Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hugh Hewitt's Vox Blogoli Part 2
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 26, 2005

Correction: I posted the following quote from Jonathan Rauch yesterday:

“When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates [Note: I think this is supposed to be “moderators”. -- GE] grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.”
In fact, the word is “moderates” not “moderators”. I read the word “moderate” as a verb, not noun. To me, “moderate” is either a verb or an adjective. I have a hard time thinking of “moderate” as a noun. My mistake.

Jonathan Rauch talked to Hugh Hewitt on air yesterday for some time about his article and about his intended meaning. Mr. Rauch’s comments can be read on http://www.hughhewitt.com, and his article is also reprinted there in full with the permission of The Atlantic.

Mr. Rauch wrote some clarifications that Hugh graciously published for his readers. In part, Rauch says:

“Better they [religious conservatives] should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics” is not a sentence I would have included if I had thought harder about it. It shows carelessness on my part, always blameworthy in a writer.

I think it’s important for your readers to understand the type of carelessness here. What seemed obvious to me--so obvious that I was careless about it--was that religious conservatives are not bombers. The article, after all, is about how most Americans, right and left and “red” and “blue,” are not as extreme as the stereotypes make out. I assumed that most people, reading in context, would understand me as saying not that most activists are hard-core extremists, but that we’d have more hard-core extremists if politics didn't make room for activism.

That is not a reflection on religious conservatives or any other political grouping. It is a reflection on the political system.

I think your readers will better understand what I'm saying if they take a look at the whole article, so The Atlantic has generously made the text available for posting. I think they’ll also see why I think a reader needs to go out of his way to interpret my article as a slur on religious conservatives.
I didn’t have to go out of my way at all. Mr. Rauch denies that he intended to equate religious conservatives with bomb throwers. Well, you could have fooled me. In fact, he did.

Rauch admits to carelessness and effectively retracts the statement. As a writer, carelessness is my worst nightmare--a sloppy phrase, an inaccurate noun or adjective, incorrect verb tense, anything that forces the readers to interpret my words and misunderstand my meaning. In analytic writing, there is no room for interpretation. There is never time to do it over. It has to be done right the first time, every time.

Writing is a form of personal generosity. The writer gives to the readers information, ideas, drama, or humor. The writer is saying, “Here. Take this. I have made this for you. I want you to benefit from this, to learn something new, to feel more capable. I already know this stuff, but I want you to know it, too. It helped me. It can help you.” It does no more good to write blather than it does to give someone a gift that they can’t use.

As to the carelessness of Jonathan Rauch’s comments, the idea of equating religious conservatives with bomb throwers originated somewhere in his mind. He wouldn’t write it if he didn’t think it first.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hugh Hewitt’s Vox Blogoli
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 25, 2005

Hugh Hewitt has issued another Vox Blogoli challenge. I, being a fan and a proud scribbler, take up the gauntlet.

Hugh quotes from an article in The Atlantic by Jonathan Rauch:

“On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates [Note: I think this is supposed to be “moderators”. -- GE] grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.”
Hugh issues the following challenge:

“I invite comments on this passage, what it says about the author, The Atlantic, and the left’s understanding of the Christian culture in America in 2005.”
Thanks for the opportunity, Hugh.

1. Comments on the quoted material.
In the quoted material, Jonathan Rauch suggests that “religious conservatives” “bomb abortion clinics”, and that there is some equivalence between “religious conservatives” and “fierce activists” on the left. Speculating that is it “is probably better for the social peace” to “engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists” displays obvious (and I think embarrassing) ignorance of history. Mr. Rauch would do well to remember that as long as the “fierce activists” “were locked out of their own party”, the Democrats won elections. Now that the “fierce activists” are “engaged”, the Democrats have no future.

2. What it says about the author.
Mr. Rauch seems to be largely uneducated, writing more about his opinions and speculations than about facts. His suppositions about religious conservatives and leftist activists are fanciful and romantic.

3. What it says about The Atlantic.
The Atlantic seems to be careless. What Jonathan Rauch has written here is not journalism, it is public fantasizing.

4. What it says about the left’s understanding of Christian culture in 2005.
The quoted material itself says very little about this. However, the left’s understanding of Christian culture in 2005 is marginal. The left thinks that everyone is just like they are, that “religious conservatives” who "bomb abortion clinics" are just Christian versions of the Marxist bombers who blew up Army recruiting offices and University buildings, and robbed banks to fund their activities. The left is self-satisfied with their limited understanding and highly bigoted fantasies of Christian culture in America.

Leftist doctrine requires an enemy. There must always be an enemy. The left’s greatest success in choosing and then attacking their enemies was Richard Nixon, Hugh Hewitt’s former employer. But the left didn’t beat Nixon. Nixon beat Nixon. And the left continues to revel in their victory from 1974 without realizing the Nixon beat them like a bongo drum in 1972, and had it not been for the Watergate scandal, Nixon may have exterminated the left entirely.

This time around, the left has chosen Christians as their enemies. Keep in mind that the enemies of the left are always chosen by the left, not the other way around. Christians didn’t ask to be the enemies of the left; they were drafted.

In typical fashion, the left must now construe “religious conservatives” the same way they construed Southern white men. The method is to take a stereo type like the red-neck crackers from Easy Rider and Deliverance, and then portray all Southern white men as being that type.

The same is true now with “religious conservatives”. They must be portrayed as bigoted, violent, merciless, and cruel. Bingo! This is how the left will portray Christians, and this is how they will also see them.

So, if you are a religious Christian or a practicing Jew, get ready to get the Viet Nam Veteran treatment. You will be portrayed by the left as unbalanced, damaged by your experiences, unredeemable, selfish, cruel, and menacing.

Hugh Hewitt likes to remind us that the first rule of holes is, if you want get out of one, you have to stop digging. Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic, and the Michael Moore/Barbara Boxer wing of the Democratic Party are using a turbo steam shovel.

Religious conservatives seem to understand that in the marketplace of ideas, it all comes down to one thing: Who do you trust?

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

[Yes, I know. It should be, “Whom do you trust?” Write a book, okay?]

Friday, January 21, 2005

Voegeli Strikes Gold
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 21, 2005

In the ongoing struggle by conservatives to make sense of liberals, William Voegeli strikes gold in his article entitled The Endless Party. He makes some outstanding points. Please read it. It starts out a bit slow, but stick with it.

A few quick comments on the article:

1. After quoting a bit of Johnson’s speech in 1964 calling for the creation of a Great Society, Voegeli writes, “Parsing such blather might seem as pointless as it is cruel.” I love that kind of talk.

2. When I read, “In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls...”, I uttered an audible groan. I read Rawls’ atrocity in--sit down please, this may hurt--a university philosophy class. Rawls’ book has nothing to do with philosophy. It is Rawls’ exclamation of the necessity of having experts like him run our lives for us. Rawls’ theory of justice is to prevent at all costs ordinary people from making decisions for themselves.

3. Voegeli writes:

Bill Clinton was fond of saying that character is “a journey, not a destination.” But to leave home without a destination, convinced that the very idea of a destination is arbitrary and false, is to embark on a “journey” that will be no different from just wandering around.
I thought it was interesting that Voegeli makes that point that travel without a destination is just aimless wandering. Heh. Great minds, etc.

This is the cornerstone paragraph of the article:

How, then, shall we live? The entirety of liberalism’s answer is, according to Rawls, that it is better to play chess than checkers: “human beings enjoy the exercise of their realized capacities (their innate or trained abilities), and this enjoyment increases the more the capacity is realized or the greater its complexity.” Humans can rescue their lives from meaninglessness by striving, however they pass their days, to employ more rather than fewer of their talents, finding new ones and expanding known ones, to the sole purpose of being able to enlarge them still further, endlessly. We have seen the future, and it’s an adult education seminar, where ever-greater latitude is afforded to ever-smaller souls, and where freedom means nothing higher than the care and feeding of personal idiosyncrasies.
Voegeli’s main point is that liberals believe that “freedom means nothing higher than the care and feeding of personal idiosyncrasies.” He supports this argument with the assertion that limitless expansion of the welfare state is the mission, not the goal, of liberalism:

Liberals have a practical reason why they won’t say what they ultimately want, and a theoretical reason why they can’t say it. The practical reason is that any usably clear statement of what the welfare state should be would define not only a goal but a limit. Conceding that an outer limit exists, and stipulating a location for it, strengthens the hand of conservatives—with liberals having admitted, finally, that the welfare state can and should do only so much, the argument now, the conservatives will say, is over just how much that is.

Keeping open, permanently, the option for the growth of the welfare state reflects the belief that the roster of human needs and aspirations to which the government should minister is endless. Any attempt to curtail it would be arbitrary and wrong.

Arthur Schlesinger tried to redefine liberalism’s mission for such a society. He wrote that the New Deal’s establishment of the welfare state and Keynesian management of the economy heralded the completion of the work of “quantitative liberalism.” Its logical and necessary successor should be “qualitative liberalism,” which would “oppose the drift into the homogenized society. It must fight spiritual unemployment as [quantitative liberalism] once fought economic unemployment. It must concern itself with the quality of popular culture and the character of lives to be lived in our abundant society.”

Liberalism has never found a way to regard the “character of lives to be lived in our abundant society” with indifference, in the good sense of being tolerant, for fear of also being indifferent in the bad sense of being callous. The social critic inside every liberal cannot resist berating other people’s unsatisfactory lifestyles—some are merely inane, others are actually menacing. Fifty years ago this scorn was directed at suburban split-levels. Today the target is evangelical churches. Meanwhile, the social worker inside every liberal cannot resist treating these unfortunate lifestyle choices as problems to be solved.
In short, liberalism is arbitrary, fickle, self-important, and self-satisfied. Liberalism exists to find fault with everything except liberalism. Liberalism views goals as arbitrary and wrong, and expansion of government power and authority as necessary to human happiness. To liberalism, human happiness can only be found in a government program, that is, a liberal program. If liberals provide the program, you should be happy; if conservatives provide the same program, you should be enraged.

However, liberalism makes its own destruction necessary because it is entirely dependent on the prosperity of the very people and institutions it scorns, the private sector. Liberalism seeks to remake in it’s own image the people and institutions it is most dependent on, the people and institutions it condemns as spiritually unemployed, inane, or even menacing.

Liberalism is built on an absurd idea, namely the endless expansion of government. As government expands, it needs expanded funding. Government derives funds from taxation, which is a form of confiscation. Every dollar government confiscates is a dollar that is not available for future production. A good example is confiscating wheat from a farmer. Every grain of wheat government confiscates from a farmer is one grain of wheat that cannot be planted for next season’s wheat crop. If government confiscates all the wheat from the current crop, there will be no seeds available to plan the next crop. After that, there will be no more wheat for government to confiscate.

Expanding government requires an expanding economy. But liberalism condemns and seeks to undermine the very capitalism that expanding government depends on. The irony of our times is that liberals dream up government programs and conservatives end up having to fix them so that they actually work.

Liberalism is the very definition of the narcissistic personality: The interests of the narcissist are paramount and exclusive. The narcissist condemns other people’s self-interest as selfish, stupid, lazy, or evil. The narcissist condemns goals as arbitrary. The narcissist is grandiose, overly dramatic, hyper-critical, and hyper-sensitive to criticism. And the narcissist believes in his own importance and the irrelevance of everyone else. Now substitute “liberalism” for “the narcissist” and read it again. This goes a long way toward explaining why liberals appear to be such narcissists. What they believe matters; what you believe doesn’t.

Back to Voegeli’s main point that liberals believe that “freedom means nothing higher than the care and feeding of personal idiosyncrasies”, I like the idea, but I think his statement is incomplete. The personal idiosyncrasies that liberals think need care and feeding are liberal idiosyncrasies exclusively, and I would add that liberals believe that freedom also includes taking responsibility for everyone else’s lives while avoiding personal responsibility. It also includes avoiding personal risk, and most of all, avoiding having to conform to the standards of irrelevant, un-cool people “who live in dorky places and went to schools no one has heard of.”

Voegeli’s observation that liberalism is a mission that has no goals is invaluable. This relieves me of the responsibility of having to continually guess at what they’re trying to accomplish. They’re not trying to accomplish anything; they just want to believe that they’re better than the rest of us. It also makes me feel more comfortable telling them to just shut up and go away.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Silence of the Yaks
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 19, 2005

Note to readers: I’ve added Kausfiles to the links. Mickey Kaus is a Democrat to be sure, but he hasn’t lost his mind. He still makes sense. It’s possible to disagree with him on the basis of reasoned arguments.

The fight for control of the Democratic Party is underway. Howard “The Coward” Dean is vying to head the Democratic National Committee, effectively taking control of the party away from the Clintons. This is all very interesting, but not very important. The Democrats are not the party in power.

My normal glance at conservative blogs turns up no conversations about the direction of the Republican Party, no discussions of tax policy, foreign policy, election strategy, nothing. The yakkers aren’t yakking about their own party.

Fights within the Republican Party will have more effect on our nation than fights within the Democratic Party. The Republicans are in power. They set the agenda. Democrats can only oppose. With so little information forthcoming, this sounds like another case of shared decision making: They’ll make the decisions and then share them with us.

Talk about the struggle between the adult Democrats and the eternal adolescent Democrats is less interesting now that the juveniles aren’t in a position to win the White House. They’re no longer an eminent threat, more of an irrelevant nuisance. It’s easier to tell them to shut up now that they don’t matter.

As for the Republicans, I want to know who’s on top. Who’s on the way up? Who’s on the way out? Which ideas do they think will win? Which ideas do they think will lose? Where will they direct their efforts?

How about it, bloggers? The silence of the yaks is deafening.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bozo Would Have Been a Better Choice
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 13, 2005

I dropped by Powerlineblog this morning and ran into this article by Jonathan Last.

It's Worse Than You Thought
Curious how the Thornburgh-Boccardi panel decided the CBS documents weren't necessarily fakes? Read Appendix 4.
by Jonathan V. Last
01/11/2005 10:23:00 PM

It’s a good article. Please read it. Here is the bit that caught my attention:

The panel [Thornburgh and Boccardi] reports, "Tytell concluded that the Killian documents were generated on a computer."

So how did Thornburgh and Boccardi manage to walk away from their own expert's decisive verdict? The answer is hidden in footnote 16 on page 7 of Appendix 4:

Although his reasoning seems credible and persuasive, the Panel does not know for certain whether Tytell has accounted for all alternative typestyles that might have been available on typewriters during that era.
This is exactly the point that I made yesterday in my previous post, “Aristotle and the Dinosaurs”. When a person is ignorant of the subject matter, nothing that is said about the subject matter can be proven to be true to the satisfaction of the ignorant person. In effect, the ignorant person will treat every true statement about the subject matter as false.

The Panel wishes us to believe that there may be an electric typewriter out there somewhere that could have produced a typeface that could not have been produced at that time, and could only be produced on a computer. This is a public display of gross incompetence by Thornburgh and Boccardi. The failed to do the research necessary to educate themselves on the critical subject matter that was at the heart of the investigation. Was it possible to produce those documents using the technology of the day? Of course not!

Was it laziness? I don’t think so. More likely, it was a deliberate evasion. They are ignorant of the subject of typefaces (or at least they pretend to be), they took the position that their ignorance of the subject had equal legitimacy with Tytell’s knowledge, and then they dismissed Tytell’s findings with a cavalier wave of the hand, in effect saying, “Well, we don’t know what all that stuff is, so it’s possible that Tytell isn’t telling the truth.”

To be clear, there is no possibility the Tytell is not telling the truth. The documents could only have been created using computer technology that did not exist at the time the documents are alleged to have been created. The documents are fakes.

The Panel’s failure to openly admit their ignorance of the subject, their refusal to research the subject, and their insistence that Tytell’s conclusions are invalid because of their ignorance reduces both Thornburgh and Boccardi to a laughing stock. They’re a couple of dummies. Their behavior is shameful.

Ignorance of a subject (and in this case, pretended ignorance) renders the ignorant person not competent to judge the matter. To paraphrase Socrates, the Panel does not have sufficient knowledge of computer generated typefaces, therefore, their conclusions about the forged documents are nonsense.

Failing the conclude that the documents are fakes seems to make it impossible to conclude that CBS was pursuing a political agenda. Seems.

There can be no question that CBS has been pursuing a political agenda. There can be no doubt that CBS seriously believed that exposing the forged documents would hurt President Bush’s chances at re-election. If they did not believe this, they would not have aired the documents whether they were real or fake!

The entire purpose of airing the documents was to hurt President Bush on election day. CBS wanted the documents publicized knowing that a certain number of people would believe them even if the documents were exposed as forgeries. Need proof? Dan Rather still believes that the information contained in the documents is correct even if the documents are forgeries.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all the evident I need to conclude that CBS used forged documents in an attempt to influence the outcome of the Presidential election. CBS had a clear political agenda, an agenda that they are still pursuing.

As for the Panel, Bozo would have been a better choice than Thornburgh and Boccardi. All three of them are clowns; but Bozo is honest about it.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Aristotle and the Dinosaurs
Comment on logic © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 12, 2005

Sometimes I wish I could dig up Aristotle and kick his rear end. Specifically, after being convinced that a proposition about a subject class that does not exist is always indeterminate, that is, you can’t determine if it’s true or false, Aristotle drops this bombshell on me:

But in the case of affirmation and negation, whether the subject exists or not, one is always false and the other true. For manifestly, if Socrates exists, one of the two propositions “Socrates is ill”, “Socrates is not ill”, is true, and the other false. This is likewise the case if he does not exist; for if he does not exist, to say that he is ill is false, to say that he is not ill is true. Thus it is in the case of those opposites only, which are opposite in the sense in which the term is used with reference to affirmation and negation, that the rule holds good, that one of the pair must be true and the other false.
He explains that a subject that does not exist cannot possess any qualities. Nothing is predicable of or present in the subject; therefore, every affirmation (“S is P”) is necessarily false and every negation (“S is not P”) is necessarily true.

The point that I misunderstood was that certain subjects have the chance of existing or not existing, for example, a snowstorm next week. Propositions about those types of subjects are necessarily indeterminate. Of subjects that clearly do not exist, affirmations are false, and negations are true; they are not indeterminate.

This caused me to ponder what Aristotle would do with the subject of dinosaurs. In his day, the word “dinosaur” had no meaning. There was no corresponding experience or idea. The subject class “dinosaur” could not exist to Aristotle. Therefore, to Aristotle, any affirmation about dinosaurs would necessarily be false.

This is the case with people who are ignorant of a specific subject. People tend to conclude that any affirmation about a subject that they think does not exist is necessarily false. Therefore, if you talk about the physical fallacy in economics, and your audience has never heard of the physical fallacy, then they will conclude that any affirmation you make about the physical fallacy is necessarily false. They may even think that you’re lying about the whole thing.

If I tried to talk to Aristotle about dinosaurs, I having knowledge of dinosaurs and he having none, he would likely conclude that I was a lunatic or a grand storyteller. He would probably say something like, “How do you know?” “How do you know?” is a clear indication that the person asking the question is ignorant of the subject matter. It is also a clear indication that they are unconvinced.

It is interesting to me that in the mind of the person who is ignorant of the subject matter, every affirmation about the subject is necessarily false. In other words, ignorance of facts renders assertions about those facts false. It is impossible for the person who is ignorant of the meaning of the subject term to conclude that anything is true about the subject term. For example, it is impossible for the person who is ignorant of the meaning of the subject term “elephant” to conclude that anything is true about the subject term “elephant”.

In logic, any subject term that does not have a corresponding idea or experience cannot have any predicates. Every affirmation will be false and every negation will be true. This is the point that Socrates made. Before any proposition can be determined to be true or false, it is necessary to agree on the meaning of the subject of the proposition.

In public discourse, I hear precious little of this. The parties to the discussion suppose that everyone knows what they mean. Monumental misunderstandings can result. For example, if I am talking about China, my audience may suppose that I mean the country and culture of China. However, I may be talking about ceramics. Until I make it clear to my audience what I mean by “China”, they will not be able to determine if I am telling the truth about China. If I say that China will break if sufficient force is applied, you can’t know whether I am talking about the country or a plate.

As with Aristotle and the dinosaurs, ignorance of dinosaurs renders knowledge about dinosaurs false in the mind of the person who doesn’t know what a dinosaur is. In the minds of ignorant men, ignorance defeats knowledge. This may explain why ignorance is so often preferred to knowledge.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Friday, January 07, 2005

Punishing the Sinners
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 7, 2005

After reviewing several articles from a number of sources, I thought about commenting on the notion that natural disasters are God’s punishment for sinners.

Natural disasters have their own obvious meaning. They don’t come with written notices of their purpose. They aren’t done for any reason; they just happen. The ancient peoples of the Mediterranean saw natural disasters as an expression of the arbitrary and capricious nature of the gods. I can’t say I disagree with them. This helped the rise of Christianity because you can’t really get too chummy with a god who has a tantrum and destroys thousands of people.

The supposition that God punishes sinners by means of indiscriminate, mindless forces of nature raises some necessary questions:

1. Is it possible to know that any natural disaster is punishment meted out by God? I’m not sure how anyone is supposed to offer positive proof that any natural disaster happened only because people were sinning.

2. How is it possible to know that natural disasters are punishments from God? After all, the catastrophes that befell Job were tests, not punishments. Jesus also affirmed that people who suffer from diseases and upheavals of nature are not necessarily being punished for their sins. If every torment that afflicts man is a punishment from God, then where is evil?

3. If natural disasters are punishments from God, are we not sinning against God by rescuing the survivors? If God saw fit to punish these people, should we not be going in guns blazing and finish them off? We have nuclear weapons, so why not finish what God started?

4. How is it that the natural disaster that killed two men together is a punishment for one (the non-believer) but not a punishment for the other (the faithful believer), both of whom were killed side by side in the same way at the same time?

5. Geology demonstrates that natural disasters occurred long before Homo sapiens strode the plains of Africa. What was that all about? Was God punishing the witless dinosaurs for their sins? Was He just warming up?

6. If not every natural disaster is punishment from God, then how do you know which is and which is not? They all look the same to me.

7. Does any follower of any religion honestly believe that his chosen religion can save people from future natural disasters?

8. What happens when the faithful realize that they have been punished in the same way at the same time as the unbelievers? Do they just shrug and say, “Oh well. That’s okay. I guess I can live with having my entire family wiped out as long as some unbelievers died, too.”

9. How are God’s worshippers supposed to prevail when God inexplicably and indiscriminately massacres friend and foe alike?

10. What mortal sins did the children commit that warranted their slaughter? Sucking their thumbs? Crying when they were hungry? Perhaps some enlightened soul would care to fill me in on this.

It is inconceivable to me that God is a mindless killer of the innocent. Unlike the gods of ancient times, the God of the Jews and the Christians swore an oath not to use his worshippers for sport. No more tantrums.

It is a sign of civilization that worshippers understand that natural disasters are not punishments but acts of mindless nature. It seems unfortunate that in our modern legal system natural disasters are called acts of God. I don’t believe they are.

Nature is a boiling caldron of turmoil. We live in an age of relative tranquility. I suspect that these are the golden years. If the catastrophes of our times inspire people to behave in a more civilized manner, then fine. However, I see too many people attempting to claim knowledge that they don’t possess, and using the horror of natural disasters for political gains. Shame on them.

Fire burns sinners and saints alike.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Punishing the Victims
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 7, 2005

In their attempts to scrub imprudent behavior from their communities, city governments around the Denver metro area have enacted a number of unwise measures. Two that illustrate the foolishness of government are:

1. Warming up your car.
If you start your vehicle and leave it to warm up, you may be fined. The rationale is that you are offering car thieves an opportunity to steal your car. However, you offer car thieves an even greater opportunity to steal your car when you are driving. You offer a similar opportunity when you are near your car in a parking lot or a gas station.

The stated purpose of the you-can’t-warm-up-your-car law is to discourage people from offering car thieves an opportunity to steal unattended cars. This could be achieved with greater effect by a public awareness campaign instead of confiscating hard earned money from potential victims. But, then government would not make as much money, now would they? Who says government isn’t greedy?

2. Child seat belts.
It is a crime to fail to secure your child with adequate seat belts. Consider the cruelty of this law. If your child dies or is seriously injured when someone strikes your vehicle, the government can imprison you. You lose your car, your child, and your freedom all in one fell swoop.

Apparently, government feels that punishing the perpetrator isn’t sufficient. Punishing the victim will make things right. Imprisoning the parent who has just lost a child is, I think without question, cruel punishment.

Governments in the Denver metro area have adopted the Soviet notion that the way to make our communities better is to engage in people control. They believe that if they can control how people behave, then things will be much better. When has this ever worked? Why, never, of course, but that doesn’t stop them from believing it. Facts are impotent in the face of strongly held beliefs.

The foolishness of both of these types of laws is exacerbated by the fact that the public at large approves of this nonsense. Both the government and the voters who support government believe that law enforcement is an adequate substitute for education. If spending time in prison makes people smarter, then we should all be in jail.

The voters of the Denver metro area approve of measures that enable government to intrude on our rights and erase our personal dignity. People on the right and the left agree that people are too stupid to be allowed to make their own decisions and take reasonable risks. In their minds, government must ride herd over the untrustworthy masses. Contempt for and distrust of our fellow citizens is a definite step toward dictatorship.

American culture has adopted the European fantasy that risk taking must be punished, no matter what good may actually come from taking risks. The consequence of avoiding risk is to lose the benefits of change in your life. Worse than that, the only real way to avoid risk is to deprive people of their freedom.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Monday, January 03, 2005

Suffering Another Fool
Opinion © 2005, by Guy L. Evans

January 3, 2005

While blogging about natural disasters today, Hugh Hewitt points us to this bit of nonsense at Transterrestrial Musings:

I think that there is a spectrum of levels of belief (just as there’s one for degrees of homosexuality). At one end are the clear unbelievers (such as me), and at the other end are the clear believers, and there are many in the middle whose belief is affected mostly by life circumstances.

Logic would dictate, of course, that we aren't all correct--either there’s a God or there isn’t, but then, logic only applies if one’s belief system thinks that a requirement. Which is why it's impossible to prove something to someone whose means of attaining knowledge isn’t logic driven, and who uses a different set of axioms.
“Logic would dictate, of course...” Of course. The author of the above quote wishes to tell us something about logic. I see.

I included the bit about homosexuality so that you can get a feel for the author’s stance.

The statement that logic only applies “if one’s belief system thinks that a requirement” is the acme of stupidity--stupidity in the sense that when confronted with stupidity, the gods struggle in vain, or in the sense that it’s impossible to defeat a stupid man in an argument. What if one’s belief system doesn’t require logic? It is my experience that most people don’t bother with logic regardless of what they believe because they have never learned logic. Most people don’t even know what the word means. It is clear from his discussion of the subject that the author doesn’t know the meaning of the word “logic” either. Which logic do you think he may be referring to, formal, material, or Boolean?

Logic does not dictate that either there is a God or there isn’t. In fact, the statement, “God exists” is not a valid proposition because the statement neither affirms nor denies anything about the state in which God exists. The assertion of the existence of God--or anything, for that matter--must necessarily include an affirmation or a denial about the state in which God--or anything--actually exists. For example, the statement “my coffee cup exists” presupposes (though it is not stated) that my coffee cup currently exists at a specific location, and that being a coffee cup, it possesses all of the characteristics necessary to the definition of “coffee cup”. The statement “God exists” carries no discernable suppositions.

Logic does not dictate that God either exists or does not, nor does logic dictate in what state God exists. Logic gives us the method for determining the truth of any statements about the state in which God may exist. The statement “God lives” would be more accurate than “God exists” because it asserts that God possesses characteristics necessary to living things.

The author of the above quote is a sterling example of opinionated ignorance, substituting nonsense for reason and arrogance for education. His aloofness suggests that he may have difficulty feeling loved. People who have difficultly feeling loved also have difficulty feeling the presence of God.

To me, it is absurd to listen to anyone deny the existence of God. In using the word “God”, I must presume that it has some meaning to them. What could it be that they assert does not exist? For anyone to seriously deny the existence of God, they must first affirm that they don’t know what the word “God” means. But once they do this, they are stuck. It is impossible to deny the existence of a word that you have not defined. As soon as they define the word “God”, they are stuck again because believers can simply say that the definition is insufficient.

Denying the existence of God involves denying the existence of an idea that you already know exists. Misapplication of logic in your efforts only makes it worse. Publicly displaying your ignorance of both logic and God is foolish.

The author of the above quotes is, in my opinion, a fool. If God can suffer this fool, then I guess I can, too.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Einstein’s Absurdity
Opinion © 2004, by Guy L. Evans

December 31, 2004

Albert Einstein observed that the speed of light remains constant to the observer regardless of how fast the observer is traveling relative to any other object. Makes sense, right?

Of course not. It’s absurd.

To put this in terms that Einstein understood would put normal people into a stupor. For the sake of clarity, let’s say I am traveling at 100 miles per hour and I shoot a tennis ball at you. The tennis ball leaves my tennis ball cannon at 150 miles per hour. You would measure the speed of the tennis ball coming at you as 250 miles per hour--the 100 miles per hour I am traveling plus the 150 miles per hour the tennis ball is traveling.

From my perspective, the tennis ball is only traveling 150 miles per hour. From your perspective, the tennis ball is traveling 250 miles per hour. All this makes perfect sense.

Einstein and others observed that the speed of light was constant from the perspective of every observer. Using the tennis ball analogy, if the tennis ball was a beam of light, I would observe the tennis ball traveling 150 miles per hour away from me, and you would observe the tennis ball traveling 150 miles per hour toward you at the same time you observed me traveling 100 miles per hour toward you.

To illustrate the absurdity, let’s say that I am traveling one mile per hour less that the speed of light and I shine a beam of light on you. According to Einstein’s observations, at the same time that I see the light illuminate you from my perspective, from your perspective, you will not be illuminated. From my perspective, light will travel away from me at the speed of light, which would be my speed plus the speed of light. From your perspective, you would observe that the light that I shine in your direction is traveling only one mile per hour faster than I am traveling.

Here’s Einstein’s difficulty; I am an object, the light beam is not. You observe me as traveling one mile per hour less than the speed of light, but you also observe the light beam that I am shining at you as traveling at the speed of light. I also observe that same light beam as traveling at the speed of light. If the light beam were a tennis ball, we both would observe the tennis ball traveling at the same speed, that is, one mile per hour faster than my speed.

So, where does this leave us? Einstein spent many years trying to make sense of these observations. The explanations he came up with seemed to make sense to him. He understood what he said. Others, however, didn’t seem to understood Einstein’s explanations. For example, Einstein said that parallel lines meet at infinity. Einstein understood this to mean that parallel lines never meet. Other people understood this to mean that somewhere way off in the distance, parallel lines actually meet. Common sense tells us that if lines meet, they are not parallel. I guess it takes a degree in physics to obliterate common sense.

But, that’s the point. Observations of modern physics defy common sense. They defy sense of any kind. Many of them are simply non-sense.

That Einstein and other physicists seemed to be unable to comprehend the absurdity of their observations causes me to question their conclusions. For example, physics instructs us that every object requires energy to accelerate it. Physics instructs us that as the object approaches the speed of light, the amount of energy required approaches infinity.

Infinity?! *Gasp*

Aristotle--yes, that Aristotle--noted that every infinite regression is absurd. The assumption that the amount of energy required to accelerate an object to the speed of light may be infinite is an infinite regression. It is absurd.

The observation that the speed of light is constant to every observer is also absurd. It doesn’t make sense. However, the difficulty may not lie where you think. The problem may be in the definition of terms. Can light actually have a “speed”? If light cannot be accelerated or decelerated, then how can it have a “speed”? If a beam of light were decelerated to ten miles per hour, what would it look like? Is the observation of light relative to the mass of the observer? Is the spectrum of observable light relative to the observer? Does the definition of “speed” (distance divided by time, e.g., ten miles divided by one hour equals ten miles per hour) actually apply to light? Is the definition of “light” insufficient?

I am in no position to second-guess Einstein. However, the general incapacity of modern science, including philosophy and political science, to understand the implications of absurdity causes me to doubt many of their far-fetched conclusions. Presumption of incorrect facts necessarily leads to incorrect conclusions. Where you find a paradox, you have violated the rules. Where you find an absurdity, you do not have sufficient evidence.

Enough egg-head stuff. Happy New Year.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

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