Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Theory of "Intelligent Valuation"

I reject the economic theory of inflation.  That's right.  I firmly believe deep in my heart that all currencies were created with their real values by intelligent valuators.  Inflationists will have you believe that real values of currencies have changed over time and that our modern reality is just the current state of that ever-transient change.  But were any of them there to see it happen?  These so-called economists will go so far as to suppress the teaching of Intelligent Valuation in schools so that our children will all be converted to their beliefs.  It's time that people learn that Inflationism isn't all it's cracked up to be.

In this post, I'll be highlighting the flaws that the inflationists don't want you to know.  I will be taking the method of tearing down a lot of the common arguments they spew and illustrating countless counterexamples to stand as evidence that intelligent valuation explains the reality better.  Sure, the inflationists will try to confuse you with all their talk of consumer price indices, Giffen goods, demand pull, and cost push.  They're all just ad hoc hypotheses that are built on the faith-based assumption that intelligent valuation can't be true.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

On the Fear of Being Wrong

Recently, the anti-vaccine crowd got a taste of reality with a series of necessarily preventable outbreaks that prove that they are a harmful crowd that stupidly denies science with the end result of causing death and disease.  In the microcosm of a single topic, these people are every bit as anti-science and anti-fact as evolution-denying religious cretins*, or anti-GMO nutters.  To be clear, I am not saying that these groups are equal when you generalize across the entire spectrum of science denial, as there are certain groups that reject more scientific principles than others do.  Rather, I'm saying that when you look at the characteristics of abject ignorance of the pertaining subjects, the outright rejection of the evidence, the intransigence with respect to their opponents (vividly illustrated by their preference to hurl accusations rather than actually form a cogent argument), and the apparent belief that their lies are more likely to be true if they're more extreme and terrifying... All of that is basically the same for every science denial movement.

In arguing against these sorts of reality-hating troglodytes, we're most likely to fight back with the real facts on the subject often times because those are the things that we as critical thinkers and rationalists would value most of all.  It is easy to forget, though, that a large part of the reason we do value such things is because we are critical thinkers to begin with, and for those who are not, it just doesn't have any major impact.  A science denier isn't denying it because he or she thinks the facts are really in question, but because he doesn't think something is a fact unless he agrees with it.  The science denier belongs to social groups that hold certain ideas to be beyond reproach, and so anything that dares to challenge that is automatically false 
because it doesn't fit what they already convinced themselves is known to be true.  The truth is a hard pill to swallow, and the most bitter truth of them all is the one that says you're wrong.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On Violence Without Religion

In my Charlie Hebdo response entry, I posed the rhetorical question about the relative rate of violent retribution by people of a religious stripe and people for whom the axe on the grindstone is devoid of religion. Although that piece was mainly pointed at the standard arguments about Muslims who commit violence -- as the context was one involving Islamic terrorism -- the point itself is easily universalized to all religions that have a history of atrocities... Which is pretty much all of them that have been around for any considerable length of time.  Sure, the Raelians and the Baha'i have no such history to speak of, but they also haven't been around that long compared to the likes of the Abrahamic faiths.

In any case, almost like clockwork, the attack at UNC in which 3 Muslims were killed by an atheist. The official statement indicates that this act of violence was over a matter of a parking dispute.  Of course, while it is true that murders in this country have happened over even more trivial things, I find it far more likely that the parking dispute was little more than the last straw.  I and the whole of the atheist community can condemn this all we want -- and of course, we do -- but I also feel like it provides little value to do so.  No more than it is meaningful for Muslims to come out and condemn the Charlie Hebdo attacks.  It's a perfectly nice thing to hear, and I'm sure we all care about this sort of thing in the sense of assurance that not every Muslim is Anjem Choudary nor every Christian is Fred Phelps, but anyone can say words.  It doesn't really change what happened.  Rather, what I would like to address is the cultural backdrop behind these sorts of events, as I feel this sort of discussion is more meaningful in exploring what could prevent future occurrences of such an outcome.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Je suis Charlie, que tout le monde devrait

Greetings, readers!  It's been a while since I've posted on the blog, and there's really little more to it than being insanely busy working long hours through the would-be holidays and all.  It's more than a little bit annoying that CES happens pretty much the first working week of January (after the New Year's holidays and all).  Well, it was like this last year as well, and this year, the crunch was not quite as bad, but there was a lot more shown from my department this time.  Anyway, during all this, there was the attack on Charlie Hebdo after a supposedly insulting-to-Muslims cartoon appeared, and there's already plenty out there about the attack itself.  What I wanted to get on was the so-called "liberal" reaction.

We generally expect the atheist community to have a problem with the attacks, but the flavor of multiculturalism that imbues the so-called liberal viewpoint comes out with every condemnation of violence hedged and qualified.  "Freedom of speech is incredibly important but..."  "Violence is inexcusable but..."  If there's a "but" in that sentence, it means that you're willing to make exceptions for that principle, and that already puts you on a spiral of wrongness.  All the "but"s regarding the Charlie Hebdo attack basically lead down this view that insulting religion is inherently wrong, and therefore, Charlie Hebdo brought it on themselves.  One article on Time suggested that anything that could be construed as an insult to Muslims automatically means you're not a bastion of free speech.  The Daily Beast said that being deliberately provocative isn't really part of free speech.  Really?  Then what is?  The worst part is that this is also a sentiment coming from the right wing religious nutbars (in a thinly veiled effort to intimate that they, too, should be shielded from all criticism).  If you're a self-described social liberal, and you find yourself agreeing with Bill Donohue, there's a chink in your armor somewhere.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Much Context Matters

Recently, I walked in in the middle of a conversation about microwave cooking, and as soon as I walked through the door, the first words I heard were "microwave food is not good, right?"  That sort of question has a few meanings, but the most common meaning I am used to hearing about is just about how food cooked in a microwave generally doesn't taste as good as other modes of cooking.  To this, I agreed, as I generally find this to be the case as well.  Then it went off on some tangent about "killing everything" and how that supposedly doesn't happen with regular stovetop cooking...  and so I replied that that only happens after you reach a certain temperature (presuming that he was talking about killing microbes).  After some shouting where I couldn't quite follow what people were saying because it was too many people talking at once, I figured we were still talking about taste, so I made the point about being unable to achieve certain effects like searing the outsides of foods, applying dry heat, etc...  and then I got a question about radiation going into the food.  Well, that's technically how a microwave is supposed to work, so that is ostensibly true, but not much of a meaningful question in the context.  It wasn't until much later that I was informed that the discussion was about the safety of microwave cooking, and so I found myself unwittingly agreeing with people who held an absurdly misguided and factually dead wrong position.

A lesson in just how much context makes a difference, and how far off the mark one can go if they make presumptions about what that context is.  It is within context that meaning is derived, and getting that context wrong can really destroy your sense of what people mean at times.