I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. No one is entitled to his or her own facts. If you’re going to make a claim, if you want to make a point about something, you better have more than just your hearsay and point of view.
Apparently, one Sarah Grunfeld, a senior at York University, lacks the kind of reasoning skills that allow most infants to not try to eat their own diapers.
Professor Cameron Johnston, a 30-year veteran of the university’s faculty, was teaching a class where he sought to show that not everyone is entitled to an opinion. Some opinions, he said, are dangerous and unacceptable. To show his point, he used the example, “All Jews should be sterilized.” Being Jewish himself, Johnston used the phrase to show a point of view that was not grounded in anything but racism and hatred, a blatant example of the kind of “opinions” that are out there.
Grunfeld, however, was apparently playing Angry Birds, or checking Facebook, or who knows what, because all she heard was “All Jews should be sterilized.”
After she sent her complaint to a Jewish advocacy group and the allegation of blatant anti-Semitism spread through the community and people called on Johnston to resign, the truth came out. She didn’t hear the whole thing and, worse, she was unaware the professor who said it was himself Jewish.
And once everyone knew the context of the statement, of course the whole thing blew over. After all, this had been hyped in the media and a professor with decades of experience being pressured to resign.
Well, no, it wasn’t over.
While the backlash against Johnston is gone, Grunfeld refuses to apologize. She’s not even sure that making that statement as an example is any more acceptable. To her, the fact that someone used this phrase, regardless of context, is a crime against the Jewish community.
I’d like to invite Miss Grunfeld to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. They have quite the collection of World War II films and propaganda. Some of it is quite horrifically racist for obvious reasons. Would Grunfeld say this museum needs to be shut down because, ignoring context, the museum is promoting hatred of Jews?
Grunfeld is either too stubborn to admit she made a mistake or she’s actually dumb enough to believe that a word, regardless of context, is insulting. If I was the dean, I would force her to apologize to Johnston in a very public forum. Barring that, I would make sure she retook every one of her college classes until she learned the basic logic skills possessed by rudimentary cabbage.
And now, here’s something that also has no brain, but it’s actually entertaining.
Wednesday’s article was part of a flood of internet talk about the movement by a Catholic group to bring back geocentrism. I berated them for basically ignoring science, for tossing aside the last four hundred years of observations in place of fringe beliefs supported by questionable data. I called them out for rejecting basic logic. Well, I did as did pretty much anyone else who read the article that discussed them.
This, apparently, struck a chord.
A chord that forced Robert Sungenis to publish a 13-page response, followed by his original interview, then a scientific paper for all us scientific illiterates to read and marvel at the evidence for Earth being at the center of the universe.
Well, I read all 39 pages. Every one. Before deciding to study writing, I was seriously considering studying physics too. I still love science in all aspects, and astronomy was my favorite, so let me start by saying that whoever taught Mister Sungenis science needs to be taken out back and beat with a spoon.
One of the first criticism Sungenis has against those who view him as a man who bases scientific beliefs on a two-thousand year old document that also claims bats are birds is that people say he believes the Bible proves geocentrism. He claims this is not true. The Bible, Sungenis says, only says the moon and stars revolve around the Earth.
That’s GEOCENTRISM, buddy.
Just because you change the words, doesn’t mean it’s any less dumb. Okay, so this is a softball defense. Too easy. But let’s move on to the meat of article.
There are two conflicting ideas in this rebuttal. One is that Sungenis’ group is not going against the Church and is therefore not some “splinter group.” They are scientists and concerned Catholics. Okay, fair enough. The Church has never officially made a statement about geocentrism, even though it did apologize for Galileo. I’ll go with that. Since they are not going against the Church, they can’t properly be called some “fringe” group.
But then it gets weird.
Sungenis is not shy of claiming that science has killed religion’s influence on the world. Galileo’s observations were some of the first to contradict long-held Church doctrine, the common belief that Earth was made for us and is therefore the center o the universe. The church controlled everything, and by casting doubt on fundamental principles, Galileo started what Sungenis views as the decay or divine influence in our lives.
But I thought geocentrism wasn’t central to Church doctrine.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim in one breath that the Earth being at the center of the universe is not some basic tenet of Catholicism, then claim that promoting heliocentrism is a conspiracy to undermine the Church. It’s like saying you don’t care if Spiderman is black or white, then bitching when the new Spiderman is half black, half Latino.
One of the big arguments Sungenis, and in fact all conspiracy nuts make, is that their ideas are so radical and world-altering that people won’t take them seriously. It’s a curse, really, to be the Cassandra to Earth. He and his confederates have evidence that shows the Earth does not move.
Wonderful. How, exactly, does it jive with the centuries of observation that 99.99999% of scientists have seen to show a dynamic universe?
In science, you can’t just ignore previous observations. You have to account for them. For example, Young Earth Creationists claim they found evidence for a six-thousand-year-old Earth. Their evidence uses proper documentation to show a phenomenon that indicates the planet is only a few millennia old.
Wonderful. Now how do you explain carbon-dated fossils that are millions of years old? What about light from distant stars and galaxies that are sometimes BILLIONS of light-years away? Any chance your new data jives with geologic samples that show features on the Earth’s surface would take ages to create? Lo and behold, these measurable, repeatable sets of data are often hand-waved by Young Earth Creationists as “Well, God planned it that way.”
If you have data that shows the earth is the center of the universe, or even that the sun revolves around the Earth, you have to show how said data is not a blip or a currently unexplained phenomenon and why the ENTIRETY of science in multiple fields is wrong.
If the universe revolves around the Earth, what force or forces are moving the mass of billions of stars around us? Either gravity is wrong or there is an unseen force we’ve never encountered before moving the cosmos.
Don’t fool yourselves. These idiots can use all the “science” and vague, poetic quotes they want. The theory of geocentrism is ridiculous, not because scientists will not look at the evidence, but because the premise goes counter to or ignores virtually the entirety of the history of modern science. It would be like claiming humans don’t really have to breathe; it’s a vestigial action.
It’s not that science isn’t willing to debate. It’s that science isn’t willing to debate morons who see blips on a screen as evidence of magic space Jesus.
As Mary and I watched The Silence of the Lambs (again), something happened that made me sit up and take note. No, it wasn’t that Buffalo Bill is now apparently Captain of the San Francisco Homicide Division. Apparently, Michelle Bachmann is a serial killer or agrees with their actions.
Now, hold on. I’m going to employ some Right-Wing thinking to connect the dots.
Bachmann also said she was proud to be from the same town as John Wayne… Gacy. She insists she meant John Wayne, but THAT Wayne was from a different town.
Finally, Bachmann mixed up Elvis’ birth and death dates, which could be a simple result of her staff being comprised of chimps and barely-sentient mayonnaise. However, this would seem to indicate a need to celebrate death.
What’s the result of all these incidents? Bachamann must either be a serial killer or sympathize with them. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.
It’s the logic of the conspiracy theorist. Take a series of events, however random, and link them to a preconceived notion. Beck, for example, believes he is right about everything, which for anyone else would be simple narcissism and delusion. He’s an addict, a former druggie and alcoholic, and his brain works by latching itself to things it likes. The idea of being persecuted, of being special, is at the heart of all conspiracies involving cover-ups. That’s like candy for Beck’s brain.
Making weird connections like this is usually glamorized for shows like House. Finding the patterns in the chaos is the whole point of this site, in fact. However, just seeing connections is not enough. You have to be able to prove each step. Don’t start with the conclusion and then find evidence for it or you’ll invite others to have to disprove your theory.
For example, anyone out there care to disprove my Bachmann serial killer theory? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Well, it’s back to school again, and, as most of you know, those with the highest grades will be asked to give away some of those GPA points to students who didn’t try as hard so everyone can have a chance at a better education and job later on.
Oh, that’s not how that happens?
Fox sent out a camera crew and recent college graduate to a few campuses to ask students how they would feel if they were asked to give some of their GPA to lower students so the people with lower grades could have higher GPAs. Obviously, this did not sit well with ANY student. How then, Fox asks, do we justify taking MORE money away from the wealthy in the form of increased taxes and giving it to the lower and middle class? Isn’t that the same thing? Taking away from the people who worked for their money and giving it to people who don’t work hard so they don’t get as much?
A student earns a GPA over a long period of time. It takes years. To get that grade, you have to study hard, do your work, and if you want to bulk up with transcript, you have to take AP classes that sometimes don’t even give you extra points or anything like that. They didn’t for me, and while part of the Honor Scholars Program at DePauw University, I had to take classes that were an order of magnitude harder than any other class I’ve ever taken, and said classes didn’t even count for extra points. And I still made the Dean’s List several times.
For several decades, the upper class has received what can only be called “corporate welfare.” They actually get taxed less than people who make WAY less and can write off any number of expenses. For Fox’s analogy to make sense, students with higher GPA should have had to do less work to get better grades over time AND people with lower GPAs should have had to give up a portion of their grades to people who were already getting good grades.
Let me put it another way. Billy works hard but can only ever get a 2.5 GPA. Tommy lucked out nearly on his freshman year and got a 3.8 average. The school then took some of Billy’s points and gave them to Tommy to keep him in the highest percentile. Now, Billy has to work harder for his points, but Tommy can cruise along knowing the points he gets from the bottom of the ladder will offset his lack of work and keep him higher up.
Students with high GPAs generally work VERY hard to get those grades. I know I did. The upper class in this country gets a free pass and politicians in their corner to make sure they stay up there. There is an entire infrastructure just to keep the rich rich. There is no such system in place for students. Lower grades don’t always mean you’re not working hard. Most students give it their best. Job-wise, I work my butt off and make less per hour than the dean’s secretary. Stop pretending like people who are poor don’t work hard. Try teaching. Try being a sanitation worker. Try being a gardener, migrant worker, police officer, firefighter, or even a babysitter. That’s damn hard work.
People who rely on hedge funds to GIVE them money? Must be nice.
In short, Fox sucks, students rock, have fun on the first week of school, students and teachers, and I’ll see you Monday with the new Weekly Muse story. Keep voting!
It’s the first Saturday posting for Divine by Zero, and what a week it’s been. I want to thank everyone for stopping by the renovated site and sharing these stories. It really does mean a lot to me, and I hope that if you enjoy this site and what passes for humor around these parts, you’ll share these stories and links with friends and family.
I’d like to pass the Huffington Post in monthly views… but then I’d also like to gain superpowers. I’ll settle for increased readership.
In the meantime, take note of the Project Wonderful ad box on the right. Randomology.org is now selling real estate. If you’d like to see an ad for your own site, just click on the link at the bottom of the ad and place a bid.
Anyway, onward! To the links!
A professor at Egypt’s al-Azhar University recently proposed a way to end segregation in the workplace. In order to establish a familial bond and negate any chance for sexual encounters, thus allowing men and women to work alone together, Dr. Izzat Atiya suggests that women should breastfeed their male colleagues at least five times. You read that right, folks. The cure for the sexual oppression of women and the separation of the sexes in the Middle East? Boobs.
Further proof you do not mess with Ozzy Osbourne. And why you should always be on the lookout for him:
Nice Guy Eddy’s Political Blog recently published “Four Levels of Conservative Reasoning,” although the title is a bit misleading. Not all conservatives are crazy (we have our own on the left), but it’s really the kind of logic that any zealot or radical would use to justify his/her stances. I will say, though, it’s an incredible summary of the kinds of lies Beck, Limbaugh, and everyone of Fox routinely spit into the public airwaves.
Someone needs to tell big corporations to hire people that check names. Otherwise, you end up with humiliating names like the Wii, the iPad, and now THIS. Be warned… you will never see Shrek the same way again.
In the last DbZ, I mentioned a website called America Speaking Out and how, by asking the internet, the GOP awoke the sleeping giant of insanity that is the Web. Now, the Huffington Post has compiled a few of the funnier suggestions from good ol’ red-blooded Americans. I have to say that the suggestion to invade Canada for their oil might be the most sane one in the bunch.
If you’re like me, you love you some tea, but have you ever had the urge to make tea LIKE A MAN!? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant designer from Argentina!
And in today’s installment of Irony of the Day, San Luis Obispo County recently bought over $20,000 worth of pot for a woman after investigating her for possession. Why? Because the woman in question had a license for up to six pounds of medical marijuana and the sheriff’s department still seized the buds, destroyed them, then lied about having known the woman in question had a license and “forgetting” medical marijuana is legal in California and has been for more than a decade. Oops.
The American Family Association recently said in one of its broadcasts that Hitler and his stormtroopers were gay. Not as a condemnation of Nazis, but to show that homosexuals are brutal and cold-blooded killers. You know, I think I’m a pretty good writer, and I know I haven’t done a lot of fiction in a while, but given a week and a bag full of hallucinogens, I couldn’t come up with something dumber than that statement.
A good friend of mine turned me to FreakAngels, a wonderfully draw and written online comic about… well, there are psychics, a post-apocalyptic world, and tons of violence. I’m still in the early chapters, so no one ruin it for me!
Lady Gaga is already everywhere, but now it seems a few intrepid academics want to study her. While there are no college courses or Gaga Studies yet, a doctoral student named Meghan Vicks and a performer named Kate Durbin have started a website called Gaga Stigmata where they hope to analyze Ms. Gaga’s videos, music, and art in an academic fashion. In an interview, the Doctors of Gaga explained why they feel Lady gaga needs to be taken seriously.
If you want to waste a lot of time, try Exit Path, a neat little flash game where you have to run, avoid the swinging axes, spikes, lasers, and other nasty things, and escape the massive city where you’ve been kept prisoner.
That’s all for now. See you on Monday, and keep sharing links to the site!
Most of the regular readers on this site are fairly open-minded about a lot of things. Either that or they like to watch me like I’m some liberal Punch and Judy show. Either way, this article is geared towards people who may not share this point of view. I don’t want to say it’s geared towards “conservatives” because not all conservatives need to hear this. In fact, several “liberals” need to hear some of these things as well, so enjoy, and if someone you know could do with reading this article, just point them in this direction.
March 24, 2010
I had a very interesting conversation with someone a few days ago regarding the Texas educational overhaul. When I mentioned that Thomas Jefferson was going to get taken out, he said that it was a good thing.
A good thing?
As the conversation dragged on and we discussed the merits and flaws of both liberalism and conservatism, his arguments became more and more incoherent. Yes, there was alcohol involved, but he finally admitted that he had no idea what “conservative” and “liberal” meant. He didn’t even know what Jefferson had done until I brought up his achievements. I had to stop right there.
This wasn’t the first time I’d encountered someone passionately arguing for something he didn’t understand. Some time ago, a student wrote an argumentative paper that said we should not use nuclear energy because it was dangerous. Fine, I said. However, once we started reading over his evidence, I quickly discovered he had no clue, no working idea, on what nuclear reactor did or how it functioned. Essentially, his whole argument relied on pop culture references of what nuclear reactors did and how they functioned. To put it another way, he would have been better off saying we shouldn’t use nuclear energy because we’d create another Godzilla.
At least that way we could have talked about giant monsters.
Over the last several months, we as a country have had agonizing debates, and I hesitate to call them that. They’ve been shouting matches. The town hall meetings were interrupted by protestors with nothing more to say than what they’d heard on the news, the radio, or what someone had told them.
Basically, we have people mad, fuming even, over changes that are going on in the government, and yet they really can’t explain or don’t understand why they’re mad.
This is the problem with both sides of the political spectrum. We keep calling this a debate, and yet we’ve been deadlocked for months. Am I saying one side is 100% right and the other 100% wrong? No, but one is more right than the other. However, both sides should come to the table with relevant, accurate information, not talking points. There’s a reason smart people don’t usually go into politics. They can’t stand the illogic of it. Someone who has to resort to illogic and outright lies to make a point usually has an agenda.
In other words:
Recent studies have shown that many liberals have a college education. Whether they were liberal before or after they went to a university is beside the point, however, since this means that a lot of people on the left are taught critical thinking and analysis. They can see through straw man arguments, circular arguments, bad citations, bad sources, or quote mining, and will jump on them like Rush Limbaugh on an OxyContin tablet.
Okay, cheap shot.
The point is that if you want to argue with a liberal, a well-educated liberal, make sure you know what to expect. It is, at the most basic level, a scientific, rational debate. Or at least it should be.
There is a time and a place for emotion. Emotion works best because we can feel it. It taps into the oldest, most primal parts of our brain. Intellectual arguments based on reason are solid and difficult to “feel” unless you’re a hardcore fan of reason and logic.
However, once you’ve laid out the logical groundwork, you’re more than free to engage in emotional arguments. Tell a personal story. Mention the hypothetical consequences of our liberal actions to your heart’s content. You might sway some people if you actually have a grounding in reality. That’s what scientific minds look for. A grounding in reality.
At least in my case, if someone has an argument to make, I’d like for that person to at least make the effort to bring rational thought to the table. I may change my mind. If you can show facts and present a clear understanding of the concepts, show how my interpretation of the available data is flawed, or if you can put forth a new hypothesis or proposal that works better than my point of view, I’ll go with it.
The problem with the right is that it’s allowed its most vocal, most hateful, most irrational members to become its representatives.
Limbaugh. Bachmann. Beck. Palin.
If these are the examples, the leaders the Republicans look to, the party will die. People will start associating conservatism with these vacuous fungi with suits and, in the end, conservatism will die on its own.
Much of the anger I’ve heard over the last several months stems, I firmly believe, from some conservatives’ inability to align their world-view with reality. We have a black president. We elected Democrats to a majority in both houses. We passed health care reform. These things aren’t supposed to happen, so they come up with wild ideas, conspiracies, and soon the lie becomes the accepted reality. You can’t disprove a conspiracy, so it becomes the perfect explanation. Their world-view isn’t wrong! It’s reality that’s become corrupted!
It’s a mass delusion for many. If you are a conservative and you don’t fall into this group, if you’ve gone through your beliefs and know why you believe what you believe, and you can make an argument for them, I applaud you. I would be more than happy to discuss these things with you. New data makes for new understanding.
I would also encourage you to explain your points of view and your justification to fellow conservatives who are not as enlightened. In the end, conservatism, which is not inherently a bad thing, will die out in the political arena because radical elements in this country will have tainted it.
We still have people who believe the Earth is flat. They’re on the outermost fringe of society, a joke. They simply became irrelevant, like Zeus, Hera, and the rest of the gang, and so conservatism may be gearing up for an apocalypse when, by its own hand, it will die in a whimper.
Lewis Black once said that the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is that a Democrat blows and a Republican sucks. More broadly, I think he may have been referring to the idea of liberals and conservatives. Both words carry a lot of hatred for the other side. They’re loaded words, and each side has spent years trying to reach out to people in the middle. The truth is that most of us are conservative in some issues and liberal in others. Very few people are only on one side.
However, it looks like some book-learnin’ will turn you into a damn dirty hippy:
Alright kids, pull up to the counter. It’s time for another installment of “How to Make a Bad Argument.”
Wait, did we even have a first?
Anyway, if you skipped the video, here’s the back of the DVD cover. A study conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute shows that people with a college degree are more likely to be liberal in their political and social stances, but are not receiving a proper civics education. In other words, they don’t learn the kinds of things you should learn in a middle school social studies class. Fox News is telling me that this is bad, because if you go to college and become a liberal, what’s the point?
Let’s back up. The video clip actually has three main problems with it.
1) We don’t know who was interviewed.
2) Because A follows B, B is not caused by A.
3) Fox News sucks
The first problem is not as clear as it sounds. While the anchor does ask whether or not there are problems with the study, a legitimate concern any good scientist might ask, Tucker Carlson says he doesn’t have any specifics but the results look legitimate.
…He doesn’t know how the study was conducted, but it looks good.
Let me put this another way. A guy on the street hands you a paper plate with some cooked meat. He says it’s your favorite. You don’t know what it is, but you trust him because it’s your favorite dish.
Then you die of salmonella.
Fox News is biased towards a single narrative that states that liberals are all these elitists, heartless un-Americans who want to abort babies and feed them to communists. Or something like that. We just saw… we SAW them find a report that backed up that narrative and they went with it without going into background. They saw the synopsis and are now praising the study for confirming their beliefs. I think the clip stops before they start drooling.
In the real world, you have to do a slightly more thorough job. What age group did the study target? If it was a study of college graduates from across the country and across all age groups, that’s one thing. If it only asked questions to people who graduated from college in the last five or six years, that’s another. Education in this country needs a serious overhaul, so more current graduates are more likely to fail basic civics. Our Fox News buddies make a big deal, for example, about the statistic that 18% of the participants could only name one branch of the federal government. That’s terrible, they say.
This brings us to the second part of the argument. When I get up in the morning, I go to the bathroom. However, I’m sure no one would say waking up causes me to go to the bathroom. It’s a logical fallacy called “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” which translates as “After, therefore, because of it” when you take a course in Latin.
…Or you look it up.
Basically, one thing occurs after another, which some people will see as being cause and effect. It might be true if it the world was a perfectly closed system. In science, you try to isolate variables and make sure you have as few unknown factors as possible. The same thing happens in crime scenes. When was the last time you watched CSI and someone walked into a crime scene, smoked, threw the butt away, then popped open a can of soda to drink while he or she collected evidence? It’s all based on the scientific method, one of the most important things to come out of the last several hundred years. It is, however, the basis for superstition and magical thought.
And yet, somehow, that little tidbit of analytical application is lost on our boys here.
To say that “College makes you liberal” ignores many, many, MANY factors. Without having read the report, I wonder if it makes this statement or something else Fox has taken to mean what they want. I mean, these are pretty bad numbers for people who went to college, but…
I wonder what the statistics are for people who never even went to college.
Even so, there is one more piece of information this video clip, and perhaps people who use this article for their Luddite campaigns (hey, look it up if you don’t know) will not think about or will shy away from. Is it possible, not that college makes liberals, but that liberals go to college?
It seems just as possible. Like I said, you have to factor in all variables or somehow eliminate them. Since people aren’t blank slates when they get to college, they must already have had certain world-views before arriving. They’re adults when they start, and Fox and Friends echoes the popular concern that these are innocent children, clean surfaces on which liberal professors take a squat to desecrate minds.
Oh, the children. Is there anything they don’t get into?
By the time you’re eighteen, you do have a point of view. Is it likely to change? Of course. Mine changed quite drastically between 2000 and 2002. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your guns, but what if you’re sticking up for the wrong thing? If you’re racist, nothing gets rid of that mindset better than having to live with these people, hear them talk on everything from religion, politics, and family. Had something that irked you about gays? Hey, you gotta live in the same building as them. Turns out they’re just guys and gals like you.
Education helps you grow, usually for the better. You find out uncomfortable truths, and sometimes you change based on these experiences. If you do change… so what? You know better. You’ve grown as a person. You don’t have to be as the little children. Be an adult. Knowledge is not a sin, and the more you ignore it, the more likely you are to blow a vein in your head as reality conflicts in there.
By the way, the study interviewed 2,500 people, not 14,000 as the clip states. Whoops. Silly facts… If you want to take the quiz yourself, just click here, then check out the rundown of results.