Syllogisms and Identity Politics

Philmon and I had an exchange below that needs further expansion.  Phil wrote:

I’ve long been suspicious that the modern liberal is typically nothing more than someone who is proud of the “ability” to string multiple syllogisms into what they ultimately consider a de facto valid “argument”.

As have I.  As I wrote in that post, liberals’ confusion about whether or not astrology is scientific comes, not from misunderstanding either of the terms, but from skipping over meaning entirely.

I’m going to ignore the “astrology” part, mostly because I really don’t know what pops into people’s minds when they hear that word.  But “science,” now…. that I get.  It means

knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation

Or, at least, that’s what it should mean, used as a standalone word.  The problem is, as Phil noted, Our Betters tend not to use it as a standalone word.  Rather, “science” is part of the definition of another word: Liberal.  A liberal is someone who likes science.

From there, liberals tend to “argue” in bastard syllogisms, like so:

  • I am a liberal.
  • Liberals like science.
  • Therefore, things I like are scientific
  • Therefore, things I dislike are unscientific
  • Therefore, people who disagree with me hate science.

I think this was once known as the fat cattle fallacy — the notion that a cause must be like its effects.  We don’t need to look at the evidence for, say, global warming — it’s “settled science,” and therefore we believe it, and it’s settled science because we believe it.

It’s nothing new that liberals like to poach on the authority of science; it goes back at least as far as Marx himself (his socialism, unlike the gassy love-the-world-ism of guys like J.H. Noyes, was “scientific”).  But Marx was also a philosopher, and he could browbeat folks into submission with verbiage about “dialectical materialism.”  Our modern leftists lack this, and because they do, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’re using themselves as the starting point for all their arguments.

Which makes sense, given the left’s identity politics uber alles attitude.  But this makes communication with them very, very difficult, as they’re automatically going to assume that their preferences are both metaphysically true and universally applicable.  And in any conflict with the real world, the real world is likely to lose.

A good example of this comes from the supposedly conservative side of the aisle. I didn’t really follow politics much back then, but I recall that Andrew Sullivan used to call himself a conservative, and graciously allowed himself to be used as the face for the new, open, tolerant right….

His feud with National Review Online was semi-amusing, back when I cared about what any of those hacks thought, but I think they missed a trick when it came to the origins of Sullivan’s “conservatism is whatever I feel it is today” schtick.  It wasn’t George W. Bush’s objections to gay marriage that sent him over the edge; it was the Pope’s.

Now maybe Jonah Goldberg and the crew saw this clearly, and I’m misremembering.  Again: didn’t care, don’t care.  The point is that Andrew Sullivan subscribed to two different identities simultaneously — Catholic and Gay Crusader — and, when they inevitably came into conflict, spent years insisting that he was right and 2,000+ years of Church history was wrong.

That the Catholic Church needs to embrace leftism is one of the rottenest of all chestnuts, of course, but when the hipster dimbulbs at places like say it, you know it’s just a nervous tic.  They’d be much happier if the Catholic Church didn’t exist at all.  But from what I could tell, Sullivan really meant it.  He continued to insist he was a good Catholic — indeed, perhaps, the only good Catholic — while rejecting one of the oldest and strongest of Church dogmas.  His endless contortions to square that circle only make sense if he’s “arguing” fat-cattle style — I’m Catholic, I’m gay, therefore the Catholic Church is ok with every item on this minute’s gay agenda, no matter what the supreme and infallible successor to St. Peter says about it.

How to break this thought-complex up beats my pair of jacks.  I can’t enter into that mental world very easily, or stay there for very long.  Like many conservatives, for instance, I’ve abandoned the Republican Party — they just don’t fit with my values anymore.  And while I do understand the urge to change it from within, to get it back closer to what I think its values should be, that’s not what I’m talking about (noble though that pursuit may be).  The fat-cattle version would be, I guess, to insist that the Republican Party is the party of Reagan and Calvin Coolidge, and that there’s no conflict at all between my limited-government preferences and the big-government activism of the GOP establishment, because I’m a small government guy and a GOP voter and therefore Republican plans to “fix” Obamacare are actually shrinking both the scope of government and the debt…..

Any thoughts?

“Science” = Goodthink

I’m not above a little schadenfreude.  Or a lot of schadenfreude.  So choke on this, idiot leftists:



There’s also some good stuff about the heliocentric model in there, too.

Yet I don’t want to just gloat.  As Ace notes, and reflected in Philmon’s post below, the liberal’s religious certainty that he’s a bigger, badder fan of science than any of us knuckle-draggers has important consequences.  No, not just Global Weather and related stupidities (“the weather’s getting warmer colder staying about the same existing!  Quick!  Enact massive global regulations!!”).  It’s a more fundamental disconnect than that.

Much like “fascism,” which Orwell described as meaning little more than “something not desirable” as early as 1946 (!!), today “science” means, for many people, little more than “an objection to a certain caricature of religious belief.”  And this caricature is labeled “evangelical,” and it’s recursively defined with “science” — an “evangelical” is someone who doesn’t believe in “science”….

When words become slogans like this, we lose the ability not just to communicate efficiently, but to talk about communication breakdowns themselves.  For instance, despite the clear wording of the study, I don’t really think a majority of liberals think astrology is scientific.  For one thing, as Ace speculates, I imagine some number of people heard “astrology” but thought “astronomy.”  Which does happen, even to the best of us. In many more cases, though, I think respondents were simply presented with two buzzwords.

“Astrology?  Sure, there might be something to it.  [Insert horoscope anecdote + multi-culti blather].”

“Science?  Of course I love science!  I’m a liberal after all.”

And therefore, syllogistically, astrology is scientific.

It’s essential to periodically examine the content of our beliefs.  Especially when they can be reduced to slogans, particularly one-word slogans like “science.”  For instance:

There’s a branch of science called “astrophysics.”  I am literally unable to understand more than the most basic postulates of astrophysics; I can’t grok the math.  Thus, I have no opinion on astrophysics, or astrophysical topics.  More to the point, it would be the height of stupidity for me to claim to be a “fan” of astrophysics, or to declare that I fucking love science, or what have you, based on the fact that I know something called “astrophysics” exists and is studied by people with PhDs in labs with telescopes.  I’m “glad” it exists, I guess, in the loosest possible sense — the limitless ingenuity of the human mind is always neat to see — but this reflects nothing of consequence about me as a person, let alone anything about the correctness of my political beliefs.

If that’s unclear, I’ll put it a different way — my understanding of astrophysics, or lack thereof, is for all intents and purposes exactly the same as my understanding of “angelology.”  Anything but the most basic postulates of this discipline are likewise Greek to me, and always will be, because my brain just doesn’t work like that.  This is no more a credit to my rational “scientific” mind as my inability to understand astrophysics is a knock against my intuitive “theological” mind.  And neither of them has anything to do with whether my opinions on the role of government are good, bad, or indifferent.

What is the actual, substantive content of your “beliefs”?  Do you know?  Can you define, say, “social justice” or “family values”?  If you can’t, you’re just playing with buzzwords… and pretty soon you’ll end up maintaining that astrology is scientific, because you’re not like those idiots who put their stupid blind faith in make-believe.


Huh.  So now the government is requiring employers to lie to it.  I’m sure that’ll end well.  Via Ace of Spades:

Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

The bedrock behind “the rule of law” is respect for the law.  That is, respect for the notion that laws should be obeyed because they are made by the representatives of the people, either as an expression of the general will (leftwing version) or to preserve ordered liberty (rightwing version).

Mandating lies destroys all that.  Of course some businesses will drop full-time employees to get around Obamacare, just as many more businesses will of course not hire additional full-time staff because of it.  People respond to incentives.  Employers realize that the value added by additional full-time workers doesn’t outweigh the losses mandated by Obamacare’s crushing regulatory costs.  This is basic math, basic logic, basic psychology, basic reality.

Which is unacceptable to our overlords.  So they order us to lie, and because we have no choice, we lie.  So much for the consent of the governed, eh?  Basic economics is now thoughtcrime.  How can they expect us to be loyal to a state that mandates make-believe?

Liberals vs. Evolution

Another question I’d like to see asked:

Liberals believe in evolution, right?  I mean, evolution + “global warming” = science, according to Our Betters.

So, ummm, WTF, guys?

Take a population of, say, squirrels.  Disperse them over several continents, in isolation from each other, for a few thousand years.  They’d change, right?  They’d evolve, if you will.  And any stoopid science-denying conservative who came along and said that of course the European reticulated warbling squirrel is exaclty the same, in behavior, capacity, and habits, as the Australian crested three-toed squirrel, would be laughed out of the room as scietifically illiterate, right?

And yet we’re all supposed to believe that in this one case, homo sapiens sapiens, that’s exactly what did happen.  We’re all exactly the same, in behavior, capacity, and habits.

Please for to explain this. Wouldn’t this, on its own, be an execption so huge as to render Descent with Modification false?

Or are they, you know, just bullshitting us?


Idiots Ruin All the Good Theories

Further to Morgan’s thoughts on the duped (with which I 100% concur):

Leftwing ideologies are a kind of psychological cutout. They let you will the ends without putting yourself on the hook for the means.  Pick any leftie cause — global warming, say.  It’s obvious that the earth shall not be saved without drastic measures, the kind that no democracy could ever implement and even most dictatorships would blush at.  It’s also obvious that global warming doomsayers don’t take their own prophecies seriously.  For instance, this is Al Gore’s house:

Gore Mansion 3

That’s, like, half the carbon footprint of Bangladesh right there, even with compact florescent lightbulbs.

I used to think this was just because cognitive dissonance is bullshit.  But then I realized: This is why they’re always talking about government action!  If you delegate all your responsibilities to the state, your own lifestyle is off the hook.  Huge, pollution-spewing McMansions haven’t been outlawed yet; therefore it’s fine for global warming Jeremiahs to buy them.*

Once you start looking for this psychology, you see it everywhere.  For instance, here’s silly internet humor site on why The Dark Knight Rises sends the opposite of its intended message:

Because Bane’s anarchy-plagued Gotham works better than a lot of American cities.

Oh sure, we get a little montage of wealthy people getting dragged out into the street, and yes, there are some unfair trials going on. But for the average Joe Gothamite on the street? Life seems to be going pretty well.

Now, I used to think that most folks would realize that when you’re rationalizing your good life with “oh, it’s just a few _____ who are being lined up against a wall and shot,” you are, in fact, a horrible person.  But maybe not.  After all, you got what you voted for.  Der Fuhrer promised law and order and he delivered.  Had I gotten to vote on the whole “lining people up against a wall and shooting them” thing, I would’ve said no — of course I would have! — but I didn’t get the chance.  So I’m not to blame.  Heck, I didn’t even get a chance to vote for Bane.  And meanwhile the streets are safer….

The problem with this theory is that most people are idiots.  And since MPAI, attacking them on the ideological level won’t work.  Abstract thinking’s not their bag, baby, so it’s useless to point out one’s moral responsibility to at least consider the means before voting for the ends.

Instead, we’ve got to counter with specifics, drawn from their own lives.  Forget the whole earth for a sec – have you, personally, noticed even a drop in your electric bill from those new bullshit light bulbs?  No?  Then what possible good are they doing?

We could avoid a lot of debacles this way.  ObamaCare, for instance.  Jimmy Kimmel’s great, but where was all this before the law passed?

Always remember that most people are morons.  Big abstract theories are great — I’m rather fond of them myself — but most people need the nuts and bolts.  “Uh huh, that’s a great idea, Moonbeam.  But now how exactly, specifically, will that be achieved?  Let’s consider what we’re actually empowering the government to do before we do it, mmmkay?”


*And of course there will always be exceptions to the McMansion laws for guys like Al Gore.  Every proletariat needs a vanguard.

Propaganda Devoid of Fact


Sombody’s been drinking OBAMAKOOLAID
- philmon

The discussion that spawned my last post was a thread responding to this e-poster (right).

Hard to imagine how a single Tea Party representative could “deregulate the whole state”.  But apparently they want you to believe that, thanks to the Tea Party, no laws were broken and the company gets off scott free.

I’d also like to know just what a “GOP Company” is.

And while I’m sure FEMA is distributing water, so are those eeeevil capatilists Coca-Cola, Pepsi, BB&T Bank in North Carolina, and some 7-Eleven stores.  This attitude that “capitalists” don’t care and we “need” government to save us every time something happens is  … sadly, dominant.  And demonstrably false.  But it’s the meme put out by statists, because statists want to be in charge, get all the credit, and basically tell everyone how they will run their lives.

There’s a market for this worldview as well.  Or we wouldn’t have the administration we have now.

The Emporer Has No Clothes

Apparently some folks at The Onion have figured out TED Talks.

Now … I had watched exactly one TED talk all the way through in my life — and that was Mike Rowe’s.  It was really good.  Because it highlighted a problem in our culture that’s real and tangible.  The solution, of course, is to stop seeing jobs that don’t require spending years in front of TED professors to get a Kudos certificate — as somehow demeaning work, unworthy of our efforts or praise.  I thought it was really good.  It actually illustrated egghead, theory-saturated policy makers being wrong, and people who actually … you know, do stuff … being right. (I guess technically it wasn’t a TED talk, it was included by TEDin a “TED Partnership Series”)

But most TED talks, which is why I never got through any of the others I’ve tried … came off just a LITTLE more … like this:

The self-appointed idea guys? Those are your statists. They want the job of being paid to give their brilliant visions of the world – which are usually snake-oil. I think in many ways these are the new Snake Oil Salesmen.

And The Onion’s got it pegged.

The Conservation of Misery

Maetenloch at Ace of Spades advances a theory which explains a lot: The Conservation of Misery.

[The] theory of Conservation of Misery which posits that most people have a more or less fixed amount of angst/anxiety/anger hardwired into them.

Now in the past this emotional energy was expended on such real and worthwhile concerns as wolves, starvation, murder, sorcery, and barbarians. But today in a world of vastly more health, wealth and safety we still have this free-floating mass of concern inside us which demands catharsis. So we end up focusing it on ever more trivial and rare (or even non-existent) targets such as global warming, food preservatives, rampant child abduction, people wrong on the internet, and the existence of male-targeted potato chips. Oh THE OUTRAGE!!

Frankly, I’ve always marveled at how much white-hot anger liberals can gin up at the drop of an insufficiently sensitive pronoun.  Which is not to say I necessarily believe them when they proclaim something the Worst Outrage Evar!!11!!eleventy — liberals are, shall we say, scale four types to the bone– but I don’t think I’ve ever been as worked up about anything as liberals are about everything.  Even if we discount this barmy woman’s outrage by a factor of fifty or so (I think that’s reasonable), she’s still got more emotional energy invested in potato chips than I’ve put into a good 80% of my romantic relationships.

Which can’t be good for society.

Just as some of us are shorter or dumber or have slower metabolisms or whatever, these folks just came out of the box with an excess of angst. We need to come up with some way for them to channel it that doesn’t bother the rest of us.  Liberals like soccer, right?  Maybe we can get some “football firm”-type stuff going over here — people who are getting Man U midfielders’ faces tattooed on their bums aren’t going to have much angst left over for global warming.

Settled Science Update

It’s so settled, they’ve got to ban dissenting viewpoints.  Evidence is “disinformation,” you see.  Because science.

Stacy McCain reminds us that Lysenkoism is alive and well.  Reminds me of a joke going around in Stalin’s time: “Come see beautiful Russia, home of the elephant!”

Though I have to admit, I’m having my own struggles with the scientific method.  All my observations tell me that liberals really, truly believe words are magic — if you repeat something enough times, and ruthlessly squash any contrary utterance, that thing will somehow become true.  No other hypothesis remotely fits the data.  And yet I just can’t get my head around the idea that actual adult humans could believe this.

Well, nobody ever said science was easy.  Though maybe if I repeat it a few hundred thousand times…..