It appears that the Wikipedia people want to delete the newly created site on Desire Utilitarianism. The reason is because it is not notorious enough. There are not enough people talking about it to give it the type of ‘star power’ that makes it worthy of a Wikipedia entry.
The alternative view, used by those who are defending the page, is that it should be included because the theory is well-developed and defensible.
One implication that I would like to note is that, if the criteria for including the page is notoriety, then I would correct the default by engaging in some sort of publicity stunt that would get me and the ideas that I present into the news. Whereas if the criterion for including the page is the quality of the position and the arguments offered in its defense I would correct the default by seeking to do a better job developing the theory.
However, I did not bring this up to protest about how I am being unfairly treated, that Wikipedia is seeking to impose censorship on ideas that they consider unworthy of including, or any other nonsense. I object to the habit that some people have of stomping their feet and crying, “I’m being oppressed!” simply because others did not put them on a pedestal.
The reason that I bring this up is to discuss a topic that has been rattling around in my skull for the past couple of decades which I do not know how to resolve – the issue of marketing.
Package and Product
I want to make sure that I fit in here a note that I am humbled and honored by those who have made an effort to put this page on Wikipedia. They have put a surprising amount of effort into defending their actions. In a sense, I am concerned that I may not have done what I should to be worthy of these efforts, by giving them what it would have taken to make their work easier.
Seriously, take a look at this site. Take a look at the length of my posts and the way that I write. It should be obvious that, among my various desires and aversions, that I do not have a particularly strong interest in packaging. I create essays, and I throw them up onto a rather traditional page, then I start working on the next article.
However, it is packaging that sells product. At least, it is an extremely important factor.
Those who created the Creation Museum understood this fact. Much of the harm that the Museum and those who built it will have is due to the fact that they have put nonsense in a pretty package, and packaging will sell the idea.
All major religions use the principle that the packaging sells the product, whether they acknowledge it or not. The package comes in the form of religious architecture, art, music, and ceremonies.Moral Issues
The intellectual part of my brain (regarding beliefs) is well aware of the importance of packaging. I am not so foolish that I think that, “If you build it, they will come,” is a good business plan.
At the same time, affective part of my brain (regarding desires) does not care about these facts. In fact, I have an aversion to using packaging to sell my product. Again, look around at this web site. Isn’t it obvious?
I reject the very practice of using packaging to sell an idea. “Proposition P was presented to me in a pretty package; therefore, P is true.” This is nonsense. However, this nonsense is a fact about how the real world works. Could I, in good conscience, use a method of selling product that I find not only distasteful but morally objectionable? I want to present my arguments, and have people accept or reject my position on those standards.
Wikipedia’s concern with notoriety, however, exposes a flip side of this coin. Just as there are people who think, “The proposition that P was presented to me in a pretty packages; therefore, P is true,” there are people who think, “Proposition P was presented to me in an ugly passage, so P is false.” If I know that people are going to do this, then is there not some principle of morality, or at least of prudence, to put that product in a package that is at least good enough to get past the doorman?
Quality of Content
Of course, when it comes to selling my own product, one of the things that I constantly worry about is whether it is worth buying.
This is another problem that I have with trying to sell product by putting it in a better package. What if it is not good enough to buy? I have seen far too many people sell ideas that are simply too stupid to be worth a presentation – such as the Creation Museum. I certainly have no interest in taking people such as those as my role model.
I have mentioned in earlier posts that, to deal with the issue of quality, the best option that I see is to simply put my ideas out into the public and to see if anybody raises objections to them. However, in doing this, I want people to accept or reject the ideas that I propose based on the quality of the defense that I can put up. I do not want them accepting the position on the basis of a pretty package. Then again, I do not want then ignoring the position on the basis of an ugly package.
Yes, I think that the positions that I defend are correct – though I am more confident of some than of others. However, a decent respect for others as thinking beings is not to assume that I am correct and use whatever methods will ‘work’ to convince others to accept what I claim. A decent respect for others requires limiting myself to presenting my reasons, and letting those with reasons against my view a chance to speak to those reasons.
Quite often, I think to myself, “Alonzo, it is time for you to start to put some effort into marketing your ideas. Just writing them up and putting them on a web site is not going to do you any good.”
After all, what I would really like to be doing with my time is working on these projects full-time. I could easily spend a day, where I get up and start work at 4:30 in the morning, and turn my laptop off and go to sleep at midnight, working on the type of subjects that I write about here. I am envious that some people get to do this. However, I notice that the job tends to go more to people who are showmen first, more interested in ratings than in the accuracy and sensibility of what they say.
The Creation Museum can collect $27 million for nonsense. One would think that sense could generate a bit more income.
With these particular concerns, I was actually saddened to read that one concern being voiced in favor of deleting the entry on desire utilitarianism is because I have focused my attention on the quality of my arguments rather than the quality of my marketing.
Even now, I call to mind (once again) a list of things that I could do to market my ideas better. And I simply do not wish to do so.
Yet, it costs me.