Alex Jones' propaganda wars


KacyRay

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I remember the Pat Robertson video.... it was on the issue of the subordination of women to men. And I stand by what I said - he was preaching an iron-age ethic of patriarchy. And you agreed with it. And I think that should embarrass you. And any time Pat Robertson preaches iron-age values and you agree with them, that should give you pause for reflection, if nothing else.

I wish I had the video in question. I have a feeling his presentation was not quite as hamfisted as you portray here. For one, I am sure "iron-age" is your own characterization. In any case, what I DO know is that neither RB or I chimed in with a mindless, "Yeah!", "You tell 'em, Pat", "Way to go!". Instead, as we usually do, we provided a nuanced explication of what we found to be valid in his presentation. You decided not to engage us, offering instead a response meant to shame and shut us down.

To the viewing audience: note how Kacy, a.k.a SuperReasonMan, atheist and free thinker, preferred not engage in reasoned debate with two friends who have a reputation for being critical thinkers (if I do say so myself - *straightens tie*). Much like the time (told elsewhere on this forum) when I confronted him with the Jewish Question, his only reply was to wonder aloud what our Jewish friend would think -- and he wasn't even fond of that friend at the time! Apparently, like a good Progressive, there is a list of Verboten Crimethink, and the way you contain it is through manipulation tactics like shame. It's a very effective technique, and if Kacy would merely own up to being a liberal, I would let it rest. But RB and I have gotten ulcers over the years watching the disconnect between Kacy's behavior and his claim of being libertarian. We need relief!

Returning to the original topic of this post, I offer this study just for shits and giggles. This should be of concern to anyone who claims to be an advocate of limited government. Perhaps the Muslims had it right all along? ;)

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Folks:

Can we come to an agreement as to which "governmental" stats we will use to judge the current American economic reality?

Can we also agree as to which "non-governmental" stats we will use to judge the current American economic reality?

At least then we will not be two or three statistical ships passing in a thick fog bank with all our sensors broken.

A...

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I remember the Pat Robertson video.... it was on the issue of the subordination of women to men. And I stand by what I said - he was preaching an iron-age ethic of patriarchy. And you agreed with it. And I think that should embarrass you. And any time Pat Robertson preaches iron-age values and you agree with them, that should give you pause for reflection, if nothing else.

I wish I had the video in question. I have a feeling his presentation was not quite as hamfisted as you portray here. For one, I am sure "iron-age" is your own characterization. In any case, what I DO know is that neither RB or I chimed in with a mindless, "Yeah!", "You tell 'em, Pat", "Way to go!". Instead, as we usually do, we provided a nuanced explication of what we found to be valid in his presentation. You decided not to engage us, offering instead a response meant to shame and shut us down.

Here is the video:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/sPX1wu0GFTI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Every individual point Robertson makes is reasonable (don't be quick to blame; it takes two to kindle romance; both should try to look nice for the other; ask what you might be doing wrong). What Robertson is guilty of in the video is presenting his points in a gruff, politically incorrect manner. He brings up the culturally forbidden topic of female appearance, suggests women should stay fit for their husbands, and so on, which is presumably what Kacy is referring to as an "iron-age ethic of patriarchy" (hardly). It's important to note that Robertson does not say that these principles do not hold equally true for men; he uses women in his discussion because that is the example he was presented with by the person who wrote in. Simply ask: if the roles in the anecdotes were reversed, and it were a fat, disheveled man asking for advice with getting his wife's attention, would there be any cultural taboo with addressing his appearance? Of course not, it would be totally fair game, and Kacy would be in full agreement with that.

Folks:

Can we come to an agreement as to which "governmental" stats we will use to judge the current American economic reality?

Can we also agree as to which "non-governmental" stats we will use to judge the current American economic reality?

At least then we will not be two or three statistical ships passing in a thick fog bank with all our sensors broken.

A...

Unemployment is a next to meaningless metric for the reasons discussed earlier, so we can throw that out right at the outset. Nice for the politicians because it inevitably falls over a prolonged recession, but it doesn't really mean much in terms of economic health. What I would like to see presented in the news media is the number of people currently working over the total number of working-age individuals, expressed as a percentage figure and tracked over time. This would account for most of the problems with unemployment I list above. To my knowledge, nobody in the media follows or attempts to study figures like that.

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Unemployment is a next to meaningless metric for the reasons discussed earlier, so we can throw that out right at the outset. Nice for the politicians because it inevitably falls over a prolonged recession, but it doesn't really mean much in terms of economic health. What I would like to see presented in the news media is the number of people currently working over the total number of working-age individuals, expressed as a percentage figure and tracked over time. This would account for most of the problems with unemployment I list above. To my knowledge, nobody in the media follows or attempts to study figures like that.

By the way Bob Dan, welcome to OL. What part of Virginia?

There are some internal numbers within the Department of Labor reports that can allow us to derive an accurate unemployment number that is within 10-15% of reality. However, it does take digging.

However, I agree it is of mid probative value as evidence that we could agree is close to objective.

A...

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Thanks, Selene! This looks like a great place for discussion, and everybody except Kacy has been very friendly. I live in Arlington, on the border with Alexandria.

Well maybe it's determinism at work...

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My primary concern is that incentives are pointing the right way, which in this case means encouraging work, or that failing, at least some sort of societal buy-in to counter the zero-sum kleptocracy culture that has been hyperaccelerated in this country under the Obama presidency. I'm arguing for voluntary conscription (join the military - we'll give you free stuff and something to do each day) as a less bad alternative to the big SSI/SSDI fraud, which brushes these individuals out of sight and into a deep, dark dependency cycle that they have no incentive or ability to ever emerge from. I perhaps differ from many libertarians in accepting partial solutions and incremental improvement as appropriate goals short of a complete overhaul of the system.

Just wondering about this, and since you brought up incentives I thought you may have a take on it:

Do you think the issue of incentives is often looked at as a false dilemma, where some incentive is deemed enough. I remember an interview of Matt Damon from Reason TV, where he argued that job security was not a necessary incentive for public school teachers. He claimed that job security had nothing to do with his own desire to be a good actor, and used that as a subsequent example to his claim that his mother was a school teacher and was purely motivated by her desire to teach.

This false dilemma could also be used to argue that income tax does not hamper productive work, as long as the rate of tax is below a certain amount that would make people stop working altogether. This also depends on the idea that certain people are workaholics and will work just as hard whether they can take home 60 or 100% of their income.

Anyway, I agree that incentives are huge, in sociological terms, but also that degrees of incentives are also important. I think the difference between a 26% income tax and 27% income tax would be quite noticeable.

I just felt like bringing that up and remembered you had posted about your own conviction in the power of incentives.

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Just wondering about this, and since you brought up incentives I thought you may have a take on it:

Do you think the issue of incentives is often looked at as a false dilemma, where some incentive is deemed enough. I remember an interview of Matt Damon from Reason TV, where he argued that job security was not a necessary incentive for public school teachers. He claimed that job security had nothing to do with his own desire to be a good actor, and used that as a subsequent example to his claim that his mother was a school teacher and was purely motivated by her desire to teach.

This false dilemma could also be used to argue that income tax does not hamper productive work, as long as the rate of tax is below a certain amount that would make people stop working altogether. This also depends on the idea that certain people are workaholics and will work just as hard whether they can take home 60 or 100% of their income.

Anyway, I agree that incentives are huge, in sociological terms, but also that degrees of incentives are also important. I think the difference between a 26% income tax and 27% income tax would be quite noticeable.

I just felt like bringing that up and remembered you had posted about your own conviction in the power of incentives.

I saw that interview as well. I agree with "quality" pioneer W. Edwards Deming (and I suppose with Matt Damon as well) that most people have an intrinsic motivation to perform valuable work, help others, and be recognized for doing so. It is undeniably true that people do things for reasons other than money. The most important aspects of having a job are the societal buy-in, socialization, and validation of the individual as having worth. But we also have to recognize that there are people out there who just want to putz around all day on the public dime, and they will do so if presented with the means and opportunity. Many individuals could turn either way, depending on the incentives-system with which they are confronted every day. So we need public incentives that encourage honest, value-adding behavior and discourage laziness and deceit.

Some small-government types are surprised to learn that I want Stasi-like surveillance and control over people on public assistance by the state. Weekly job counseling, monitoring of their financial statements, auditing of their assets, controlling their thermostats if they receive heat assistance, forcing them to take classes on nutrition and financial planning, etc. I want this not because I harbor any malice towards such individuals, but because I want the incentives to properly align in the direction of getting people off of public assistance as soon as possible, as well as maintaining the integrity of the system.

The most important public policy consideration, in my view, should be fostering a culture of public trust. A moral culture is vital to limited government because culture is the only way to get people to do the right thing when nobody else is watching (most of the time). If the public trust goes, everything goes to excrement. This is where I disagree with the progressive "technocrats" MSK mentions, who view everything as controllable, knowable, and quantifiable. Bribery by public officials, to take one example, does very little damage in terms of direct economic impacts. But the social costs are astronomical. As soon as people start seeing "the system" as corrupt, unfair, or illegitimate, they will immediately feel justified in carrying out all manner of abuses in their own lives. So where the progressive sees some sad sack scamming SSDI and says, "Eh, what's the harm, really? He's just one person and he's suffered enough. Let's turn a blind eye," I think that sort of fraud needs to be mercilessly stamped out, immediately, because it can have a snowballing effect on eroding public trust.

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Well maybe it's determinism at work...

Do you have any actual refutations to the arguments I've made in favor of determinism? You're clearly bothered by the argument, but you haven't said a single word attempting to discredit it.

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Well maybe it's determinism at work...

Do you have any actual refutations to the arguments I've made in favor of determinism? You're clearly bothered by the argument, but you haven't said a single word attempting to discredit it.

KacyRay:

I have been considering this debate.

I am working on a debate proposition which we can start on a new thread. It will involve defining terms. formal rules of evidence.

Let me ask you, how do you see the status quo? Is it free will? Or, is it determinism?

That is a key factor in determining who has the burden of proof on the proposition.

A...

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Adam,

Re "burden of proof," this one's a basic axiom issue. Ain't no such animals as "evidence," "argument," "proof" if there's no discretional action. The nature and limits of discretional action, how it arises, how it operates, on those there can be and are multiple theories in regard to which evidence is relevant, but any idea of proving determinism is incoherent.

Ellen

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Adam,

Re "burden of proof," this one's a basic axiom issue. Ain't no such animals as "evidence," "argument," "proof" if there's no discretional action. The nature and limits of discretional action, how it arises, how it operates, on those there can be and are multiple theories in regard to which evidence is relevant, but any idea of proving determinism is incoherent.

Ellen

Ellen:

I understand your point.

However, I would still prefer to see if we can develop a debate proposition that can submit to the rules of argumentation and evidence. I am assuming that, by discretionary action, you mean:

not fixed by rules but are decided on by people in authority, who consider each individual case.

Otherwise, I see no benefit to the music that KacyRay wishes to dance to regarding determinism.

A...

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Ellen:

I understand your point.

Um, doesn't look to me as if you do. :smile:

However, I would still prefer to see if we can develop a debate proposition that can submit to the rules of argumentation and evidence. I am assuming that, by discretionary action, you mean:

not fixed by rules but are decided on by people in authority, who consider each individual case.

Otherwise, I see no benefit to the music that KacyRay wishes to dance to regarding determinism.

A...

No, not my meaning at all. I mean action which has some degree of optionality to it. If everything every entity does, including all animal entities, is the inevitable result of the deterministic action/reactions of the physical constituents, there's no way a creature can check the truth value of whatever comes into the creature's consciousness. Being able to check requires an optional ability to go look.

Determinism is up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle as a claim to having demonstrable truth status, although I've encountered many avowed determinists who don't get, or won't admit they get, the fundamental conundrum in their postulate.

Ellen

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Any formal debate has to substitute itself for substance if there is a conflict. It'd be so worthless to me I wouldn't follow it. Those interested in the formal debate dynamic in the formal debate as opposed to the subject--both are workable I guess--might feel differently.

Determinism is completely backwards looking. It happened--whatever it was--so it couldn't have been different. It's like driving a car looking in the rear-view mirror.

The doctrine as such is psychologically devastating. I'd rather my children, if I had any, look at hard-core pornography instead, not that I'd let them.

I don't mind Kacy with his this and his other thats, almost of us are adults and he keeps getting called out, but he is a high-quality troll here.

--Brant

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KacyRay:

Let me ask you, how do you see the status quo? Is it free will? Or, is it determinism?

That is a key factor in determining who has the burden of proof on the proposition.

A...

I don't really understand the question. But I'll answer as best I can.

What I believe - what I am compelled to believe - is that everything that exists plays by the same rules. Just as billiard balls have no alternative in how the respond when hit by other billiard balls, so every atom, every neutrino, every star, every cell, everything that exists plays by the same rules. All matter is subject to the law of identity - A=A. That means it is only what it is, it is exactly what it is, and does not have the option to be something else at the same time and in the same context. Something that has a specific nature necessarily responds to specific stimuli in specific ways.

The free will contention is that, some place in our brains, there is a zone that does not play by those rules. There is some zone - the zone of the brain which functions as our "mind" - that has options on how it responds to everything around it.

My position is that there are no exceptions. ALL of the matter in our universe plays by the same rules. No exceptions.

The "special pleading" fallacy is when an exception to an accepted premise is claimed without justification.If we agree as a premise that the law of identity precludes matter and energy from having alternatives in how it acts or responds to stimuli, then in order for you to accept that our minds have free will, you have to make an exception for the matter and energy that comprise the mind. After all, our mind exists exclusively within our brains, and our brains are made of matter and energy - nothing else.

And this is why the burden of proof lies on you.

If we do not agree on that premise, then perhaps a better conversation to start off with would be the implications of the law of identity.

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Otherwise, I see no benefit to the music that KacyRay wishes to dance to regarding determinism.

A...

I should point out here that there is no real benefit in having this discussion at all, other than intellectual stimulation. Ultimately, it makes no difference which position you hold. We all wind up underground in the end.

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Brant,

You really think I'm a troll? Be honest.

Thinking about it some more, no I don't. I've no real sense, however, of engagement with either Objectivism or even libertarianism. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist just below the surface. I wrote a reply to your question embracing determinism before you made the posts right before this one, but I lost it when my Internet service crapped out on me. Determinism is, of course, a simple mechanical reductionism of human being and activity completely antithetical to any philosophy at philosophy's root, but especially Objectivism, and belies the obvious question of why animals are conscious, especially the human animal, "the naked ape," which manages to survive even in Antartica or on a ship at sea in spite of my deadly verbal assaults. But let's assume your context respecting the all and only existence of matter and energy and the billiard ball analogy. Since the evolution of matter and energy is determined and the brain is matter and energy humans are determined and therefore the burden of proof lies on me not thee for free will. Well, we don't know enough about matter and energy to do the if-then as if "if" is "is." That burden of proof is on you. (But burden of proof implies and demands free will.) What you really have is only an if-then. I'd say, "If this then that, but the nature of thinking, conceptually creating consciousness makes possible self-determination inside the context of what has already been determined not only by nature but by me, thee, et al." You see, it's not just billiard balls bouncing around but me racking up those balls for yet another game of pocket pool. You have imprisoned your thinking into a queer philosophy that necessarily precludes examination of what people really are and are doing and have done and are likely to do--in deductive reasoning to the exclusion of inductive cultural-intellectual anthropology. For all your erudition, I consider you to be intellectually quite passive, as if you banked your boilers, just waiting for that next billiard ball to come along.

--Brant

"Soldier! Get your hands out of your pockets!"--(tell that to Eisenhower)

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Brant,

You really think I'm a troll? Be honest.

Thinking about it some more, no I don't. I've no real sense, however, of engagement with either Objectivism or even libertarianism. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist just below the surface. I wrote a reply to your question embracing determinism before you made the posts right before this one, but I lost it when my Internet service crapped out on me. Determinism is, of course, a simple mechanical reductionism of human being and activity completely antithetical to any philosophy at philosophy's root, but especially Objectivism, and belies the obvious question of why animals are conscious, especially the human animal, "the naked ape," which manages to survive even in Antartica or on a ship at sea in spite of my deadly verbal assaults. But let's assume your context respecting the all and only existence of matter and energy and the billiard ball analogy. Since the evolution of matter and energy is determined and the brain is matter and energy humans are determined and therefore the burden of proof lies on me not thee for free will. Well, we don't know enough about matter and energy to do the if-then as if "if" is "is." That burden of proof is on you. (But burden of proof implies and demands free will.) What you really have is only an if-then. I'd say, "If this then that, but the nature of thinking, conceptually creating consciousness makes possible self-determination inside the context of what has already been determined not only by nature but by me, thee, et al." You see, it's not just billiard balls bouncing around but me racking up those balls for yet another game of pocket pool. You have imprisoned your thinking into a queer philosophy that necessarily precludes examination of what people really are and are doing and have done and are likely to do--in deductive reasoning to the exclusion of inductive cultural-intellectual anthropology. For all your erudition, I consider you to be intellectually quite passive, as if you banked your boilers, just waiting for that next billiard ball to come along.

--Brant

"Soldier! Get your hands out of your pockets!"--(tell that to Eisenhower)

Thanks. You had me nervous for a minute there.

Determinism is, of course, a simple mechanical reductionism of human being and activity completely antithetical to any philosophy at philosophy's root,

Yes, it is rather simple. And occams razor does apply.

And I don't see it as antithetical to philosophy. But even if it was... that doesn't mean it isn't true. I find the argument from incredulity to unconvincing. Remember, I've presented a very specific case, and no one has yet addressed my specific points.

but especially Objectivism, and belies the obvious question of why animals are conscious, especially the human animal, "the naked ape," which manages to survive even in Antartica or on a ship at sea in spite of my deadly verbal assaults.

I don't see how the arguments I've presented belie that question.

I get the strong suspicion that you have long ago rejected a version of determinism with which you were familiar, and therefore determinism as a possibility. In fact, I myself rejected determinism when I was introduced to it in the "Understanding Objectivism" tapes years ago. Of course, the idea that the matter and energy that comprises our bodies and minds playing by the exact same rules that the rest of the matter and energy in the universe plays by hadn't occurred to me by that point, and it sure hasn't been refuted by Objectivism.

I'm interested to know where you feel the weakness in this argument lies. I've demonstrated that your theory of free will depends on a special pleading fallacy. You have not been able to escape this fallacy or refuted that demonstration. No one here has.. in fact, it seems to be getting dismissed altogether.

Well, we don't know enough about matter and energy to do the if-then as if "if" is "is."

Are you saying that we don't know enough about matter and energy to be able to say whether the law of identity applies to it? Really?

(But burden of proof implies and demands free will.)

A common objectivist question-begging fallacy - often used in the free-will argument. It's an arbitrary assertion that "Free will is necessary to even hold a determinist view". No it isn't. Saying that burden of proof demands and implies free will is equally arbitrary.

You have imprisoned your thinking into a queer philosophy that necessarily precludes examination of what people really are and are doing and have done and are likely to do--in deductive reasoning to the exclusion of inductive cultural-intellectual anthropology

Okay... can you demonstrate how my argument fails?

For all your erudition, I consider you to be intellectually quite passive, as if you banked your boilers, just waiting for that next billiard ball to come along.

But I'm not a troll!

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Kacy,

The fallacy with determinism is one of observation.

If I told you that you had to deduce sound from the color red, and gave you all kinds of formulations for trying to do that and "proving" that they don't work, you would think I was crazy. You can't deduce sound from color.

I say ditto for free will. You can't deduce free will from logic. It's a primary you validate by observation.

If something is to be an illusion, then what is the real and how do you know it? That's the question determinists always fudge. They take their own free will for granted even as they deny it. One guy even wrote a book on consciousness calling it a "user illusion."

But you can't be an illusion and perceive that you are an illusion at the same time without falling into nonsense. Or, to use the deductive standard, you can't use one logical standard for observation and another for measuring observation and consider that to be valid.

It's a fallacy all right, and a big honking one.

The correct process is that we observe something, identify it or name it, then apply logic and the scientific process to understand it better. The incorrect process is that we blank out entire forms of existence that we observe because they don't fit a theory.

You find this epistemology in O-Land with principles, too. Especially those concerning human nature. Instead of deriving principles from observing reality, some people try to deduce reality from principles. That's why they blank out and rationalize what doesn't fit. That's why they sometimes look like caricatures.

To be clear, I'm only talking about determinism as the whole shebang. Determinism as one part of a larger system that also includes consciousness and free will (and who knows what else) is entirely correct.

Determinism works as one perspective of existence among others. Determinism as the meaning of existence fails on several levels.

Michael

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Let us say you observe free will in your own actions and decisions. How do you establish that it occurs in anyone else?

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the matter and energy that comprises our bodies and minds playing by the exact same rules that the rest of the matter and energy in the universe plays by

This is true; but then you insert an assumption as to what those rules are.

Take evolution for example: the random mutations that, like the heuristic development of a conscious intellect, enable a species to survive (compete) are no exception in the rules of matter and energy, either.

Like Brant said, the validity of an if-then proposition depends on whether or not the "if" actually is.

Free will (consciousness) is self-evident, in the present, just like your own existence. If that's the is, then the question becomes: How do the rules of energy and matter allow for free will?

It's easier to just deny free will than to answer that question.

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