Monday, July 28, 2008

Anti-American arguments....

I've found that often Americans tend to be the best anti-Americans. After all, there is much to be critical of. But here are a few rather radical arguments about America which you probably won't see everyday. An odd synthesis of Fundamentalist and Leftist thought is possible which leads to the same conclusions:

"America is a decadent empire which isn't worth fighting for, it's no better than other nations. Any barbarism which you might point out in other nations is practiced in America by abortionists. If anything America is worse because it is both decadent and barbarous in a hidden way. It's only a matter of time until an apocalyptic cleansing."

I've never agreed with the moral equivalency that some try to draw between America and all nations, I simply think that some nations are better than others and America is better than most. Ironically it always seems to be those who are the most radical who fall into some sort of moral equivalence with respect to America. On the Left I have heard arguments of this sort: "If Iraqis had come to America and torn down the Lincoln monument then how would we feel? You have to break from provincial attitudes and see things from all sides." Ironically that was an example of the most provincial attitude I've ever seen, something some college student would say. (Needless to say there's a moral difference between Lincoln and Saddam which ought to shape attitudes about monuments to them no matter what culture you're from.)

On the other side an argument for moral equivalency looks more like: "Girls in America wear skimpy clothing and have abortions.... so American is just as bad as nations in the Mid East." It seems to me that this argument is more reasonable so it takes a little longer to deal with. To begin with, it's best to focus on judgments that are easy to make and then with precedents in mind proceed on to those that are difficult instead of becoming confused about easy judgments because more difficult judgments exist. With that in mind I think that the burka is worse than the bikini, female "circumcision" worse than American hedonism, pagan American "stars" and "idols" of hedonism dying in their pursuit of happiness and pleasure better than Afghan women burning themselves to death because their lives are already hell.

America may be the lesser of two evils but it is, indeed the lesser.


I was following a few local links and found that this fellow I once debated for a bit on ID is actually a local blogger.

Here is a collection of some of his posts on ID. Unfortunately there's not really much on ID because apparently he's more interested in politics and a movie than the concept itself. I'm interested in the concept of intelligent agency being detected based on the application of logic to empirical facts but ironically the notion of intelligent design itself doesn't seem to be his focus.

For example, he cites Dinesh D’Souza here:
[Someone making a judgment about ID] would summon a wide cross-section of leading physicists. They would inform him that despite unresolved debates about relativity–for example, its unexplained relationship to quantum theory–Einstein’s theories are supported by a wide body of data. They enjoy near-unanimous support in the physics community worldwide. There is no alternative scientific theory that comes close to explaining the facts at hand. In such a situation any judge would promptly show the dissenters the door and deny their demand for equal time in the classroom. This is precisely the predicament of the ID movement.
This seems reasonable but it still contains the same shift away from ID as a concept. He goes on to make a solipsistic argument about the natural and supernatural because naturally everything seems natural to us but I won't deal with that.* After all everything is natural, for how could it be otherwise? Putting that issue aside, Dinesh D’Souza agrees that ID is true but he's shifting away from that to talk about politics and consensus. Unfortunately even in that shift he's making some ignorant arguments, as all scientia/knowledge does not have equal standing just because it's called science by those engaged in it. Darwinian theories are not necessarily on a par with Einstein's theories and as I've often pointed out the equivalence that many draw between biological theories and physics is typically ignorant. The notion that we now have biological theories of evolution which are the epistemic equivalent of physical theories is prevalent, yet if trajectories of adaptation actually are not being traced and "the theory" of evolution isn't being used to make highly specified predictions which have been and can be verified empirically then all political arguments which assume such things fail. People may be able to create circular arguments based on scientific consensus and so on to indoctrinate a whole nation but empirical facts and logical truths remain. Ultimately anyone more interested in the truth than whatever explanations currently seem "natural" to the Herd can always seek the truth outside of the Herd, naturally enough. Perhaps seeking the truth may even be designed to come naturally to individual, intelligent beings.

*David Berlinksi comments on the way some seek an "equation" between science and naturalism which cannot be found:
In many respects the word naturalism comes closest to conveying what scientists regard as the spirit of science, the source of its superiority to religious thought.
What, after all, could be more natural than being natural? Carl Sagan’s buoyant affirmation that “the universe is all that is, or was, or will be” is widely understood to have captured the spirit of naturalism, but since the denial of this sentence is a contradiction, the merits of the concept so defined are not immediately obvious. Just who is arguing from the pulpit that everything is not everything? ….
If naturalism is a term largely empty of meaning, there is always methodological naturalism. Although naturalism is natural, methodological naturalism is even more natural and is, for that reason, a concept of superior grandeur. Hector Avalos is a professor of religious studies at Iowa State University, and an avowed atheist. He is a member of good standing of the worldwide fraternity of academics who are professionally occupied in sniffing the underwear of their colleagues for signs of ideological deviance. Much occupied in denouncing theories of intelligent design, he has enjoyed zestfully persecuting its advocates. “Methodological naturalism,” the odious Avalos has written, “the view that natural phenomena can be explained without reference to supernatural beings or events, is the foundation of the natural sciences.”
Now a view said to be foundational can hardly be said to be methodological, and if naturalism is the foundation of the natural sciences, then it must be counted a remarkable oddity of thought that neither the word nor the idea that it expresses can be found in any of the great physical theories.(The Devil’s Delusion by David Berlinksi :52)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Junior high school mathematics easily refutes Darwinian random variation and natural selection as the source of the highly sophisticated software information in living systems, and appeals to self-organization are equally ridiculous in light of what is now known. Self-replicating, information-processing, error-correcting, anti/neg-entropic software and hardware do not self-organize or come about by copying errors. Such silly speculation makes alchemy look like hard science, and attempts to defend it are quite frankly an embarrassment to real science.
(--Gil Dodgen Uncommon Descent comment)

I was just thinking, that's a specified statement which can be verified by empirical evidence and yet the empirical evidence doesn't limit evolution. The Darwinian origins of life forms are imaginary and tend to capture public imagination with the support of museums, nature shows, etc., yet it's worth pointing out that when it comes to origins Darwinian reasoning typically relies on imaginary events which cannot be observed or tested. Imagining things about the past is all well and good but such story telling just a modern mythology which shouldn't be confused with harder forms of scientia/knowledge or an explanation for the origins of form and information typical to living things which can be falsified or verified based on empirical observation.

The funny thing about our capacity for imagining things is that it's unfalsifiable. It seems that we can always imagine that something is not what it is or is what it is not. Imagine that!