A=1, A!=B, therefore B=1

John Derbyshire makes an uncharacteristic error of logic:

You have to wonder how these people with such contempt for science and scientific method can ever summon up the courage to get on a plane. I guess aerodynamics, medicine, electronics, geology (you want petroleum, right?) and other useful fields are exempt from the critique, like Japanese businessmen being “honorary whites” in apartheid South Africa. Very convenient.

It’s hardly convenient, it’s a simple matter of observing whose models are precise and reliable, and whose are not. As I wrote in the chapter on Daniel Dennett, in reference to his doxastic division of labor:

Dennett also digs another logical hole for himself when he admits that only a tiny fraction of humanity understands what he describes as “the ultimate talismanic formula of science,” Einstein’s E=mc2 equation. He has no problem with the fact that most people are content to accept this scientific dogma on faith and leave the burden of understanding the details to the priesthood of scientific experts, then, seventy-seven pages later, turns around and declares that it is personally immoral for the religious faithful to practice this very same division of doxastic labor by placing trust in their pastors, priests, rabbis, and imams to make their moral decisions for them.

Dennett attempts to justify these contrary stances by stating that the difference is that the scientific priesthood really know what they’re doing, that they understand their formulas and use them to achieve amazingly accurate results, while the religious priesthood do not. But Dennett is demonstrably incorrect on both scores. Dennett’s two favorite sciences, cognitive science and evolutionary biology, are primarily distinguished by the way in which no one understands exactly how anything works nor has managed to construct any significant formulas, let alone achieve any results demonstrating the precision of the quantum electrodynamic calculations cited in Dennett’s example. Dennett himself confesses that human consciousness is a mystery, a phenomenon that people don’t even know how to think about yet, and while he is rather more sanguine about the achievements of evolutionary biology, he admits that the science which began with the Origin of Species still regards the way in which species begin to be a mystery, too, albeit one with more of the details filled in.

So while some sciences have proven themselves worthy enough of our complete confidence that we need not trouble our pretty little heads about them, to claim that we are justified in placing blind trust in cognitive scientists, evolutionary biologists, and sociologists because physicists really know what they’re doing is absurd.
– TIA p. 184-185

Bonus points to be awarded to those noting the startling departure from conventional evolutionary apologetics in the linked exchange. I need to alert my TENS instructor, he’s out of date!

Endorsing evil

As you all know, I have been a Ron Paul supporter from the very start. And while I continue to wish Ron Paul every success in both his presidential and congressional campaigns, the fact is that my official endorsement is still available due to the Paul campaign’s entirely understandable disinclination to waste any time defending my various controversialities to the dim-witted and the reading-comprehension challenged lot otherwise known as the mainstream media. I have no problem whatsoever with their decision and fully respect it, on the other hand, I feel that it would be irresponsible to not do something with my unoccupied endorsement considering the immense weight of my opinion on the matter with the American electorate.

I am, of course, vehemently opposed to the Lizard Queen and the only thing about her I can wholeheartedly endorse is our shared appreciation for attractive young women. Since she seems disinclined to publicly advertise that aspect of her lizardliness, I imagine that she, too, would fail to properly appreciate my endorsement of her campaign.

Like everyone else, I don’t know much about the Magic Negro except for the fact that his fellow senator assures us that he is a black man who showers regularly, is unlikely to steal the silverware and seldom bursts into spontaneous rap. Also, he is audacious enough to “hope”, although the American public remains in blissed ignorance of precisely what he is so audaciously hoping for. While I am generally pro-shower, I don’t know if there’s enough there there to even justify an opinion of the man, let alone an endorsement.

McCrazy would certainly make for an entertaining president as he pursued Osama bin Laden TO THE GATES OF HELL!!!!!! That being said, I’m not sure that being unashamedly mentally unbalanced is particularly desirable in a national leader and “the lesser of two evils” equation is really rendered incalculable by McCrazy since he is not so much the lesser of two evils as the more unstable of two evils. And if the nation is united in its collective decision to walk down the left-hand path together, I feel that we would be wise to do so with vigor and to actively embrace the greater evil rather than the lesser. Also, I have to assume that a candidate of ancient and unabashed evil is unlikely to have any significant problem with controversial endorsers.

Therefore, I have decided to endorse a truly great and fearsome evil, Dread Cthulhu, for president in 2008. For as it is written, that is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange æons even death may die.

A surprisingly positive TIA review

From an atheist… or maybe an agnostic of sorts. I have to admit, I’m not exactly sure when The Great Agnostic became classified as an atheist either:

The Irrational Atheist is a succinct rebuttal to what I felt were apparently bad arguments from little tomes of regurgitated atheist liturgy. None of the refuted authors offer the power of voice or intellect that past freethinkers have.

This is the sort of book I have been waiting for since first reading The God Delusion, and moving on to Letter and god is not Great. The book itself is not surprising, but the source from which it comes is a surprise. I expected the heretical community to be up in arms against a group of best selling authors who in my opinion have done more to make unbelievers look like assholes than to give atheism any new ideas, or even a refreshing take on old ones. Instead of the likes of a more secular author, a Jennifer Hecht or Susan Jacoby, it has taken a libertarian Christian to point to the elephant in the room. It was about time someone did.

I have to confess, I didn’t really understand what the publisher was getting at when they wrote something about the book being a surprise… from my perspective, it seemed obvious that a Christian would be opposed to the New Atheism and marshal arguments against it. So, where’s the surprise? Now, I think I understand that from their entirely secular point of view, they truly didn’t believe that a God-addled theist would be capable of looking at the situation from a purely logical, scientific and historical perspective. Which I’d like to say is spectacularly unfair, except that from what I’ve seen post-publication, it’s at the very least true as often as it is not.

On a tangential note, this is the root of my dislike for theologians and scientists alike. Both groups are intrinsicly gnostic and insist on communicating with outsiders solely in their own intentionally obscure, jargon-ridden language, then complain when they are inevitably misunderstood. I see this behavior as being not only pointless and self-defeating, but inexcusably obnoxious.

Every month is White Bitch Month

Maureen Dowd complains about the unbearable hardship of being a wealthy white woman:

The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”…

Those close to Hillary say she’s feeling blue. It’s an unbearable twist of fate to spend all those years in the shadow of one Secretariat, only to have another gallop past while you’re plodding toward the finish line. I know that the attacks against powerful women can be harsh and personal and unfair, enough to make anyone cry.

There’s another word for those who understandably cry at the “unbearable” realization that they might not get what they want. That word is “children”. Dowd is just projecting here anyhow, the legend of the crying crocodile notwithstanding, everyone knows that reptiles don’t actually shed tears. That glistening people keep detecting in Hillary Clinton’s eyes is nothing more than the light reflecting off her nictitating membranes.

I still expect the Lizard Queen to be made president one way or another. I don’t put much stock in all the distracting “primary” activity meant to occupy everyone’s attention, so the Magic Negro’s sweep of three states means about as much to me as John McCrazy’s, which is to say virtually none. I’ll be delighted to be proven wrong, of course, but until I see an actual human being sworn into office, I’ll have my doubts.

UPDATE – one of my favorite historians agrees. VDH concludes, on the basis of recent history:

The Clintons will do anything—anything—to win the nomination for Hillary, the popular vote be blasted. The filing of lawsuits, the dangling before the noses of superdelegates of various irresistible blandishments—whatever it takes, the Clintons will do. Without compunction. Even with a certain glee. Regardless of the popular vote going into the convention, therefore, Hillary Clinton, and not Barack Obama, will emerge with the nomination.