Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Welcome Pandas and Cats!

Welcome to readers of Pandagon and The Conservative Cat. Ernie and I aren't prolific posters, but there's still plenty o' stuff to read. Enjoy the show, folks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hitler's Pants: a Mini-Confirmation Hearing

Senator: It's a known, indisputable fact that in World War II Hitler wore pants. I can't help but notice that you're wearing pants. What does that say about you as a candidate for Chief Justice? And may I remind you not to interrupt me while you're trying to answer my question.

Judge Roberts: But ...

Senator: You're being evasive Judge Roberts. But let's continue. Do you sometimes have unhappy thoughts about Roe vs. Wade? I mean do you have ever have a smidgeon, an iota, a jot, a tittle of doubt that the right to terminate an embryo by sucking it out of the uterus is a sacred right found in and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?

Judge Roberts: Senator, I ...

Senator: Judge, I warned you not to interrupt me when you answer a question. I think it's clear that you have no intention of answering these crucial questions, and I don't know that the American People can afford to have a Chief Justice like you in the Supreme Court for the next thirty years.

Judge Roberts: I don't know that the American people can afford to have a Senator like you, Senator Blowhard.

Trackposted to Conservative Cat

Friday, September 09, 2005

The "Science Marches on in My Name" Fallacy

Ernie and I aren't particularly fond of NRO writer John Derbyshire. He's supposed to be a conservative, but he's really a right-wing Social Darwinist who takes a majoritarian stance towards issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Of course, this label wouldn't bother him in the least, and my aim here is not to attack his views; it's to describe a particular fallacy that Derbyshire commits now and again. Let's call it the "Science Marches on in My Name" fallacy. To commit this fallacy, follow these easy steps:

  1. Find a scientific study that seems to support one of your political or philosphical beliefs.
  2. Take that study at face value and accept the truth of its conclusion as a fait accompli.
  3. Now conflate the truth of your belief and the truth of the study's conclusion.
  4. Finally, now that your belief is allied with Holy Science, sound a triumphalist note about how Holy Science will vanquish its enemies and crush the forces of ignorance and superstition. You might even sing a hymn at this point.
What am I talking about? Take a look at this proposition:
Intelligence in humans is distributed in such a way that levels of intelligence differ not only among individuals but among racial groups as well, and this difference has a genetic basis.

This proposition is obviously controversial, but it is also contingent; it might be true, or it might be false. Either way, however, it is not obviously true right at this moment. It has not been established with any degree of scientific certainty.

Nonetheless, Derbyshire and other right-wing Darwinists take the proposition for granted. Hence the mere possibility that scientific research supports it is enough for them to declare victory. For example, Derbyshire points to a recent study suggesting that among geographical populations there is a non-random distribution of two genes responsible for brain size. Despite the fact that scientists urge caution about the study and point out that there may not be a correlation between brain size and intelligence, Derbyshire blithely declares it to be a well-known fact that:

Evolution, including brain evolution, did not proceed in precisely the same direction, at precisely the same rate, in every human group, in every region and environment.

Moreover, he draws a philosophical-political conclusion: the "blank-slate" view of human nature is false, and we shouldn't base social policies on that view. Indeed, it doesn't even matter if the study passes peer review, because similar studies in the future "won't all fail on peer review."

That's where the fallacy comes in. Derbyshire holds to the above proposition, and he just knows that science is going to vindicate it some day. Now I don't care whether the proposition is true or not; my point is that it is a contingent proposition that is not obviously true given our current scientific knowledge. Maybe science will further support it, and maybe science won't. But the direction that science goes can't be dictated in advance by one's philosophical and political prejudices. To do so is to misappropriate science.

Bush Hates Black People: A Mini-Dialogue and/or Mini-Tragedy

X: Bush doesn't like black people.

Y: Really? Then why have our last two Secretaries of States been black?

X: Those aren't real black people. They're just Bush's stooges.

Y: So? Even if they are just "Bush's Stooges," that doesn't mean that they're not black.

X: No, but they're not the right kind of black people.

Y: That's what Al Sharpton said about Clarence Thomas. But I still don't see how that means that Thomas and Rice aren't black.

X: Look, they may have black skin, but their souls aren't black.

Y: Huh? Souls have color? I think that's a category fallacy: souls aren't the kind of thing that have color.

X: You know what I mean. They have black skin, but they don't support the interests of black people--and they serve a man who opposes the interests of black people.

Y: "Interests of black people"?

X: [Sighing impatiently.] You know: jobs, discrimination, affirmative action ...

Y: Oh, now I get it! You don't like the political views of Thomas and Rice.

X: Nope.

Y: But I'm still confused.

X: [Disgusted.] Man, you're one of the slowest people I've ever met.

Y: Well, we can't all be Kanye West. Anyway, here's why I'm confused. Your first claim was that Bush doesn't like black people. I offered a counterexample: he's put black people into high positions. Then you said that they aren't really black. But your only reason for this latter claim is that you disagree with their political views. So what our discussion comes down to is this: you have to make the ridiculous and patently false claim that Thomas and Rice are not black in order to support your charge of racism against Bush. Moreover, it's really Bush's political views that you take issue with, but instead of offering a rational critique of those views, you resort to baseless slander.

X: [Long pause.] You don't like black people, do you?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Anne Rice: Interview with an Idiotarian

Anne Rice gets testy with America:
Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.

I don't remember asking New Orleans to do this, but it's possible that I did and then forgot. I'll ask Ernie if he did. He probably did, knowing what a bad man he is.

"They didn't have any place to go," she wrote. "They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do--they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find.

They roasted marshmallows over a fire and made S'mores. Then they sang campfire songs. Meanwhile, the buses that could have been used to take them to safety ... didn't. I wonder whose fault that is.

Rice, who now lives in the San Diego area ...
So by her own logic she's a part of the America that ignored New Orleans.

Anne: Anne, why did you neglect New Orleans? That is my question.

Anne: Because, Anne, I'm a bad person who hates black people and poor people.

Anne: I knew it! This country is backwards and racist. I'm so glad I live in San Diego far away from ...

Anne: Away from ... what? Other parts of the country like, say, Louisiana?

Anne: Don't confuse the issue ... I'm attacking racist America for not helping out racist America in a time of need. Wait, did I say that out loud?

Anne: Yes, you did.

Anne does some more scolding:
But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us."

It's rather galling to be lectured by a victim-by-proxy who got out of Dodge long ago and moved to one of the least gothic places on the planet. But I suppose that being from New Orleans, her moral authority, like Cindy Sheehan's, is somehow absolute. Unless you live in the real world.

"You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras ...

I do like some jazz, but I don't particularly covet goofy, pagan festivals that encourage Dionysian frenzy. I'm more of an Apollonian kind of guy.

... you want our cooking and our music," she continued.

Now food I can relate to. But really, the only cajun food I like is andouille sausage. Otherwise, I prefer Mexican and Asian cuisine.

"Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us 'Sin City,' and turned your backs."

Ok, that's it: who is she talking to? The usual leftist nonsense is that the racist Bushitler didn't care about all those black people, but Rice seems to be blaming the entire country. Yet given the response of Americans to the disaster, her blame game is just ludicrous. Volunteers were turned away from the Astrodome, because they came in droves. Americans everywhere are stepping up to the plate just like they did for 9/11 and just like they did for the tsunami. Does she expect the average American to get his helicopter out of the garage and start rescuing people? And why doesn't she place blame on the "leadership" of New Orleans and Louisiana?

Let's re-cap. A category 4/5 hurricane hits a city that is below sea level and surrounded by water. City and state officials knew that a disaster of biblical proportions was possible, if not probable. They had plans to bus the poor out, but didn't put those plans into action. To boot, New Orleans is one of the most corrupt cities in our country. So how is America to blame for the disaster?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Jabbar Gibson vs. Kanye West

It is hard for me to stomach what is going on in this country. A lionized punk who has become wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice in this country can't help but vomit all over it in support of murdering Morlocks at a venue designed to help victims of the Katrina tragedy.

Meanwhile, a stand-up MAN like Jabbar Gibson gets threatened with jail (!) for having the stones and common sense to use an abandoned NO schoolbus to save 100 lives. The parasitic filthpigs that have been murdering, raping and pillaging the city, bless their sociopathic little hearts, by contrast have gotten a pass for the last few days from the corrupt local politpunks.

God help any disarmed law-abiding citizens of the Big Easy who trusted the Looney Tunes administrations of Blanco and Nagin to constructively plan for anything. Hizzoner the Mayor is now screaming for "500 buses," seemingly oblivious to the FACT that he HAD 500 buses in NORTA and the school transportation system but let them get flooded out rather than have them moved to high ground and used to evacuate people.

But Jabbar Gibson is the problem...