Thursday, October 29, 2009

Simplistic thinking in politics and the ad hominem fallacy

Sad to say, in politics logical thinking seems to come a poor second to emotional appeals -- and we see a pernicious example of that below.

Historical revisionism is found among both Leftists and nationalists, though it is far and away most prevalent on the Left. Some surveys have shown, for instance, that a majority of U.S. Democrat voters are "truthers": People who believe that it was George Bush who blew up the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. And the chronic Leftist denial of the horrors of Communism is legendary.

Compared to that, the skepticism about the Holocaust seen among some nationalists is small beer but the Left-dominated media seek out such views like sniffer dogs and make a huge deal about any of it that they find. So one skeptical word about the holocaust serves to stigmatize someone for life, even if it was a passing phase or an incidental element in the evolution of that person's thinking.

The prime example of that at the moment is of course Nick Griffin of the anti-immigration British National Party. And the fact that he is a staunch friend of Israel is not allowed to excuse him. So the Jewish writer below is right to say that support for Israel from nationalists is an embarrassment. But it is only an embarrassment because of the simplistic thinking of Leftists in the media and politics -- who with kneejerk predictability resort to the ad hominem fallacy (The fallacy that a statement is wrong because of who said it). So if Griffin supports Israel, support for Israel must be wrong: Quite incredible stupidity but staple fare for the Left.
In politics Over the past few weeks, the Jewish state has been publicly endorsed by two particularly controversial members of the far right.

Firstly, Nick Griffin, leader of the racist British National Party, which currently accepts only white people as members, declared that his was the only party to support Israel in its "war against terrorists" during Operation Cast Lead.

While Griffin, who was elected in June to the European Parliament, is not usually paid much attention, this time was different. He was speaking on Britain's most prestigious political television program, BBC's Question Time. The decision to invite him had proven so controversial that 8 million viewers tuned in, compared with the program's usual 2 to 3 million. The entire country was hanging on his every word.

Just three weeks earlier, the Conservative Party — now widely expected to win the next election — was embroiled in a national row over its alliance with another European member of parliament, Poland's Michal Kaminski.

Kaminski, who leads an important rightist bloc, has been disliked in Jewish circles since he declared in 2001 that the Poles should not apologise for the massacre of Jews by Polish residents of Jedwabne in 1941, unless "the whole Jewish nation [apologises] for what some Jewish Communists did in eastern Poland". There were also concerns that he had worn the Chrobry Sword, a symbol of the Catholic ultra-right in Poland and that he still maintained these unsavory connections.

So when, in early October, he appeared at the Conservative Party's annual conference, the main Jewish representative body – the archaically named Board of Deputies – wrote to Conservative leader David Cameron asking for reassurances. Labour's foreign minister, David Miliband, went on the attack and the ensuing media row, which is still ongoing – the Conservatives were forced to recently reassure Hillary Clinton on the subject — tarnished what should have been Cameron's moment of triumph.

But it did not go unnoticed that Kaminski was in Britain as the special guest of the Conservative Friends of Israel — who had also taken him, this summer, to Israel, where he was pictured smiling by the Western Wall and was welcomed by deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon. Kaminski, it emerged, was considered a staunch friend of Israel in Brussels, where he regularly spoke up for its right to self-defence...

But for Israel, this is a disaster. From now on, anyone in Britain supporting Israel publicly can be expected to be told they are holding a position only the racist BNP, or the likes of Kaminski, holds. It will many years to shake off these associations.



Perhaps I should add a few words about the Mieczyk Chrobrego or Chobry Sword, and point out that it too has become the target of an ad hominem slur. Some history: Boleslaw I Chrobry became the first King of Poland in 1025. He was a brilliant man and very successful militarily. He greatly enlarged Poland by conquest of neighbouring areas. He was able to turn Poland into one of the largest and most powerful monarchies in Europe. In the summer of 1018, in one of his most famous expeditions, Boleslaw captured Kiev (now in the Ukraine), where, according to legend, he notched his sword when hitting Kiev's Golden Gate. Later, a sword known as szczerbiec, meaning notched sword or "The dented one", would become the ceremonial sword used in the coronation ceremony of Polish kings. It is now kept at Wawel Cathedral, a church located on Wawel Hill in Kraków, which is Poland's national sanctuary. The cathedral has a 1,000-year history and was the traditional coronation site of Polish monarchs.

So it is easy to see why a representation of the Chobry sword would be chosen as their symbol by a minor 20th century Polish nationalist political party. That it was a patriotic icon long before the 20th century, however, is the main point. That 20th century nationalist political parties have used it does NOT mean that it is solely a 20th century nationalist political party symbol. It is simply a Polish patriotic symbol generally and any Pole could wear a representation of it with pride.


The race and IQ debate on Britain's Channel 4 TV

Britain's Left-leaning "Daily Mirror" had a laconic summary of the matter but of greater interest was a particularly well-informed comment from one of its readers, which I reproduce below, with his links made clickable. I then close with a most amusing comment from Britain's "Greenest" (and faltering) newspaper, the inaptly-named "Independent":

1. I have little faith that this show would have provided an objective take on things as it relied on the Lewontin Fallacy (more within group gene variation than between group variation). This was debunked in 2003 by Cambridge geneticist AWF Edwards. The problem is that it overlooks the correlations and that genes vary in frequency across groups.

2. Efforts to tar IQ tests with bad things in history overlook the fact that Stalin and Hitler banned IQ testing. In Hitler's case he banned them because Jews did well on them.

3. IQ tests actually have a progressive background in allowing working class kids with academic ability to get into Colleges previously only for the rich. See here

4. Tests aren't perfect but they predict academic performance very well. More recently neuroscientists have identified that people have quite distinct brain characteristics which correlate with iq test performance. These include cortical thickness, myelination quality and efficiency in processing info.

UCLA neuroscientist Paul Thompson & Yale Psychologist Jeremy Gray summarize these findings here.

5. These traits are significantly heritable.

"The UCLA researchers took the study a step further by comparing the white matter architecture of identical twins, who share almost all their DNA, and fraternal twins, who share only half. Results showed that the quality of the white matter is highly genetically determined, although the influence of genetics varies by brain area. According to the findings, about 85 percent of the variation in white matter in the parietal lobe, which is involved in mathematics, logic, and visual-spatial skills, can be attributed to genetics. But only about 45 percent of the variation in the temporal lobe, which plays a central role in learning and memory, appears to be inherited.

Thompson and his collaborators also analyzed the twins' DNA, and they are now looking for specific genetic variations that are linked to the quality of the brain's white matter. The researchers have already found a candidate--the gene for a protein called BDNF, which promotes cell growth. "People with one variation have more intact fibers," says Thompson."

Source for the above quote

6. Many genes have undergone significant change over the past 10,000 years so the possibility that groups would differ to some extent on average is not implausible.

"Dec. 10, 2007 - Researchers discovered genetic evidence that human evolution is speeding up - and has not halted or proceeded at a constant rate, as had been thought - indicating that humans on different continents are becoming increasingly different.

"We used a new genomic technology to show that humans are evolving rapidly, and that the pace of change has accelerated a lot in the last 40,000 years, especially since the end of the Ice Age roughly 10,000 years ago," says research team leader Henry Harpending, a distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Utah.

Harpending says there are provocative implications from the study, published online Monday, Dec. 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "We aren't the same as people even 1,000 or 2,000 years ago," he says, which may explain, for example, part of the difference between Viking invaders and their peaceful Swedish descendants. "The dogma has been these are cultural fluctuations, but almost any Temperament trait you look at is under strong genetic influence."

"Human races are evolving away from each other," Harpending says. "Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin. We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity." He says that is happening because humans dispersed from Africa to other regions 40,000 years ago, "and there has not been much flow of genes between the regions since then."

Source for the above quote

Now for a gem from "The Independent", below:

It is an abhorrent notion yet with some scientific credibility. James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, has expressed gloom about the future of Africa on the basis that "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says, not really". There are plenty of other illustrious scientists who support the view that there is a kind of global league table of intelligence, apparently with the Australian Aborigine at the bottom, and Omaar talked to several of them. But he found that their assertions are largely based on IQ tests that militate against the developing world, taking no heed of "wisdom, social intelligence and creativity". Moreover, in South Africa, where educational opportunities are no longer determined by race, such ideas are increasingly confounded.


Even by Green/Left standards, the implication that war-torn, dirt-poor and half-starving Africa is a powerhouse of "wisdom, social intelligence and creativity" is seriously deranged. Sadly for the wittingly-blind Left, "wisdom, social intelligence and creativity" is mostly to be found among the high IQ populations of European and East Asian origin -- JR



ACLU still fighting George Bush (They miss him so): "After the Senate today passed a Homeland Security appropriations bill with an amendment that would grant the Department of Defense (DOD) the authority to continue suppressing photos of prisoner abuse, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Secretary Robert Gates urging him not to exercise the authority to suppress the photos. The amendment, which would allow the DOD to exempt photos from the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), is aimed at photos ordered released by a federal appeals court as part of an ACLU FOIA lawsuit for photos and other records related to detainee abuse in U.S. custody overseas, although it would apply to other photos in government custody as well. The bill will now head to President Obama's desk for signature. The ACLU letter states that the photos would show the pervasiveness of detainee abuse and would shed light on the connection between that abuse and the decisions of high-level Bush administration officials. According to the letter, the photos "are of critical relevance to an ongoing national debate about accountability."

Boondoggle coming up: "The White House is expected to announce Tuesday a multimillion-dollar deal that will convert a closed General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., into a factory making electric vehicles. Vice President Biden will make the announcement that Fisker Automotive of Irvine, Calif., is expected to invest $175 million to retool the plant. Fisker, which will pay the old GM $18 million for the facility and equipment, is getting tax incentives from the state of Delaware, although officials there declined Monday to say how much. Fisker plans to make a car in Delaware that is being developed under the name "Project Nina" after the ship belonging to explorer Christopher Columbus. Russell Datz, a Fisker spokesman, said that the project's name is meant to be "symbolic of the transfer from the old world to the new in terms of auto technology." The car is expected to cost about $39,900 after tax incentives. The Fisker facility is expected to create 2,000 jobs"

Large Hadron Collider switched on after year of repairs: "After starting it with a bang, which promptly turned into a whimper, scientists have quietly powered up the Large Hadron Collider for a second time. The preliminary run was low key compared with the ill-fated switch-on in September last year, but CERN scientists said the first beams suggested that the £3.6 billion experiment in Switzerland was finally under way again. “It’s the beginning of a very well-planned and cautious switch-on,” Brian Foster, a particle physicist from the University of Oxford, said. On Friday proton beams and lead ions were sent at a relatively low energy around a section of the ring containing the “A Large Ion Collider Experiment” (Alice) detector. Protons were also sent through the LHCb detector, which is designed to investigate why the Universe is made up almost entirely of matter and hardly any antimatter. The beams travelled through a quarter of the ring in total. “The acid test of any accelerator is when you put the beam in,” said Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at CERN. “We were holding our breath a little bit, but it worked incredibly well.”

Obama using the White house to solicit political contributions: "During his first nine months in office, President Obama has quietly rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings. High-dollar fundraisers have been promised access to senior White House officials in exchange for pledges to donate $30,400 personally or to bundle $300,000 in contributions ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to internal Democratic National Committee documents obtained by The Washington Times."

DC sniper set to die by lethal injection: "The mastermind of the 2002 Washington, DC-area sniper attacks will die by lethal injection next month, Virginia officials said Tuesday. John Allen Muhammad declined to choose between lethal injection and electrocution, so under state law the method defaults to lethal injection, Virginia Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.”

Feds: Chicago men planned to attack Danish paper: "Two Chicago men who were schoolmates in Pakistan plotted terrorist attacks against a Danish newspaper that triggered widespread protests by printing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, federal prosecutors said Tuesday in announcing charges against the men. David Coleman Headley, 49, traveled to Denmark in January and July to conduct surveillance on possible targets, including the Copenhagen and Aarhus offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, prosecutors said in criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.”

Tax, privacy and the state: "In Norway, an extreme intervention in privacy has become a deadly threat to respected and peaceful citizens, their families, children and spouses. This weekend a number of Norwegians received blackmail letters threatening them to hand over large sums of money to the offenders. The offenders have used the publicly available tax database to pick out their victims. Each year the Norwegian government publishes all Norwegian citizens’ tax information on the internet for everybody to look at. From this database you can find out the income, paid tax and wealth of all Norwegian people and Norwegian companies. Offenders have picked out those most likely to be able to pay.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)



Paul said...

Racism begins with our families, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, people we admire, respect and love.

However, as we grow and mature we come to the realization that what we were told by our family when we were children were slanted lies base on their prejudices. We realize that most people are like ourselves and not so different and want the same things, like a home, steady work, a Medicare plan and schools for our children (if you travel you will see this). We realize that most people are of good hearts and goodwill.

This reminds me of a parable from the good book where a Levite and Priest come upon a man who fell among thieves and they both individually passed by and didn’t stop to help him.

Finally a man of another race came by, he got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy and got down with the injured man, administered first aid, and helped the man in need.

Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his fellow man.

You see, the Levite and the Priest were afraid, they asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before us. The question is not, “If I stop to help our fellow man (immigrant) in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help our fellow man, what will happen to him or her?” That’s the question.

This current climate of blaming others for our woes is not new. We have had this before and we have conquered it.

Remember “Evil flourishes when good men (and women) do nothing”. Raise your voices with those of us who believe we are equal and we can win this battle again.

Robert said...

I hope they add some pig blood to the lethal injection that the murderer John Allen Muhammad will be getting, and that he knows it's in there.

And the story from Norway illustrates exactly why you do NOT want the government getting your information under any circumstances. While you may have nothing criminal to hide in your background, you have EVERYTHING to hide from criminals, whether they have no badges (like the blackmailers), or whether they do have badges.