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Who Sez the Know Nothings Are Dead?

Captive Dreams
h/t Mark Shea

or that the Klan is moribund? Their tudes and tactics apparently live on in what used to be the Democratic Party of Washington State. A life-long Democrat himself until driven out by anti-Catholicism, this fellow Miloscia has been attacked with unparalleled vitriol. OMG, he's been a lobbyist for the Catholic Church! that evil band of idolators. Note the button-pushes intended to appeal directly to the Triumphant Will,  bypassing the Intellect: the bishop's mitre, the references to Mississippi OMG!, the various secular obsessions with the pelvis, "health choices" as a euphemism for You Know What, and so on.

Sometimes, TOF thinks that it is the devotion to logic and reason that really outrages these emotionalists.

TOF being a certified Olde Pharte™ can remember Ancient Days, when the Democratic Party was referred to only half in jest as "the secular wing of the Catholic Church." Caesar, however, is never to be trusted when Power is on the table.

Be interesting to see if the National party stomps down hard on this local lizard and the rock it crawled out from under.

The Passing of the Age of Reason

Razor's Edge
Da Man
Recently, on a forum called Quora, TOF was amused to see this topic:  What are the strongest arguments for atheism?

There are actually only two such arguments, both put forth by Thomas Aquinas some 743 years ago.  Each was stated in the form of an actual syllogism, and then answered.  They are:

Objection 1. It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "God" means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.

Videtur quod Deus non sit. Quia si unum contrariorum fuerit infinitum, totaliter destruetur aliud. Sed hoc intelligitur in hoc nomine Deus, scilicet quod sit quoddam bonum infinitum. Si ergo Deus esset, nullum malum inveniretur. Invenitur autem malum in mundo. Ergo Deus non est.

Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.

Praeterea, quod potest compleri per pauciora principia, non fit per plura. Sed videtur quod omnia quae apparent in mundo, possunt compleri per alia principia, supposito quod Deus non sit, quia ea quae sunt naturalia, reducuntur in principium quod est natura; ea vero quae sunt a proposito, reducuntur in principium quod est ratio humana vel voluntas. Nulla igitur necessitas est ponere Deum esse.

These can be summarized as:

  1. Life sucks.  Therefore, no God.
    (Vita sugit. Igitur nullus Deus.)

  2. Everything seems to work fine.  Therefore, no God.
    (Omnia videtur ad bene operandum. Igitur nullus Deus.)

All other arguments are either padding or irrelevant.  So curiosity compelled a glance at this "Quora" site to see what the ingenuity of the Late Modern mind has come up with.  TOF was astonished.

A blogger yclept

Captive Dreams

A blogger yclept

A blogger yclept Adam Gropnik at The New Yorker has averred, relative to that topic, that "It is conscious, thinking life that counts." It is not the lives of all members of the species radically endowed with the capacity for conscious, thinking life–it is all those actually presently enjoying the conscious life.  

Were I he, I should be wary of falling asleep and thereby not counting.  
+ + +

As easy as ABC

Captive Dreams

An Algebraical Conundrum

Alcibiades: I approve of A.
Socrates: But then surely you have a reason for your approval?
Alc.: Certes.  I approve of A because it lacks property X!
Soc.: But then you must also approve of B, because B also lacks property X.
Alc.: What?  No!  That is awful.  A is worthy because of... because of condition Y.


Captive Dreams

The Masque of Science.

Eddington is more agnostic about the material world than Huxley ever was about the spiritual world.

-- G. K. Chesterton, "The Well and the Shallows"
Dedicated revolutionary

1. The Rise of Modern Science
Ancients and medievals had studied Nature, but the Modern Ages were a time when Science could be spelled with a capital-S, and the mere act of wearing a white lab coat could endow the speaker with the magical ability to sell products on TV.  Science, with its effort to describe the world “as it really was” went hand-in-glove with representation in the arts.  Though which was the hand and which the glove is a fine point. 

The medievals had sought to appreciate the beauty and interconnectedness of Nature -- how Her ends meshed with one another. But in the early 17th century, a number of remarkable men revolutionized the way in which science was done by wedding physics to mathematics and engineering in a ménage a trois
  • Mathematics.  Descartes believed that if physical theories were expressed in mathematical language, they could be proven with the same rigor as mathematical theorems! 
  • Engineering.  Francis Bacon compared Aristotelian natural philosophers to little boys, who could talk, but not impregnate women [i.e., Nature] to bear children [i.e., useful products].  Descartes agreed that the purpose of science was not simply to learn about Nature, but to make men her “masters and possessors.”  

The Future That Was

Captive Dreams
The Age of Romance

PALEOFUTURE clues us in to the way the future was. 

In the year 1933 physician Ira S. Wile predicted what marriage would be like in 2033.  In his day, Darwinism was all the rage, and all the Best Thinkers were looking forward to the day when marriage would be put on a rational and scientific basis.  In this future, there would be

"a bureau of records under government control that would begin monitoring people the day they were born. ...Everything about a person would be recorded; from someone's physical and mental defects at birth to the subjective progress and imperfections of that person throughout their life. Then, when someone wished to be married, they would be assessed by bureaucrats and found a suitable mate based upon case cards that have been cross-indexed against members of the opposite sex. These assessments would be made based on class and desirable physical and mental traits." 

More on the Future, including JUST IMAGINECollapse )


Captive Dreams
The Dreaded Red Squamish

The aforesaid disease, called DRS (sometimes DRSq), afflicts one in ten citizens.  It results in the decay of the reasoning process, causing sufferers to utter strings of complete gibberish.  But as you see when the number of incidents is looked at geographically, DRS is not equally distributed.  The geography is simulated by a 10x10 grid, each square of which is like a congressional district: roughly equal in population. 

As you can see, there are two townships in which DRQ is concentrated.  The township at (A2:B4), known as Appletown, has an occurrence rate which is five times the national average of c-bar=0.1!  The other cluster is just west of the Interstate (column I) at (H3:I5), which is called Barkleyville.  The occurrence rate here is even higher: nearly seven times the national average.  There are only three scattered incidents in the remainder of the region. 

# Incidents of Dreaded Red Squamish (DRS)

Something Must Be Done! 


Odds and Ends

Captive Dreams
Another Milestone Passed!

An anonymous Twitter notes that "Obama has launched more cruise missiles than all other Nobel Peace Prize winners combined."

Philosophmores, or Amateur Hour

Captive Dreams
Aether Or

There is an adage which, so far as I know, I made up: There is no job so simple as the other guy's job.  I noted this years ago when in the glass plant a production supervisor told me that statistical methods "might work in aluminum can production, but blowing glass bottles is different.  It's a black art."  What made it amusing is that shortly before I had been told by a can line supervisor that statistical methods might work in the bottle plant, which was very simple, but drawing and ironing aluminum coil into cans was high precision science.  What either claim had to do with the applicability of statistical methods, I don't know.  By me, 1 bottle plus 1 bottle seemed a lot like 1 can plus 1 can; and I supposed this would be true of averages and standard deviations as well, but what do I know?  

In any case, the adage that what other people do is much simpler than what "I" do can be found in all walks of life.  The reason, of course, is that "I" know all the details and complications of "my" work while I know little or nothing of the work of "that other guy."  

Edward Feser, Philosopher
blog photo

It's not always true, but it's true often enough; though much more often I think among journeymen than among masters.  A master weaver is likely to acknowledge that a master brewer has a job every bit as nuanced as his own; but apprentices and journeymen are likely to hype the difficulties and nuances of weaving and dismiss those of brewing.  ("The bacteria does all the work, y'know.")

Ethan Siegel, non-philosopher
blog photo.  No fooling.

And so it is no surprise that Ed Feser has found yet another physicist who thinks, because he is trained in the metric properties of material bodies, he is therefore expert in all things philosophical.  More to the point, he seems not to imagine that there is anything beyond physics at all, and reads other fields through the filter of the physics.  Why are (some) physicists so bad at philosophy?

The physicist is Ethan Siegel, but he makes the same error as Stephen Hawking did earlier.  In Can You Get Something For Nothing? the estimable Dr. Siegel addresses the adage "You can't get something from nothing," adding that he hears this "most often when people bring this up to me, it's in an attempt to prove the existence of God -- and the insufficiency of the Big Bang -- by pointing to the Universe."  He proves how foolish this is by reprinting a cartoon:

Read more...Collapse )

On the Hatred of the Small and Weak

Captive Dreams
Whipped to a Frenzy by... Something

Recently, the NYTimes reported on a gunman who had taken over the offices of the Discovery Channel.  They Gray Lady described the gunman's motives thusly:

Police officers shot and killed a gunman with a history of protesting against the Discovery Channel, the authorities said, ending a nearly four-hour ordeal on Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.

Police officials said the company had identified the gunman to them as James J. Lee. A Web site run by Mr. Lee,, was established in January 2008. The Web site complains that the Discovery Channel produces programs about the environment for profit, not for humanitarian reasons.

Oh, that nasty profit motive.  How dare Discovery try to make money!  But wait....  Here is Lee's manifesto, at least in part...
Focus must be given on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children ... All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs' places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it... Also, keep out the fraudulent peace movements. They are liars and fakes and had no real intention of ending the wars. ALL OF THEM ARE FAKE! On one hand, they claim they want the wars to end, on the other, they are demanding the human population increase. World War II had 2 Billion humans and after that war, the people decided that tripling the population would assure peace. WTF??? STUPIDITY! MORE HUMANS EQUALS MORE WAR!... Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is. That, and all its disgusting religious-cultural roots and greed. Broadcast this message until the pollution in the planet is reversed and the human population goes down! Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. ... Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!) Find ways so that people don't build more housing pollution which destroys the environment to make way for more human filth! Find solutions so that people stop breeding

Aside from the inability to hit the "carriage return" can we find some common element running through this screed?  The NYTimes thought it was Discovery Channel making environmental shows for profit.  Maybe a close reading of the text can find a hint, perhaps a trace of some other motive. 

(h/t Mark Shea)

It has been truly said that at the bottom one often finds a deep-seated hatred of children. 


Captive Dreams

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