But didn’t Hitler grow up to be Hitler?

The quondam next Hitler

Low hanging fruit today, but here’s Televangelist Pat Robertson’s advice to the mother who just lost her baby:

As far as God’s concerned, He knows the end from the beginning and He sees a little baby and that little baby could grow up to be Adolf Hitler, he could grow up to be Joseph Stalin, he could grow up to be some serial killer, or he could grow up to die of a hideous disease. God sees all of that, and for that life to be terminated while he’s a baby, he’s going to be with God forever in Heaven so it isn’t a bad thing.

Look Lady, on the bright side, at least you’re child wasn’t the next Hitler. I think Rev. Robertson might have borrowed from this video.


In the The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defines chutzpah as

. . . that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan”.

Here is a nearly perfect example. John Thune, US Senator from South Dakota, tweets:

Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.

Six million people have health care subsidies through Obamacare, they risk losing it because Republicans have (1) never supported it and didn’t vote for it; (2) constantly voted to repeal it; (3) waged lawsuits, like the present one, aimed at undermining its legal basis. Now, the argument goes, if he gets his wish and it goes away, it is the President’s fault.

The Attack on Truth!

Fun article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on willful ignorance, science denial, etc.  Here’s a fun paragraph:

The philosopher Andy Norman and others have criticized this theory [that what matters is persuasion, not reason, eds.] by pointing out that it relies far too heavily on the idea that rhetorical skills are valuable within an evolutionary context, irrespective of the truth of the beliefs being advocated. What if the reasons for your beliefs are not true? In a response to Mercier and Sperber, the psychologist Robert J. Sternberg pointed out that while reason and argument are closely related, “persuasive reasoning that is not veridical can be fatal to the individual and to the propagation of his or her genes, as well as to the human species as a whole.”

It’ll get you killed.

The deep end

Bridge in Sioni Reservoir. September 2006.jpg

There drought in California has raised questions about how to conserve water. Luckily, the California Pool and Spa Association has the answers:

As residents struggle to cut waste at the tap, the California Pool and Spa Association is lobbying water districts to quash proposed bans on filling pools and spas. The industry cites an in-house study that found that a standard-sized pool, plus decking, uses one-third the amount of water as an irrigated lawn after an initial fill.

“We’re not saying, ‘Solve the drought, put in a pool,’ but the bottom line is people who put in a pool are making a decision to do something more water efficient with their backyard. They’re saving water,” said John Norwood, the California Pool and Spa Association’s president. “Pools are landscaping.”

Even more water efficient would be not watering at all–or putting in drought-resistant plants:

In the end, the water used for pools and lawns is roughly the same, said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, a nonprofit research institute focused on the environment and sustainability. And letting a lawn die or replanting with desert landscaping uses dramatically less water than a pool, so the comparison misses the point, he said.

A long while back I got an email (I don’t check that account) asking whether there was a name for this argument form (though the example the author gave went like this: gays in the US should not complain because gays elsewhere, like Uganda, have it comparatively worse). I’m inclined to think it a false dichotomy, as it offers an exclusive, but false, disjunction between alternatives p and q, where q is horrible and p is what arguer A wants.

So, adapting the current example: given the drought, you can either water your lawn like a water hog or save water by filling or building a pool.