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Showing posts with label Anti-Intellectualism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anti-Intellectualism. Show all posts

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Great Tweets!



Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Sunday, March 03, 2013

Daily Reminder

I need to remind myself more often that patience is all that is required when it comes to nearly all of the issues I gripe about on here. In the final analysis, reason always prevails.

For example, Oklahoma rejected SB 758 just a few days ago. This bill would have required teachers to address "controversies" like evolution and climate change.

In Arizona, SB 1213 didn't even make it out of committee. This bill would have allowed teachers to present creationism as a "balance" to evolution as well as right wing blogs in juxtaposition with the National Academy of Science.

And in Indiana, the Hoosiers rejected extremism again (remember Richard Murdock?) when HB 1283 died in the House. Check out the language in this bill.

“To help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.”

Funny, because they do that anyway. That's why evolution is settled science.

Of course, even if any of these bills had passed, it's not likely that any teacher would have used this leeway. While some of my colleagues are conservative, they haven't completely abandoned reason. They might believe in smaller government or have a different view of the Constitution but none of them would ever teach creationism in a fucking science class.

It's comforting to know that even in these deep red states, people can still be rational.


Sunday, August 19, 2012


Sunday, June 03, 2012


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Sowell Reflex

I was reminiscing recently about my long conversation over Facebook with Reverend Jim last spring. Our discussion on Thomas Sowell's Conflict of Visions has continued to resonate with me in an enormously frustrating way and I've finally figured out why.

I hadn't read Sowell's book since the late 80s so I dug out my old copy and re-read parts of it. As I chuckled at his insistence that the "constrained vision" relies on empirical evidence (see: The Economic Collapse of 2008 or how I learned to stop worrying and worship the free market), I realized that he was very sadly arguing this point (via Asimov):

My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

In essence, the entire book is one gigantic #3-Projection/Flipping.

The fact is that most liberals do not look at human nature as being inherently good. This is a complete fucking straw man. In reality, most liberals (including myself) look at ALL of the ways human nature is colored. We start as blank slates and develop based on number of factors. Part of it is genetic...part of it is how we are socialized...how we interact with the people in our lives (family, friends, co-workers)...part of it is how we function within the institutional framework of our society. There is a mountain of empirical evidence that supports human development in each of these areas.

But Sowell and his followers don't want to look at this evidence. Instead, they jump immediately to dividing people into two camps: those that are naively optimistic and those who know how the world really works. Yeah...no bias there. Worse, his definition of "how the world works" (i.e. the constrained vision) is equally as ignorant as those who believe in utopias. I've talked about this before...the libertarian utopia is just as ridiculous as the socialist one.

The result of all of this is what I am now calling The Sowell Reflex, a condition that presents itself quite regularly these days in many political discussions. It's happened to me so many times in the last couple of years that I chuckle when his name (predictably) comes up. More often than not, as soon as a person questions the breadth of intelligence of ideologically right folks, Sowell is quickly mentioned as a shield and the "silly liberals" are told to go home with their tail between their legs. Yet, upon closer inspection, one can easily see that this is just another dodge that is summed up simply as this:

The Sowell Reflex is one gigantic excuse for continued and willful ignorance.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Six Questions

I came across this piece in my local paper regarding climate change. The six questions that Lenfestey proposes we ask political candidates could really be asked of anyone. So I've decided to put these to my readers and see what kind of responses I get.

1. Do you understand the science of climate change?

Obviously, some people don't.

2. Are you aware that President George W. Bush's administration found the evidence for climate change convincing? Have you read his report, "Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the United States," published in 2008?

Actually, I haven't. Has anyone out there read it?

3. Are you aware that in May 2011, the nation's most esteemed scientific body, the National Research Council, reaffirmed the international scientific consensus on the human causes of climate change and made clear that sustained effort must begin immediately to deal with those adverse consequences? That the question of climate change is "settled science," and the impacts are already evident around us?

Well, this has got to be the toughest nut to swallow for the deniers. What exactly do you say to these findings?

4. If you do not accept the conclusions of these careful scientific assessments, what scientists do you listen to? What reports have they issued that you find more convincing? Where do you get the information that you find more persuasive?

Yes, which ones? No right wing blogs. No oil company shills. Let's see the reputable scientists who have examined the data and reached a different conclusion.

5. Let me put this another way. Texas is on fire. Pennsylvania faces record floods. Joplin, Mo., is reeling from epic tornados. Shorelines are eroding in the Carolinas. None of these events can be directly blamed on climate change, but all are predicted by known climate-change trends.

Such events will only worsen if the climate continues to warm, as it will under business-as-usual scenarios. Do you support a business-as-usual model or do you have a plan to stem the trend toward a hotter, more volatile planet?

Well, I can answer that for those on the right. Do nothing. It's the same solution they have for health care.

6. Candidates Perry and Bachmann: Both of you have said the Environmental Protection Agency is a major problem in America, and you would seek to eliminate it if elected, particularly its mandate, affirmed by the Supreme Court, to regulate carbon emissions.

How then would you address the flaw in private markets that attaches no economic value to waste that falls as a burden on the general population -- for example, sewers that flow into waters that cross state lines, or carbon wastes that warm the atmosphere around the world? Without the EPA, how would you propose to address pollutants that cross state and international boundaries?

I'm very interested in the answers to this last one...if there are any. Honestly,  I don't think there are because the right doesn't think this is a problem. Like many problems that require federal government solutions, they just turn away and pretend it doesn't exist and completely rip the left for trying to do anything.

They want them to fail because having no solution is a failure from the very beginning. And we can't let them "win" now, can we?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Sunday Lesson

Since today is Sunday, I found a great quote from the Bible to go along with the Asimov quote that I put up recently.

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.
But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.


---Proverbs 1 V 20-27

A nice set up for a climate change post later in the week.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Knowing What They Want To Believe

It's hard to not be terrified in reading Paul Krugman's recent piece regarding the GOP's emerging anti science campaign. A living example of this is the current front runner of the GOP field for president, Governor of Texas Rick Perry, saying that "more and more scientists are questioning global warming. Let's examine Perry's claim first.

To put it simply, he's wrong and here's exactly why he is wrong.

The IPCC, the US Global Change Research Program, and earlier this year the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences all are in agreement on the sources of climate change and why it is happening. The last two concluded that climate change is occurring, that it is caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and that it poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. It specifically rejected the view that that those findings are in some way questionable

This committee organized by the NRC and the Academy had this to say.

Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanations.

Further, the Academy also did a study which found that 97-98 percent of those scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change that human beings are causing climate change. Other surveys reveal the same percentages.

Of course, Perry also hauled the classic "faulty or manipulated data" line which has been thoroughly debunked by three separate reviews. This brings us to Krugman's Anti Science piece.

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

For those of you who are in the GOP or on the right, is this really the direction you want to head? It's honestly just another example of how there is literally nothing behind your ideology other than proving the other side wrong...your central credo being, "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

Krugman points out where we might be headed.

We don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

Amen, brother. And this is why I have this site.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Bonanza (Part Three)

With all the anti-science talk lately from the GOP candidates (save the only sane one, Jon Hunstman), I thought it appropriate to share this quote from one of my favorite authors.

"Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" ---Isaac Asimov

Paging Thomas Sowell...