Logic in Copenhagen

A professor of logic in Copehagen thought it a good idea to advertise his course in logic with photos of himself surrounded by stripper types.  Not a good idea.  This link offers a handy analysis.  Oddly, he also found himself involved in another scandal involving the proper amount of respect due to theorists of intelligent design.  See at the link above for links to that.

Plato’s cave IRL*

In Plato's cave, this is actually illegal:

Dangerous Gun Drawing of the Day: A Kitchener, Ontario man was arrested at his child’s school, dragged to a police station in handcuffs, and strip-searched — all over a drawing of a gun his four-year-old daughter made in class.

It gets worse: The gun in the drawing turned out to be toy.

True story. Via The Daily What.

*Also, "IRL" is Internet for "in real life."

Ein Volk

Seems obvious that racism is not just hatred of another race.  Someone tell Juan Williams and Pat Buchanan.  Note the following puzzling exchange on Fox News (via the Huffington Post):

Williams added, "In your case, the charge is one that is so powerful in the American mind…the charge is: Pat Buchanan is a racist. So let me ask you. Are you a racist, Pat?"

"Do I hate black folks?" Buchanan asked. "That's what racism mean— that I hate black folks, I want them discriminated against… No! It's not that. I do disagree profoundly with the affirmative action agenda, and a number of other issues but I've argued as I said with African American folks my whole life. Our schools that I went to, the Catholic schools, were the first ones desegregated in D.C."

Buchanan added, "Juan, you and I, if we sat there and watched cable 24 hours, we can hear people called [a racist] everyday. And it makes one of the points of [my book], that American society is disintegrating. It's breaking down and breaking apart because we've lost our common faith and common moral consensus…all of these things that once held us together."

At the end of the interview, Williams said, "I feel like we are brothers in understanding what these groups, on the left primarily, decided that you're not to be allowed to speak. They will banish you and make you an outcast and Pat, I'm sorry that's happened to you."

Racists don't usually just hate other races.  Their hatred, when it happens, is derived from the perceived inferiority of the people they hate–that they have benefits in society, for instance, they don't deserve; that they "get away with stuff"; that they are "lazy" and so forth.  But I'd hardly call the hatred a necessary condition for racism, sufficient yes.

Watch the video, at the link, for a hilarious exchange from two people who don't really get that the discussion has moved on (the video also fills in some of the gaps in the piece above).  There is probably no one better than Williams for this interview, for Williams still thinks he's justified for fearing Muslims in airports.

Here's a thought.  When you charge someone with racism, and that person responds, as Buchanan and Williams have done, by first alleging you're trying to silence them, then you're on the right track.  Buchanan and Williams spend the first part of this shocked at the McCarthyism of the racism charge.  Then, when they get to actually talking about the charge, Buchanan says that Mexicans are "hard working" (at menial labor) and "friendly," but "culturally and politically tied to Mexico."  Not racist at all.

Also, equal justice for white Christian people.

College boy

According to Rick Santorum, Obama is a snob (looking down on you, white man) for wanting people to go to college.  Talking Points Memo reports:

"Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands," Santorum began. "Some people have incredible gifts and want to work out there making things."

Then he went after the president's call for making college easier for Americans to attend.

President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob," Santorum said as the crowd howled with laughter and applause. "There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor."

Santorum said he knows the real reason Obama wants more Americans on college campuses.

"That's why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image," Santorum said to more applause. "I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."

I doubt Obama's view is "everyone must go to college indocrination."  It's more like: "everyone should have access to college if they want it."

Nonetheless, this is a kind of brilliantly evil move on Santorum's part: expecting his view to make any sense is a form of snobbery.   

He should just shut up

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, is the latest in a line of Repubicans to offer the following fallacious argument on tax increases.  Speaking of Warren Buffett, tax-increase supporter, he argues:

MORGAN: You know where I’m going at with that. Warren Buffett keeps screaming to be taxed more.

CHRISTIE: Yeah, well he should just write a check and shut up. Really. And just contribute. The fact of the matter is that I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check. Go ahead and write it.

The natural implication is that Buffett's argument is crap, as he isn't just going to write a check to the Treasury.  So Buffett is a hypocrite.

This implication is just garbage, however.  Buffett's argument is that everyone of income bracket x ought to pay a higher tax rate.  His failure voluntarily to do so is not relevant to the claim that everyone ought to.

I'm afraid to look, but I bet this one is making the rounds through the guts of the internet like so much cryptosporidium.

Man gave names to all the animals

I shouldn't feel like I'm nutpicking when I talk about the views of the Republican frontrunner of the week.  Nonetheless, I do.  That's because it's Rick Santorum.  Here's his take on environmentalism (via TPM):

When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government,” Santorum said.

The "no scientific proof stuff" is standard fare for the climate-change-denier wing of the Republican party.  But Santorum mixes this "I'm not convinced by the science" perspective with Biblical imperatives about who rules what (answer: man rules the earth).  Who rules what, however, is a political question.  So isn't Santorum politicizing the global warming debate by invoking the claims of a religious subgroup?

Sic semper stultis

The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have both passed a law requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before getting an abortion.  Such procedures are unnecessary, critics argue, because they (1) serve no medical purpose; and (2) people getting an abortion already know what they're doing.  This criticism prompted someone–a professor of economics according to Wikipedia–to tweet the following:

I suppose the thought go something like this.  People who favor regulation must always favor regulation under any circumstances.  If they don't, their beliefs are inconsistent. 

But that's really a load of puerile garbage not worthy even of drunken refutation.

via Balloon Juice via Atrios.

UPDATE.

Here is CNN's Dana Loesch on consent:

LOESCH: That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. […] There were individuals saying, “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What? Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.

Comment unnecessary.

Sunlight

There is a debate about whether everything that can be debated ought to.  The thought goes something like this: just because something can be known or discovered, does not entail that it ought to be (or it does mean it ought to be, or some variation on this thought).  A corollary to this argument involves Poe's law considerations: just because there are people who will argue for abhorrent view x, does not entail that either (a) their view deserves consideration or (b) the matter is open for debate.  We have moved beyond the KKK, the Nazis, the young-earth creationists.  They still exist, of course.  Their views no longer merit debate, but rather explanation: why in the face of so much evidence, does this person continue to believe x?  That's the issue now. 

MSNBC fired Pat Buchanan for being what he has always been: an unrepetent racist.  Good, I say.  There are things we need to get done around here, and we no longer have the time, and never should have had the time, to sit around and wonder whether some of us were genetically or culturally up to the challenge. 

Buchanan's MSNBC friends, however, thought he still had a place in the debate.  They write:

"Everyone at Morning Joe considers Pat Buchanan to be a friend and a member of the family. Even though we strongly disagree with the contents of Pat's latest book, Mika and I believe those differences should have been debated in public. An open dialogue with Morning Joe regulars like Al Sharpton and Harold Ford, Jr. could have developed into an important debate on the future of race relations in America.

Because we believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant, Mika and I strongly disagree with this outcome. We understand that the parting was amicable. Still, we will miss Pat." 

Sunlight hasn't disinfected anything, obviously.  It was time for an amputation.

Anomalous regularity

There are a couple of people I now consider it completely safe to ignore: George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, and of course, David Brooks.  These are the guys who inspired this whole project.  Every now and then, however, it's fun to go back and see what's up with them.  Via Alex Parene at Salon, here's a gem from David Brooks:

Jeremy Lin is anomalous in all sorts of ways. He’s a Harvard grad in the N.B.A., an Asian-American man in professional sports. But we shouldn’t neglect the biggest anomaly. He’s a religious person in professional sports.

We’ve become accustomed to the faith-driven athlete and coach, from Billy Sunday to Tim Tebow. But we shouldn’t forget how problematic this is. The moral ethos of sport is in tension with the moral ethos of faith, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

We have grown accustomed to this anamoly.  You'd think an editor would have gotten that. 

Made me think of this headline from the Onion: NFL Star Thanks Jesus after Successful Double Homicide.

Nut picking

Nut picking is a variety of straw man fallacy where one selects the looniest advocates of a position as representative of the best or the majority of the opposition.  Fear of nut picking often leads to iron manning–purposely ignoring the degraded state of someone's argument so as not to be guilty of nut picking.  Fear of nut picking also often forces people to look the other way, for fear of playing the race card.  The race card is what Bob Somerby accuses the left of doing exclusively and obsessively.  Somerby's Daily Howler is one of the inspirations for the iron man.  Here was the original idea.

With those caveats, look with horror on the reactions of many Fox News commenters on the death of Whitney Houston.  Here is an example:

A tragedy is when someones passes away from a terminal disease or something else that no one saw coming. Whitney is just an inferior lo w life ni gg er that needed to go,no tragedy,no loss.

For more look here.

via Little Green Footballs, Leiter.