Friday, May 28, 2010

Scientific impotence

Political correctness of all varieties holds that whereas facts and logic are negotiable, dogma is not. When someone brings up facts countering a particular dogma, the true believers often pretend not to have heard, flatly assert that those facts must be wrong, or engage in a blatant logical fallacy (e.g., "That offends me, so you mustn't bring it up.")

Sometimes, however, the facts become so blatant that not even the truest true believer can use any of those tactics with a straight face. To that end, they have developed another tactic usable against science, which a researcher has termed "scientific impotence." That is, they simply declare that science just doesn't apply:
What Munro examines here is an alternative approach: the decision that, regardless of the methodological details, a topic is just not accessible to scientific analysis. This approach also has a prominent place among those who disregard scientific information, ranging from the very narrow—people who argue that the climate is simply too complicated to understand—to the extremely broad, such as those among the creationist movement who argue that the only valid science takes place in the controlled environs of a lab, and thereby dismiss not only evolution, but geology, astronomy, etc.
Of course, scientific impotence holds across the board. While creationists say that the theory of evolution is not scientific (according to their screwy redefinitions of "theory" and "scientific"), they are not alone. Anti-science fanatics of the left love to say that science (as opposed, say, to postmodernism) has no applicability to the real world. One such person parroted that line and soon thereafter asked me how his new toy, a laser printer, worked.

Quote of the week

"Freedom of choice is what you've got. Freedom from choice is what you want." - Devo, "Freedom of Choice"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now you're getting it.

I'm on the email lists of many organizations all over the Nolan chart. Yesterday, I received the astonishing revelation from the Stonewall Democrats:

If there's one thing we've learned since the 2008 election, it's that having a Democratic majority isn't enough. We need a pro-equality majority, and we need your help to get it.

They've figured this out only since the 2008 election? Sadly, they're not the only LGBT people who thought that electing Democrats would mystically turn America into a magic candyland, just as it did in Maryland.

May we look for more amazing revelations? Will they tell us in 2020 that we should look both ways before crossing and in 2030, that we should not live on a steady diet of burgers and soda?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Greater media objectivity

We keep hearing about how difficult it is for the media to report objectively. To help them, I offer the following suggestions:

  1. Make a reasonable effort to research your subject.
  2. Present all material information of which you are aware. Information that contradicts whatever point you're trying to make is per se material.
  3. Don't present arguments, assertions, or conclusions as though they were evidence.
I have to follow these (and other) rules in my job, so I don't see why it would be so difficult for journalists to do so.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Old-line Democrats in D.C.

It seems that the fiscally liberal yet socially conservative "old-line" Democrats in D.C. aren't happy about political trends that are supposedly turning the capital into

a haven for medical marijuana, same-sex marriage, cyclists, streetcars, dog parks and more affluent, younger residents,

all of which are self-evidently very bad things. Perhaps they need a reminder that the District once tried doing things their way. Back in those good old days, the District was an international laughingstock; apart from its status as the capital, it was known for crime, drugs, corruption, high taxes, and very little else. Since the old-line Democrats so love to quote the Bible at the rest of us, they should remember the Biblical teaching that every tree is known by its fruit.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why I am not a gay conservative (2)

Here we have yet another article extolling the virtues of being queer and conservative. Lest anyone write me off as a standard-issue queer liberal, I was active in College Republicans and in law school quickly developed a reputation as one of the class right-wingers. Yet that article does nothing to warm me toward queer conservatives.

First, the author glibly conflates libertarianism with conservatism. Yet those ideologies are 180 degrees off from each other on may key issues, including many issues near and dear to my queer heart. Therefore, someone who self-identifies as a queer libertarian/conservative needs to fish or cut bait.

She then says, “In fact, my experience at the conference led me to conclude that it is easier coming out to conservatives as gay than it is coming out as a conservative to gays.” Insofar as that is true, then to me it says that CPAC does not represent rank-and-file conservatives. Certainly, those conservatives in office and the voters who support them would be surprised to hear that same-sex marriage is not an issue of concern to them. Also, I grew up in a socially conservative area, and at least in my experience, the difference between coming out as a non-leftist to LGBT people and coming out as gay to conservatives can be the difference between eye-rolling and a savage beating.

Finally, many LGBT people’s justified frustration with the Obama administration does not make the case for conservatism. Instead, it merely highlights Leonard Peikoff’s point that an election can be between someone terribly bad and someone apocalyptically bad.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quote of the week

"There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it." - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. (Aunt Lydia is one of the bad guys and is singing the praises of an oppressive theocracy.)

Arguments I wish advocates of marriage equality would stop using

This is about affirming the worth of our relationships. No, it isn't; it's about equal protection of the laws. Our relationships have worth that doesn't need affirmation from big government. Also, government has neither the power nor the moral right to make people like us; rather, it can and should give us equal freedom.

Legalizing same-sex marriage will allow us to form more lasting, committed relationships. The magical piece of paper is neither necessary nor sufficient for a lasting, committed relationship. Some same-sex couples have been together for decades without it. Some straight marriages have gone down the toilet almost immediately. Again, the issue is equal protection of the laws.

Statistics show that marriage is good for people. The people quoting those statistics seem to have confused correlation with causation. It's more likely that people who tend to live more stable, productive lives also tend to want to marry.

This has nothing to do with legal recognition for polyamorous relationships. Why not? When people raise the bogeyman of legally recognized polyamory, I prefer to remind the advocates of "traditional," "Old Testament" marriage what tradition and the Old Testament actually say about polygamy. They either clam up or backpedal furiously. Once, when someone said that all moral people agree that polygamy is bad, I scored points by responding, "Then the Old Testament patriarchs must not have been moral people."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More on democracy and marriage

Since when do we have to put every change in marriage law to a referendum? Before same-sex marriage, the only example that comes to my mind was miscegenation. Advocates of putting same-sex marriage to a referendum never cite that example. When I do, they either clam up or shower me with epithets. Neither of those is exactly an appeal to reason. Besides, if Republicans can get away with posturing as the last best hope for democracy in D.C., then irony truly is dead.

Subjective religious experience

Yet again, someone has tried to convince me of the truth of her religion (in this case, Wicca) on the basis of her subjective religious experience. But since when do subjective religious experiences prove anything? People of many mutually exclusive faiths believe that subjective religious experiences prove their religions. In particular, Mormons trot out that doctrine whenever I'm winning an argument against them on the Bible.

Therefore, if you want to argue that your subjective religious experience proves your faith, you should be prepared to argue either that all of those mutually exclusive faiths are somehow true or that your subjective religious experience counts, while others' experiences don't. You should also be prepared to take into account neurological explanations for religious experiences.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bible study for Christian hypocrites

As a public service, I'm leading Wednesday-night Bible study for George Rekers, Mark Souder, and all of the other dear hearts who preach Biblically correct family values (or what they think are Biblically correct family values) and practice something else. Get out your King James Bibles, and let's go.

Matthew 7:1-5: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Matthew 7:15-20: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Romans 2:1: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

1 John 3:6: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Then again, why do I bother? Everyone knows that if a Bible verse does not specifically address homosexuality, abortion, or creation, we are free to ignore rewrite interpret it.

Mark Souder (2)

Mark Souder's brazenness has spectacularly blown up in his face. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: We need a constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage from Republican politicians.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mark Souder

For "pro-family" Republicans, hypocrisy is the gift that keeps on taking. If it's Tuesday, this must be Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN)'s day to disgrace himself.

Souder has resigned for the following reason:

I sinned against God, my wife, and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.

In the poisonous environment of Washington D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain.
Note the shifting of personal responsibility, something of which Republicans love to accuse others. Not also the reference to the "poisonous environment of Washington D.C.," for which socially conservative Republicans can take a little (all right, most) of the blame.

But isn't his adultery mutual relationship strictly a matter between himself and his wife? Ordinarily, yes, but in the case of a "pro-family" Republican, no. Ayn Rand's view of self-defense applies perfectly: "I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he had the right to choose: his own."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #10: Make him feel like second best

Tell him in detail about the guy on whom you have a huge crush. When you're at a restaurant, cruise other men over his shoulder. When he asks what you like about him, either become evasive or give some sort of answer like accessibility. What could be more romantic than being made to feel like the relationship equivalent of a safety school?

Diversity on the bench

With the controversies over Elena Kagan, it is worthwhile to discuss diversity in the courts. People often say that since judges should simply apply neutral principles, diversity is not an issue. I consider that opinion to be naïve; while it may be true in an imagined perfect world, we do not live in such a world.

People naturally tend to generalize from their own experience to the entire human population; straight, white, middle- to upper-class men who belong to socially acceptable religions do it at least as much as anyone else does. When I took Constitutional law, I was shocked by judges' readiness to dispose of Constitutional rights in accordance with "findings of fact" based solely on wild speculation about the lives of people with whom they had no contact. If diversity achieves nothing else, it should at least put the brakes on such speculation.

Same-sex marriage in Portugal

According to The New York Times, the President of Portugal has just ratified that country's law legalizing same-sex marriage. It's so reassuring to know that yet another country, especially one that was a dictatorship in my lifetime, has leapfrogged the U.S. in this matter. Some people, it seems, won't be happy until we fall behind even Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban-controlled areas.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What do gay men want? How not to find out

It seems that everyone has an opinion on what gay men want in a partner, and that opinion is usually backed up by that unimpeachable source known as "because I say so." Some people, however, have made an actual effort to find out, although that effort still typically falls short. For example, I recall reading one study of personal ads in The Washington Blade, drawing conclusions as to whether more gay men prefer smooth or hairy men. One problem with that approach is self-selection bias. I am sure that the same study done with profiles would have reached the opposite result. Then there is the problem of counting gay men who do not run personal ads at all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quote of the week

"We have not figured out the kind of government we want. We’re in favor of Medicare, Social Security, good schools, wide highways, a strong military — and low taxes."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #9: If at first you don't succeed, be a sore loser.

Let's say that he rejects your advances. I have no idea why anyone would, but let's just say he does. Since stalking isn't for everyone, an alternative is to be a big baby about it. One possibility is to shower him with insults; who has ever failed to respond favorably to that? Another is to play the race card or, more generally, to suggest that not being attracted to you is a moral failure. Never mind that you're not attracted to everyone else; everyone else still has a moral duty to be attracted to you. If that doesn't make sense to people, then their failure to grasp it is another moral failure. See how it works? After all, they should look past appearances to the inner you; no, you should not consider the possibility that the inner you is what drives them away.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #8: Don't make him feel special.

No one wants to be made to feel special; talk like that is for those dreadful daytime TV shows you watched while snowed in. When first meeting someone, use a corny canned pickup line; if that's too smooth, just make a blunt sexual proposition. Don't ask him any questions to get to know him beyond his age and how often he works out. If he volunteers any information about himself beyond those two vitally important data points, interrupt.

Better yet, you should be the one to tell him the details of his life. What's a lifetime of first-hand knowledge compared to wild speculation based on first sight?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Welcome to Conservapedia, where A is not A. (2)

This just in from Conservapedia:
Liberal double standard: When liberals win the popular vote, they praise democracy. When they lose the popular vote, they defy democracy. Gordon Brown refuses to give up power despite losing in a landslide!
In other breaking news, firefighters are still investigating the mysterious explosion at the Acme Irony Meter Company showroom across the street from Conservapedia H.Q. Also, I won't even bother with Conservapedia's interesting take on the UK's system of government.

Quote of the week

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everyone knows .... (3)

We often hear that gay men (or sometimes specifically white gay men) always engage in unfounded stereotyping. Since this point is so vitally important, let me repeat it: Gay men always generalize to entire groups in accordance with unfounded stereotypes. No, irony is not a politically correct concept.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Welcome to Conservapedia, where A is not A.

Far-rightists no longer even try to hide the glaring contradictions in their dogma. For example, our friends at Conservapedia fervently espouse the right-wing political correctness that the homosexual agenda is undemocratic. Yet Conservapedia's main page has recently admonished President Obama (who probably knows a little bit about Constitutional law) for supposedly forgetting that America is a Constitutional republic, not a democracy. It just goes to show you.