Wednesday, August 14, 2013

dawkins logic, part 3

I'm all for criticizing religious thinking, and Muslims are religious, but attempts to set them apart from other traditional religions as uniquely backwards, evil, etc. follow the same pattern as Democrat attacks against Republicans and vice versa. In a two-party system, i.e., a false dichotomy, the case against the one is at the same time the case for the other. Like I was saying in advanced obamapology. The case against Muslims is the case for empire. Because the humans have some kind of tic, a heuristic shortcut that at some point perhaps enhanced odds of reproduction (or, if you will, its ontological mother category, repetition). And how much of human thought is based on an inside defined by an outside it's not?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

dawkins logic, part 2

Here, I broke down how Richard Dawkins recently presented a dubious claim of causation as an indisputable fact. Specifically, the fact he presents is that people who call themselves Muslim do not win as many Nobel Prizes as members of such groups as Jews, Christians, and atheists. The mostly buried implications that accompany this fact, and that are inseparable from it, are that group affiliation/culture is causal in this process (i.e, being Muslim makes you more likely to be bad at science, being atheist makes you more likely to be good at it); winning Nobel Prizes is good because, science; and Jewish/Christian/atheist culture produces superior results to Muslim culture.

The framework he's using is hard to miss. Muslim culture is retrograde, barbarian. Christians and Jews are a few rungs up on the ladder. Atheists are at the top. The U.S., western Europe, and good, western-compliant Asians like the ones in Japan and South Korea have Presidents and Prime Ministers with all the misguided implications of humanistic freedom-loving rationality that tag along with those words, while Muslim countries have dictators or, when they're behaving, strongmen who use force to keep the unruly idiots in line. It's a defense of western culture all the way and fails to employ the fact-sorting methodology that gives science a heuristic leg up on its rivals. But if we were to do that we'd see that...

nominal Christians have killed considerably more humans, particularly via state-organized mass killings like the relatively recent ones in Korea, India, Vietnam, and Iraq than have nominal Muslims. Using Dawkins logic, Christians have a lotta splaining to do, at the very least. If Christians are so peaceful (borrowing Dawkins' question-begging formula), why are they so bad at not killing people? Look at the Muslims (again, Dawkins logic). They're relatively peaceful. Now Dawkins wouldn't concede the point, having presorted the data based on the tribalist identity of the actors (i.e., having failed to use scientific methodology), but if he did, he'd have to either say that non-murderousness isn't that important in comparison to science skills and perhaps other cultural excellence indicators or give up the argument. If religion helps cause sciencey behavior, it helps cause murdery behavior. If religion flavor is causally relevant (it's not -- certainly not when the religions in question are as broad, ill-defined, and overlapping as they are, as covered in part 1 -- but even if it were...), then by arguably the most basic measure of human decency there is -- the ability to not murder people for no fucking reason (aww, c'mon, you know what I mean) -- Christians lose.

dawkins logic, part 1

Dawkins being Dawkins:
"All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."
"You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact? Who would guess that a single Cambridge College . . ." 
"Interesting concept: a simple statement of undeniable FACT can be offensive. Other examples where facts should be hidden because offensive?"

Along with the relatively minor failures of 

  1. leaving the power relations that go into producing Nobel Prizes unanalyzed and 
  2. implying that all facts are equally relevant and that the audience should assume they're being presented because the speaker finds them "intriguing" or some other unproblematic reason (imagine a milk salesman telling a shopper considering soy milk a true story about someone who died last week from drinking soy milk),

Dawkins amazingly claims that his own position on the issue is purely factual (particularly with regard to that first statement above). The Nobel Prize count is factual, sure, but look at the gigantic pile of presuppositional shit he tries to sneak in the back door. We're to believe that the intellectual achievement ("science") of large numbers of people cannot only be adequately compared by way of the Nobel Prize, and that not only is there a correlation between science skills and self-proclaimed Muzlitude or self-proclaimed whatever hazy intellectual metaphysical mishmash of brain things people imagine themselves to know and put under a too-convenient socially constructed umbrella, but we're also to believe that religion Z is causal with respect to science skills. 
Plausible, I suppose, but if he knew a damn worthwhile thing about history, religion flavor would be at most a last-ditch guess lying on a heap of failed hypotheses when trying to explain trophy distribution among local elites. 

So, anyway, this is Dawkins' idea of what a fact is: an entirely baseless claim about causality. "Leading western scientist fails to show basic fact identification skills," reads a headline. Take that, Muslims! 

And just in case it appears I might be strawmanning, yes, he is making a causal claim:
“If you [Muslims] are so numerous, and if your science is so great, shouldn’t you be able to point to some pretty spectacular achievements emanating from among those vast numbers? If you can’t today but once could, what has gone wrong for the past 500 years? Whatever it is, is there something to be done about it?”
Imperialism? Living on top of oil fields?

Allow me to keep the structure of Dawkins' argument (or is it merely a barrage of facts from a disinterested party randomly colluding?) while tinkering with the details:

If you Native Americans have such great cultures, why did Europeans destroy you so thoroughly? 

If you 19th century black Americans are so smart, why are your literacy rates so low? 

If you Belgians are so good at making beer, why don't you have more of a reputation for being heavy drinkers?

Or whatever.

And this:
I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population.
Why are oil company CEOs so rich?

Why are rich guys more likely to live in mansions?

Why are people born in the ghetto likely to die young, and in the ghetto?

Most importantly, and this is the one I'm most confident answering, having recently studied the random correlationist logic of an elite western scientist: why do white guys like baseball? 

Answer: because they have medium-sized penises. And that's a fact. I mean if they do, whoever they are. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

riley cooper

A pro American football human classified as white called Riley Cooper got caught saying what is known as the N-word, so now a bunch of people who have no problem with the ostensibly black Obama ramping up the U.S. government's easily quantifiable war on humans considered black (a war that destroys lives, by the way) are terribly upset, and Cooper's hold on NFL employment appears to be in jeopardy. Let's just say the Riley Cooper reaction takes place on a symbolic level that is rather strongly psychotic. He said the wrong words and has hell to pay (though yes, he's apparently a giant douche and blah blah disclaimer). Obama oversees racist policies and gets Jay-Z plaudits and whatforth.

The interesting part is the nature of the price Cooper has to pay. He is to undergo counseling. The word sensitivity training has also been bandied about. He needs to conform his words and actions to the proper symbolic structure. There is nothing more to the story than this. Which means that the NFL's response has nothing to do with systemic racism, i.e., racism, and everything to do with conformity for its own sake. If you say the right words, you are one of the good guys. That's where the story starts and that's where it ends.