Jul
30

Pay Attention




Posted at 1:15 by HTML Mencken

Mark A. Kleiman finally finds something as awful as a liberal cursing at or otherwise using ad hominem attacks against conservatives:

There is a technical term for [John Podhoretz's] approach to war-fighting. It’s called “genocide,” and it’s punishable by death[...]

Aside from his moral mistake, Podhoretz makes a fundamental strategic mistake: he likens the current fight against the movements of violently politicized Islam — Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda — and the states that support them — notably Iran and Syria — as if it were the same sort of civilization-threating conflict as World War II or the Cold War. In this regard, John Derbyshire’s unapologetically racist contempt for the people he refers to in public as living in “worthless countries” (and no doubt refers to in private as “wogs”) gives him clearer vision, though no greater moral elevation.

Sorry; Derbyshire does occupy a higher moral plane. While it’s true that no racist can occupy a place of moral decency, an even-tempered racist is still a damn sight better morally relative to the most non-racist genocide-enthusiast. And regardless, it’s not like JPod isn’t a bigot: Muslims in general are barely human in his eyes, and Palistinians specifically are for him so subhuman that they might as well be cockroaches. But otherwise Kleiman has observed here most finely. He adds:

Our civilization is not at risk. To think so reflects cowardice. To persuade others that we are at risk is to spread cowardice. Podhoretz’s tough-guy persona hides either a man too terrified to think like a civilized human being or a man who hopes to terrify his fellow-citizens into supporting policies he favors for other reasons. He’d make a good teller of scary stories around a Boy Scout campfire. As a strategic thinker, he’d have to improve a lot to be contemptible.

To completely scandalize Kleiman: no fucking shit! But then this fear-mongering, half cynical so as to be demogoguery and half sincere so as to be — as Kleiman says — cowardice, has been the neoconservative schtick for years. Before 9/11. Kleiman and Greg Djerejian, whom Kleiman links to in the piece, are only seeing now what neoconservatives have made plain for years. Djerejian even goes so far, in his shocked, shocked tone, to say:

It’s quite sad that the son of an accomplished, prestigious American intellectual[*] would muse so innocuously about the merits of mass butchery–basically the wholesale slaughter of a broad demographic of an ethnic group writ large–a policy prescription that is quasi-genocidal in nature. John should think of previous genocides in this century, in such contexts, as he ponderously queries the pros and cons of the extermination of entire population groups. Where is the decency?

Idiots. JPod is very much his father’s son. The Elder Pod Person and his comrades were so wingnutty, so extreme, so unimpressed by standard Republican butchery that they attacked Kissinger, Ford and Nixon from the right — American-aided or American-caused genocides in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Timor weren’t aggressive enough for neoconservatives! There were times when even Reagan was accused of being an appeaser by Pod People. And Bush I, too. Clinton could only do right when he bombed Serbia and even then it was never enough. These people love war for its own sake; and their fearmongering is both a cause and effect of this love. The neoconservative formula, constantly blurted from the safety of some pathetic seminar or cubicle, has always basically been, “give me unbridled aggression or give me nachos”; and to disagree has always meant inviting accusations of “appeasement”. Yet Kleiman and Djerejian were stupid enough to listen to them for any amount of time, to make common-cause with them, to believe for so long that they had any sort of decency, that they (yes, Greg, Duncan Black is right — you are a useful idiot) signed-onto the Neoconservatives’ War on Iraq. Better late than never, I suppose; but still, better early than late is best, especially when such things were obvious all along. People like Kleiman and Djerejian are only useful to quote for purposes of ammo-against-the-enemy. When they offer advice, they should never be listened-to again, so obviously reprehensible is their judgement.

*”Accomplished, prestigous… intellectual” — bullshit.

67 Comments »

  1. mikey said,

    July 30, 2006 at 1:26

    Our civilization is not at risk. To think so reflects cowardice. To persuade others that we are at risk is to spread cowardice. Podhoretz’s tough-guy persona hides either a man too terrified to think like a civilized human being or a man who hopes to terrify his fellow-citizens into supporting policies he favors for other reasons.

    You’re 100% right, Retardo, but I can’t help but to be a little pleased to see this. I’ve been screaming this from the highest hilltop, on this blog, my own and others, for going on four years. I want it to become common knowledge that America has nothing to fear from terrorists, islam, mexico, iran or north korea. I want to see the fear-mongering removed from the discourse. I want to see every asshat who tries to use “We are at war” or “America faces an existential threat” or “We must attack [country name here] to make America safe” laughed at and ridiculed. And maybe this is the begining of that?

    mikey

  2. Some Guy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 1:56

    Seriously. Terrorism is dangerous, but not even close to a serious threat to American ways of life. They don’t understand how to do damage, they understand how to blow things up.
    You wanna stop terrorist attacks? Secure the boarders and the ports, create comprehensive security protocols and nets. Don’t stand there with the front door open and poke the damn bee’s nest.

    Is anyone else getting as pissed off as I am about this push for “WWIII”?
    zomg. Isreal is bombing someone. THAT has certainly NEVER happened before.

  3. Smiling Mortician said,

    July 30, 2006 at 2:11

    Norman Podhoretz is an accomplished, prestigious intellectual? Perhaps Djerejian has never read NP’s whiny, quease-inducing 1963 essay “My Negro Problem — and Ours.” Or maybe he figures, hey, it was 1963, when (white) people weren’t expected to, y’know, get the whole civil rights thing. In which case I would bet he hasn’t read NP’s 1993 defense of the ’63 essay, pointing out that he was writing as a “liberal” and that’s why he felt the need to enlighten everyone about the menace represented by those scary, privileged, bullying, paranoid dark folk who were mean to him on the playground. And stuff.

    And Djerejian is surprised that son John advocates genocide? That apple landed with a thud and festered.

    But the Kleiman acknowledgments are good to see.

  4. Retardo Montalban said,

    July 30, 2006 at 2:14

    Perhaps Djerejian has never read NP’s whiny, quease-inducing 1963 essay “My Negro Problem — and Ours.�

    Matched only by his wife’s, and JPod’s mummy’s, awful hommage to gay-hate, “The Boys on the Beach”.

  5. Doc Washboard said,

    July 30, 2006 at 2:34

    Okay, this gets right down to it.

    I want someone–anyone–to describe two possible scenarios for me when it comes to the Global War on Terror.

    Our Leader tells us that we have to stay the course with the GWOT until we win. What, precisely, will that look like? If the wingnuts want to whip out their World War II analogies, let’s do it now. From December 8, 1941 onward, we knew exactly what it would look like if we won: Germany and Japan would surrender to us. They did; WE WON!! WOO HOO!!!1!!

    If we’re to stay the course, I want to know what the destination looks like, but nobody on the Right–and, baby, I mean NOBODY–has really explained how we’ll be able to tell if we’ve won. That’s the first thing.

    The second thing is that the right-wing echo machine also tells me that, as a liberal, I’m going to be instrumental in losing the GWOT. Again, what does that look like? If we lost to Germany, they would have marched in and taken over the government. We’d all be speaking German right now. (Probably not really, but you get the idea.)

    What does a loss in the GWOT look like? Will Osama disband Congress? Will we have mass executions of political leaders in the streets? Will there be Mexislamofascists stationed on every street corner, checking the papers of passers-by? I tend to doubt it, but maybe I don’t see something that everybody else sees.

    Again, nobody on the Right has made any attempt to tell me what the big deal is.

    Any thoughts on this?

  6. mikey said,

    July 30, 2006 at 2:55

    WOLVERINES!!!!!!111!!1ELEVEN!1

    mikey

  7. Retardo Montalban said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:07

    You’re right, Mikey; it’s all a scam. And maybe I should be more generous to Keliman but I just can’t quite make myself.

    I’m more convinced than ever that the neocons and Rethugs alone wouldnt have gotten their war in Iraq if it weren’t for the useful idiot centrists. So much blood is on the shoulders of the initially pro-war folks that I simply can’t forgive them. At very least they must pay the price of irrelvance in atonement: they should be given a decent hearing on domestic matters, but when it comes to foriegn policy, NEVER AGAIN should they ever be listened to.

  8. mikey said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:17

    Retardo, seriously, I’ve GOT to ask. Have you read Sam Harris?

    mikey

  9. Retardo Montalban said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:21

    Not that I know of, Mikey. At least, it doesn’t ring a bell. I’ll look him up.

  10. mikey said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:26

    His castigation of religous moderates for providing cover, intentional or not, to religous extremists, is a model for what you’re talking about here. When you consider honesty of intent, who are the real liars?

    mikey

  11. Retardo Montalban said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:27

    Ahh I just looked him up on wiki. Yeah I have read an essay of his I think, and maybe some blog posts since it says he posts at Huffington. No books, though. Are they good? I completely sympathize with his arguments so far as I can tell.

  12. mikey said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:33

    I declare a “Book of the Year” every year. Always have. Everything from Lederman’s “The God Particle” to Crais’ “The Last Detective” to Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire”. My 2005 book of the year was “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. But do yourself a favor. It’s one of those damn books your’re gonna want to give to people, so go ahead and order two or three copies to start. I’ve given away like 20 copies, I keep a couple around all the time for that reason….

    mikey

  13. Retardo Montalban said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:36

    You know I think it was Jillian on the Hate-Hates entry who argued exactly the same thing.

    Eh. It *is* true but it also has a sort of “objectively pro-” thing about it that makes me somewhat squeamish. I think it’s entirely right to damn “moderates” for *explicitly* covering for fundies, but just for their “structural”, de facto complicity … well, they ought to be attacked on other fronts. I dunno.

    What happened to Hitchens and the Raving Atheist has maybe made me too cautious, but there it is. they are so anti-religion that they choose to see the War on Terra as a war of secularism vs. religion, which is stupid and wrong on a deep level but almost presentable on a superficial level. Also both, ominously, say some kind things about Ayn Rand, which I dont think is a coincidence, Rand being a touchstone of intellectual atheism — or, more precisely, anti-theism.

  14. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:37

    “I’m more convinced than ever that the neocons and Rethugs alone wouldnt have gotten their war in Iraq if it weren’t for the useful idiot centrists. So much blood is on the shoulders of the initially pro-war folks that I simply can’t forgive them.”

    Hear hear!

    mikey, I have a feeling the impulse to mend fences come through a little more strongly over there on the bay then it does from over here in the deep red hinterlands. These people were wrong as hell and they were colossally ungracious in being so. And not on the television or on teh intarnetz. Face to face. Even the moderate centrists. Sometimes especially the moderate centrists. So while I admire the sentiment I can’t yet get behind it. Ignorance coupled with pride is no longer a paired set of character flaws I am going to make any effort to forgive.

  15. Retardo Montalban said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:38

    I’ll get it this fall when I get $$, then.

  16. Thers said,

    July 30, 2006 at 3:43

    Perhaps Djerejian has never read NP’s whiny, quease-inducing 1963 essay “My Negro Problem — and Ours.�

    That’s OK. As Josh Trevino has so convincingly explained, once William F Buckley singlehandedly demolished the John Birch Society, racism became a problem solely confined to Far Leftists such as Jesse Jackson and John Rocker.

    Or something.

  17. Jillian said,

    July 30, 2006 at 4:21

    Retardo, have you noticed that the Raving Atheist is in the midst of a not-so-subtle conversion to Christianity? He’s always been a little wacked-out, with his weird views on fetuses and all, but he’s pretty much gone off the deep end with his Dawn Eden infatuation and crap of late.

    And just for the record, I think Ayn Rand is a flaming idiot.

    There’s a reason I’m as personally opposed to religion as I am. It takes a bit to explain, but I’ll give it a shot. If it doesn’t seem clear, it’s probably my fault – just let me know, and I’ll try it again.

    The biggest problem the world faces today is that people are incapable of critical thinking. Everybody’s a sucker for cheap political rhetoric and sleazy advertising. Look at how many Americans fell for the “Saddam is behind 9/11″ bullshit – people simply don’t know how to think.

    There’s a reason for this: critical thinking is in a lot of ways an artiifical thing. I suspect that uncritical groupthink has a number of evolutionary advantages that probably bias people in favor of “thinking with their gut” instead of their brain.

    Try this if you want a sample of what I’m talking about when I say that critical thinking is hard – harder than people realize. No matter how committed we might be to critical thought, it’s inevitable that we’ll fail at it – probably more frequently than we realize.

    Critical thinking is also the only real defense we have against the tripe that gets fed to us on a daily basis, which makes it (quite literally) a matter of life or death importance.

    Because critical thinking is as hard as it is, anything that interferes with it is unacceptable. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t try to become a gold medalist in gymnastics by training hard six days a week, and then spending Sundays sitting on the sofa and eating pints of ice cream and drinking homebrew hooch all day, would you?

    Religion is the critical thinking equivalent of a day on the sofa with a jug of moonshine. It requires accepting things on “faith”, which is the opposite of reason. Anything you accept on faith, you accept in the absence of evidence. Anything you accept on reason, you accept *because of* the evidence. They’re polar opposites, and there is no sane reconciling of the two.

    Tolerating an uncritical thinking pattern in any way, shape or form is dangerous. We already screw it up more than we realize – why go out of your way to screw it up on purpose? It’s setting yourself up for failure.

  18. Smiling Mortician said,

    July 30, 2006 at 4:38

    Try this if you want a sample of what I’m talking about when I say that critical thinking is hard – harder than people realize.

    Jillian, I took the crit-think quiz you linked to, and apparently critical thinking is even harder than the quiz designers thought. After taking the quiz I went to see the results: for question #1 I selected 2 and 4, and the results for question #1 said “You are incorrect! Correct answers were 2 and 4!”

    *sigh*

  19. Jillian said,

    July 30, 2006 at 4:46

    Oof!

  20. Candy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 5:38

    Jillian, same problem. But if my answers were correct, I had 100%… I expected to fail, as I’m often guilty of thinking with my gut.

    Interesting quiz… and required some serious thinkin’. Especially after half a bottle of sauv blanc.

    You are absolutely right, the inability of people to resist the indoctrination of their upbringing and apply critical, logical thinking are going to bring about the self-fulfilling prophecy of “the end of the world” if people don’t start waking up. It terrifies me that actual policy affecting our lives is based on someone’s belief in a book written over a period of time when most people believed the world was flat and that the sun travelled back and forth across the sky with the assistance of a god. Mind-boggling. And you can’t get the religious to engage in any sort of rational debate about it.

    it’s like arguing with a paranoid schizophrenic. you can’t.

  21. Candy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 5:42

    See, when I drink alcohol my grammar goes straight to hell, where I’m gonna go if we’re wrong! (The inability… are. Jeez)

    Good night! :)

  22. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 6:10

    you wouldn’t try to become a gold medalist in gymnastics by training hard six days a week, and then spending Sundays sitting on the sofa and eating pints of ice cream and drinking homebrew hooch all day, would you?

    Ah! sixth grade. Good times, good times.

  23. Herr Doktor Bimler said,

    July 30, 2006 at 8:12

    The only way I could agree more with Jillian is if she had added a few words about beer, and black pudding, and their importance as the main components of a balanced diet.

  24. pablo said,

    July 30, 2006 at 8:23

    My impression was that the neocons were pro-serb during the Bosnian crisis.

  25. D. Sidhe said,

    July 30, 2006 at 10:08

    it’s like arguing with a paranoid schizophrenic. you can’t.

    People argue with me all the time. They win pretty often, too.

    I do agree with Jillian to the extent that I am able, having taken a good long look at the quiz and heard my brain fizzle. I’ve got an excuse, seriously. I’ve got a bad migraine right now, and trying to think is pretty similar to taking the SAT while hungover.

    Nonetheless, even as a neo-pagan schizophrenic incined to the occasional psychotic episode and who believes* all sorts of bullshit, I’ve been driven to screaming near weekly for the past five years by people who cannot tell the difference between a fact and an opinion.

    When I say something like “Iraq did not have the WMD we were told we needed to invade to destroy,” that is a fact. The question of whether it’s a *true* fact requires some more effort, though I believe the UN weapons inspectors have my back on this. Saying “That’s your opinion,” only makes your logic teacher cry.

    Somehow, the people I see saying, constantly, “they’re entitled to their opinion” when people are being actually, factually wrong, or even when they’re right on the subject, say, of evolution, are generally the sort of people who say things like “I don’t watch the news, they’re all biased.”

    There are a lot of incredibly heartbroken logic teachers out there.

    * When I say “believe”, the really sad thing is, I don’t, actually. I’m aware that my theory that Bigfoot is an alien is entirely bullshit, it’s just the mental equivalent of keeping Terry Pratchett novels on the shelf next to the science books. I don’t actually believe there are only five elements, and I would argue such a thing only because I am incredibly easily amused.

  26. Morbo said,

    July 30, 2006 at 10:32

    Somehow, the people I see saying, constantly, “they’re entitled to their opinion� when people are being actually, factually wrong, or even when they’re right on the subject, say, of evolution, are generally the sort of people who say things like “I don’t watch the news, they’re all biased.�
    This is where the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s quote comes in handy: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.” It really pisses me off when people just make shit up, then when called on it, fall back on the claim “well, that’s my opinion.”

  27. Herr Doktor Bimler said,

    July 30, 2006 at 10:36

    I tried the test to which Jillian referred us… and although I know about the weaknesses of our cognitive heuristics [learned footnotes to Tversky go here], the temptation to give the *wrong* answers was still almost overwhelming. Yes indeed, we are only a species of half-way intelligent primates with a grasp on clear thinking and consciousness which is shaky at best.
    That said, I also regard the evolutionary-psychology theories of Cosmides and Tooby — which are quoted in the debriefing to the test — as a crock of brown stuff.

  28. Jillian said,

    July 30, 2006 at 14:34

    Hey D Sidhe, I totally hear you on that…..beliefs of all sort provide a comfort factor that’s hard to account for in words. I find it incredibly hard to remember that kitties do not, in fact, act cute on purpose because they like me and want to make me smile. Cats don’t think much *at all*, and they certainly don’t have opinions about me and how likeable I am.

    I just expect people to hold themselves to an incredibly high standard – mostly because I realize that our fallible natures mean we’ll fail to live up to *whatever* standard we set for ourselves. You set it high so that even though you fail, you still do pretty good. It’s such a big deal to me because I realize what the consequences of failure are – I see their bodies on the news every night.

    And I’m totally on board with Doktor Bimler about most ev-psych being crap – the fact that people everywhere still take Desmond Morris seriously causes me actual physical pain.

  29. Mr. Mordant said,

    July 30, 2006 at 15:00

    Hey, Retardo, send me a mailing address and I’ll mail you my copy (to borrow, to keep, whatever strikes your fancy). I’m – heh heh – looking forward to hearing your opinion of certain sections of it. Tee hee.

    And thank you, Jillian, for confirming that I wasn’t hallucinating about TRA. I just stopped there yesterday briefly and was…bewildered, to say the least, but didn’t have time to catch up on whatever I’ve missed in the last couple months. Can you give me a Cliff’s Notes version?

  30. bulbul said,

    July 30, 2006 at 15:09

    John Podhoretz is the son of Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter???
    Oh. My. God.

  31. Jillian said,

    July 30, 2006 at 16:18

    TRA thinks that embryos are just really, really, really tiny people – and that their rights trump any and all rights of the person in whose body they reside.

    Few atheists find this position……logical.

    Many Christians do.

    TRA apparently holds to the cult of the fetus more strongly than he does any single other position he holds, so he’s basically just going to ground at this point. LIke water seeking its own level, he’s found a home with people who won’t trouble him by pointing out the endless logical inconsistencies of his pet idea.

    I would’ve predicted this years ago, had anyone asked me. But I’m a cynic at heart.

  32. Mr. Mordant said,

    July 30, 2006 at 16:30

    Huh. I knew he was anti-abortion, but as sporadically as I read him, it never seemed to be that prominent. Learned something new today, I guess.

    Maybe he’ll just form his own sect of Fetusians in lieu of becoming an actual Christian. The more sects the better, I always say. Keeps the believers divided (and busy prosecuting heretics and apostates).

  33. Notorious P.A.T. said,

    July 30, 2006 at 16:54

    That book by Sam Harris looks really interesting. People who like that might also want to read “The Mind of the Bible-Believer” by Edmund D. Cohen.

  34. blogenfreude said,

    July 30, 2006 at 18:33

    Aside from his moral mistake …

    Um, mistake?

    “Yeah, the Holocaust … well, you know, we were having a few beers, and the next thing you know ….”

  35. Smiling Mortician said,

    July 30, 2006 at 18:55

    Don’t know whether anyone’s still reading this thread, but . . .

    There are a lot of incredibly heartbroken logic teachers out there.

    Yes, but they keep trying. One of the good things about the U.S. right now is its community college system, which serves primarily people who a generation or two ago would not have pursued any education beyond high school. They’re being introduced to logic through required courses in writing, speech and math as well as elective courses in philosophy and elsewhere. Examining the arguments of advertisers and politicians is a big part of the curriculum. Some students, of course, reject logic (because it makes their Jesus hurt) but many others find that with effort, their eyes open.

    This Pollyanna moment brought to you by a warm, sunny Sunday morning.

  36. blogenfreude said,

    July 30, 2006 at 19:02

    Jillian – thanks for the hat tip on the test – got 3 of 4. You’re right – it’s harder than it looks.

  37. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 19:45

    Oh, sorry couldn’t let it pass. Smiling Mortician said it.

    Oh and the test misread one of my clicks, too. I got 4/4 but the test didn’t want me to have I guess.

  38. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 19:57

    Religion is the critical thinking equivalent of a day on the sofa with a jug of moonshine. It requires accepting things on “faith�, which is the opposite of reason. Anything you accept on faith, you accept in the absence of evidence. Anything you accept on reason, you accept *because of* the evidence. They’re polar opposites, and there is no sane reconciling of the two.

    Another problem is that the currently acceptable counter to religious thinking tends to go no further than “all religions are equally silly.”

    Critical thinking should go further: it is indeed possible to examine negatives and positives in various religions, and the knee-jerk defense of one religion as no better or worse than any other religion is an error of faith in itself (although one I have a lot of sympathy for).

    I don’t know if I buy all of Sam Harris’s book, but it’s a valuable book to read just to re-think assumptions made over the past decade, and he takes on the differences between religions. The sentence that gets the ball rolling in it is “Why is it so easy, then, so trivially easy – you-could-almost-bet-your-life-on-it easy – to guess the young [suicide bomber's] religion?”

    That was an unpleasant sentence because it started my own personal knee-jerk (although I’m already biased against Islam in the first place having read the Qur’an). I don’t really want to view X religion as more poisonous than Y, but there it is, and being uncomfortable about what I think is much more useful to further thought than being sure and content.

  39. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 20:10

    They’re being introduced to logic through required courses in writing, speech and math as well as elective courses in philosophy and elsewhere.

    Don’t forget computer programming. My writing changed for the better once I’d taken that up.

    I’ve been away for years, however, so now my writing’s the shits again.

  40. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 20:11

    “all religions are equally silly.�

    Not at all. Scientology currently wears the unified silly title belt. But Bubba, all dogmatic beliefs are equally silly. That sentence might be uncomfortable too. But there it is. If you believe in Invisible Sky Man, Mithras, Thetans, Tooth Fairy, Feng Shui or Aliens riding around bind Hale-Bopp you’re silly. And I find it impossible to rank that list in order of ascending silliness.

  41. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 21:24

    And I find it impossible to rank that list in order of ascending silliness.

    An “I believe in God but I dunno what he’s like” god is an obviously less silly god than a god who shows his ass to Moses and impregnates some vagabond in order to birth himself and kill himself.

    The degrees of faith required are very different, and the degrees of provability are also different, whether or not they are both false.

  42. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 21:39

    “The degrees of faith required are very different.”

    Perhaps.

    “the degrees of provability are also different”

    I’d like to know how.

    “There’s some kind of sentient entitiy undetectable by my instruments of perception but I believe in it nonetheless.”
    V
    V
    -degrees?-
    V
    V
    “There’s the God of Abraham and His quasi human son, both of whom are undetectable by my instruments of perception but I believe in them nonetheless.”

  43. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 21:40

    I was sorely tempted but I just couldn’t make myself use a S,N! on a friendly neighbor.

  44. Sadly, No! » Penis Envy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 21:44

    [...] Yet his main point is crystalized around the reference to John Podhoretz’s recent whine that the West may lack the stones to do what it really needs to do: commit genocide on the filthy wogs. Steyn agrees, head shaking and fists furiously pounding his desk, that it’s true! Liberals have ruined the West to the point that we don’t have the stones for it — our society just isn’t militaristic enough! Waaaaahhhhh. But our enemies, now they have a militaristic society! In spades. Plainly, they know how it should be done! [...]

  45. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:13

    “the degrees of provability are also different�

    I’d like to know how. i

    Not in a logical sense, which should be the only important one I guess, but in an emprical sense. Once specific claims are made of a god – he flooded the entire world, for instance – then counter-evidence can be amassed, whereas fluffy Ida Know-style gods get to remain in the area of faith and not fact.

    The second a god interferes in earthly doings he or she acquires a hefty list of get-outta-heres, and therefore gradations of silliness.

  46. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:13

    Shit. Sorry about obscuring that.

  47. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:32

    “The second a god interferes in earthly doings”

    By, say, creating them in the first place perhaps? After all, what’s “I believe in God” for? If He doesn’t have the power, if He never acts, then what is it exactly you believe in again (fuzzily or otherwise)?

  48. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:36

    By, say, creating them in the first place perhaps? After all, what’s “I believe in God� for? If He doesn’t have the power, if He never acts, then what is it exactly you believe in again (fuzzily or otherwise)?

    Well exactly. I’m not saying there are any gods, but the manifestations claimed by adherents are as knockable – more so the sillier they get – as the fact of their non-existence.

  49. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:39

    “more so the sillier they get”

    I’m still sticking on this one. A statement [of belief] is either true, false, meaningless or imaginary. I can’t perceive these degrees we’re talking about.

  50. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:47

    I’m still sticking on this one. A statement [of belief] is either true, false, meaningless or imaginary. I can’t perceive these degrees we’re talking about.

    That’s funny, because I can’t perceive why you can’t.

    Take the case of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which illustrates both our positions. The FSM has equal footing with YHWH in a logical sense, but has deliberate elements of silliness involved in order to make fun of God Ol’ Boys.

    If it wasn’t more silly – though equally false – the joke wouldn’t have been as fun.

  51. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 22:55

    “Take the case of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”

    But I have yet to find one person who truly believes in FSM. If I ever do, I’ll put them squarely in the same column as other dogmatic believers.

    A belief is either based on repeatable results and disprovable statements or it is silly.

  52. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 30, 2006 at 23:10

    But I have yet to find one person who truly believes in FSM. If I ever do, I’ll put them squarely in the same column as other dogmatic believers.

    Well then, head back to the scientologists, who have absurd beliefs, relatively speaking. They can serve as an adequate substitute for a FSM believer.

  53. GoatBoy said,

    July 30, 2006 at 23:31

    Like I said, their religion is orders of magnitude siller than most others. But I find the silliness of the fact of their belief indistinguishable.

  54. D. Sidhe said,

    July 31, 2006 at 0:32

    I find it incredibly hard to remember that kitties do not, in fact, act cute on purpose because they like me and want to make me smile. Cats don’t think much *at all*, and they certainly don’t have opinions about me and how likeable I am.

    You take that back! Oh, sorry. I guess there is some bullshit I believe more than others. Technically, I believe my cats associate me with petting and food and therefore are interested in not doing things that cause me to cut off the petting and food, but since I never have, they’re free to do pretty much anything. Our remaining housemate seems to be using the same logic, more or less, but is *not* *cute*.

    And my gods didn’t create the world or much of anything else. Humans created them, though more or less as a side effect of living. Why, you may wonder, would I go on believing in them? No clue. If I’d still been a Catholic, I’d be an atheist already, just from an allergic reaction to the currently prominent religious adherents wandering around. But my religion hasn’t started any world wars, and has sentimental value, and the thought processes are occasionally useful in mitigating the effects of my various mental illnesses, so I keep it around. So far.

  55. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 31, 2006 at 0:43

    Like I said, their religion is orders of magnitude siller than most others. But I find the silliness of the fact of their belief indistinguishable.

    That seems to me like an abstraction that has no practical use.

  56. GoatBoy said,

    July 31, 2006 at 3:51

    OK.

  57. wli said,

    July 31, 2006 at 5:23

    It wasn’t hard to see that Jillian’s test was for distinguishing converses, inverses, and contrapositives from a conditional (A => B = A & ~B) by just looking at it and the reasons for the case analysis. Maybe they should’ve asked if respondents were familiar with propositional calculus and not just whether they’d seen a similar test, though I suppose even passing familiarity with logic is rare enough to be statistically negligible. I don’t even want to think of how marginal those familiar with induction on the structure of proofs and other such devices must be.

    Reason is dead in the body politic; those still with their wits about them are no more than the vestigial remnants of a dying, nonfunctional organ soon to be excised. Propaganda such as excreted by Fox News et al has rather fertile soil in which to take root.

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