Marginalia (Serendipity Engine)

“It is a search engine, designed to help you find what you didn’t even know you were looking for. If you search for “Plato”, you might for example end up at the Canterbury Tales. Go looking for the Canterbury Tales, and you may stumble upon Neil Gaiman’s blog.

If you are looking for fact, this is almost certainly the wrong tool. If you are looking for serendipity, you’re on the right track. When was the last time you just stumbled onto something interesting, by the way?

I don’t expect this will be the next “big” search engine. This is and will remain a niche tool for a niche audience.

I came to the About page for the explanation of the website, but the true gold is in the section: A Theoretical Justification:

The measure of a website should be how well it enriches the life of – and empowers the visitor, rather how well it enriches the wallet of the website owner, especially not at the expense of the visitor’s long-term interests…

…The purpose of the tool is primarily to help you find and navigate the strange parts of the internet. Where, for sure, you’ll find crack-pots, communists, libertarians, anarchists, strange religious cults, snake oil peddlers, really strong opinions. Yes all manner of strange people.

You’ll surely find uncomfortable ideas too, but I’m sure you’ll survive and find the experience worthwhile, because for every turd you step in, there are also plenty of brilliant and interesting gems to find that for one reason or another didn’t live up to the standards of the big search engines.”

The whole A theoretical Section is worth a read.

Regarding using the site, I searched Occam, and in the first few listings there was this:

“Occam’s razor says to accept the simplest explanation, and resurrection from the dead is not it.”

I liked the formation of the objection. The website author then tries to make preposterous arguments that grossly misunderstands the point of Occam’s razor, weakly points out his incorrect assumption is not always right, etc.

The strange thing about reading through it, I’m left wondering what plausible explanation would not be simpler than the resurrection? There’s very little here that is forwarding an argument for the Bible, i.e.,

“But the claim of (conservative) Christians is not that the Bible has the most compelling story or the most spectacular intervention claims. They believe the Bible to be a truthful account of history, of God, and of Jesus Christ. Disprove these and conservative Christians have nothing.”

I think it’s a hard argument to make that the Bible is history. If that’s your ground, you’ve kind lost before you’ve really begun.

Anyway, an amusing interlude. Recommend this search engine wholeheartedly.