Signed-Only Mails Considered Harmful

Signed-Only Mails Considered Harmful

This got me thinking.  I could make an argument that encrypted communication is harmful and signed but not encrypted is good.  Philosophically, I favor openness and transparency and disapprove of keeping secrets and the insidious “plausible deniability”.  If you’re tempted to keep what you’re doing secret, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. And likewise if you think you might want to pretend in the future that you didn’t really do it.

Signing and not encrypting your communication indicates that you intend to stand by what you say, and that you don’t care who knows about it.  That you’re proud of what you’re saying.

Now I realize that there are evil people in the world that might retaliate with violence against perfectly commendable communications, so it becomes necessary for perfectly commendable people to keep their perfectly commendable communications secret.  And I understand that it would be better for those poor souls if we all encrypted all our communication all the time so theirs would not stick out.  But keep in mind that the evil, violent people are the biggest keepers of secrets.  Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if openness and transparency and not plausible deniability were the norm, and secrets drew attention as exceptions?


How Social Change Actually Happens

The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority  by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I don’t really care for his writing, but this idea is important, and it’s something I hadn’t thought much about before.

I do like this parenthetical quote:

My heuristic is that the more pagan, the more brilliant one’s mind, and the higher one’s ability to handle nuances and ambiguity. Purely monotheistic religious such as Protestant Christianity, Salafi Islam, or fundamentalist atheism accommodate literalist and mediocre minds that cannot handle ambiguity.

The point is that the vast majority of people are tolerant (in most any question) and so will accommodate a tiny minority who are not.