Introducing Affably Evil
A blog about optimizing the world without being rude.
Hello dear reader, and welcome to Affably Evil.
In the future, we’ll talk about many things, some of which you may agree with and some of which may convince you that I must be imprisoned in an alternate dimension lest I imperil the fabric of reality.
For now, I thought I’d introduce myself, and explain why this blog is called Affably Evil.
I am your resident villain, Daniel, The Destroyer. (I’m not quite sure what I’ll be destroying, but I’m told that alliterative titles are important by my Evil Branding team.)
As for why this blog is called Affably Evil, well: let’s sit down, grab a glass of your preferred beverage, and have us a chat.
Why Affably Evil?
At first I just liked the Trope - the contrast tickled.
But the more I learn about people and society - the more I come to understand my own mind, and the minds of others - the more I come to see that we humans are built to see the world a certain way.
We overwhelmingly tend to divide our worlds into two categories: us and them. This tendency appears in our sports, our social lives, and especially our politics. And along with this tendency comes a more sinister habit:
We equate us with good and them with evil.
So every debate, every discussion with the other side of any issue becomes a case of good versus evil. Right versus wrong.
And if the other side is evil, well, what’s the point in being nice to them?
Why be affable at all?
This blog is called Affably Evil because I believe that it’s possible to be nice and civil and above all kind, even with those I disagree with.
From your perspective, dear reader, when we disagree - when we find our selves on opposite sides of the battlefield of ideas, you may see me as them.
But that doesn't mean that our relationship has to be antagonistic. We don't have to be unfriendly or rude or mean or inconsiderate.
Our disagreement does not have to lower the standards of our discourse. My ideas can be outside the Overton Window; they can feel alien and threatening and terrible. They can put us on opposite sides of the many divisions our society is rife with.
They can make me your enemy, but they don’t have to make me uncivil.
People disagree and oppose each other, and sometimes the game really is zero-sum and only one side can win. But we can acknowledge that we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with consideration and dignity.
Even our enemies. Especially our enemies, because they're the people we don't want to treat well.
A flat-Earth believer is not convinced of the our planet’s spherical nature by being screamed at for how stupid they are.
An advocate for social justice won’t understand how their attacks on free speech are counterproductive when they are mocked for being a woke SJW.
And when was the last time a white supremacist stopped being a white supremacist because someone called them racist?
Opposing a group with vitriol only makes that group more tight-knit, further polarizing our society. Instead, we can be affable - we can treat the villainous them with consideration and dignity - while being firm in our own convictions.
Why Blog At All?
As a card-carrying Villain, I disagree with quite a few cape-wearing do-gooders. I think that I am right, and they are wrong.
But I will not succumb to the temptation to label them as wastes of oxygen whose sudden and tragic demises would be a net benefit for humanity.
I will not monologue to them about the inferiority of their beliefs, because after long experience monologuing to captured heroes I can conclusively state that it doesn’t work. Not a single hero has turned to the dark side upon being informed that they are a moron.
And the one time I offered cookies, the heroine in question was on a diet.
So I will be affable, even as my schemes proceed apace.
This blog will be at the heart of my plots, dear reader. It will be the vector through which I turn you to the dark side.
As for my long-term goals? Well, I am a respectable Villain, so naturally they include some form of world-conquering.
The nature of said world-conquering, however, is best described by an aside from a fellow villain.
In the fanfiction Harry Potter and the Methods Of Rationality, Harry is accused of wanting to conquer the world, and his response is that he prefers to call it world-optimization:
Harry shook his head in amazement. "Just what sort of plan do you think I have going, here?"
"I don't know," Professor McGonagall said darkly, "but it ends either in you delivering a ton of silver to Gringotts, or in world domination."
"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimization."
In the next chapter he is, again, accused of wanting to rule the universe, and he clarifies:
I don't want to rule the universe. I just think it could be more sensibly organized.
I don't want to conquer the world. I just think that it could be optimized.
But that doesn't mean I have to be an asshole about it.