October 21, 2011

#Skeptic fail on #SteveJobs

Science writer Chris Mooney's hagiographic orgasm to Steve Jobs shows why one must be skeptical even about skepticism and professional skeptics.

First, it's an example of motivated reasoning.

Second, related to that, it's an example of cherry-picking to make a point. If Mooney wanted to talk about "openness to new experience," he could have used plenty of other famous people.

Third, it IS hagiography and isn't that closely connected to reality.

Chris, his study of Zen Buddhism apparently didn't "enlighten" him about Foxconn suicides. Do we have to have yet more hagiography of a man who is being overrated?

Fact 1: If he hadn't made the ideas he saw at Xerox parc into a workable, affordable computer, somebody else would have.

Fact 1A: That person would have signed off on "cloning" those computers, therefore spreading these innovations even more rapidly than Jobs did.

Fact 2: On his return to Apple, on the iPod, Jobs originally wanted it to be useable (via iTunes) with Macs only. No PC usability. An employee eventually talked him out of this when Jobs' famous stubbornness failed him for once. (I, personally, am sad it failed; with a Mac-only iPod, the iPhone never would have gotten the marketing takeoff that it did.)

So, there's the reality, not the hagiography.

 It's not as bad, certainly, as Brian Dunning overstating by a factor of 5-10 Jobs' fatal indulgence in alternative medicine. (I'm not condoning alt-med, by the way!) But, it's bad enough.

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