Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ignorance as abuse

Ignorance can be a form of abuse; specifically, certain type of it very aptly called "belligerent ignorance." Let me explain with an example.

I was explaining the "Birthday Paradox" to a family member who's never heard of it. As is often done, I started with an assertion that, assuming 366 possible birthdays, if we randomly draw 367 people then the probability of there being at least one pair with the same birthday is exactly 1.

He said "No, that's wrong," and started angrily arguing against it. The reaction rendered me completely speechless.

Here's the kicker: he has a PhD in physics. Obviously it's not like he couldn't see the truth of that which he was so vehemently disputing. No, the problem wasn't that he couldn't see it, but that he didn't want to. The reason being that, as evidenced by so many other similar interactions, he'd rather die than admit I'm right about anything. In fact, I think that part of why he disputed it was because he knew that a flat out, brazen denial of reality tends to make people very upset.

Beware of belligerent ignorance. When you see it, don't try to argue. Run.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Which way the contempt flows

From Randall Collins:
US surveys indicate the favorite TV shows of liberal Democrats are comedians satirizing conservatives; conservatives' favorites are college football.
Smug and disdainful: How liberals think conservatives are. How liberals actually are.

(HT: Megan McArdle.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Propaganda of entropy

I mean this article.

What happened in the media is that one side has completely hijacked the debate and is trying to morally shame the other into submission. And now everyone thinks the problem is that there is a flood of refugees trying to find shelter in the safety of Europe, and the virtuous, tolerant and diverse Austria, Germany and Sweden are welcoming them with open arms whereas backwards Eastern European countries are sicking blood hounds on drowning children. So now the virtuous Europe has no choice but to try and force the backwards Europe to do their fair share.

This picture is a complete lie. Among all those hundreds of thousands of refugees and/or migrants there are maybe three or four people who want to settle in Poland or Hungary. They all want to go to Germany. (Okay, for some of them, Austria or Sweden may do.) But Germans know they can't handle all of them, so they are trying to bully other countries into taking some. This is what "refugee quotas" are really all about. The quota proposals are essentially asking that Poland and Hungary somehow round up some of the migrants trying to get to Germany, and force them to settle in Poland or Hungary instead. You'd have to be crazy to comply with that, so I really can't see how you can blame Poles and Hungarians for not wanting to.

As a side note, here's a (clearly condescending, even though passive-aggressively so) quote from the NYT article:
Unlike countries in Western Europe, which have long histories of accepting immigrants from diverse cultures, the former Communist states tend to be highly homogeneous. Poland, for instance, is 98 percent white and 94 percent Catholic.
We can't have that, now can we, because diversity. Except if you keep mixing things so that they are in the same proportions everywhere, how is that diversity? Looks more like entropy to me.

A concept too subtle for most proponents of diversity to grasp is that there are at least two dimensions to it. There's within-country diversity, and there's between-country diversity. They're functionally connected. If you increase within-, you decrease between-. England today is more diverse than England in 1369. But today, England is much less different from China than was the case in 1369. For the sake of diversity, then, can't the Western world have one or two all-white, all-Catholic countries, if only so that non-white non-Catholics can visit them and observe white Catholics in their natural habitat?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two Poles in goal

Note: If you don't follow Arsenal FC, this post may not make much sense to you.

Wojciech Sczesny's father Maciej used to be a pretty successful goalkeeper himself back in the day. This means that whenever he feels like talking about his son's current situation at Arsenal, some Polish sports media outlet will print whatever he has to say, which means that soon enough it will be all over British sports tabloids. Here's what Wojciech had to say on his Facebook account about dad's latest outburst:
Really shouldn't be dealing with this one day before the cup final but my father leaves me no choice.
I have not spoken to him in more than 2 years and just like everybody else I have had enough of his idiotic comments about The Football Club and The Manager I owe so much to! Therefore please do not consider his comments as my shared view. Thank You for your understanding!
When I saw this I immediately thought, how incredibly Polish. How familiar. We're basically a nation of people who all have extremely dysfunctional relationships with their fathers. That's why we're all borderline. Borderline Personality Disorder was practically invented in Poland.

Thou shalt not let live

Heads LGBTs win, tails Christians lose:
Let’s understand what happened here. This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked, and demanded their money back — and the mob threatened the business if they didn’t yield. Which, of course, he did.
Now I am not going to say that we are witnessing the final days of the classic liberal social contract, because I've always believed that "live and let live" is an unworkable illusion. It's simply impossible to have a working social contract that does not exclude anyone. But it is certainly the case that, until now, "live and let live" has been the first and most important article of the unofficial creed of the Western society, a Utopian idea that everyone had to if not believe, then at least pay lip service to.

We're now in the process of stripping this idea of its divine status. Our friends the lesbian couple are so clearly uninterested in the whole "let live" part that they are basically flaunting their contempt for this notion, and the flaunting is met with nothing but cheers of approval. (Sure, there were some boos, but those were few and far between, and issued mostly by social outcasts with not much to lose.) This contempt also comes through loud and clear in oft-heard slogans like "I can tolerate anything but intolerance" or "There's no freedom of speech for hate speech".

Given that, I wonder what's coming next. What will the next first commandment be?

(HT: Lamentably Sane.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fiat pax in virtute tua

I had no idea that a natural language could have an actual assignment operator (that is, something like e.g. "LET x = 10" or "x <- 10" in programming languages), until I've discovered than Latin does. It's done through the word fiat. So, for example, "Thy will be done" is fiat voluntas tua, and "let there be light" is fiat lux. I like that a lot.

(You might object that this isn't really assignment since it seems to be just saying "LET x" as opposed to "LET x = y". But it is; it's just that, as is usually the case with natural languages, a lot is left implicit. For example, what fiat lux is really saying is something like "LET new state of the world = old state of the world + light".)

Friday, April 3, 2015

You can't ever defend yourself with rhetoric or logic. Which means sometimes you just can't really defend yourself at all.

Edward Feser writes:
Prominent conservative politicians and churchmen have all essentially caved in on the substance of the dispute over "same-sex marriage."  None of them will publicly express the slightest moral disapproval of homosexual behavior, and few even bother anymore with social scientific arguments supporting the benefits of children being raised by both a mother and a father. (...) All they ask is that religious believers who on moral grounds disapprove of "same-sex marriage" not be forced to cooperate formally or materially with it.  The circumstances where this might occur are, of course, very rare.  No one is proposing that business owners might refuse to serve a customer simply because he or she happens to be homosexual.  What is in view are merely cases where a business owner who objects to "same-sex marriage" would be forced to participate in it, say by providing a wedding cake or wedding invitations.  Nor would his refusal to participate inconvenience anyone, since there are plenty of business owners who have no qualms about "same-sex marriage." 
In short, what conservatives are proposing is not only extremely modest, but is being defended in the name of their opponents’ own principles, the most liberal of principles, viz. the Jeffersonian principle that it is tyrannical to force someone to act against his conscience.
This is a hard lesson to learn: Sometimes appealing to your opponent's good faith will not only not work but actually bring about more abuse. The reason is simple. By showing someone that in their treatment of you they are violating their own stated principles, you basically prove to them that they are a hypocrite. No one likes to think that about themselves, and everyone is going to get angry when confronted with an argument to that effect. And the degree of anger is going to be directly proportional to how hard the argument is to refute.

Everyone is a hypocrite, however, and everyone is prone to get pissed when presented with evidence thereof; so why even write about something so generally true as to be completely boring?

Because some people have power and others don't. That's why the cultural left's reaction to the Indiana religious freedom law is so utterly, irredeemably, insanely unhinged. You see, if you prove to someone that they're a hypocrite, they'll get angry with you; but if they also happen to think they are more powerful than you are, they'll do everything they can to make you pay. This is what the current spectacle is really about. The left has enjoyed cultural power for quite some time now, which is why they feel that at this point they can fight not just those they disagree with, but also those who happen to correctly call them out on their bullshit, regardless of how well meaning and non-threatening they may be.

Link to a great post: Report to Emperor Tiberius, First Draft

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The only hope when all hope is lost

Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if - and mark well what I say - if you say the Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.
--St. Louis Marie de Montfort