Mailvox: elucidation is required

Given the way in which Pindar manages to completely fail not only Analogy 101, but also Reading Comprehension:

Comparing Evangelical Christians to Gottfried Leibniz, a man of the highest intellectual ability is absolutely absurd. Evangelical Christians, on the whole, along with the “New Atheists” have absolutely no intellectual weight to go along with their arguments in comparison to Leibniz. So Vox and Sam Harris and other mental lightweights are Leibniz and Spinoza now? Wow. How standards have changed. When has Beale and Dawkins et. al are equally unlearned in each other’s fields, equally arrogant and equally ignorant of history. The history of science, the history of religion. Comparing yourself to Leibniz is like comparing Britney Spears to Maria Callas.

People wonder at times why I constantly mock the reading comprehension of many of my critics, when the answer is pretty obvious. Some of these critics are just rather stupid and therefore incapable of understanding anything that lacks pictures, of course, but the majority of them are simply so eager to go on the attack that they start scribbling madly before stopping to confirm that they indeed read what they thought they read.

Pindar likely falls in the latter category, as he manages to not only miss the point but also gets the analogy precisely backward. I didn’t compare any individual to any other historical individual, nor compare myself to Newton, (much less Leibniz), but rather noted that the intellectual motivation and fundamental worldview which fuels the New Atheists’ evangelism is the same optimistic materialist spirit that inspired Leibniz, whereas Newton’s essential pessimism and eschatonic expectations are clearly recognizable in modern evangelical Christians.

(To make it very simple for Pindar: I compared the Christians to NEWTON, as everyone but you understood. Now, go brush up on Dick and Jane and leave the adults to their discussion.)

The most important difference between Newton and Leibniz is not that one’s calculus is geometric and the other’s theoretical, but rather the latter’s belief in the improvability of Man and the former’s skepticism regarding the same. It’s interesting to note that this basic difference may have informed their approach to the calculus, as Newton’s approach – like the Christian’s approach to Man – is essentially empirical, whereas the Leibnizian/New Atheist arguments are primarily theory-based.

Where the analogy fails, of course, is that Leibniz’s theories corresponded very well indeed with Newtown’s geometric empiricism, whereas New Atheist theory – or New Natural Philosopher theory as it would be more properly named – is contradicted by the observable evidence at nearly every turn.

Even their simplest, most well-known claims are easily dismissed. Some of them I have already publicly dismantled, others will be addressed in the book. But the key is to understand that the New Atheists are not scientists and that they have no genuine interest in or commitment to scientage or scientody in their own rights.

This isn’t that hard

Auguste requests evidence:

Until someone makes even the slightest attempt to reconcile Vox’s discussion and promoting of his own books in this very space with the position you’re taking here, I don’t see any more point in arguing this.

This is more than a little ironic, considering the complaints made at Pandagon and other places that I had NOT divulged my identity when WND interviewed me in my fiction-writing capacity some years ago. I kept my two writing hats largely separate until after numerous attempts to “out” me had already taken place, and I still do to a certain extent. True, it may be pointless within the blogosphere, but then the blogosphere is but a tiny fraction of the population. In any case, proof of a malicious intent to out isn’t all hard to determine considering the references to a “dirty little secret” and statements such as: “turns out WorldNetDaily’s Vox Day has a real name after all” and “his site tells us nothing about who he actually is”.

I note that Auguste hasn’t admitted that the Wikipedia entry – which I did not create – was created after most of the attempted outings. Indeed, if you look at the original entry, it’s clear that the initial Wikipedia entry was little more than an attempt to out itself. Despite that, I still prefer to leave my personal life and that of my family members out of the public discussion. Obviously, it’s not always possible, but that’s my preference and I appreciate that most of my critics, even some of the more persistently aggressive ones, respect my preference in the matter. I attempt to afford them the same courtesy in return.

I don’t consider myself a public figure, and except when it suits them to argue otherwise, I rather doubt that any my critics truly think that I’m well-known enough to be considered one either. And it was interesting to note how critics quickly latched onto one family story they hoped would make me look bad, while completely ignoring the much more publicized story that tended put me in a rather better light.

Now, I never had any expectation of privacy under this pen name, which the sufficiently intelligent have always known from the start given the very nature of the name. In fact, I regularly publish under another name which perhaps three people who read this blog – and none of my critics – happen to know. It’s no big secret either, it’s just that particular publishing arena doesn’t happen to have any malicious people attempting to harm others by publicly revealing their identities. And you know, there just may be one or two others too….

My position has always been that it is usually both obnoxious and malicious to purposefully reveal an identity behind a pen name, regardless of the lengths to which the individual goes or does not go to maintain his anonymity.

Meanwhile, I note that Devious Diva should perhaps be arguing with Jeff Fecke, not Michael:

Well,excuse me for being naive when I started writing but I never imagined what would happen a few years down the line. Forgive me for not being psychic?

Now I’m angry because you don’t know what it is like to be threatened. I do and it is not about being funny or clever and calling someone a “cowardly pussy”

You would be hard pushed to find me saying anything bad about anyone ( that’ll take a few days of your time) but really… I make an exception… fuck you.

You have NO idea

That’s an interesting defense, considering that Mr. Fecke of the Blog of the Moderate Left has built his case around the idea that a single post made in a gaming newsgroup five years before I began writing about politics is sufficient cause to permit all subsequent “outings”. Perhaps Mr. Fecke would like to address her here and explain to her why her position is incorrect.

It’s possible that Michael doesn’t know what it’s like to be threatened, but I certainly do. It happens from time to time, whether it’s Jews threatening to have the JDL harass me, feminists threatening to castrate me or have their boyfriends rape me, or CAIR running a mass email campaign against me and complaining about me in the Star Tribune. But they’re only words, after all… interestingly enough, the volume of such threats dropped about 90 percent right after that “flaming sword” picture was posted in an interview. It seems people realized that the whole martial arts/gym/guns thing wasn’t just a pose.

As if any of them could even take Spacebunny’s dog. Some days, I’m not even sure I could handle her dainty little flower.

Anyhow, it’s pretty simple. Either you consistently refer to people by their pen names or by their real identities. I contend that the former is much more courteous. But if you vary your behavior depending upon whether you like the person or not, you’re just a malicious jerk, and if you criticize others for revealing the identities of those you like while revealing the identities of those you don’t, then you’re a malicious jerk and a hypocrite to boot.

The problem with science

One of them, anyhow, is with its definition. Scott Adams accurately pokes the concept of falsifiability with a sharp stick:

Infotainment questions for the day:

1. Do we have the technology to seed that planet with life?

2. How do we know the Gliese 581 Csians didn’t seed life on Earth?

It seems to me that we now have a falsifiable hypothesis for Intelligent Design on Earth. My hypothesis is that it came from Gliese 581 C. I call that science. We should teach it in schools.

1. Assuming we can hit something that far away, yes.

2. We don’t, actually, but it will certainly be amusing to ask Richard Dawkins to explain why he is sure it almost certainly didn’t happen thanks to Natural Selection multiplied by a whole lot of time.

Here’s the hint

This is the bit from Quicksilver, the first novel in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, that got me thinking about the way in which the clash between the New Atheists and evangelical Christians is a continuation of the fundamental dichotomy between the worldview of Leibniz and the worldview of Newton:

“Rude and stupid, I know, but it is my duty to make conversation. You are saying it should be the goal of all Natural Philosophers to restore peace and harmony to the world of men. This I cannot dispute.”

The above quote is Daniel Waterhouse speaking to Leibniz.

Careless conflation

Justin doesn’t understand the difference between morality and legality, or between the personal and the political:

After a week or two of browsing, it doesn’t appear Vox has any understanding of Libertarian political philosophy whatsoever–and neither do the people who are commenting.

Then you need to read a lot more, Justin, and a lot more carefully, because your assertion is demonstrably ludicrous. You’re confusing two things, one individual’s opinion on various, mostly non-political matters and advocacy of the full force of government-imposed law. No matter how deeply you search the archives, I’ll bet you can’t find more than three things that I have advocated that contradict the Libertarian political philosophy, and I have previously made the case for all three of those things being more properly libertarian than the Libertarian position.

As someone else has already pointed out, Confucius was significantly more influential in Chinese culture than Lao Tzu. This should be rather obvious, as only Russia and Japan have cultural traditions less respectful of the individual than China. It’s like complaining that I left out Solzhenitsyn and only took Lenin’s philosophy into account when writing about the Soviet Union.

Justin’s quixotic assertion reminds me of the Libertarian Politics radio guy who is supporting Giuliani for the presidency. It’s almost hard to respond to them because you’re so occupied with wondering precisely what planet they happen to be orbiting.

UPDATE – Out of curiousity, specifically which parts of the Libertarian political philosophy am I missing, Justin? I mean, I can completely understand how my total opposition to NAFTA could be honestly misconstrued as favoring government intervention in the economy, but I’ve been pretty specific regarding why I think a few of the Libertarian stances are demonstrably anti-libertarian.

Not-so-parallel paths

One of these days, I’m going to write a more in-depth post on how I regard Brent Rasmussen’s assertion that there is nothing more to atheism than an individual’s non-belief in a deity to be both a) completely correct, and, b) somewhat beside the point.

But not today. Although I have to note that Brent is likely more correct than those who see a fundamental congruence between atheism and science, considering this sort of recent history.

It’s also worth noting that while Catholic Church put the Father of Modern Physics on trial, the atheists of the French Revolution cut off the Father of Modern Chemistry’s head, declaring that they had no need for scientists.

So not only is the link between atheism and science less solid than most might think, it’s demonstrably less complimentary than the one between Christianity and science.

What morality would that be?

It’s interesting how American liberals are always happy to bandy moral imperatives about, so long as they are in direct opposition to traditional Judeo-Christian morality:

The news that Gov. Eliot Spitzer will soon introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage — what he calls “a simple moral imperative” — is welcome and could give new national momentum to this important cause….

It should be clear that these religious institutions have the right to refuse to marry anyone within their own religious houses. But they should not be allowed to dictate who can and cannot be married by the state.

What is the basis for this so-called “simple moral imperative” and why, exactly, is it imperative? Why is this morality any more acceptable than the morality which demands honor killings for promiscuous young women? And given that no such institution has ever existed in the history of Mankind, why is it an “important cause”.

In any case, calling the legal union of two men a “marriage” doesn’t make it one no matter how many laws declaring this to be so are passed; Spitzer might as well pass a law declaring that any collection of six fish are henceforth to be known as a “marriage”.

This, conservatives, is the inevitable result of attempting to use state power to define social standards. Live by the state, die by the state. If you don’t bring the state into it in the first place, its power can’t be turned and used against you.

The answer to my first question, of course, can be found in the following sentence. Emphasis added:

The majority leader, Joseph Bruno, has made it clear that he is against same-sex marriage, but he is also a pragmatist whose views on these issues have evolved and become more humane over the years.

I note that once again, we see that pragmatism is merely another word for an absence of principle.

More integrity than courage

It’s not Private Lynch’s fault that those pushing female service in the military used her to concoct a myth of the American Amazon:

Former Pvt. Jessica Lynch leveled similar criticism today at the hearing about the initial accounts given by the Army of her capture in Iraq. Ms. Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in dramatic fashion by American troops after she suffered serious injuries and was captured in an ambush of her truck convoy in March 2003.

In her testimony this morning, she said she did not understand why the Army put out a story that she went down firing at the enemy.

“I’m confused why they lied,” she said.

Mr. Tillman and Ms. Lynch appeared at a hearing called to examine why “inaccurate accounts of these two incidents” were put out by the administration. Today’s session was part of the Democratically-controlled Congress’s effort to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other issues.

Ms. Lynch said she could not know why she was depicted as a “Rambo from West Virginia,” when in fact she was riding in a truck, not fighting, when she was injured.

She might be confused. I’m not.

The future is anti-feminist

Never mind that it’s becoming increasingly obvious how worthless those college educations for which they sacrificed their children is:

A third of women graduates will never have children, research has concluded. The number of highly educated women who are starting families has plummeted in the past decade, according to findings that provide the most detailed insight yet into education and fertility.

While some women are making a conscious decision not to have children, others are simply leaving it too late after taking years to build their careers, buy a home and find the right partner.

If the low birth rate trend continues, then the eventual rate of childlessness among graduates now aged in their twenties is likely to be even higher than a third.

The findings come from a ground-breaking study into more than 5,000 women born in 1970 and tracked throughout their lives by researchers at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, based at the Institute of Education in London.

Seriously, how smart do you actually expect other people to consider you to be if you can’t tell time on something as simple as a biological clock?

It’s fortunate that feminism is an evolutionary dead-end, here’s hoping it will die out before it’s stoned to death by sharia.

Don’t bother with college

This isn’t due to any fears of the inevitable Cho copycats, but rather the fact that you can’t get even a halfway decent education there anymore with doing all the work yourself:

Just 15 of 70 institutions studied require English majors to take a course on Shakespeare, says a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a Washington-based group that promotes academic quality. At least six of those schools dropped or weakened requirements since 1996, when the group did a similar study….

The Bard is required by only one Ivy League school, Harvard.

One might say that it’s ironic that the government is spending more money to send more people to college than ever before while the educations they are receiving have never been worse. Except it isn’t, this is merely education inflation in operation.

No wonder there’s so many “college-educated” morons out there. They’ve been to college, they have the sheepskin, they just don’t realize that they never received an actual education.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I can attest that I am personally acquainted with an economics major who graduated from a Big 10 university and had never heard of either John Maynard Keynes or Adam Smith.