Junk Theories


Once understood, the NOR critique of conventional thinking naturally alters how the mind regards the world and ideas about that world.   Among other things, this cognitive change can combine a form of generalized denialism, a potentially mischievous contrarianism, and what most thinkers might judge as wild theoretical speculation.

Denialism flows from the realization that our thoughts are inherently simplistic and mostly rooted in rather parochial and utilitarian values – as opposed to being demonstrably genuine insights.   Therefore, valuable as those thoughts may prove in circumstantial and pragmatic terms, they need to be circumscribed with doubt and never taken seriously as absolute truths.

Mischievous contrarianism is about the further realization that the denialism just mentioned allows the mind to contradict and philosophically destroy anything anyone proposes as would-be rock-solid truth.   Once it is realized that any supposed truth or argument can only be judged sound in relation to specific circumstances and conditions, it is only necessary to test whatever is being claimed on a broader footing to see it collapse at some point.   Additionally, declarations of any supposed absolute truths invariably assume certain conventional ideas to be beyond question, but one only has to reflect on the inherent nature of assuming anything at all to realize that absolute truth is an unwarranted claim for anything based on mere assumptions.

As regards wild theoretical speculation, this is perhaps where NOR becomes most interesting.   The realization that mankind’s store of supposedly objective knowledge is in fact all built on philosophically shaky ground invites the mind to tentatively view reality from any number of other perspectives.   Given that NOR is a complementary critique of objectivity rather than an outright rejection, it becomes possible to think in a quasi-conventional manner that is far more open-minded than any thinking constrained by the ubiquitous intellectual demand for would-be hard proof of supposedly objective facts.   But such freedom of thought and speculation does not constitute some devil-may-care and overly casual approach to philosophy; it is a reasoned license to speculate, given that NOR actually negates the possibility of ever establishing hard proof or exactitude about anything at all.   Once objectivity has been thus undermined, it is only reasonable to seek best-possible understandings via whatever approaches appear fruitful.   And in the absence of absolute proof of anything, it is only natural to be suspicious regarding a culture that pretends to hold such proof of its core ideas.   It is also natural to speculate regarding whatever may be obscured by that culture’s perpetual insistence on what is in fact non-existent proof.

It is from the above positions that the idea of junk theories emerges: the idea that we should allow the mind to conceive whatever it may without reflexively ridiculing that which it comes up with for lack of hard proof.   Other logical reasons for allowing ourselves such extensive mental freedom exist too.   On the basis that all cognition rooted in abstract thought is inherently distorted by attributes of abstract thought itself, NOR mocks the whole modern obsession with scientific or objective proof – including even the very belief that absolute proof of anything could ever be established.   From such a position, all theories appear dubious and can therefore be regarded as junk theories, given they are all founded on abstract thoughts, ideas and concepts – together with all related flaws.   However, the title Junk Theories is reserved in the current context for generally non-conventional theoretical ideas grounded in everything from gut feelings – emotions do play a major role in human societies – to forms of argumentation looser than readers might be used to.   These theories can be regarded almost as cognitive toys that, like all theories, should never be taken too seriously.   But also like anything we enjoy playing with, they just may tickle the mind in ways previously never experienced – especially if they rather inexplicably possess some ring of truth.