Celebrity advice (was: Advice to a Junior in High School?)

Gerrit Holl gerrit at nl.linux.org
Thu Aug 28 07:50:56 CEST 2003

Terry Reedy wrote:
> Back to my understanding of what started this subthread and my concern
> thereof.  Budding CS student A asks for advice about going into CS.
> Person B suggests that A read various CS-related writings by CS
> celebrities, including C.  Poster D says something like 'No, Don't
> read C' because he has written 'dangerous' stuff on other topics
> (disconnected from CS).  Quite aside from my disagreement about the
> 'dangerous' characterization, is the boycott suggestion sensible and
> legitimate, or just flamebait?

I am not sure. I have read the Cathedral but didn't know about ESR's
gun statements then. I don't think it is a big problem, objectively.
I would find it difficult in more extreme cases however: e.g., I would
not read a work from Hitler in 1920 about musquitoes.

Elsewhere in this thread, Marx in mentioned. In western Europe, a lot of
intelligent people exist who have earlier (mostly in their student period)
read and sometimes even written prose which could not be classified as
very thoughful (e.g., about Stalin, Mao). This is comparable: "A has
written B so C, written by A, is dangerous". However, the differenc is,
that in this case (Dutch politicians (Marijnissen and others), Dutch
writers (van Zomeren, van Loon, and others), they have all withdrawn
their previous statements.

> Let's consider celebrity K(nuth).  I believe he has written something
> on a somewhat different non-CS topic (religion ).  Suppose I were to
> read it (I have not as yet) and view it as 'dangerous nonsense'.
> Would that justify me suggesting to A, on this newsgroup, that he not
> read K's CS writings?

No; reading Newton is also perfectly valid.


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