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May 26, 1998 08:39 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

Thanks, Alexis, for your kind words about my books, and your
sentiments about "justifying" oneself.  There are so many
assumptions behind the attacks people make, and I find that
exploring those assumptions yields a lot of insight into the
charges made.  "Justifying oneself," which is what several
people have demanded I do, presumes the acceptance of their
authority as prosecutor, judge and jury.  It assumes a
win/lose adversarial approach to truth; anyone sincerely
interested in win/win dialogue would ask for "explanation"
rather than "justification." 

I gather that some folks feel that if my books are largely sound
in their depiction of HPB, this causes themselves to "lose"
something.  Therefore for them to "win," "K. Paul Johnson" has to be
made to "lose?" -- and thus the books have to be dismissed as
incompetent, biased, sloppy, inaccurate, not worth reading, etc.
It would seem that a belief system about HPB is behind the
attacks, a belief system that some people and organizations have
invested a lot of energy, time and money in promoting.  But the
proponents of that belief system are not honest enough to say to
the reader, "I am offended by these books because they challenge
my beliefs."  Instead, they resolutely avoid anything that might
raise such a question about their own subjectivity, since it would
imply that their own conclusions might require some justification of their own.

The bottom line, irrational though it may be, is usually this:
"Anyone who says anything I don't like is obligated to justify
him or herself to *my* satisfaction.  I, on the other
hand, am under no obligation to defend my own views to anyone."
This kind of assumption makes it pretty hopeless for any
productive dialogue to occur-- as I've learned after many wasted


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