6-18-16 Hodgepodge

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Orlando Unmasks the Left

Writing at the the Federalist, Robert Tracinski argues that the reaction by the left to last week's Islamist massacre in Orlando reveals an indifference to minority rights, a contention with which I have long agreed:

So the Left will gladly protect homosexuals from the very great threat of having Christians refuse to bake cakes for their weddings. But when homosexuals are attacked by Muslims who think they should be put to death merely for existing, the Left will cover its ears and eyes and deny the threat even exists.
Tracinski also notes (as others have observed) that the ascendancy of Donald Trump and the racist "alt-right" leaves said minorities without a viable political alternative. See also the Elan Journo piece linked in "Weekend Reading" below for how both major presidential candidates are wrong about the jihadist threat.

And remember that, as Ayn Rand once said, "The smallest minority on earth is the individual."

Weekend Reading

"[F]ighting economic inequality destroys the only kind of equality that matters: political equality." -- Don Watkins, in "5 Simple Steps to End (Political) Inequality and Restore Opportunity in America" at Medium

"Having spoken to people who have cared for loved ones with Alzheimer's, I've learned several things that can make the ordeal more bearable." -- Michael Hurd, in "The Emotional Roller Coaster of Alzheimer's" at The Delaware Wave

"My daily experience repeatedly debunks the myth that good relationships require constant work." -- Michael Hurd, in "Marriage for the Long Run" at The Delaware Coast Press

"By calling dissenting opinions fraud, the Massachusetts Attorney General and others are making independent thought a crime." -- Alex Epstein, in "First the Government Went After ExxonMobil. Now They're Going After Me." at Forbes

"What everyone who refuses to boycott fossil fuels is acknowledging is that the relative benefits of fossil fuel use compared to solar and wind are incomparably greater than they admit -- and the risk of truly catastrophic climate change is incomparably smaller." -- Alex Epstein, in "The Moral Case for Investing, Not Divesting, in Fossil Fuels" at Forbes

"[B]oth are united, ironically enough, in negating the crucial role of ideas in animating the jihadist cause." -- Elan Journo, in "After Orlando, Why Trump and Clinton Both Get the Jihadists Wrong" at The Times of Israel

In More Detail

Alex Epstein ends his first piece (above) with the following challenge:
The leader of the climate fascists is Al Gore, who, after dozens of documented distortions in his influential film An Inconvenient Truth, has refused to debate any dissenter since the film came out. Now he is leading the unconstitutional crusade against freedom of scientific speech.

Mr. Gore, if you are as confident in your position as you say, if the debate is so much in your favor that you call it over, why not publicly debate a representative of one of the groups you are persecuting? That way the public can see who actually has the strongest case? I and many others are willing to debate you, putting our reputations on the line in the name of truth. Will you debate one of us? Or will you continue to threaten to drag us to jail?
Perhaps the only thing more disturbing to me about the emergence of this censorious behavior by global warming alarmists is the lack of outrage among ordinary Americans.

A Funny New Word for an Old Annoyance?

Via Word Spy comes the dating term benching, which it defines as follows:
Maintaining occasional contact with someone while you decide whether you want a serious relationship with that person.
The first citation, from the U.K. Telegraph, makes passing mention of the phrase I grew up with, stringing along, and this sounds like simply adapting new technology for old behavior. But there is a case for the new term being substantially different:
With benching, you don't even get to a stage where you're regularly dating.
Whatever single folk think of this, Radhika Sanghani ends with the following:
[O]ur advice? Bench them right back.
Looking back, and I will admit this is 20/20 hindsight, I could see a case for my having been benched by my eventual wife. But I liked her company, so that didn't matter, and ... maybe I did, in effect, bench her back. So I'd say that's good advice as long as you enjoy the occasional contact for what it is and move on, which is what I did.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

In regards to Mr. Gore's refusal to debate with dissenters, I feel a very important point must be made. As a paleontologist I've faced similar accusations: that my profession, as a whole, refuses to debate with Creationists. The tone has been very similar to Mr. Epstien's, with similar accusations made (no, I'm not saying Mr. Epstein is on the same level as Creationists, I'm merely establishing that the situations are very similar).

My reason for refusing to debate Creationists--and the reason given by most of my colleagues--is that debate formats are not suitable for scientific discussion. Scientific discussion requires deep exploration of arcane data, which is not amenable to any debate format that I have encountered. Further, questions often require relatively long explanations, as the subject matter is very complex. Debate formats do not allow for this, allowing for such tactics as the Gish Gallop. More honestly, without giving an audience time to explore the concepts involved the legitimate scientist in the discussion (and to be clear, I do not think Mr. Gore or those feeding him his information are legitimate scientists for the most part) often ends up demanding that the audience accept an argument on mere authority. Imagine trying to explain that swim bladders evolved from lungs and not vice-versa, or trying to get an audience to understand that they currently live in an ice age--all within a few minutes!

None of that is to say that I disagree with your or Mr. Epstein's assessment of the situation involved in the cowardly harassment of scientists. To sue dissenters is to destroy the very foundation of science itself, as science exists as systematic heresy. Such lawsuits establish a government-mandated scientific conclusion, which is no different from the principle of church-mandated scientific conclusions. I'm merely pointing out that there are legitimate reasons to avoid debates as a scientist.

That is not to say that dissenting opinions should be ignored; far from it! There is a proper venue for this sort of debate: the scientific literature. I will grant that this venue is sorely wounded in our society, in as much as government manipulation of science has hopelessly biased it, but there are still venues willing to address controversial ideas. While it's not the most common way to disseminate information, publishing books is a legitimate form of scientific debate--see "Rare Earth" and "Life Everywhere" for an example of just such a debate (over the probability of finding complex life on exoplanets). But however it's done, the principles are the same: the venue needs to be able to provide access to complex data and arguments, while also allowing the reader time to digest those data and arguments.

Gus Van Horn said...


That's a good point, although I would imagine that if it has anything to do with Al Gore's refusal, it is grandstanding on his part. (I wouldn't be surprised if he has even cited that as a "reason".)

The problem you raise is quite interesting: On the one hand, I would see Gore as having more recourse than Epstein to the rhetorical advantage of such tactics as a Gish Gallop. On the other, after being on hand for his recent testimony before the Senate, I'd like to see someone try that in a debate with Epstein. If anyone could combat this kind of nonsense within such a format, he could.

But Gore probably knows this, so I think our thoughts on the matter will remain hypothetical.