Malice or Stupidity

There’s a frequently used “razor” for deciding what direction to take when evaluating the reason for a person’s obtuse behaviours. It goes something like:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

The Wiki say’s it is Hanlon’s Razor and has some history on it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

Origins and etymology

The adage was popularized in this form and under this name by the Jargon File, a glossary of computer programmer slang. In 1990, it appeared in the Jargon File described as a “‘murphyism’ parallel to Occam’s Razor”. The name was inspired by Occam’s razor. Later that same year, the Jargon File editors noted lack of knowledge about the term’s derivation and the existence of a similar epigram by William James. In 1996, the Jargon File entry on Hanlon’s Razor noted the existence of a similar quotation in Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “Logic of Empire” (1941), with speculation that Hanlon’s Razor might be a corruption of “Heinlein’s Razor”. (Heinlein termed it ‘the devil’ theory of sociology, and wrote, “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity”.)

In 2001, Quentin Stafford-Fraser published two blog entries citing e-mails from one Joseph E. Bigler about how the quotation originally came from Robert J. Hanlon of Scranton, Pennsylvania, as a submission for a book compilation of various jokes related to Murphy’s law published in Arthur Bloch’s Murphy’s Law Book Two: More Reasons Why Things Go Wrong! (1980). Subsequently, in 2002, the Jargon File entry noted the same, though not definitively.

Now, by my reckoning, 1941 and Heinlein comes before 1980 and Murphy’s Law Book Two. So I’d attribute it first to Heinlein… but they go on from there…

Similar quotations

Another similar quotation appears in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774):
…misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Similarly, Jane West’s The Loyalists (1812) includes:
Let us not attribute to malice and cruelty what may be referred to less criminal motives. Do we not often afflict others undesignedly, and, from mere carelessness, neglect to relieve distress?

—Jane West
A common (and more laconic) British English variation, coined by Bernard Ingham, is the saying “cock-up before conspiracy”, deriving from this 1985 quotation:
Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.

—Bernard Ingham
Another similar instance from politics is the attribution by First Minister of Scotland, Henry McLeish, of financial irregularities that led to his resignation in 2001, to “a muddle not a fiddle”.

“Heinlein’s Razor” has since been defined as variations on Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice. This quotation is attributed to Albert Einstein in Peter W. Singer’s book Wired for War (2009).

I’m also rather fond of the version at the end attributed to Albert Einstein. “don’t rule out malice”…

My Contribution / Muse

There’s a competing pressure in human behaviour. Noble Cause Corruption. This is when someone acts in a malicious way (when seen from other’s POV) when they, themselves, see it as acting acting morally. Now if they KNOW they are doing something wrong, but for a good cause, we can sort of stuff that under “stupidity”. It wasn’t malice as they were working from a noble POV; and it was ‘wrong’. Yet I find that pigeon hole inadequate. Is it not a little bit of malice and a little bit of wrong?

But what does one do when they believe that what they are doing is correct, but perhaps just not fully elaborated enough for those who are not “with it” enough to understand? From their POV they are not malicious, nor are they ‘wrong’ and thus stupid. They are the “useful idiots” of Socialism. Those who truly believe they are right, and acting from a moral POV; but where demonstrating their stupidity is lacking (at least to their satisfaction and perhaps the satisfaction of others…)

Malice vs Stupidity vs Noble-wrong vs Noble-naive.

Yes, I need some catchy phrases to have this easier to remember and catch on… but for now it’s an analysis.

I think this distinction matters, if for no other reason than that the “noble-naive” case person will NEVER accept that they are being evil or malicious, and few will accept they are being stupid. In order to reach the “useful idiot” herd, we need to recognize them as a unique group, and consider a better way to communicate to them where they have gone off the rails. As they were “mislead” rather than stupid. Until the “calling them stupid and / or malicious” is off the table, hurling invective causes less persuasion, not more. (Not that “mislead / under informed” is all that helpful).

IMHO we have this 4 way split and we need to come to terms with it. There are the truly malicious, like, IMHO, Maurice Strong, who set out to take over the global economy via the UN and has made great strides to that end. There are the truly stupid (we’ve seen them in street rallies or film saying the end is nigh…). But most of the Global Warming Theorists are from the other two camps.

Many (very many) are from the Noble Cause Corruption side. Often these are the businesses and UN / Govt sorts who suspect it’s bunk, but know they can make a buck off of it. Look in any of the published Climate Science papers and the volume of dross is huge. The editors, reviewers and even the authors simply are not dumb enough to not know that they are publishing trash. In some cases, we have on record their statements that the ends justifies the means. These are the conquistadors of the Global Warming Theorist crowd. The folks out to ‘get theirs’ while incidentally foisting an empire of dominance on the rest of us natives. All the while comforting themselves that they are doing The Lord’s Work in spreading the Faith.

More, IMHO most, are from the Noble Cause Naive side. The “useful idiots” who are happy to accept a ‘feel good story’ about their noble cause and just don’t have the time or mental equipment to sort out all the deception and errors in what is otherwise a ‘happy story’ for their sense of self worth. In this category, too, I’d put those who have an honest belief in the ‘radiative physics’ as abused in the CO2 model and have an honest belief in the “adjust, homogenize, and fold / spindle / mutilate” temperature torturing methods; then believe the results. While the “science” is actually quite ambiguous (or even outright wrong) those folks (who are often the ones doing the “science”…) are not sharp enough to realize it. While this dances on the edge of “stupidity”, these folks are not stupid in an absolute sense, only relative to the complexity of the problem and explanation. (One could make a case that the ‘malice’ comes in with those who create the hideously complicated ‘explanation’ that can’t be falsified, and the “stupid” comes in with those who accept it and then sometimes even extend it, having swallowed the premise un-skeptically.)

So there’s a 4 way spread of folks, IMHO. Malice. Stupidity. Noble-Corrupt. Noble-Naive. Each of these needs a different approach to understanding.

The “Noble-Naive” there is some hope of getting them focused long enough on a decent enough exposition of the errors for them to ‘get it’. (Though one is still fighting the ‘incredible power of stupid’… and often coupled with willful ignorance as a way to preserve their sense of nobility). To be really effective, there must also be a replacement “feel good” cause for them to substitute so that the loss of the cherished phantasy is not so hurtful as to prevent change.

The “Noble-Corrupt” already know they are making stuff up. Perhaps not all of it, but a lot of it. They have often got a core of “Noble-Naive” on which they have built a response of corruption (like posing as a board member to steal email…) I have no idea how to approach someone who is suffering both naivety and corruption as they have already admitted that they will go beyond what is justified and are comfortable with corruption. For them, there is also the barrier of “fear of getting caught / found out” to overcome if they were to change their POV.

Then we have the simple Incredible Power of Stupid. For folks in that quadrant, it takes a horrendous amount of work to get them to either understand (sometimes impossible) or change camps (which if done while staying stupid is simply a different act of faith and more based on popular stories and peer groups than anything else). These are the folks where propaganda wars are working their evil.

Finally, for the “Malicious”, the usual cure is prosecution and incarceration, but for this particular group many have so arranged things that they are in charge of prosecution and / or out of the jurisdiction. (Maurice Strong, for example, had a large compound in China with a personal guard…)

per the wiki:

In 2005, during investigations into the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food Programme, evidence procured by federal investigators and the U.N.-authorized inquiry of Paul Volcker showed that in 1997, while working for Annan, Strong had endorsed a check for $988,885, made out to “Mr. M. Strong,” issued by a Jordanian bank. It was reported that the check was hand-delivered to Mr. Strong by a South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, who in 2006 was convicted in New York federal court of conspiring to bribe U.N. officials to rig Oil-for-Food in favor of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Strong was never accused of any wrongdoing.[21] During the inquiry, Strong stepped down from his U.N. post, stating that he would “sideline himself until the cloud was removed.”
Shortly after this, Strong moved to an apartment he owned in Beijing.[21] He said that his departure from the U.N. was motivated not by the Oil-for-Food investigations, but by his sense at the time, as Mr. Annan’s special adviser on North Korea, that the U.N. had reached an impasse. “It just happened to coincide with the publicity surrounding my so-called nefarious activities,” he insists. “I had no involvement at all in Oil-for-Food … I just stayed out of it.”

“apartment” doesn’t quite cover the picture I saw… A very LARGE apartment that looked like a block of apartments, and with armed guards stationed outside.

So short of prosecution, what can be done? Only idea I have is illumination of the evil and corruption. That, unfortunately, will require a press that actually cares and isn’t itself Noble-Corrupt to Noble-Naive. “Facts not in evidence” at this point in time.

In Conclusion

I think it is of value to keep in mind the 4 quadrants when dealing with Global Warming Theorists. Unless you can properly place what quadrant a particular person is working from, you can not get them to hear you. Responding with “Malice” responses to a “Noble-Naive” person will simply have them reject you out of hand as yourself being full of Malice or Stupidity. In order to get them to open their eyes and minds and actually question their ‘Received Wisdom’, there must be some willingness to see the source as credible and honest.

Then you must set about having a “simple, obvious and right” answer to replace their “simple, obvious and wrong” one (or perhaps “complex, incomprehensible, wrong but from authority” one…)

Unfortunately, much of my time has been spent on trying to unravel the “complex, incomprehensible and wrong” parts and not enough on the “simple obvious and right” counter points.

To undermine the “Noble-Corrupt” and even harder, the flat out “Malice” quadrants is a domain I’ve not explored. It clearly needs to be done, but “how” is something I’m going to leave as a “Dig Here!” for folks with congressional committees and / or subpoena power.

The simply stupid will need a retrieval of the means of propaganda from the hands of the Malicious and Noble-Corrupt. As of now, the public media are fully bought-in to one story, and that is the evil one. That, too, is outside my turf. The only hope I really see there is that we are in the early stages of a prolonged and deep cooling cycle. If we can ‘play out the clock’ for another 4 or 5 years it is highly likely that even the significantly stupid will know they are up to their eyeballs in snow, and not warmth. But even there, as long as the media are propaganda outlets for the Global Warming Theorists, then it is a race condition between the Incredible Power Of Stupid and the quality of the propaganda.

I do tend to the optimistic notion that even stupid folks can learn enough. I’ve been a teacher and tutor, and the spouse does Special Education, so it isn’t hopeless. I’ve seen and participated in some effective education of the special needs folks. Since that can be done, there is hope for the Useful Idiots as well. But that will require some much better presentation methods on the Nature Done It side. Likely, too, it will require making the Global Warming story very “un cool”. Essentially, illustrating that Green is the New Red and/or Greenshirts as Brownshirts. As long as “being green” is forced as good, and being against “carbon” is being “green”, the propaganda will be effective even in the snow.

So that’s my “contribution” for today. To realize there are four quadrants, not two ends of a line, and that the different groups present different issues to resolve, and those will require different solutions. Proselytizing might work with some, enforced morality for others (such as the “science journals” that really need a good housecleaning of True Believers with Noble Cause Corruption). Identify the quadrant. Identify the better approaches to fix them. Implement operationally. QA / revise and Repeat.

Never attribute to Malice that which is Noble Cause Corruption, and
Never attribute to Stupidity that which is Noble Cause Naivety.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and GIStemp Issues, Human Interest and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Malice or Stupidity

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have come to basically the same conclusion over time. You really have to get a handle on where the other side is coming from in order to have any real chance of communicating with them. Folks have a strong attachment to “being right” and if you paint them in the corner they will only dig in and shut down effective communication.

    It is sort of like the problem a sales man has. The first task for the sales agent is not to sell the car but to establish common ground with the victim ( customer ). You usually do that by finding something you can agree with (even if it is a very oblique agreement).

    Then it also helps to be careful to avoid derogatory terms. Much better to use some comment like “that is a common mistake, this is what many people miss” rather than “No that is totally wrong”.
    This protects the persons ego, and gives them a face saving way to say Ahhh now I understand, rather that having to say, “I was wrong”.

    Part and parcel of that is identifying those who are so deeply imbedded in a view that it is essentially a lost cause trying to show them a new understanding. Much more productive to work on the edges with those who still have some flex in their opinion.

    Also your point about education. You have to try to define their learning style. Some people will just go into a coma if you try to talk numbers, but you can reach them easily if you can come up with an applicable analogy. Unfortunately analogies are always a bit wrong so if you are dealing with a pedantic individual you can easily get lost in the minutia. For others only the numbers will do.

    Sometimes the best move is to make your case and then just back off and wait. In about a week or two, they will think it is their own discovery and accept it. If you keep beating them over the head with the error they will just cross their arms and lock up.

  2. nemesis says:

    Keep asking the question ‘why’ – It undermines their lack of understanding and gets them to start thinking for themselves rather than repeating what they have been told.

  3. omanuel says:

    I have been very good at wrapping myself in a robe of self-righteousness and identifying the selfish motives in others.

    I judged myself by my good intentions and others by their actions.

    in my old age, i agree with this quote from an anonymous source:

    “There is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us, but we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here.”

    “When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.”

  4. Pouncer says:

    But then there is Plunkitt of Tammany Hall — a cheerful grifter of the opinion that “honest graft is what gets the roads built”. Dennis Hastert, lately in the news, appears to be of the type.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    Far too often in arguments over fact, The Golden Rule prevails.
    He that controls the gold wins the argument. pg

  6. Serioso says:

    I note, with disappointment, that you set up a dichotomy, between stupidity and malevolence. It is a false choice. You have left out ignorance.

    You have accused me of being a troll. Fair enough! I sit under bridges looking for examples of stupidity. What I find, mostly, are examples of ignorance. Your posts are stuffed with ignorance. I occasionally try to respond, but when I do, you usually send me to the moderator queue. Okay, it’s your sandbox, and I am powerless to fight back, but, nonetheless, your general ignorance is a shame. Evidently you don’t read any of the “liberal” mainstream media; anyone who doesn’t read the daily New York Times is not following the main discussion of current events, or the argument about their meaning.

    I have a short cure for you, if you will take it. Read Barney Frank’s latest book, “Frank.” I know you seem to believe that Barney was largely responsible for the 2008 melt-down. Read the book and see what Barney says. Then refute it.

    Yeah, I know, this comment goes straight to the queue. Why do I bother? Mostly because I think you have a quick mind, and it’s hard to believe that such a quick mind is capable of such astonishing ignorance. But, the evidence shows, it is! I don’t think your are stupid or particularly malevolent. But woefully uninformed fits my impression.

    [Reply: And with an insult laden screed like this, you still wonder why you go to the moderation bin?

    First, you think it a false dichotomy between stupidity and malevolence; yet they are clearly different things. One can be stupid, or one can be malevolent, and they are quite different. Yes, it is possible for someone to be both (thus the reason the razor exists – to give guidance where decision may be clouded by confounders).

    I generally accuse of “Troll Like Behaviours” as that is the observable. As to your actual nature I can say little, only about the observable.

    You then head out into trying to make a dichotomy between “stupid” and “ignorant”. There may well be some difference, but it isn’t much. Stupid having a bit more connotation of fundamental limit of ability while ignorance denotes directly insufficient information (or, in a stretch, mis-information). Not seeing a whole lot of utility in that, but it is similar to the notion I flagged as “Noble-naive” which is intended to convey the idea of “noble cause corruption – ignorant of the reality”.

    And then the insults begin. I’m accused of being “ignorant” because I don’t parrot the Social-Liberal / Socialist / Left Wing / Progressive {whatever they are calling themselves today as they rebrand} talking points. I’ve heard them. I’ve read them. I know them. I reject them as they are mostly wrong. That isn’t ignorance, that is informed choice. A choice you don’t like, so you can’t imagine I’d make it. So presume ignorance.

    You want me to read the N.Y.Times daily? That would consume the entire day. Nope, not going to do that. But your premise is simply wrong. One need not read The Times to have clue. Yes, it is where all the other lap dogs and pack followers go to find out what TPTB think they ought to think today. Good for setting the agenda of the empty headed. And yes, what they say shows up in dozens of other papers and “news” shows globally. Thus the lack of any need to read it directly…

    But as to the accusation that I pay no attention to the “liberal” mainstream media: No.
    Wrap your head around that.

    I pay lots of attention to them (and I’ve told you this before, but things you don’t like fail to stick in your head, it seems). Daily, at a minimum I watch CNN, Russia Today, Al Jazeera, and DW (German news). I also sometimes catch BBC America and occasionally a few minutes of MSNBC if I can stand it. Add in the “liberal” leaning financial news on Bloomberg and CNBC to round out the day. Now if you think RT and Al Jazeera are not progressive/social-liberal, you’ve never watched them. CNN is about as far left as you can get and still claim some degree of ‘unbiased’ news. So, simply put, you are projecting and trying to paint me with a non-truth.

    Do I watch Fox? Yes, sometimes. Unfortunately, after about 3 pm California time they go into “commentary” and “editorial” shows instead of news shows, and I’m interested in news. So I try to catch one pass of the news cycle in the mornings, but sometimes miss. I’ll sample some of the commentary shows, but rarely watch any of them with any regularity. (The “shouting matches” on Hannity usually drive me away as soon as one starts…) So at this point I’d put the CNN / Fox ratio at about 2:1 and the Al Jazeera / Fox ratio at about 4:1 since Al Jazeera has news; though once it is repeating I’ll move on to another news source.

    Per Frank: No, I’m not going to buy his book, nor waste a lot of my time reading it. I know where he stands (having seen him interviewed repeatedly on TV. Oddly, often on Fox.) I’ve done a fairly deep dive into the financial meltdown and know what caused it. Forced lending to bad borrowers via the CRA law. ALL the folks who pushed that law have partial responsibility. Then you add in the Republicans who demanded the repeal of Glass-Steagall to go along and took out the firebreaks in the financial system that had worked since the great depression. Finally, and only a minor part to play IMHO, there was the zoo of creative financial instruments created to mix that crap loan base into packages and third party it around the world (SIVs and other securitized mortgage packages). Why minor? As without them the banks would have been forced to keep those loans and gone belly up sooner, or found other ways to pedal them with the same eventual effects. It only changes the timing, and the size a little bit, not the fundamental cause. And no, I don’t need to waste my time “refuting” idiot arguments. I have better things to do. Spending time tilting at windmills doesn’t improve understanding.

    Then in your final paragraph, we get the money shot of your whole reason to comment. Nothing really about the posting, just more personal insult. “Astonishing ignorance” eh? Again simply unable to accept that I’m not ignorant of the Received Wisdom of Socialism or The Left; but in fact have looked closely at it and find it badly broken. I own, and have read a couple of times, The Communist Manifesto. I own, and have read, Samuelson Economics that is a good treatment of classically liberal “mixed economy” advantages and the joys of Keynesian Economics. Only late in life did I find the Austrian School and while I’ve bought a couple of their books, I’ve only read one of them (time limiting has the other sitting on the shelf waiting…) I have 6 units of Sociology on my transcript which was largely socialism indoctrination class – and lots of required reading in it. The list is long… I know the difference between communism, collective socialism, national socialism, Lange Type socialism, social democracy, and more. I was required to study them for my degree in Econ. Yet because I favor a lightly regulated market economic form, you presume I must be ignorant of the others. Sigh. Anyone who lives in California is saturated in left-wing-think and our brand of “Market Socialism” is driving California into the drink just like it always does. I’ve lived it for over 1/2 century since the first term of Governor Moonbeam in ’75 and his dad in ’59. Not to mention that I went to U.C. in the ’70s. (Still have pictures of me with long hair, bell bottom striped pants, a dashiki shirt and beard… no, not going to share ;-)

    So yes, you go to the moderation queue so I can inspect your insults and have a response in place to them before they go up for the world to see. Why do you bother? Lord only knows. I figure you get your jollies out of being insulting, but only you know for sure. BTW, insult to elicit response is a ‘troll like behavior’…

    -E.M.Smith ]

  7. DonM says:

    Another quote that comes to mind … “Women: a mistake? Or did he do it to us on purpose?” (The Witches of Eastwick – Jack Nicholson).
    This, in some other form, may be the oldest reference to the malice or incompetence question.

    I’ve categorized the bureaucrats/regulators that I deal with on a regular basis in the same format you described above. The truly incompetent, with an altruist bent, are the hardest ones to deal with.

    For (a portion of) half of the bureaucratic population I have even gone so far as to mark my calendar to know how they may be reacting. Throw this into the mix with the “quadrant” system you described above and it becomes very difficult figure who/what you are dealing with.

  8. Ian W says:

    There may well be another group that appear to be the naive group but are in fact extremely competent just that climate science is not their field. So if there are multiple peer reviewed papers in the ‘trusted’ journals that say X, they believe X. Life is too short to research everything. As their whole academic life is built on citations of ‘trusted’ research, claiming that such research should not be trusted is digging away at the foundations of all they have done. So they will defend ‘science’ against the unscientific (as they see it). These people will respond to a real scientific argument and I think that they are an important group. These scientists and academics in non-climate science areas if they realize that their standing is going down with climate ‘science’ may suddenly come on-side. Having academia on side could be important. The most resistance in academia comes from the Grants department and deans who see global warming/climate change as the little brown jug of grant funding. This is why there are so many papers appearing that link anything to global warming. I haven’t seen it mentioned in a paper on string theory (yet) but the grants departments know add global warming and you get government money. As Paris approaches expect even more of these.

  9. Chuckles says:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
    Upton SInclair.

  10. Serioso says:

    There is one part of your response that I am unable to understand. You say you get your information from many different sources, all of which appear to be video in nature. And you say it would take you all day to read the daily New York Times. Given the obvious speed of your reading ability, why do you try to get information from video? I spend less than an hour a day on the Times. I get a lot more information per minute than watching the national news. I would appreciate an explanation.

    [Reply: I multiprocess well, so the TV is usually running many hours of the day with news or financial news in the background. Auditory processing happens in parallel with everything else I do, which includes the computer for various news sources I didn’t list (but are often quoted in postings). Last time I looked at the NYT it was several inches thick. It either takes a very long time, or it is only being skimmed, not read. So perhaps you meant to say “read the headlines and a few articles” instead of read the whole paper… And that style is just as easily met with the internet sources. Now, the other problem with “newsprint” is that they shrunk it to the point where it’s a PITA to read. I can, typically, read the screen without my reading glasses and was able to read full size papers the same way. After the Big Shrink, it makes the eyes uncomfortable, or I have to go hunting for the readers. At that point I just said “shit can it” to the printed papers. As did a whole lot of other people. http://www.lifeclever.com/who-shrunk-my-new-york-times/ Then add in that it costs $468 for a subscription (with delivery and digital access) and I have a whole lot of much more useful things to do with almost $500 a year. Not having any oil money or grants, I get to pinch pennies on things like that. So since video is zero time cost (overlaps with other physical activities) and internet sources are free, more current – nearly instant, and much easier to read; I’m having trouble seeing any benefit in the old style of info delivery. Others seem to be making the same assessment: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/more-steep-circulation-declines-at-newspapers/ “At The New York Times, circulation dropped 5.2 percent on Sunday, to 1.4 million copies, and 8.5 percent on weekdays, to 950,000.” So I’d put it to you: Why are you one of a small minority, .95 Million out of 341 Million in the USA (a little under 3%), who bother to read the NYT? It’s a dying industry with a dying readership, who made it harder to read their product, wants a lot of money for it, and largely delivers a narrow scope of POV with an editorial bias. I’d have listed my on-line sources, but figured you had noticed the very wide variety of sources quoted. (Though I am partial to searching out Russian and Indian sources for variety, and the British sources for family heritage reasons, and the Australians just because I like them ;-) Oh, and when I’m in the car I have news running, not music. Typically NPR (oh, did I mention I also sometime watch Nightly Business Report, News Hour etc. on PBS? I have a few hundred hours of old McL News Hours on Beta from back when I religiously recorded and watched it) but also the two (liberal bias) major news broadcasters. Sometimes, just to keep language skills up, I also watch Spanish Language TV news and listen to Spanish radio. Then again, I’ve also been sampling some French via the internet, and found an Ireland TV news online. While teaching ESL to Brazilian kids I was listening to Portuguese TV news via the internet and reading an online Brazilian newspaper. (Or more accurately, trying to listen… I can read it OK, but something in the sound profile is not quite locking on yet.) I could likely go on for another paragraph of things “sometimes watched, read, or listened” (like the sporadic Christian News Program I ran into last week on the satellite and didn’t know existed as I generally avoid the religion channels) but they are more salt on the news meal than substance and this is already too long. Until they shrunk the size of news print, I had a subscription to the local silicon valley newspaper, but like many, dumped it due to low utility. Also had IBD (Investors Business Daily) subscription. It, too, dumped for internet sources. As for books, well, that’s a whole nother posting… I have about 24 linear feet by 7 foot tall of bookcases plus about a dozen boxes of books. Not getting to read as much as in prior years, but still try to work in a few – though find I now often speed read some chapters rather than in-depth savor, unless the material is worth the added time. Lately I dug out the Russian Text from my one class in UC and decided to see if I could get it up to speed. Still struggle with the alphabet… so I can puzzle out words, but speed not so much. I also started on a Learning Latin book (with CD) and it went faster. I can now often get the sense of a latin passage, with some errors. So lately my reading has been more “other languages” than political economy oriented. My eventual goal being to read some of the Newton era works in the original. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28233/28233-h/28233-h.htm has it in Latin. Case endings still throw me some, but the roots I’ve pretty much got working. (Conjugating Latin is a pain…) But as Brazilian online newspapers in Portuguese and dead authors in Latin are not even in the same ballpark as political economy news, I saw no reason to mention them before. Oh, and I suppose the dozen or three PDFs of various papers and such each week also ought to be mentioned. I usually don’t quote / link to them as much just because it is often a pain (cut / paste blocked, or has high error rates and needs a lot of manual fixing) but I’ve got a few GB of them downloaded, read, and saved. Mostly climate related, some political economy, many about plants, drugs, medical or biological topics. Hopefully this partial list gives you a satisfactory sample. -E.M.Smith ]

  11. Gail Combs says:

    You also have the training in non-think/non-reality. This would probably be your Noble-naive.

    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride. The philosophy expressed in this old English proverb originating in the 16th century has become obsolete in todays education.

    Instead we have The Philosophy Of Karl Marx

    The philosophical bases of Marx’s thought were laid early and remained unchanged … As a student, Marx accepted the philosophy of Hegel as the only sound and adequate explanation of the universe. According to this philosophy, “the only immutable thing is the abstraction of movement.” The one universal phenomenon is change, and the only universal form of this phenomenon is its complete abstraction. Thus, Hegel accepted as real only that which existed in the mind. Objective phenomena and events were of no consequence; only the conceptions of them possessed by human minds were real. Ideas, not objects, were the stuff of which the universe was made. The universe and all events therein existed and took place only in the mind, and any change was a change in ideas….

    …in this realm of the mind within which the universe had its only real existence, innumerable theses and antitheses existed. Struggle or conflict was the en-evitable fact in such a universe—conflict of the thesis with its antithesis. In this struggle thesis and antithesis acted and reacted on each other, and a new phenomenon—synthesis—was created. All action or change occurring in the universe was, under the Hegelian philosophy, the product of thesis, antithesis, and resulting synthesis….

    These people are trained that objective reality doesn’t exist separate from what they think so they believe that a ‘Consensus’ the synthesis in the above, is the ‘TRUTH’ This is why there is such emphasis on the 97% Consensus. No amount of scientific evidence will sway them since they do not believe in objective reality. (I had one of these as a prof.)

    Then there is the other type represented by this Conversation with an anti society antinuclear activist

    …I had the opportunity a few days ago of talking to a bright young anti-nuclear activist about the way Fukushima has helped the anti-nuclear cause….

    I braced myself for a debate about how serious the nuclear accident really was, health effects, long term effect, cleanup costs, etc. But I was completely taken off-guard by what he told me right off the bat. He actually *agreed* that the seriousness of the accident was greatly overstated and that the health effects were likely te turn out to be as small as to be nonexistent.

    My response was, of course, to ask how he could align this with the scaremongering and misinformation being spread by the anti-nuclear parties. He then explained to me that the facts about nuclear energy, it’s safety and even it’s positive economic effects were not relevant. He said that scaremongering and misinformation where the appropriate and moral strategy of anti-nuclear groups.

    He said that the ideology of sustainability and anti-nuclearism was so important for the future of humanity that facts should be of no concern. Moreover: if the invention of fake information (i.e. lies) about nuclear energy could bring closer the day of elimination of nuclear power from the earth, then that meant that producing and spreading fake information should (and indeed was) a top priority of all anti-nuclear groups…..

    He said that people in general cannot and do not base their views and opinions on facts, so the value of facts versus fiction was relative. In order to bring about the disired outcome (i.e. a nuclear free world) fiction could be (and in fact was, in his opinion) a much better way to do it then facts.

    Finally, I asked him why he thought nuclear power should be eliminated even after he told me that he agreed that nuclear power was good for the economy. His reply was simply that an additional goal of the antinuclear movement (as far as he was concerned) was in fact the reduction of economic activity, since according to him, the greatest cause of ecological damage was increased economic activity.

    So in his mind, the fact that nuclear power was a boon for the economy was all the more reason to try to eliminate it. In closing, I told him that a reduction in economic activity would also reduce his own prospects for a high quality of life and prosperity. But he didn’t agree with me. He said that further economic expansion was of no use to him, because he believed in living a simple life.

    He said that economic expansion was bad for people because it distracted from the true quality of life, which consists of community and social activities that are mostly threatened by improved prosperity, rather than improved by it…..

    This is probably your Noble-wrong. He knows darn well he is lying and is intentionally crafting lies because HE knows what is best for Humanity and we are too stupid and greedy to be trusted to control our own lives.

    Again no amount of scientific evidence will sway them since they already know everything is a lie and are very willing to put on the serf’s collar and live in poverty…. or so they think.

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