Thursday, November 02, 2017

Satire, dares and wagers -- in a war against facts

== Laugh… because it hurts ==

The Onion can make you cry, when the humor is so on-target.

Har! If only! We are counting on the Supreme Court to save us. Which means the superhero Anthony Kennedy.

Study Finds First Life Forms Migrated To Earth Via Interplanetary Land Bridge.



And in what should have been satire… So it turns out the one thing that Fox-ists had that was factual, offering any evidence at all that the Obama Administration was out to get them, was a chimera, after all. After multiple investigations, inspectors found as many liberal-leaning groups were targeted for IRS attention as conservative ones. All the rest was paranoid fantasy, like black helicopters and lib’tards coming for yer guns.  

== ...and hence, today's theme is... ==

Demand wagers! See the latest hysterical conspiracy theory, that this Saturday all the liberals will secretly, and in perfect-competent unison, pounce  on all American conservatives, in a Night of the Long Knives. Say... wha...?

There is only one way to defeat conspiracy-addict loons. Not one dire prediction about Obama's concentration camps for white people, run by UN black helicopters spraying alien-vegan contrail tofu while confiscating all the guns ever came true, even symbolically: hundreds of thousands of ravings! Sure, pointing that out only stokes their hatred of all facts and fact-people. But there is one method I've found: demand wagers! These confeds make bar-room bets all the time. It is the last place where they admit facts do matter.

"If you're so sure of your latest fantasy, and willing to torch the nation over your certainty, then put money down! Collect MY money when Alex Jones proves right! About anything. Ever!" 

These good ol' boys have a name for a coward who yowls utter certainty, but shrinks back from putting money on it. And a worse name for someone who doesn't pay up.

Watch and laugh as your crazy uncle scuttles back and finds excuses. Oh sure, you won't make any money, but ... his wife is listening, quietly. And your aunt has a vote.

I'll get back to this theme, below... but first....

== Examples ==

Masha Gessen’s latest book about Vladimir Putin’s Russia: “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” is ambitious, timely, insightful and unsparing. See it reviewed in The Washington Post.

Trump To Values Voters: In America 'We Don't Worship Government, We Worship God'
Um, maybe. But when it comes to governance, you worship inherited plutocracy. No GOP policy doesn't serve the modern plantation lords.  

What the founding fathers actually meant... An interesting, though certainly political, look at what gun laws were like in England and the American colonies and early in the republic. Claims of historical justification for “stand your ground” and open or concealed carry are, at-best, highly flawed.

Struggling to keep offering rationalizations for a shattering conservative alliance, the Worst Man in America keeps at it. “Democrats are the real abortion extremists.” Catering to the Confederate need for anecdotes and symbolism, and hatred of facts or statistics, George F. Will helps to maintain the outright lie that Democrats and liberals and leftists and all that mélange are as dogmatic, purist and crazy as conservatives have become. But he knows that’s not true. For every anecdotal far-lefty crazy (and I freely avow there are enough to leave a noxious stink) there are hundreds of moderate and reasonable American fact-loving pragmatists who know that protecting abortion rights should be accompanied by concerted efforts at education and health that will make abortion rare.

== Dares and wagers! ==

Okay so back to today's topic. Jiminy.  Donald Trump raves about his “high IQ” 22 times. Please, oh I dare you to submit to a test set by neutral parties and not a sycophant. In fact, where is the Trump opponent who consistently maintains an “I dare you!” site?  

Oh, you shills for oligarchs and New Feudal Lords… all you have is anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, anecdotes, and more anecdotes.

Now let's try statistics and facts. Name for me one unambiguous statistical metric of U.S. national or economic or middle class or even military health that could be both attributed to GOP policies and that markedly improved across the spans of either Bush administration.  One... at all. Nearly all such metrics plummeted - and steeply - across the span of both Bushite regimes.

More than half of such metrics improved - especially for the middle class, but also all economic measures and yes, military readiness - under Clinton and Obama. These are hard outcomes, not anecdotes, and outcomes should matter to pragmatic adults. Outcomes like small business startups, entrepreneurship and other health signs of capitalism that ALWAYS plummet under GOP rule. Also military readiness, which was 100% for all units under Clinton and plummeted to 0% under Bush and is now back above 50%.

Conservatives should care about all of those things.  One sign of a rigid mind is to ignore facts and outcomes in favor of dogma.

As your first wager, demand that your crazy uncle name one exception. One  fact using professions not warred upon by the Fox cult. A list that ranges from scientists, teachers, journalists, doctors, civil servants etc... now all the way to the FBI, Intelligence agencies and other "deep state" enemies of the confederacy, including the US military officer corps. Have him name one exception.  Dare  him to name one!

One. Even one.  Just one.

== International ==

Reports The Guardian: Saudi authorities have taken an “unprecedented” step to tackle Islamic extremism by setting up a council of scholars to vet religious teachings around the world.”  
   Yeah?  I’ll believe it when your textbooks for children aren’t state secrets, because of all the “death to Jews and infidels” stuff therein. When the madrassas you finance around the world stop preaching hatred. When radicals like ISIS and Taliban stop importing Saudi textbooks for their own schools, scratching out and replacing just a few paragraphs here and there supporting the monarchy, but accepting the baseline Wahabbism as paramount. And when you stop waging war against America and its values through your well-paid shills and politicians on the US right.

Putin says Americans should not disrespect Trump: "the president of the United States does not need any advice because one has to possess certain talent and go through this trial to be elected, even without having the experience of such big administrative work."

==  The war on expertise and knowledge and facts ==

I'll repeat till I am blue in the face. This is the one issue they cannot evade! Their all out war on all folks who know stuff.

“There has always been a disturbing strand of anti-intellectualism in American life… but never has an occupant of the White House exhibited such a toxic mix of ignorance and mendacity, such lack of intellectual curiosity and disregard for rigorous analysis (despite his untested boast that his IQ is “one of the highest,” certainly higher than Obama’s and a host of other worthies’).” writes Ariel Dorfman in Trump's War on Knowledge.

“The experts are terrible,” Donald Trump said during his campaign. “Look at the mess we’re in with all these experts that we have.” … except, that it’s another lie. Almost every measure of national and international health, peace, prosperity etc has improved and guess what, the folks who know stuff actually know stuff.

Yes, America’s lower middle class has felt things slip. But the villains are the Rupert Murdochs, Robert Mercers and Donald Trumps who are rebuilding feudalism. Read this article! 

Then parse the right’s central mythos! It goes like this:

We all know that: "Just because someone is smart and knows a lot, that doesn't automatically make them wise."

But after 25 years of Fox hypnosis, this true statement has been twisted into something cancerous:

"Any and all people who are smart and know a lot, are therefore automatically unwise."

I am astonished it’s not been clearly and openly elucidated. The first statement is true. The second - jibbering loony - is now a core catechism of the confederacy.

== for more on the war against fact users... ==

See Tom Nichols: The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.

Of course, blatantly, the average person who has studied earnestly and tried to understand is wiser (again, on AVERAGE) than those who deliberately chose to remain incurious and ignorant. When cornered, even the most vehement alt-righter admits that. But cornering them takes effort.

Hatred of universities and people with knowledge and skill now extends from the war on science to journalism, teaching, medicine, economics, civil servants… and lately the “deep state” conspiring villains of the FBI, the intelligence agencies and the U.S. military officer corps.

This bedlam serves one purpose, to discredit any “elites” who might stand in the way of a return to feudalism by the super rich, which was the pattern of 6000 years that America rebelled against. The Confederacy has always been a tool to restore feudalism. only this time it has done what it could not do in the 1860s. Taken Washington.

Trump is not the disease, he is a surface symptom.

Concluding this section… I wouldn’t put things the way my dear friend Harlan Ellison puts it, below. In fact, I never put things the way Harlan does. No adult would. But his brilliance is always at work:

I have to admit to being an elitist, I'm sorry. You know, one of the few things you can be arrested for is being an elitist. You can run around the street saying God is dead, and people won't like you, but you're not going to be hated. You can preach the violent overthrow of McDonald's and you'll get away with it, but all you have to say is that, in fact, there are some people who are better than others, and it has nothing to do with race or ethnic background or color or anything like that. What it has to do with is who's got the brains.”
--Harlan Ellison

Just so we’re clear… The UK Brexit campaign was also a war on expertise.

== The Fact-Compiler ==

Plop your beloved confederate aunt and uncle down before a TV and have them sit through a complete Rachel Maddow segment. Promise you’ll sit through an equivalent amount of Hannity! And compare the ratio of lies. Pick and choose. Maddow is always cogent and fact-filled, but once a week or so, she absolutely kills. In this one (October 19) she connects the dots showing one reason why four American soldiers died in Niger, and why then the President strenuously ignored and then distracted from it. And yes, it is worse than Benghazi.

Only when Maddow calls the precipitating event "inexplicable," consider that most decisions made by this administration have an explicable root... orders from Moscow.
  

36 comments:

George Carty said...

You say that "the UK Brexit campaign was also a war on expertise" – given that it was overwhelmingly over-45s from small towns and the rust belt who voted for Brexit, it looks like your "June Trauma" was key here too!

Catfish N. Cod said...

You may well be right that the IRS thing was generalized and not targeted at conservatives, but that has not stopped them from installing political appointees that reach up the agency's back to parrot the talking points back. See this draft consent order filed just after Trump appointees took over IRS operations. After four years of strenuous defense, suddenly the "IRS" (actually, the political Administration appointees) suddenly concede all points and surrender unilaterally, stipulating without dispute that the IRS indeed targeted conservatives... and the IRS "apologizes"!

You can be fairly sure this is not a consensus rank-and-file view of the situation.

The architect of this pantomime dumbshow crows in public about it... and admits in the byline that he is simultaneously counsel for the Plantiff, counsel for the President, and A paid contributor to Fox News.

And he wants to lecture the IRS about corruption?! But of course he can be forgiven any sorts of conflicts of interest, for his pure heart of conservative belief and his loyalty to the Paramount Leader are proof against any claims of impropriety.


By far the worst bit is his last sentence: "And it sends a powerful warning to the deep state bureaucracy that it will not be allowed to violate the Constitution in order to silence and shut down the conservative agenda."

No, tool of tyrants. You want to replace honest (if fallible and human) public service with your own "shallow state" of open manipulation, in order to shut down any appeals to evidence and truth in favor of your Truthiness Agenda.

If a member of Obama's legal staff were also suing the ATF for failing to aggressively investigate gun dealers, and being paid by MSNBC, would they not call for that member's head as part of an obvious conspiracy??

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

And he wants to lecture the IRS about corruption?! But of course he can be forgiven any sorts of conflicts of interest, for his pure heart of conservative belief and his loyalty to the Paramount Leader are proof against any claims of impropriety.

...

If a member of Obama's legal staff were also suing the ATF for failing to aggressively investigate gun dealers, and being paid by MSNBC, would they not call for that member's head as part of an obvious conspiracy??


'Twill be ever thus until we--America, I mean--reject the notion that rules are there to constrain liberals, and that conservative Republicans can act however they want because the country really belongs to them anyway.

If conservatives are ok with the notion that the reason blacks are incarcerated at a much higher percentage than whites is because they commit all of the crimes, then they should understand that the IRS catches right-wing groups pretending to be non-political because right-wing groups are the ones who do that.

LarryHart said...

donzelion from the previous thread:

But at the very least, it would challenge the claim 'there are no absolutes.'


I think there is some confusion here between the question of whether absolute values exist and whether the words "should" or "ought" mean what we think they do. They are related issues, but not the same thing. Even if you could find a value that is always true*, and argue that it is objectively true that people "should" follow that value, that still doesn't account for the trillions of other situations where we say people "should" act a certain way when the value isn't absolute.


"Sure, but plenty of Republicans will also fight against democracy. "Should" don't enter into it."
'Should' always enters into it - drives it, defines it, organizes it and sustains its organization. When they fight, to the extent they win, it's often by mustering 'shoulds' better than their adversaries (alongside the claim, 'the other side is worse'). I don't particularly care for Koch/Murdoch 'shoulds' - but also don't pretend they do not exist.


See, you yourself are using "should" in a sense where the values are self-evidently not absolute. A sense that someone "should" do something or "ought to" do something is ultimately an individual, subjective judgement. You can try to persuade or influence or (to some extent) force others to believe in your particular "should"s, but at the end of the day, the other person is either convinced or not. There's not an objective standard by which he is "right" or "wrong" for accepting or not accepting your moral value.

I think that's what locumranch is arguing when he says that "should" is meaningless. And I think the point he misses is that most of us don't proclaim that a thing "should" be done and then just let it stand there--we argue in order to persuade others to come to their own conclusion that our way is better.

* On the old Cerebus list, an argument ensued over whether anyone could articulate a value which is universally accepted as a delineator of good or bad, regardless of culture. Your "slavery is wrong" thing doesn't work because most cultures throughout history haven't held that that is so. In order to try to fend off exceptions, people got very specific, such as "It is always wrong to rape babies," or "It is always wrong to gouge someone's eyes out and piss into the sockets." While I can't necessarily back up this belief, I think that such specificity gives you a different thing, in fact the opposite thing, of a "universal" value. Nor do tautologies such as "rape and murder are always wrong" provide any useful information, as cultures will define those legal terms to exclude acts which the culture does not consider wrong. Like Mr Burns, who after receiving an answer he didn't like to "Is it wrong to cheat in order to win a million dollar bet?" changed the question to "Is it wrong if I cheat in order to win a million dollar bet?" and got a different answer.

LarryHart said...

I presume everyone knows that this is not a joke--Donald Trump's twitter account really was shut down for a number of minutes yesterday. According to today's www.electoral-vote.com , people were tweeting things like:

If Trump's Twitter is down, does this technically mean he's no longer POTUS?


I'm glad I wasn't the only one who wondered if Mike Pence was the acting president during the outage.

I gather that they know who did it now:

Eventually, Twitter restored the account and announced that it was suspended by a rogue employee during their last day on the job. Needless to say, Chief of Staff John Kelly is trying to find that person's phone number to figure out if we can do this again, perhaps for about 3 years this time.


I don't know if anyone here besides me is a long-time follower of www.electoral-vote.com , but the fact is that that site didn't use to include that sort of snark in their editorializing. It's been a new but regular thing with the current administration. It's also the case that the site used to be generally for following the polls leading up to presidential or congressional elections. It has never continued to post daily updates all year long until this year.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the previous thread:

3) The system they want the world to return to was tried for 6000 years and utterly failed.


So? Supply Side has been tried for at least 30 years and utterly failed, which doesn't stop them from hawking it as if everybody knows that it works. Why should feudalism be any different?

Tim H. said...

Concerning Trump's self-proclaimed intelligence, might be true, but a high IQ doesn't guaranty a personality that can exploit it, or the work ethic to develop it:
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1188138/pg1

As far as the plot to massacre conservatives, obviously absurd, a sufficient number to merit the front page couldn't be found. No expletive end of reactionaries though, but they're looking to self-destruct, I merely hope to avoid the shrapnel...

greg byshenk said...

Obviously this is not news to David, but there is an interesting comment on transparency by Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling. As noted in a paper he quotes, "As public scrutiny reinforces conformity with empirical expectations, it can promote unethical as much as ethical behaviour...".

David Brin said...

Is anyone else running into pop-up problems on my blog?

Someone just wrote to me the following:

"
Hi David,

On my Samsung Galaxy 8, I have been getting pop up ads, virus warnings and invitations to install suspect apps when visiting your posts on blogspot. I typically arrive at your blog in a Facebook initiated browser window, but also encounter the same issues when I view your pages on a Chrome (Android) or Samsung browser. I have attached a screenshot of a so called Walmart ad, a malware ad and your blog where I was browsing when these happened. When these popups and malware installers occur, they cover the entire screen, blocking out your content completely. The back button is disabled, and closing the popup returns me to FB, thus completely shutting me out of your site this when this happens.

The fact that it seems like this only happens on your blog makes me concerned because it suggests a "denial of access" attack against you and your ideas. I am concerned about your being a target, particularly in the context of ongoing attacks on civil society and organizations. That's why I contacted you.

I Googled these browser issues, and found 1) that blogspot hosts many pages that are compromised. And 2) that pop ups like these may be delivered via malware installed on my phone. Acting on the latter idea, I deleted some apps, and will keep trying other things, but I am still seeing the problem."

??? Anyone else notice this?

LarryHart said...

I've had malware problems in the past, but nothing at the moment. And I'm "here" quite a bit. :)

Smurphs said...

No problems for me on either the laptop via Chrome or the iPhone 7 via Safari.

Fingers crossed it stays that way ! ;)

TCB said...

I have no problems on this site. Be it known, however, that I use an uncommon Linux distro and I have Adblocker on my Chrome. Also I have Flash disabled. So my configuration is probably somewhat secure by way of not being what most people would use, and therefore perhaps not as much malware gets written for it.

Paul451 said...

No weirdness, but like TCB I run fairly locked down, so I'm not a typical user.

--

Minor note from the last thread:

TCB,
Re: Religion as a moral absolute.
"But Man, that naked monkey who found ways to cooperate and survive even in outer space, only that creature thinks he needs gods to tell him what the chimps and wolves and even he himself knows already."

From what I've seen, when religion is at its strongest, it seems to exist to justify telling people to do what they know is wrong, by twisting those innate ideas of fairness/loyalty/community/family/etc into justifying acts that defy those same ideas.

Over time, the average people in a community, collectively, gradually push their religion back to a workable moderation, the religion is co-opted by those more innate values. But as a tool, religion is used by a socially abnormal minority to justify their own extremes.

Mark Gast said...

Adblocker + NoScript = No Problems.

Twominds said...

@Dr.Brin,

What do you think about this acticle? Why Democratic leaders don't want to talk about impeachment.

IIRC, you were rather afraid that Democratic politicians would jump at any chance to impeach Trump, defeating themselves politically in the process. If this article gives the picture correctly, they're more savvy than you gave them credit for.

Alfred Differ said...

oh man. I take a few days off from thinking (politics avoidance) and some interstellar rock comes crashing through the solar system.

A/2017 U1

Heh. Been waiting a lifetime for that announcement. Along with gravitational wave detection and links to E&M observations, 2017 has been an interesting year so far.

Tim H. said...

What would be really fun with A/2017 U1 is if an energy event occurred along it's trajectory as it approached our system... But it was probably only a rock.

Alfred Differ said...

Yah. I wonder if anyone thought "Gee. That came kinda close. Maybe someone is looking at us?" without realizing the very strong selection effect in play here.

Heh. It's only been crashing through our system for a very long time, though. 8)

I've been long-time curious what the density is for this kind of interstellar hail. I would think it matters for anyone thinking of interstellar voyages at any sizeable fraction of the speed of light. Dust shielding might have issues with this rock.

Sue Bursztynski said...

No problems so far, though I do seem to be getting followed around by ads for a boxed set of Shakespeare plays from our local ABC shop. ;) However, that's nothing to do with your site, I seem to get it on every site that allows ads, personalised stuff. Do you do Adsense? I've never allowed it on my blogspot blog, though it would make me a few dollars.

TCB said...

Can I just take this moment to bitch about something that really irks me? And understand that this phenomenon is not limited to this website, no, no, it seems very widespread in the environment, online, at my job, and so on.

I simply cannot abide the fact that people like locum get ten times as much attention for saying stupid shit as I generally do when I say something vaguely sensible.

#fuckedupsocialincentivesystem

LarryHart said...

@TCB,

While you do have a point, it presumes that attention is always a good thing. Or "Sometimes, you can get what you want and still not be very happy."

Erin Schram said...

David Brin said,
After multiple investigations, inspectors found as many liberal-leaning groups were targeted for IRS attention as conservative ones.

Last year I posted in Facebook about the scarcity of scandals during the Obama administration. A friend pointed to the scandal of the IRS targeting conservative organizations, and gave a link to Judicial Watch (https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-fbi-investigation-documents-irs-scandal/), which linked to 294 pages of investigation documents. I read only the first 30 pages, but they made clear what had happened. It was not targeting: it was a bureaucratic snafu. The Tea Party organizations did not receive more IRS scrutiny; instead, they received less scrutiny in a situation where less scrutiny was worse.

An IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio, handled requests for tax exemptions from political organizations. They had several categories of activities that permitted an exemption, such as holding rallies or supporting a candidate. They were supposed to sort the requests by activity. Instead, they sorted them by name. Thus, anything with "Freedom" ended up in the one pile, "Women's Rights" in another pile, etc. The biggest pile was "Tea Party." This was a bad system, because if a reviewer picked up a rally exemption request after a string of a candidate exemption requests, then he might mistake it for a poorly supported candidate request and reject it unfairly. Hence, the system was violation of IRS regulations and caused an internal clamor when discovered. But it was not targeting any organization's tax records for political leverage.

Paul SB said...

TCB,

I've had this discussion with Larry before. Sometimes I am inclined to say that we shouldn't feed the trolls - let them wither in obscurity. Like all bullies they love confrontation, they love making people furious, and the more strenuously normal people fight against them the more dopamine - and petulant - they get. Larry does have a point that we need to argue against bastards like this or else others might interpret silence as consent, and Dr. Brin's point about honing our arguments on the whetstone of petulance is also a good point. However, he is doing the same thing. Contrary Brin is where he goes to throw out all the bullshit arguments for ignorance and hate he gets from Faux News, nazi talk radio and his religious upbringing to see if anything sticks. Nothing ever does. All he ever gets is admissions that once in awhile things he spews have some basis in reality, though half-truths and distortions taken out of context have yet to persuade anyone here that any of his crap is anything but witless, vile calumny. And a whole lot of deliberate dishonesty - I have pointed out here more than once that his rhetorical style is very much in keeping with the standard operating procedures of the churchnazis I grew up with in the Plains States. Scruples are not an issue for them, only winning the argument matters, so they will say literally anything they think will persuade other people to their way of thinking. It's a strategy that works if you are on a church speaking circuit going from town to town guest guilt-tripping, because you won't be in the same place long enough to get caught and lose all credibility. If locum was as smart as he thought he was, he would stop coming here and move on to somewhere else, because he has no credibility here whatsoever. But he's addicted to the dopamine rush righteous indignation. Getting his fix seems to be more important to him than actually getting anywhere.

So once again, we return to the silent treatment. If we just ignore him, he will start to experience withdrawals. That will make him even more extreme for awhile until he finally cracks. The problem is that many of the decent human beings here have their own issues with indignation addiction. Many of us get our own fix from fighting him. If only t'weren't true!

locumranch said...


As to the sad state of US Mental Health, both political parties share equal responsibility. The 'Mental Health Parity Bill', passed under Bill Clinton in 1996 & garnering widespread BIPARTISAN support, legislated EQUAL insurance reimbursement for both physical & mental health issues, to be phased in at a rate of 2% per year, achieving full 100% parity by 2046. That's parity by 2046, folks. And, I (for one) don't feel proud to belong to such a dishonest & responsibility-shirking society.

In terms of morality, I argue by tautology which means that my arguments (in this limited regard) are logically unassailable, being "always true", "true by logical necessity", "whether (or not) the simpler statements are factually true or false":

(1) Either moral absolutes exist or they do not exist; and
(2) Either morality is relative or it is not relative.

Nor all of Larry_H & TCBy's frozen yogurt, moral piety & wit can ever cancel even a single word of it, argue though they may about the primacy of 'Free Speech in a Free Society' and how 'Slavery is always wrong', while their same words are used to justify the ongoing slavery of the California Penal System & the elimination of 'Free (hate) speech in a (now un) Free Society. Now, go ask Larry_H if populations that commit crimes at higher rates **should** be imprisoned at higher rates & watch him find *exceptions* like his fellow moral relativist Mr. Burns.

Catfish steps up to defend the Deep State -- those self-sustaining autonomous bureaucracies that (once created) are UNRESPONSIVE to the democratic 'Will of the People' -- in the name of Freedom & Democracy. It is to laugh. Ask those Kurds, Catalonians & denizens of the California Penal System what 'Freedom & Democracy' feels like now that they have been criminalised & imprisoned by those same tyrannical self-sustaining autonomous bureaucracies.

And, poor TCBy, who confuses conformity & agreeableness with the "vaguely sensible" -- he deserves the same unconditional support that we would offer any other vaguely sensible 'Good German' conformist:

"Good Boy, TCBy, now hustle those hate-speaking, Trump voting, non-conformists into the ovens because Freedom, Democracy & Deep State".


Best

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,

"From what I've seen, when religion is at its strongest, it seems to exist to justify telling people to do what they know is wrong, by twisting those innate ideas of fairness/loyalty/community/family/etc into justifying acts that defy those same ideas."
- Your understanding of religion is very anthropological, which is to say, far more mature than the majority of people who either blindly follow or blindly reject.

Everything you wrote about religion applies equally to ideology, philosophy or any of the kinds of absurdities humans use to justify atrocities, to render Voltaire. Humans are very good at coming up with justifications to do things that they know are wrong and are in many ways counter-instinctual. There have been a fair number of studies pointing to how difficult it can be to get soldiers to actually kill humans on the other team, and how few soldiers in major wars ever actually fire their rifles at the enemy. Religion teaches people to think that certain people - people who are different from them - are not really human, so it's okay to shoot them. How different is this from capitalism, with its Social Darwinist philosophy, that teaches us to believe that anyone who isn't rich is a "loser" - our equivalent of less than human - and it's okay to cheat, swindle, financially destroy them, take away their health insurance, lay them off en masse, treat them like slaves when they have few, if any, alternatives for employment to escape abusive managers, and blame them for their own misfortunes.

This eats into the discussion Donzelion and Larry were having about moral absolutes, to say nothing of locum's dogmatic assertions, which confuse people because he is really saying two different things. What he is saying is that when anyone has different values from his, values are relative, subjective and merely the "should-ofs" that the right wing so often accuses the left wing of, claiming that they are these unrealistic pie-in-the-sky idealists. Yet they then turn around and insist that whatever they value is absolute and anyone who disagrees with them is unquestionably evil. The hypocrisy isn't too hard to parse, but like a TV pastor he spews out so much verbiage it becomes very hard to follow. While I share Donzelion's general principles, years of studying culture has made me pretty doubtful that there are any moral absolutes. TCB brought up Franz deWaal's work on morality in the rest of the animal kingdom, which show that there is a solid, scientific basis to the idea that some instinctive foundation to human moral systems. But nothing that is biological is not variable to some degree. There are plenty of warrior societies where a killer is considered admirable, not despicable, and human cultures all over the world get around prohibitions on murder, slavery, oppression, spousal and child abuse and all manner of atrocities simply be redefining who counts as human.

Paul SB said...

Paul 451 con't,

Racism is one of the more obvious examples. It's really obvious that there is just one human race, but greedy plantation owners concocted the idea of different "races" to justify their business interests. The idea was so useful for so many people that in most people's eyes it became an unquestionable truth over the course of a couple generations. Sexism is far older and much harder to root out, but it's the same thing. If you want something from someone who is any different from you, paint them out to be less than human so the normal rules of human decency don't apply to them. Then you can be inhuman to them while still being able to sleep at night and maintain your good reputation in the community. Convenient. And it happens everywhere, too. Any side you care to name is guilty of it, though some groups tend to rely on it much more regularly and with much more enthusiasm than others. Some extremists on the left use this ancient strategy, demonizing their conservative opponents, but this practice is frowned upon by a majority of people who have heard of WW II and the Holocaust. To the right wing, on the other hand, this is their most fundamental, indispensable practice.

LarryHart said...

locumranch can't read:

(1) Either moral absolutes exist or they do not exist; and
(2) Either morality is relative or it is not relative.


Well, duh so far.


Nor all of Larry_H & TCBy's frozen yogurt, moral piety & wit can ever cancel even a single word of it, argue though they may about the primacy of 'Free Speech in a Free Society' and how 'Slavery is always wrong', while their same words are used to justify the ongoing slavery of the California Penal System & the elimination of 'Free (hate) speech in a (now un) Free Society.


I was arguing the opposite position on that one--that most cultures in history have been ok with slavery. So your conclusion is wrong then, correct? I didn't think so.


Now, go ask Larry_H if populations that commit crimes at higher rates **should** be imprisoned at higher rates & watch him find *exceptions* like his fellow moral relativist Mr. Burns.


Why not ask me if populations who lie at higher rates **should** be disbelieved or ignored at higher rates. No exceptions necessary.

LarryHart said...

with apologies to PaulSB, locumranch:

"Good Boy, TCBy, now hustle those hate-speaking, Trump voting, non-conformists into the ovens because Freedom, Democracy & Deep State".


Nazis get to play the "ovens" victim card now?

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

to say nothing of locum's dogmatic assertions, which confuse people because he is really saying two different things.


Worse, he says things that are different, in fact opposite, from reality.

Which is why, despite your pleading, I can't let a comment stand which asserts that I was arguing the pro-"there are moral absolutes" position and then draws conclusions from that "fact", where I was actually taking issue with that position in the first place. I'm not arguing politics with the guy--I'm pointing out when he slanders me.

LarryHart said...

...and to remind people what the comment about prison populations was all about. I was not advocating the conservative position that the prison population is largely black because they're the ones committing the crimes. I was saying that if one can hold that position and sleep well at night, then that same person is a hypocrite if he doesn't also accept that right-wing political organizations are caught pretending not to be political because right-wing political organizations are the ones who commit all of those crimes.

If you (loc) are going to sneer at me that I can't have it both ways, you're going to have to wait until I get a win on even one of those ways first.

Jon S. said...

"While you do have a point, it presumes that attention is always a good thing. Or 'Sometimes, you can get what you want and still not be very happy.'"

"In the end, you may find that 'having' is not so pleasing a thing as 'wanting'. It is not logical - but it is often true."

- Spock to T'Pring, in the Star Trek Original Series episode "Amok Time" (written by Theodore Sturgeon!)

David Brin said...

TCB is right of course, and I can no longer rationalize that I am “ministering to” Locumranch, since his problems are not political or logical or even moral, but deeply psychological. Still, in my defense, let me say that the Fox-isms that he posts here are incantations that have great power in sick minds. And that sickness infests the confederacy that is trying to pull down the Union they always hated.

I am most trying to concoct counter-polemics, and some of them I think are pretty good. Elsewhere I have had great success cornering Fox-ists with some of those “name one exception” challenges that were developed down here.

Still, yes, I will try to not let him set me off, if for no other reason that preserving my lifespan for more important fights.

His most recent is a good example. Pure drivel, with slices of “deep state” rationalizations for hating the last fact-professions who stand in the way of his “yes-massa” plantation lords raking it all in. Hating on the FBI, the military officer corps, intel agencies… gooood doggie.

But onward

onward

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

While I share Donzelion's general principles, years of studying culture has made me pretty doubtful that there are any moral absolutes.


Again, there are two overlapping discussions here which might confuse the issue.

You are talking about the same notion that was being discussed years ago on the old Cerebus list--the question of whether there are universal values which all cultures agree on. That's still a cultural relativist position--it presumes that cultures are the arbiters of what is good and what is evil--and only looks for "exceptions which prove the rule", something so far beyond the pale that no culture would ever disagree.

I think what donzelion was arguing for (and locumranch arguing against) is a different thing, maybe or maybe not the opposite thing? That there are immutable laws of morality which have nothing to do with whether a culture or an individual believes or accepts them. Just as you are subject to the law of gravity whether you believe in it or not, so donzelion would have it that "slavery is always wrong" is a fact whether you believe it or not.

And this is where the discussion gets difficult to understand. I personally feel that slavery is wrong, but I don't believe that (or any other value judgement) exists outside of the sentient individual's conscience.

LarryHart said...

Oops, I just went over the onward...

onward

alaa ammar said...
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alaa ammar said...
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