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Aside from social justice warriors who blatantly co-opt other people’s right to be offended, the worst kind of person, whom I’d try to avoid like ebola, is the blusterer who unreservedly — and undeservedly — makes claims to distinction without a smidgeon of embarrassment. I’d rather be in the company of an absolute cretin.

I at one point found myself unfortunate enough to have had to listen to a pretentious blowhard who fancied herself a horological aficionado. The imbecile kept giddily bloviating about her new rolex, which now, looking back, seems to me to be of questionable authenticity. The thing scarcely needed adjusting, I was told, because “Rolex”, and so was accurate — as if accuracy was ever the point of a 5 thousand-dollar watch. I pointed out that a 10 dollar quartz watch at a flea market is more accurate, and was met by her with a look of utter befuddlement. Her jaw gaped with incredulity as though what I just said was so insanely outrageous. How can a watch, nay, a ‘timepiece’, worth thousands of dollars be in any way inferior to something worth little more than a wad of gum?! — I imagined she was thinking. Of course, it’s not like I was unravelling for her plebeian mind some mystery of the universe; one even needn’t have a thing for watches to know this piece of inconsequential tidbit; any sufficiently self-aware midwit knows that Casios, pound for pound, tell better time than Rolexes — the consequence of using a quartz mechanism over a more complicated mechanical one. She knew zero of any of this, despite her constant posturing as a horological enthusiast with cultivated tastes. The addled-brained git..

These are the type of windbags I find difficult to abide. And social media seems to be an enabler of this kind of windbaggery. Not too long ago, for instance, there was this chain-like activity thing on fb where people listed their favorite books and tagged others to share theirs. It was basically people sharing with one another their lists of favorite books. One chap listed books by Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Proust, and other fancy-shmancy writers whom I’m betting he’s only just been made aware of after typing ‘greatest writers’ on google, something he likely did a moment before, explicitly for the purpose of drawing up a list that’ll impress people, and maybe showcase whatever hard-won education. Now, of course, for all I know, he may have really read all of that, and may in fact be the literary connoisseur he purports himself to be, but somehow, in no small part because of his previous unintelligible rantings, I’m more than a bit doubtful.

Another is the people I often see, again in and around social media, claiming they can’t help being grammar nazis, and then proceeding to correct people’s wrong spelling or grammar in a manner that can only be said to be grammatically incorrect. Well, funny that. Who even gives a marsupial’s behind whether someone used wrong grammar? It should suffice that you knew what he intended to say, you pompous bastard.

Or how about those self-righteous vegans, or vegetarians, or whatever the hell they call themselves these days, who think animals are humans’ equal. They’re not. I like my steak. And while it’s all good to advocate against the unneccessary torture of animals, your refusal to eat meat doesn’t make you better than me, or, for that matter, anyone else. What these people have in common, really, is that they’re all about advertising how awesome they are.

It’s trite stuff, I know. We all encounter people like these. Especially since social media gives them a platform to spread their inanity far and wide. The point is.. actually, there is no point.. I was waiting for a download and had zero to do. So this. But, yeah — thanks, Mark Zuckerberg.


A Fine Day For Science.


Science, the science fetishists often argue, is self-correcting, so the truth always prevails, and in contrast with religion and it’s dogmas, it becomes clear, so they also often argue, why science and not religion is the avenue through which knowledge — the kind that matters, at least — should be had. But that science is always self-correcting and is therefore always reliable is itself a dogma that needs to be corrected:

Throughout its 169-year history, Scientific American has been an august and sober chronicler of the advance of human knowledge, from chemistry to physics to anthropology.

Lately, however, things have become kind of a mess.

A series of blog posts on the magazine’s Web site over the past few months has unleashed waves of criticism and claims that the publication was promoting racism, sexism and “genetic determinism.”


The trouble started in April when a guest blogger, a doctoral student named Chris Martin, wrote about Lawrence H. Summers’ assertions when he was president of Harvard University about the paucity of women in some scientific fields. While acknowledging that discrimination played a role in holding back women, Martin also concluded, “the latest research suggests that discrimination has a weaker impact than people might think, and that innate sex differences explain quite a lot.”


The second land mine was a post in May by Ashutosh Jogalekar, which favorably reviewed a controversial book by Nicholas Wade, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.” Jogalekar praised the book, saying it confirms the need to “recognize a strong genetic component to [social and cognitive] differences” among racial groups.


What the post makes abundantly clear is that when the results of science seem to marshal ideas deemed too politically incorrect (particularly racial and anti-feminist ideas), science loses and butt-hurt people win, and, for good or for ill — although obviously mostly for ill — science often gets corrected not by other, more accurate science, but by people with hurt feelings.

Of course science is generally reliable. But the people who don’t feel the least bit embarrassed about bandying-about the word science to give their pet ideologies a whiff of credibility can also be relied upon, perhaps even moreso, to do the idiotic.

I, For One, Am Shocked..

Wonderful World the depths to which some will go to defend a ‘woman’s right to abortion’.

Been discussing abortion with pro-choicers from the internetz a while back, and it pretty much went like this:

Me: At what point does someone acquire the right to live?

Him: At the third Trimester.

Me: And why not at any time before that?

Him: Because at that point it’s conscious, can feel pain, and can possibly survive outside the womb.

Me: Newborn babies are hardly conscious and can hardly feel pain, much less one that’s at the third trimester. But even if you were right (which you aren’t), why does it suddenly get the right to live, unlike, say, some animals who are undoubtedly self-aware, conscious, and feel just as much pain as we do? — I mean, if that’s your criteria. Also, even if it can survive outside the womb, it won’t be able to for very long without the help of the mother or someone else. Which raises the question: if the mother who, barring instances of rape, chose to risk its being born in the first place isn’t morally obligated to care for it, why is anyone else, or, for that matter, why is everyone else (the state)?

Him: Well, because animals don’t have the rights we humans do. Besides, the mother has a right because it’s her body; “[o]nce a fetus is separate from the mother it becomes a separate human being with all the rights of a child…”.

Me: How would you avoid the charge of specie-ism, then? Surely you’re aware yours was an argument as fallacious as one that stems from racial or sexist prejudices. And, the mother and the fetus that is — for fun, let’s say — a day before being born, is, to you, a *single human-being*? Right. Is a pair of siamese twins a ‘single human-being’? Better: suppose someone is hooked up to a machine to survive — is he and the machine a ‘single human-being’?

Him: [He has nothing at this point, and so goes on and blathers:] “No woman under any circumstances should be forced to take any pregnancy to term against here [sic] will. No non person [sic] has any rights that usurp another human being. You join the human race upon birth and not one split second before.”

Me: In other words: for you it’s O.K. to kill the baby — oh, sorry, I mean the ‘fetus’! — even a day before it gets born, because, unluckily for it at that point, he hasn’t, in your words, “join[ed] the human race”.

Him: [Crickets chirping..]


And that, ladies and gents, is the level of inanity to which some people would go to protect “women’s reproductive rights”. Not all, of course (perhaps most there aren’t merely good at arguing, for all we know) but a lot. Certainly a scary lot. It’s not just one person there that I’ve encountered saying they’re all for baby-killing as long as it’s done in utero.

In fact some people do follow such views to their logical end, and what’s done is:  since, prior to birth, the mother is *technically* not a parent and the baby is *technically* not a child, the doctor waits for the baby to be half-way out, so to speak, and then proceeds to stab it.

Thusly, it’s not murder since it’s not human. And, technically, the mother can’t be guilty of child-abuse since she’s not a parent at that point.

[cue in: Louis Armstrong’s ‘It’s A Wonderful World’..]

The Illogic Of Sean Carroll

Sean Carrol

After years and years and years (and more years) of studying physics, the dreadful reality, according to Sean Carroll, is that:

“There is no life after death; there’s no spiritual essence that can preserve a human consciousness outside its physical body. Life is a chemical reaction; there is no moment at conception or otherwise when a soul is implanted in a body. We evolved as a result of natural processes over the history of the Earth; there is no supernatural intelligence that created us and maintains an interest in our behavior. There is no Natural Law that specifies how human beings should live, including who they should marry. There is no strong conception of free will, in the sense that we are laws unto ourselves over and above the laws of nature. The world follows rules, and we are part of the world.”

Sean here is basically saying that everything for which we don’t have evidence likely doesn’t exist. (There is evidence for the lot of these things, actually, but let’s overlook this for now) Of course, to him, only that which can be detected by science counts as evidence.

And therein lies the rub. Science, for it to be science (for it to work) needs to
presuppose materialism — that’s just how it must be. Therefore to imply science proves materialism is to say that that which you need to presuppose for science to work proves science works!

In other words, Carroll presupposes materialism (to do science) and then concludes that because of science, materialism is true.

What an idiot.

Lawrence Krauss Does Another Bait-And-Switch.

In a piece for Newsweek entitled ‘The Godless Particle‘, Lawrence Krauss, of the newly discovered ‘Higgs Boson’, tells us:

[I]t validates an unprecedented revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics and brings science closer to dispensing with the need for any supernatural shenanigans all the way back to the beginning of the universe—and perhaps even before the beginning, if there was a before.

This type of propaganda should be familiar to anyone who’s been able to read Lawrence’s latest book ‘A Universe From Nothing‘ (for which David Albert has some choice words) where he uses a textbook bait- and-switch to mislead everyone into believing that the question of why there’s something rather than nothing had been, through science, now dispensed with. Of course, as expected, once the smug and philosophically ill-informed Krauss got cornered by the people who, very much unlike him, actually know something about the issue, he retreats into the switch, saying something boringly similar to what’s written near the end of his book:

“what is really useful is not pondering [the] question” but rather “participating in the exciting voyage of discovery.”

In other words:

Uh, I know I said I’ll be answering the question of why there’s something rather than nothing, but, actually, I wont, because, well, I cant, and, uh, well, I only said that so you’ll buy my book.

Unfortunately for Krauss, however, the discovery of the Higgs confirms the model –the standard model– upon which the more contemporary cosmological and teleological arguments for God’s existence have been formulated. Also –again, unfortunately for Krauss– the classical formulations of these arguments, like the ones from Aquinas and Leibniz, won’t budge either, Higgs or no Higgs, because the metaphysics that undergirds them, of which Krauss will seemingly be forever ignorant, is not of the sort that can be disproven by science, for they flow from premises needed by science itself to make sense of its own evidential presuppositions.

Although nothing about the Higgs Boson suggests anything close to what Krauss would have us believe, he nevertheless asserts it so emotively as though his conclusions were so obviously entailed by the Higgs’s discovery that it needn’t any further explication, thusly giving us more examples of his incompetence on the issue.

The upside to all this farcical boot-strapping, it seems to me, is the frisson of self-adequacy it gives us average kooks, as it is a clear example of how even remarkably smart people can at times say things that are so blitheringly stupid.