Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Meditation on a Japanese Parrot
Q. What did he know, and when did he know it?
A. A sequence of sounds, and all along.
A Japanese family has been reunited with its pet, thanks to having taught it a sequence of noises that they knew other human beings would interpret as a name and an address.
"I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.This episode reminds me of a discussion of the epistemological status of the arbitrary, in which Leonard Peikoff likens arbitrary pronouncements to the squawkings of a bird:
"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said. [bold added]
The arbitrary ... has no relation to evidence, facts, or context. It is the human equivalent of [noises produced by] a parrot . . . sounds without any tie to reality, without content or significance.Note that the police didn't just take the parrot at his "word".
This parrot didn't know its address as an address any more than a mailing label does. For all we know, it had finally escaped its tormentors only to be foiled by its instinct for mimicry.
Remember this the next time you hear someone citing this as an example of animal intelligence. (And you will.) Some birds do display remarkably sophisticated behavior, but this isn't even an example of that.
Sue the Bastards!
This reads like a story straight out of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the White House threatened to veto the measure.Let me count the things that are wrong with this bill!
The bill would subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.
The measure passed in a 324-84 vote, a big enough margin to override a presidential veto.
First, it passes the (highly inflated) buck on the real source of rising prices. (It's not just oil, and for oil, it's not just that we're printing money.) Second, short of the United States taking military action well in excess of what it should have done decades ago when foreign tyrants started stealing the property of American citizens, this bill will have only symbolic import. Third, and what will this bill symbolize? American spinelessness. Fourth, ....
That's enough for now. Only obscenities could adequately describe this defiant shaking of the fist from behind the robes of the judiciary, which Congress seems to be confusing with a mother's skirt.
I wish this were merely pathetic.
Sue Noel Keenlyside!
Perhaps while Congress is feeling litigious, Heidi "Lysenko" Cullen can persuade it to sue for the removal of European climatologist Noel Keenlyside's scientific credentials. After all, he is flirting with a sin on a par with Holocaust denial:
Climate scientist Noel Keenlyside, leading a team from Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, for the first time entered verifiable data on ocean circulation cycles into one of the U. N.'s climate supercomputers, and the machine spit out a projection that there will be no more warming for the foreseeable future.And Tom Knutson....
Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.So "the science" isn't settled that we will have global warming or, that if we do, it will be all bad.
Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday. [bold added]
And the fact remains that whatever the scientific conclusion might be, it still doesn't justify the leftist agenda being pushed on account of "climate change".
Today: Corrected name of Noel Keenlyside. Where on earth did I get "Neely"?