difference in subjective view points and objective view points, because 
even if you have scientific proof of something, there are a significant 
number of people greater than zero who are going to insist their 
objective data is more factual than yours.

What was I saying again?  Oh, right...objective opinions.  Anyone who 
claims to have an objective opinion of my stories has no right to tell 
me I'm descended from monkeys!

This goes back to your "what is evil" question a few weeks back.  You're 
looking for universal constants that you can apply to abstract 
concepts...and while the programmer in me applauds such a search, the 
I.T. guy in me is laughing his butt off because there is no rationale 
for crazy people.  This is why we have juries, because twelve people 
offer a subjective opinion closer to the objective ideal than one 
person, but we also have hung juries because those twelve people are 
still not perfectly objective.  This is why we have scientific method; 
once you refine something to a point where it's reproducible by anyone, 
you come close to an absolute fact.  At the same time, using that same 
method, you get varying results which cause arguments on topics you'd 
think *EVERYONE* could put aside their differences for and try to find 
an answer.  (Yes, I am referring to the on going debate: Mac vs. PC.)

If you want an objective review of a story, then you can't expect to get 
it from one person.  Even if you could poll a hundred thousand people on 
a story, you're not going to get a purely objective review...this is why 
we have the term "demographics."

I just don't think you're ever going to get an objective review, because 
they don't exist.  This is why hundreds of years later, people still 
write papers on the subject of "Romeo and Juliet," because with each new 
critic there comes a new, subjective opinion.  It's always going to be 
that way, as long as humans are individuals.

Andrew Burton
tuglyraisin at - A Guide to Esoteric Technology in Paragon City - Take a guess. ;)

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