Extremist position #1: The earth is flat.
Extremist position #2: The earth is round.
Reasonable middle ground: The earth is a hemisphere.
HT Math Is Fun
(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Fordham has just released a new report on how voucher programs should be regulated. Their methodology seems to be that they don’t care about finding the truth, they only care about finding “middle ground.” It doesn’t matter whether a policy makes any sense, as long as falls 50% of the way between the policy on the right and the policy on the left, it must be the best policy.
They collect opinions from a bunch of education experts and then propose, as their preferred policy, something that falls roughly in the middle of the spectrum - they want to subject different voucher schools to different levels of regulation based on how many voucher students each school has. Naturally, since their proposal isn’t guided by any principle other than that of political triangulation, it accomplishes neither the goals held by one side nor the goals held by the other side, and will therefore please nobody. But no one can accuse Fordham of not seeking middle ground!
They’re just like Solomon splitting the baby – except that Solomon’s proposal was a ruse. Fordham really wants to actually take out their knives and split the baby.
Inspired by their example, I’ve decided to end the age-old debate over the shape of the earth. Some people hold the earth is round, which has the merit of providing a parsimonious explanation of the observed data. Other people hold that the earth is flat, which has the merit of being an ancient, time-tested view. But this tired old debate between two extremist positions is getting us nowhere.
First I convened a panel of experts, some from the National Astronomical Society and some from the Flat Earth Society. The experts achieved consensus on the following important points:
- The shape of the earth is an important subject.
- The earth is not cubical.
- The earth is not made of green cheese.
Unfortunately, we were not able to achieve consensus on one issue: the earth’s actual shape.
To move beyond this tired old debate and find reasonable middle ground, I propose that the earth is hemispherical – flat on one side and round on the other. Since this position is 50% of the way between the two extremist positions, it must be true. QED.
Now we move on to the next great debate: which side do we live on, the flat side or the round side? I’m convening a conference in the Antipodes to begin exploring new research on this question.