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“Yah, I think that’s totally valid.” We live in a validation craze—because that is what “valid” is short for. In the early 2010s, somewhat in the mid-1990s, especially, I suspect, among “valley girls”, people started to worry about being “valid”.

Do you think my point is valid?

I do hope so—well, actually I don’t care what you think, because I’m not a vain female creature; so I shall just inform you that, yes, my point is valid—and not only valid, it’s also true (a point we shall return to).

“Valid, validation”—what do you do when you get on the subway in New York, at least in my imagination? You get your ticket validated. Well, perhaps the New York subway doesn’t work like that—not anymore—and you have to go to Coney Island instead to have someone punch (validate) your little red rectangular ticket (good for one ride only).

People who want to be “validated” want their tickets punched—to have a validated experience. Question: “Is this about sex?” What isn’t? Well, quite a lot—but since this is about women then, yes, it’s about sex. Women want you to “punch their ticket”—make them pregnant, like a hanging or “pregnant” chad in the 2000 Florida election (the valid impression on the voting paper).

So people in the narcissistic 2010s—women, basically—wanted validation. You know, validation for the black experience in America, for the Muslim experience in Britain, for the gay experience in the Church—people had been invalidated, possibly for centuries, by the white male power structure and now they were being heard and affirmed (by the white power system—listen to women, sit your ass down and listen).

The full etymology: “1570s, ‘having force in law, legally binding,’ from French valide (16c.), from Latin validus ‘strong, effective, powerful, active,’ from valere ‘be strong’ (from PIE root *wal- ‘to be strong’). The meaning ‘sufficiently supported by facts or authority, well-grounded’ is attested by 1640s.”

So there’s a lot going on there—to be valid is to have authority. You could say that if you’re “valid” that you’re a “strong, independent woman”; and, further, since it means “well-grounded and sufficiently supported by facts and authority” perhaps you have become a strong, independent woman because you follow peer-reviewed science and don’t read fake news.

So the “validation boom” refers to the rise in feminine narcissism—associated, as it happens, with the rise of social media and “the selfie”.

You feel under-confident and insecure, even though you just had your hair cut, but he never notices—all a girl wants is some validation (punch my ticket, daddy).

So that’s what it’s about at one level, but at another level it’s to do with agreeability and the superficial appearance that you’re a deep thinker when you’re not.

In logic, a “valid argument” is the same as a “sound argument”—it refers to an argument where the premises are not contradictory, but it is not a true argument. The argument below is sound and valid:

All cups are green.

Socrates is a cup.

Therefore, Socrates is green.

It is also false, false all the way through—but still valid. Now, I think that people like to say “that’s a valid argument” today, often without any thought as to whether an argument is strictly logically valid or not, because it’s a non-confrontational way to talk about a statement you might not agree with.

You don’t delegitimise the person by saying “you’re wrong”, you evade that and say “I think that’s valid”. It’s essentially meaningless, because many ridiculous statements are also valid—but it sounds high-status and sophisticated and it avoids confrontation. It evades the issue of whether the statement is true or not and worries at the form it’s put in.

The term may have leaked from expanded academia and it has vague suggestions of Silicon Valley and Stanford to me—the idea that “formal logic” confers some authority on an argument, with connotations of programming and “computer logic” (<<invalid return at line 345>>). Perhaps people have turned themselves into a high-status command line, the people are the computer now.

But, then again, maybe my argument isn’t true—though it is valid, isn’t it?

It’s appropriate for the world of the nursery school teacher and the customer service agent—worlds where all concerns raised, by toddlers and customers alike, are to be acknowledged.

“We want you to know that you are heard and that your concerns are valid.”

It’s a variation on “the customer is always right”—as the manual says, “even if you can’t resolve the issue, reassure the customer that their concerns have been heard and acknowledged—in a hectic world, we all need to feel valid sometimes (insert smiley emoticon).”

So the “validation craze” is about the need to be recognised, to be approved by authority (dad)—and also to avoid confrontation through the pretentious and often incorrect use of terms from logic.

It was spawned by over-education, by a consumer society, and by a feminised society where people always seek to be agreeable and not make definitive statements—but strive to look as clever as possible as they do so.


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