Ahhhh, “Experts”

They don’t know what they think they know.  Nor are they interested in learning.

You see, “we covered it and know everything about it and how it works and all” only works as an argument when you can actually demonstrate that you do actually know what you’re talking about. When you write a breathless column, as Ezra Klein did in 2009, urging people to not read legislation because reading legislation is hard, don’t be surprised when people don’t take your interpretation of that bill you didn’t read as gospel

All together now: There was a consensus that the bill said X.  All the experts agreed it said X. And they peer-reviewed each others’ comments about X.

But it doesn’t actually say X, and the “experts” know it doesn’t say X, because we’ve got a couple of those self-same “experts” on the record expressly denying it.

Thanks to “experts” like these, I’m really truly coming to believe that everything an “expert” says is a lie.  Galileo must be spinning in his grave.

Critical Theory Headlines

critical theory in actionI saw this New York Times headline this morning, and I thought it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.  But it’s not true, I’ve seen several things just like it over the years exactly as dumb.  And it’s no accident.

A few years ago, Severian here brought to my attention to  Frankfurt Critical Theory. It explains a lot. You can actually buy a Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory … there’s one on Amazon. Not a bad thing to have in your library for translating things the Left comes up with.

D’Souza’s book/film “America” brought something into focus I had been unable to put my finger on … and what it is is the core, basic building block of Alinsky’s tactics. They use shame.

Not the shame of “you know you’ve done something wrong”, but the shame of “other people will think you’ve done something wrong”.

This is why all the charges Klavan mentions in “Shut Up” and the ones D’Souza outlines in the book/film actually work.

They use shame because it targets the thing that is most valuable to an honest, decent, thinking person, and that is his reputation.

Since most people don’t know any particular individual, when they pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and demonize it… it works so well. All most people know about a person (or an organization) is what they hear from the people bashing them in the media.

So every day, these people scour the headlines and think, “how can I rationalize an angle on this story and twist it to make the people I want to discredit (in this case, The West) look bad?”

And they don’t care if it unravels upon inspection, because they know most people will never inspect it, and tomorrow they’ll level the charge again in a different context, or a new charge with the same kind of reason-defying rationalizations in a constant Critical drumbeat of propaganda, until enough people have heard so much of it they can’t believe it’s not true.

Intellectual Dishonesty Display

Alinsky #4 is “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

Hence a group like “LOLGOP”.

Well, I’m going to ridicule the ridicule.  Ran across this meme today …

dishonestyThe obvious question being begged here is … exactly who is saying that these kids aren’t people?  I’m pretty sure exactly nobody.  It’s a giant strawman.

And believing that a fertilized egg is a human being isn’t necessarily religious, though when arguing the “separation” angle our leftist friends insist that it is that and only that and therefore must it be excluded from public  debate.   But there are even atheists who believe it philosophically.  A compelling argument can (and often is) easily made that it is a human being without bringing God or Gaia into it.  So again … that’s a stupid “argument” for LOLGOP to make.  The other insult here is that they are suggesting that people only “pretend” to believe it — insinuating that they really have ulterior motives (likely along the lines of “oppressing” Sandra Fluke).

If you would post this meme, you’re going to have to stop pretending you have a shred of intellectual honesty.

—————
Update: another very similar dishonest gem:

embryosandrefugees

Narcissism Will Kill Us

Jammie Wearing Fool, quoting a story at TheHill about the VA scandal:

On the “Daily Show,” Stewart joked that Shinseki’s “mad as hell face” looked “a lot like your, ‘Oh, we’re out of orange juice’ face.”

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said Shinseki is an ineffective front man for the administration’s clean-up efforts — much like Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius during the ObamaCare rollout.

“His affect is impassive and unemotional — a pure technocrat,” Jillson said. “So it looks like when a serious problem is uncovered that has an emotional dimension to it, that they didn’t get it, didn’t care, weren’t moving as forcefully as they should have been.”

JWF sees this as progress, and maybe it is, but notice what all these comments are about: pwecious widdle feewings.  Jon Stewart and this Cal Jillson fellow are suggesting that it’d be all good in the ‘hood if Shinseki just looked madder.

Jonah Goldberg has written about a billion words on this, so I’m paraphrasing him here:  When it comes to brain surgery, I’d much rather have a dispassionate doctor than a passionate plumber holding the scalpel.  Because, you know, feelings aren’t results.

Our culture’s narcissism is terminal. I mean that literally — it’s gonna kill us.  Because what’s the next logical move here?  Obama’s not going to “fix” the VA.  He can’t — the VA is what government-run medicine is.  So he’ll do the only thing he can do, which is to make sure that all his appointees look “madder than hell.”  Endless histrionics, combined with a few splashy firings of mostly low-level, completely redundant underlings.  So not only will the waiting lists and the rationings and the coverups continue — cf. the definition of government medicine — but now even more time will be wasted on showy emotional pabulum.  The docs at the VA will all get a week’s worth of mandatory sensitivity training, in which they too will learn to sham being “mad as hell.”

And meanwhile patients will still die from lack of care, but hey, we’ll all look appropriately upset about it.

Let Me Be the First to Welcome Nick Wade…. (UPDATE 5/11/2014)

….to the Loyal Order of Unrepentant Racists and Koch-Bought Right-Wing Tools.

Since you know that’s what’s going to happen here in about five seconds.  From the Wall Street Journal (via Vox Day):

[Scientific] orthodoxy’s equivalent of the Nicene Creed has two scientific  tenets. The first, promulgated by geneticist Richard Lewontin in “The  Apportionment of Human Diversity” (1972), is that the races are so close to genetically identical that “racial classification is now seen to be  of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance.” The second,  popularized by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, is that human evolution in everything but cosmetic differences  stopped before humans left Africa, meaning that “human equality is a  contingent fact of history,” as he put it in an essay of that title in  1984….

At the heart of [Wade's] book, stated quietly but with  command of the technical literature, is a bombshell. It is now known  with a high level of scientific confidence that both tenets of the  orthodoxy are wrong.

Oooh, that’s gotta smart.

Too bad for Wade that he’s merely a science writer for the New York Times.  Given his employers, I’m sure he’s impeccably Correct in all his personal opinions.  That won’t save him from the Committee of Public Safety, though; mere genetics can’t possibly compete with Science!(tm), and Everybody Knows that race is literally skin deep, because Science!(tm).

So welcome to the club, Nick.  I think you’ll find that, though the checks from the Koch Brothers aren’t quite as generous as you’ve been led to believe, we make up for it by having kickass barbecue.  Don’t worry about the nuances of the secret handshake; that’s really just for the tourists.  We’ll get you set up with a loaner gun and an infield pass to Talladega here in just a sec.  Welcome to the dark side.

 

UPDATE 5-11-14: Yup, he’s gone.  Because Science(tm).

UPDATE #2:  Or maybe not.

“I retired from the Times about two years ago. There’s a stupid story you may have seen in the blogosphere. It is completely untrue. The writer just made that up. The fact that he saw the words ‘former Science editor’ in the piece I did in Time. He assumed that I had been fired by the Times. There is nothing to the story at all.”

Ah well.  If it ain’t true now, it will be soon enough.  But for now, Nick, you’ll have to go through the hazing like the rest of us.

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 Salon.com 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:

Science!!!

Science!!!

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.

“Self-Certify”

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 Cracked.com 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.