Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On not heeding Popper

In a recent post on his blog, Yaacov told us that in certain fields of human knowledge, such as history, no laboratory experiments can be carried out to prove or disprove a theory. In such cases, second best is, according to Austrian philosopher Karl Popper,

to formulate your thesis, and then do your utmost to find facts that will disprove it; only when your repeated attempts to disprove your thesis fail, and you can find no facts that might weaken your position, only then can you begin to assume that perhaps you're right - and perhaps not, since there still may be facts out there that will disprove you, only you haven't found them yet.
For reasons that are themselves undisclosable, I can't reveal my identity. I told this to Yaacov very clearly when he invited me to set up a joint blog. He accepted such terms; with reservations, admittedly, but he did accept them. To my surprise, however, after we had published our first few posts he wrote me to ask if I might be a certain specific person. As could be expected, I answered that since we had agreed that my identity would be secret, I wouldn't discuss it.

From then on, events took a weird turn. Yaacov let me know that certain people had written him to 'expose' me as a non-Arab. He didn't need to know my full name, but asked me to prove my Arabness. Of course, it's very difficult to prove your ethnic origin without disclosing your name.

But, who were those mysterious informers who had denounced me? It's not too difficult to imagine. In the last few months I've been active debating Zionists on their own blogs, in some cases dealing them humiliating defeats. While English-language Zionist bloggers seem to be more tolerant of dissension, Spanish-language ones are not imbued with a comparable openness, coming, as they mainly come, from Argentina, a country still in transition to a full democracy. The result has been that I've been blocked from participating in quite a few Zionist blogs in Spanish. In the face of that, I decided to switch languages and participate more actively in blogs in English. One of the Argentinian bloggers, not content with having expelled me, decided to try and hinder my contribution to English-language blogs as well.

And here is where Popper comes in -- or, rather, does not. When that blogger contacted Yaacov to "expose" me, a student of Popper, as Yaacov likes to call himself, could have used a little skepticism. He could have looked for all evidence that might disprove what was being said about me, and even if he found none he should have given me the benefit of doubt, since "there might be facts out there" that had escaped his radar.

But not for nothing do they say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For all his professed admiration for Popper, Yaacov didn't even begin to do the homework prescribed by his idol. So I helped him a little and pointed to evidence on the web according to which it would be very illogical to think that I was the person I was claimed to be. Yaacov did not comment on this and was adamant that I should prove that I'm an Arab.

Finally, I decided to give in. I offered to provide him with the full disclosure of my name, as well as with documentation that was second-best to an ADN test to prove my ethnic origin, if only he would provide me with all the details of the exchanges with his informers.

Yaacov didn't acquiesce even to this, and I decided to call it quits, as would have any reasonable and self-respecting person in my position.

As a final thought I'll quote Eleanor Roosevelt: "Great people discuss ideas; average people discuss events; small people discuss other people." By the way, I understand that gossiping is looked down upon in Judaism.


Anonymous said...

Tito, Tito, dejá de hacer lío, ¿Qué hasta yo me tengo que enterar? ¿Tiene que venir tu abuelo a enderezarte un poco? No sabés lo que me costó esto de escribir en la Internet. Te pido que por favor por lo menos me leas hasta el final.
Yo sé que tu abuela y yo no conseguimos mucho transmitirte como ser un buen judío y por esto espero que sepas perdonarnos. Tu viejo, por otra parte, siempre fue medio tarambana, siempre con la revolución, la revolución… y nunca le importó un pepino su judaísmo. A mi nuera no le podía pedir que te eduque en algo que le era ajeno, ella también estaba en su derecho de mantener sus propias creencias. Y así creciste vos, un árbol medio seco por tener las raíces fuera de la tierra, Éramos felices cuando todavía decías que eras judío.
Pero ahora me entero, Tito, ¿que estás haciéndote pasar por árabe para atacar al Estado Judío? ¿Vos que ya sos todo un profesor universitario? ¿“Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf” de Rosario? ¿De dónde salió eso? Suerte que tu abuela Tuna no está para enterarse ¿A vos te parece que mi viejo Yosef se hubiera mudado al culo del mundo, y que me perdonen los mendocinos, pero eso era el culo del mundo respecto de donde él vivía, si Israel hubiera existido en su época? ¿Que hubiera cruzado el océano a vivir en una tierra cualquiera y ajena, si podía en cambio tocar las piedras de Sión?
Tito, ya pusiste en claro que de vos no puedo esperar bisnietos judíos. Lo que espero al menos es que no le hagas creer a la gente que tus antepasados son musulmanes. ¡Qué Yusuf ni que Ibrahim, Tito!. Y respecto a tus hijos, si no te importa que no sean judíos, espero que por lo menos los eduques para que sean buena gente y no unos difamadores anónimos... Mirá, no me hagas hacer más malasangre. Mi nieto, el que yo conocí, no era un mentiroso de profesión. Pedí por favor disculpas a la gente y dejá de confirmar el estereotipo del descendiente de judíos que en lugar de recordar sus raíces con respeto y con amor se dedica a desparramar su odio contra el pueblo de Israel para creerse que "no se perdió de nada".
Con cariño,

El abuelo Salo.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Alberto José Miyara, aka "Ibrahim Ibn Yussuf". You are embarrasing yourself. You, an engineering teacher at an Argentinian University in Rosario making the director of the Archives of Yad Vashem waste his time, telling him that you are an Arab.

But Alberto, you have zero of an Arab in you. You are a half Jew (on your father's side) and half Christian and a total tit. Citing Popper! The nerve! I hope your students or your prospective employers google this when they want to know more about Alberto José Miyara.

Here you are "Abraham Benyosef"

And here, less than eight hours later, but on the same thread, you become "Ibrahim Ibn Yussuf".

You certainly have some issues, baby.


I'm Margaret said...

Hmm can't resist commenting that it is possible to be half Jewish, half Christian and an Arab anti-Zionist, also. Or perhaps Anonymous thinks that Arab refers to a religion and believes that Zionism is beloved by all the Jewish people in the world.