Saturday, February 25, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Politifact is Select-the-facts

Last year about this time I wrote that Politifact and other so-called fact checkers are as unreliable as the average news agency. Yet they are far worse because they portray themselves as objective and scientific (with their little "truth-meters") when this is far from the case.

Two articles from The Federalist analyzing Politifact support my contention. The analyses are devastating. Just as I said, selection bias is a major problem (among other things).

Here and here.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

One Executive Order to Rule Them All, One Executive Order to Bind Them

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Twilight Zone

Your ship has finally returned to planet Earth.
The year is 2017.
The President of the United States is.....Donald Trump.
Marrying your first cousin is now illegal in 1/2 of the states.
Yet it is a federal crime for all states not to support gay "marriage" or to forbid killing all babies. Professors at Berkeley are still insane.
The Browns still have not won a Super Bowl.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Defense Against an Eliminativist Argument

Here's a quick (eliminativist) argument that there are no chairs (I've seen similar arguments):

1. Atoms arranged chair-wise can do all the same causal work that chairs would do if there were chairs over and above atoms arranged chair-wise (swivel, keep your butt from hitting the floor, etc.)
2. Ockham's Razor.
3. Thus no chairs, buildings, arms, scissors....

Most people believe that chairs exist. It's just a Moorean fact for the vast majority of people. They think they *know* that there are chairs. "Of course there are chairs!" So what should most people think about the above argument, particularly premise 1?

I think they should reject it if they also hold the following causal-epistemic principle:
C: If S knows about some x, x plays a causal role in the knowledge of x.

C is plausible--especially if we allow for more than efficient causation. If I walked into a room and saw a hologram of a telephone, forming the belief that there is a phone in the room, I don't have knowledge that there is a phone in the room even if there is one (e.g. on the other side of the room where I haven't observed). I have made no epistemic or psychological contact with the phone.

So if you think that you know there is a chair and accept C, you should think there *is* something for the chair to do in addition to the atoms arranged chair-wise, namely, play a causal role in your knowing that there are chairs. Of course this isn't an argument for the existence of chairs against the eliminativist but it neutralizes the above argument.

Trenton Merricks' reply to a similar defense against the eliminitivist is to say that once one realizes that atoms arranged chair-wise can do all that a chair could do, one's justification for believing in chairs is undermined.  To that I say that one has no justification for the existence of chairs in the first place, at least not in terms of any argument. It just seems that there are chairs. Moreover it just seems that one knows that there are chairs. How is one's justification or warrant undermined? Why is one still not entitled to this belief?

Resist

Resist resisting resisting resisters. #resistresistance

Monday, January 30, 2017

Logic and Immigration

Public service announcement.  The following argument is invalid:

1. The Bible says that immigrants in a country are to be treated with human dignity.
2. Therefore the U.S. has an obligation to take in all of the world's refugees, have open borders, and Trump is a Nazi.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Return of the Clock Boy

Remember our old friend Ahmed Mohamed?  No, not that Ahmed Mohamed, or the other Ahmed Mohamed, or that other Ahmed Mohamed, this Ahmed MohamedHe lost his defamation lawsuit failing to provide any evidence that any of the accused said anything false about him.  Senior counsel for the accused concluded by saying:

“This lawsuit filed by Clock Boy’s father is yet another example of Islamist lawfare, which is a component of the Muslim Brotherhood’s civilization jihad.”

"The Islamists employ the progressive mainstream media to label any public criticism of a sharia-centric, jihad-driven Islam as "Islamophobic," and they add fear and financial ruin to the equation by utilizing the legal system to file SLAPP actions."

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Book I Just Read



Hard to put down.  If you have seen the excellent film Patton, you'll love the book.  It seems to me to follow the structure of the film (though I have no idea whether that was the intention) and expand upon it, though it treats Montgomery and Rommel equally with Patton.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Feser on Capital Punishment

Ed Feser's long awaited book is now available for pre-order.  Blurb:
The Catholic Church has in recent decades been associated with opposition to the death penalty. It was not always so. This timely work recovers, and calls for a revival of, the Catholic tradition of support for capital punishment. Drawing upon a wealth of philosophical, scriptural, theological, and social scientific arguments, the authors show that it is the perennial and irreformable teaching of the Church that capital punishment can in principle be legitimate -not only to protect society from immediate physical danger, but also for purposes such as retributive justice and deterrence. They show that the recent statements of churchmen in opposition to the death penalty are merely "prudential judgments" with which faithful Catholics are not obliged to agree. They also show that the prudential grounds for opposition to capital punishment offered by Catholics and others in recent years are without force.
There are some decent arguments against capital punishment, but that capital punishment "can in principle be legitimate" seems to me quite easy to show.  If one commits capital offenses, then one deserves capital punishment.  If one deserves capital punishment, it's permissible (and perhaps sometimes even obligatory) for that person to be put to death.  That some people have committed crimes warranting their own deaths is plainly obvious.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Catholicism as True Enough

 Couldn't agree more with the Maverick Philosopher.  Choose your religion or denomination according to whether you think it is true that it will lead you and those in your care on the path of salvation.  His latest post verbatim:

Catholicism is true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance for many, many people.  So if you are a lapsed Catholic, you could do far worse than to return to the arms of Holy Mother the Church. And this despite the deep post-Vatican II corruption. Better such a reversion than to persist in one's worldly ways like St. Augustine who, at age 30, confessed that he was "still caught fast in the same mire by a greed for enjoying present things that both fled me and debased me." (Confessions, Bk. 6, Ch. 11, Ryan tr., p. 149)
 But if you are a Protestant like Tim McGrew or James Anderson, should you 'swim the Tiber'?  Some branches of Protestantism are also good enough and true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance.  And this despite the problems of Protestantism.
I should think that practice is more important than doctrine.  Better to remove the lust from your heart than to write an erudite blog entry about it.  The doctrines will always be debated and contested.  Does the Incarnation make logical sense?  Is it perhaps true whether or not it makes sense to the discursive intellect?  We will never know here below.  
Would it not be folly to postpone the reform of one's life until one had solved intellectual difficulties that we have good reason to believe cannot be solved in our present state?  Orthopraxy trumps orthodoxy.  Three elements of Christian orthopraxy: follow the Ten Commandments; avoid the Seven Deadly Sins; observe the Two greatest Commandments.
  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Explanation for the Political Divide?

Perhaps a partial explanation (though I don't know how scientific)

In r/K Selection Theory in Evolutionary Ecology, if you provide a population with free resources, those who will come to dominate the population will exhibit five basic traits, called an r-selected Reproductive Strategy. These traits are all designed to best exploit the free resource availability. In nature, the r-selected strategy is best seen in the rabbit, which lives in fields of grass it will never fully consume. The five traits are, competition and risk avoidance, promiscuity, low-investment single parenting, earlier age of sexualization of young, and no loyalty to in-group. These traits are ultimately designed to selfishly maximize the numbers of offspring produced. Each of these offspring, though of lesser fitness, will be able to survive and reproduce freely themselves, due to the free resource availability. In r-selection nobody ends up dead, and killing or being killed is not a concern.

In r/K Theory, there is also a strategy exactly opposite to the rabbit's, which emerges under conditions of resource scarcity. It is called the K-selected Reproductive Strategy. There, where resources are scarce, competition for resources is everywhere, and some individuals will die due to failure in competition, and the resultant resource denial that this produces. This produces the K-strategy, which is best seen in the wolf. This strategy also has five psychological traits - competitiveness/aggressiveness/protectiveness, mate monopolization/monogamy, high-investment two-parent child-rearing, later age of sexualization of young, and high loyalty to in-group. This psychology is designed to form highly fit and competitive groups that succeed in group competition, all while capturing and monopolizing the fittest mate possible, as a means of making their offspring genetically fitter than those of competitors. Here, the goal is not to simply consume as much as possible yourself and produce as many baby-making machines as you can, with little regard to their fitness. Here, the goal is to help your group succeed in its competition for the scarce resources, and then produce offspring of as high a fitness as possible, so they may carry your genes forward by succeeding in competition themselves. It is obvious why every r-strategy ideal would act as a repellent to a K-strategist, since each ideal would guarantee failure in the K-selected environment.

The premise of this highly substantiated scientific work is that all of politics is really a battle between the K-strategist wolves within our society, designed to battle in a world of scarce resources and fierce competition, and the r-strategist rabbits, designed to freely graze the bounty of a sudden resource glut and rapidly explode in numbers to exploit such a glut.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trans Man Gives Birth to Own Baby

Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

New Conversative Philosophy Blog!

Here it is.  Looks promising.  I hope they succeed in beating back the leftist hegemony in academia; or at least going down gloriously in battle.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the Pledge of Allegiance

Government educators against allegiance to the nation and government.  More evidence for vouchers.

In the link below, the author asks whether Christians can learn anything from Colin Kaepernick?  Yes, they can.  They can learn that being a millionaire and living in a Constitutional Democracy affords one the privilege to protest one's country based on trumped up charges about cops unsupported by anything resembling a decent argument.  Much more beyond that, I can't say.

But here is more. Christians can learn that Kaepernick is just acting like the first century church in not pledging his allegiance to the modern day Rome. Give it a read and see what you think.  I don't want to linger on the obvious fact that pledging allegiance to Rome and the U.S. are disanalogous in several salient ways, one way being that pledging allegiance to Caesar was also an acknowledgment of him as divine.  Instead, I wish to comment briefly on the following:

"[T]o pledge allegiance is a profoundly religious act."*

This strikes me as not only false, but fairly obviously so.  The Pledge of Allegiance has been in public schools for decades and in one form or another in existence for over a century, and I know of no Supreme Court challenge to it per se as violating the Second Amendment's Establishment Clause.  There have been arguments against it on the basis of its inclusion of "under God," but not on the basis of the act of pledging allegiance itself. (These arguments, I might add, are specious, since "under God" affirms theism in general and no particular religion.  Judges would do well to dwell for a moment on this fact).  If pledging allegiance to the U.S. were a religious act, government officials would be in violation of the Establishment Clause all the time.  In fact, any distinction between the secular and the religious in most public affairs would be impossible in the United States of America.  The plain fact that such a distinction is not only possible, but actual, gives the lie to the claim that pledging allegiance is a religious act, let alone a profound one.

A pledge is a promise, allegiance a loyal commitment. We make and pledge allegiance all throughout life to various people and causes.  I promise a loyal commitment to my family, friends, church, city, state, and country.  I'm religious, but non-religious people do the same.  But there are few who think that all pledges are absolute and inviolable.  Such pledges come with the tacit acknowledged that the pledges are conditional.  No one thinks that if the United States were to turn into a Stalinist regime--violating objective norms of justice on a grand scale--that all who have pledged to her obedience remain duty bound.  And few think that if your spouse is found out to be engaged in sex-trafficking, that a pledge of allegiance requires being an accomplice.

So too the pledges are hierarchical.  God-family-friends-local community-state-country (or at least this is the order of a right thinking conservative).  Such a hierarchical acknowledgment is perhaps implied in the Pledge of Allegiance itself--at least in its most popular form today.  "I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America....One nation under God...."  The nation is under GodWhat does this mean?  The phrase is ambiguous.  It could mean that God is high above in the heavens. It could mean that the nation is divinely favored by God.  According to the previous link, Congressional testimony suggests instead that it points to the fact that belief in God has been a significant part of the nation's heritage and foundation.  The phrase arose because of opposition to the U.S.S.R.which was communist and Marxists, and therefore atheistic.  If there is anyone whose pledge of allegiance to the state is a pseudo-religious act, it is the Marxist-communist; for him, the material world is all that there is and the state the closest thing to an omnipotent agent.

* It is doubtful that when one sings the National Anthem that one is pledging allegiance to anything at all.  The act seems more of an expression of gratitude for the goods one has received from one's nation and a degree of solidarity rather than a promise of any sort.