Stupid Lies

  • Trump’s stupid lies;
  • How conservatives do not trust people to make their own decisions;
  • Heather Cox Richardson on how we got here;
  • A Republican who boasts about cheating homeless people;
  • On a positive note: Ali Velshi on NPR this morning.

Why do they lie all the time? Because they can get away with it. Their crowds adore it — either they believe the lies, or they admire the audacity of the telling of them.

Joe.My.God, 13 May 2024: Trump Lies That 100,000 Attended His New Jersey Rally

With photos stolen from a Rod Stewart concert in Brazil 30 years ago.

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Fundamentalist Simplicity and Autism

  • A fundamentalist preacher who denies that PTSD, OCD, and ADHD, exist;
  • A New Yorker article about how psychiatric labels reinforce behaviors; and how I think autism is a condition, not a disease.

Here’s a short item about a fundamentalist that relates to the following piece from The New Yorker.

Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, 4 May 2024: Lying preacher John MacArthur: “There’s no such thing” as PTSD, OCD, and ADHD, subtitled “The 84-year-old conspiracy theorist told a Christian audience more harmful lies”

Fundamentalist preacher John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in California said during a recent conference that post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other forms of mental illness are essentially hoaxes.

“There’s no such thing,” he said of those conditions.

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A Table of Moral Polarities, Initial Take

I’ve been making notes over the past month for a table of moral polarities, in order to align and summarize some of the concepts and the many news examples I’ve compiled lately. Recall how I’ve mentioned that certain attitudes, especially on the right, seem to go together. Obvious ones like religious fundamentalism and being anti-science and anti-gay, and others not so obvious. So let me set up a little table, a first draft, to start to compile some of these terms and attitudes.

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Friday 10 May 2024

A round of assorted items collected on the web the past few days.

Here’s that item about what universities are for, that I couldn’t find the other day.

The Atlantic, Derek Thompson, 8 May 2024: No One Knows What Universities Are For, subtitled “Bureaucratic bloat has siphoned power away from instructors and researchers.”

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Estate Matters

Busy with estate matters today. It’s not easy being an executor. So many things to take care of. People who do not respond to your emails. One pic for today, almost full-sized, of books he left behind.

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Can Education Account for Evolutionary Change?

  • Steven Pinker on education, and how it might prioritize overcoming base intuitions that don’t apply in the modern world;
  • The naturalistic fallacy and DeSantis’ and Fetterman’s objections to lab-grown meat.

This month I’m working my way through the last ‘big’ Steven Pinker book I’ve never read all the way through — The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, published in 2002. It concerns the existence of an evolutionarily-derived human nature, as opposed to the naive idea, long-held, that the mind is ‘blank’ upon birth and only shaped by experience and education. Just this afternoon I read Chapter 13, “Out of Our Depths,” which deals with the perils of the “intuitive” thinking built into that human nature, which formed to prioritize survival in an environment humans haven’t lived in for millennia. This passage, on pp 235-6, echoes the appeals to education I’ve noted in a couple recent posts. (As well as the distinction between the intuitive and the thoughtful, both in morality and in decision-making, that runs through several recent books.)

The obvious cure for the tragic shortcomings of human intuition in a high-tech world is education. Continue reading

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Trust in Science, Bertrand Russell, and Religious “Truth”

  • An item about restoring trust in science, which doesn’t say very much except to improve education;
  • A reading from Bertrand Russell, about religion, morals, and science;
  • How a religious thinker thinks historians should only tell history that is “inspiring and uplifting”.

More today about science, belief, and epistemology. My favorite topics.

Salon, Rae Hodge, 6 May 2024: Why restoring trust in science starts with art, history and education, subtitled “Partisan furor and COVID-19 highlighted a deadly distrust in science. But a leading scientist sees a path forward”

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Another Gloss on Philosophy

I think I mentioned this book before. It’s a compilation of rough summaries of twelve general topics, from American Studies to World History, with literature, music, philosophy, religion, science, and others in between, written for people who worry that their general education has been lacking in one area or another. As I always have. I bought the book years ago — it’s copyright 1987! It’s one of those books you glance through from time to time. This past February, I read the 36 page section on philosophy, and took notes.

The book doesn’t pretend to be a set of academic overviews; it’s very biased toward the popular ‘greatest hits’ of each subject, i.e. what ordinary people think of when thinking about those subjects. And the tone is a bit wise-acre, even snarky.

The first section identifies the five major areas of philosophy.

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Illiberalism, and the Wood Age

  • “Illiberalism” and its history in the US;
  • How perhaps the “Stone Age” is perhaps better described as the “Wood Age” — how science can update stale conclusions;
  • How some “smart people” hold noxious conspiracy theories too;
  • Kristi Noem would have killed Biden’s dog, too.

Here’s yet another term to add to the mix of ranges from conservative to liberal, traditional to progressive, tribal to global. Are these all more or less analogous ends of more or less analogous polarities? Or is there something new here? I’m not sure.

NY Times, Steven Hahn, 4 May 2024: The Deep, Tangled Roots of American Illiberalism [gift link]

The writer just published Illiberal America: A History in March.

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Photos from Austin

I’ll post these without explanation, for now.

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