Friday, March 7, 2014
Liberals love their facts. Whenever I argue with liberals, inevitably one will appeal to the authority of some study or another, ostensibly based on empirical evidence. This is true for most liberal causes célèbres such as global warming, abortion, same sex marriage, the war on poverty, the welfare state, and a myriad others. This appeal to authority relies on the doctrine of empiricism.
Empiricism is the philosophy that all knowledge is derived from the senses. As a corollary, empiricists also believe that there is no reality beyond what we can prove with our senses. Yet, such reliance on "science" to "prove" all reality lends itself to the most ridiculous arguments. Here are some examples from some of my many "admirers" who took time to "talk" to me.
In a debate on Colorado's legalization of marijuana, where I argued that marijuana posed health problems, one argued: "And most of these effects have been thoroughly debunked by real science. Next." (The "real science" he refers to was in opposition to a government-based study on the harmful effects of marijuana use.)
Another "proved" marijuana was completely benign by stating: "US CDC Figures directly from the CDC dot gov web site on numbers of deaths per year in the USA: Prescription Drugs: 237,485; Tobacco: 81,323; Alcohol: 39,199; Marijuana 0, none, not a single death in all medical history Cited direct from CDC dot gov. Stop the lies!" (Begging the question about the dangers of the legalization of marijuana with meaningless statistics.)
In defending President Obama, one liberal soul made the following empirical observation: "speaking of war dead......you forgot to mention the .........4486..........American Service members who DIED in W. Bush's illegal Iraqi invasion..................." (I'm thinking the long row of dots really makes a strong "point" here.)
And the ever-popular appeal to science while sneaking in an ad hominem attack. This one stems from a debate about the social harms of same sex marriage: "See, the difference is, my views are backed my science and facts. Your views are based on the fact that your brain never moved on past middle school bullying, and so gay people are to be made fun of and ridiculed. Let me guess, you don't trust black people, you're scared of Muslims, and you think that Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Marxist who is turning America communist?"
Empiricism is a useful tool when we look at science and the scientific method. We cannot deny the value that science has brought into the world, with its corresponding technology which makes our world a better, healthier, and safer place than our ancestors could have dreamed of. The problem with liberal thought, however, is its absolute reliance on the empirical world as a source of truth, all the while denying the foundational problems with the premises of the empirical argument.
Liberals ignore the premises of the argument, because those rest on rationalism. Rationalism is the philosophy that knowledge stems from rational thought and experience, rather than on the merely empirical.
Here's an example: Say I run an experiment that shows plants grow better in sunlight than in the dark. I put 20 bean plants on my kitchen ledge and 20 bean plants in my kitchen cupboard. (Boy was my mom pissed when she got home that evening.) I used the same soil, watered them the same way, and kept the temperature even. After two weeks, my mother made me throw them out, but only after discovering that the plants in the dark actually grew faster (in search of the elusive light seeping in at the cracks of the cupboard).
OK, what did I learn? I proved that bean plants grow faster in the dark, but I didn't "prove" that they grew "better." The word "better" is not a provable result in the empirical world. And where did my initial assumption about plant growth and the sun come from? That assumption relied on experience, which is rational, not empirical.
The primary fallacy of empirical thought is that its premises rely on rational thought and experience which cannot be proven empirically.
Bringing this back to liberal dogma, note that in the arguments above, every single liberal argued from false premises. Here are come broad examples:
"I happen to like marijuana and want it legalized, so I'll find some scientific study that proves why marijuana is not dangerous."
"Gay marriage is all about equality, so I'll find some scientific study that proves why gay marriage is a social good."
"Abortion is all about women's choice, so I'll find some scientific study that proves why abortion doesn't harm women."
These arguments rest on the ideals of empiricism, all the while ignoring the inherent fallacy of the argument. Why does this happen? A lot of the blame comes from the K-12 school system (especially those now aligned with Common Core). The Common Core standards preach the doctrine and virtues of empiricism, while nearly neglecting rationalism altogether. In such a curriculum, "scientific proof" trumps all arguments.
Unfortunately, by teaching empiricism rather than rationalism, the schools now produce children ready to be cast into the image of the perfect liberal - completely unable to formulate an argument based on rational thought, while relying on liberal ideologues to turn out the empirical data needed to squelch all other - rational - arguments.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Monday, March 3, 2014
I was supposed to be at my father-in-law's funeral last Saturday morning. Through a comedy of errors, that didn't happen. Or perhaps it was the very cosmic universe out to get me. Either way, the flight that was supposed to take me from Phoenix to Denver was delayed, which meant that I would not make the connecting flight to arrive at the funeral in time.
That was fairly disappointing. Yet, even more disappointing was watching the reactions of the other passengers as their flights were rearranged to find options to get them to their destinations. I spent about three hours in the airport while a brilliant United Airlines ticket agent tried her best to get me to my destination by the next morning, in time for the funeral. That gave me ample time to watch a lot of people get angry, only to vent their anger on the ticket agents.
Yes, the situation was frustrating, but too many passenger immediately turned their frustration into anger, yelling and cursing because the airline had dared to interrupt their lives. I watched grown men curse as they slammed out the door, their flights postponed a few hours or a day. I watched impatient people as they sighed and cursed and paced and tried to skip ahead in the line. I watched people who thought they were more important than everyone else become living volcanoes of rage.
Me? I figured the best way for me to get good "customer service" was to be a good customer. I smiled and joked with the ticket agent who was, after all, trying her best to solve the problem that the delayed flight had caused. And what do you know, it worked. Her face changed from a strained look to becoming visibly relaxed. Her smile was quite attractive, a fact which most, if not all, those who were in line before me probably missed.
She spent a long time on the phone and on the computer, trying to get me to my destination. She seemed determined to find a solution when, in fact, none really existed. She tried other airlines. She tried flights to other airports close to my destination.
In the end, I had to cancel my flight and miss the funeral. Yes, that was disappointing and interfered with my plans. Yet the airline agent had a better time and worked extraordinarily hard, merely because I was a better customer, rather than a pain in the butt.
We should bemoan the loss of civility and decency in our society that used to be common. Our American way of life depends on a decent society. Ben Franklin understood that the survival of the republic depended on moral virtues, that without them, the people would not have the ability to govern themselves.
Standing in line at the airport demonstrated the stark selfishness and lack of moral virtue that now permeates society.
By the way, I understand that my father-in-law's funeral turned out well. He was buried with full military honors. I'm sorry to have missed it.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
I recently rewatched the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In this movie, the governing body of the wizarding world refused to acknowledge the danger presented by the return of the evil wizard Voldemort. Both the headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore, and Harry Potter defended the fact that Voldemort had returned. In order to squelch the "vicious rumor," the Ministry of Magic sent Delores Umbridge to Hogwarts to take over.
Professor Umbridge (played brilliantly by Imelda Staunton) quickly assumed control of the school, promising the students on the first day that certain beliefs and actions would no longer be tolerated. She immediately turned on Harry Potter, who, having already dueled with Voldemort, was not about to change his "beliefs" merely because it corresponded to the party line. Umbridge punished Potter for speaking up about his beliefs. Little by little, she gained complete control of the school and soon ran Hogwarts as a totalitarian ruler. She published rule after rule, making them up as one student or another did something to displease her. While becoming a dictator, she lamely attempted to justify her actions in order to "protect" the children at Hogwarts. In the end, Umbridge got her comeuppance and was forced out of power.
This is not a review of the movie.
After watching the movie, I realized that a lot of the people in the United States, especially liberal ideologues, would look at Umbridge and come to an utterly wrong conclusion about her abuse of power. Many people would view Umbridge as a model of the dangers of conservatism. They would see her as nothing more than a McCarthy-esque proof of the dangers of conservative ideals.
I found a different message from Umbridge's abuse of power - that power corrupts and government cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Umbridge represents "the establishment" - the people in power who want to remain in power, even at the expense of admitting the grave dangers facing them.
See, the problem isn't that Umbridge represents modern conservatives who want to put our federal government back under the control of the people, the problem is that Umbridge represents the "conservatives" who are currently in power. In the US, those in power are called modern liberals, not conservatives. None of the power elite liberals have the best interests of the US at heart. Unfortunately, too many Americans (and quite a few illegal aliens) agree with the dogmas of modern liberalism. Thus, the voters keep placing these government power-mongers back into office, year after year.
These are the establishment politicians in the US, the people in power in Washington who neglect the country, who rewrite the Constitution in their image, after their own likeness, and who want to protect their position and doctrine no matter the cost to the rest of the country.
I'm not talking about Republicans or Democrats here. Both parties are to blame for the power that the federal government has usurped, then inflicted on the people. And like Umbridge, the power elite rule arbitrarily, no longer obligated to consider the US Constitution as a standard of the legal imperative.
Like Umbridge, the current power elite in Washington want to squelch any mention of the true dangers facing the US today: overspending, out of control bureaucracy, the national debt, class warfare, corruption in government, lobbies (particularly public union lobbies), abysmally bad education, abuses of power, and, not at all the least, moral turpitude.
Those who promote democracy, and by extension, the free market, have a good track record of also limiting the abuses of government. When the US government got out of line in the past, the principles of democracy prevailed, sometimes bloodily, but they prevailed.
We no longer talk in our schools about democracy, about freedom, about liberty, and, yes, about true equality. Instead, texts and teachers tell us what to think, not how to think. Our government, our educational system, and the minds of many Americans (including the mainstream media) have all but turned into Professor Umbridge, gleefully searching for opportunities to limit freedom in order to "protect" the rest of the citizens of the US.
Personally, I take umbrage at the thought of establishment politician ignoring the Constitution in order to promote dogmatic beliefs. Perhaps we will wake up to the dangers ahead of us before that power has been taken from us.