Archive for the ‘anti-intellectualism’ Category

Lunacy

Ah, humanity…

A few of the tweets from people who read “NASA launches rocket into the moon” and react foolishly…

Dear Nasa, you are the spawns of Satan who wants to blast the Moon JUST FOR SOME DAMN WATER!! WHAT THE HELL??!!!

From @TimelessEssence

This person describes themself as:

Gorgeous, Intelligent, Silly, Random, Proclaimed Buddhist, Dreamer, Writer, Activist, Loves to laugh, Future Archaelogist, Nerdy, and the FUTURE!

OH SHI-!

They might fuck up the tides if NASA fucks the moon up. I’m not trying to see that blow up. NASA always plotting something.

From @JesseLetson

Okay. Nasa blows a hole in the moon today, to see if there is water on it. If we REALLY went there in 69, this wouldnt even be an issue.

From @Alisonsscrescendo

Before we lose faith in humanity, from @Submanic

Call me a nerd, but I kinda like finding more information about our universe. #NASA

And just for the record, I think the moon’s still up. You can check to see if it’s still there before smearing your idiocy across the Internet and making fools of humanity.

Also, this is not the first time America has crashed something into the moon. It happened in the 1960’s when we were still working on getting there and before figuring out how to land. See here.

Lessons in Logic

So myself, my mother, and two guests walk into a Chinese restaurant. Part of the conversation goes like this.

Mom: The way they grow food here in the US is different from the way they grow food in China. That must be the reason why people have allergies here.

Me: Have you ever heard of the phrase correlation does not equal causation? Yes, thats a possible cause i suppose, but you haven’t said anything to say why it is a better explanation than, say, genetics. Let me give you an example… Chinese people are lactose intolerant. Chinese people eat rice. Rice causes people to be lactose intolerant. Where was my use of a logical fallacy?

Mom: Well… Stop talking about scientific things with people who don’t understand science.

Me: Mom, you do realise that airplanes don’t fall out of the sky just because you don’t understand how they work. I know that this sounds crazy, but the same laws of reality apply to everybody, anywhere, no matter what your cultural predisposition is. Like… this is really insane but whenever you cross the International Date Line in an airplane you don’t fall out of the air.

Lunch Guest: How old are you?

Me: Sixteen.

Lunch Guest: You’re going to change your mind about a lot of things as you get older.

Me: … ?

Mom: That’s right. There are a lot of things that you don’t know yet.

That’s right. Because I’m a teenager, when I grow up I’ll come to realise that correlation does equal causation. And I will come to embrace the fact that the laws of nature operate differently for different people, and that the world is flat if only you believe it is.

Note to adults: Saying that a logical fallacy isn’t fallacious because the person telling you it’s fallacious is young doesn’t make it less fallacious. Also, if you really have some kind of knowledge that we lowly adolescents haven’t got then how would we ever grow older if you didn’t tell us? What good does it do to say “there are a lot of things you don’t know” and not tell us? Absolutely nothing.

Quotes

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve gotten a rather frequent commenter on my posts. This was brought about by me commenting on one of her blog posts and expressing a dissenting view.

These have been posted publicly on the Internet. I therefore have the right to repost them.

Enjoy reading them.

And I never said it’s ok to be stupid!! I’m saying that Bella knows that she is being stupid by being with him since he’s so dangerous. That doesn’t mean she ACTS stupidly! Honestly, “Elles,” you should reread what you wrote and look at how ridiculous it sounds. It really does sound stupid.

Abby

I wonder if any lesbians read the book and voted for “Team Jessica”.

Cassie

Cassie’s not a troll. I’m just quoting her because she’s awesome.

Whoa whoa whoa… you’re saying that there is no God???? Wow. Ok now I’m mad at you for TWO MAJOR THINGS!!!!!!! How dare you??? There IS a God and he is AWESOME!! He created everything. He sent His own Son to die for our sins!!!! And there is also a TON of evidence that there is a God. It’s called the HOLY BIBLE!!! You should read it sometime.

Abby

It would also seem that God created H2G2 to test our faith by providing us with information on logical fallacies.

Ok, well God created the Word, and the Word was life. That comes from the Bible. And if you’re going to start stepping on my beliefs, then you better shut up because… oh I will get pissed like none other!!!

Abby

I admitted I had been a tad bitchy with her after telling her that she should use her brain.

You do come off b****y.

Abby

My favourite bit was what she said before that.

But I will get PISSED so SHUT UP!!

Abby

Well, I, unlike some people, never tell anybody to “shut up” whenever they say something I don’t like. I use well-reasoned arguments to refute things which I disagree with. I’ll slip in some snark ocasionally, but in the end I don’t truly hate anybody just for disagreeing with me.

I believe that expressing dissenting opinions is essential for exercising our free speech. Playing Bill O’Reilly on my blog, though, is a bit different from free speech.

Abby will go on comment moderation until she learns to express her disagreement in a more rational, civilized manner. If she still fails to do this I’ll simply put her on the ‘blacklist’ and she’ll go directly to the spam filter.

In the meantime, I recommend she reads this post.

Update: Abby, yet again you have failed to make a comment that contains any intelligence and it has been deleted. Two more times and I’m routing your comments directly into the spam filter.

Really, if you want people to think of you as an unintelligent, immature brat I’d be happy to keep approving your comments, but for your sake I’m going to keep deleting them.

And the Founding Fathers Rolled in Their Graves…

After a brief hiatus, I returned to check back on the responses my schoolmates were giving me. By this time some of my other friends were also responding in support of me, when one of them gave a small criticism of one of the kid’s personal beliefs (I think it must have been his religion). The kid responded with…

Roy, how DARE you insult my personal beliefs? Where does this bitterness come from? If you believed in hell, I’d tell you to go to it. I’m sorry your life spent on this planet is devoted to bashing faith and being pessimistic. Go find faith in something, somewhere where we can’t hear you.

I can see why they don’t seem to give a damn about the Bill of Rights. That First Amendment is mighty inconvenient right now, what with free speech added to secularism.

But, do you see what I see?

Well, that kid just wished Hell upon my friend.

Hell? Really? Somebody criticises a view which you made publicly and which you even wanted the government to support, and you tell them to go through the worst kind of suffering for all eternity?

Do you understand what eternity is? Eternity. Eternal suffering. He just wished eternal, unending, infinite suffering upon a human being just for exercising his right to criticise a view which you made public.

Even Hitler’s victims only had to live so long.

Let’s say you spent a decade being tortured in a POW camp or something.

Imagine not just the constant pain, but also the humility. Imagine being robbed of whatever dignity you had.

Now multiply that by ten and you’ll get a more than decent human life span. Multiply that by ten and it will take you back to the Dark Ages. Multiply that by ten and you’re beginning to reach the dawn of civilization. That’s an infinitesimal amount of time compared to the time our species has been around, about two million years. The time our species has been around is infinitesimal compared to the age of the Earth, 4.6 billion years. That’s still only a fraction of the time the universe has been around, about 13.8 billion years. And that’s still nothing compared to eternity.

Eternity NEVER ends. It goes on longer than the rise and fall of empires, longer than the birth and death of stars, longer than the collision of galaxies, longer than any cosmic event known to humanity, longer than the universe itself.

So I ask, where does that sort of bitterness come from? Just from a debate sparked by little old me trying to uphold secularism? Can you even be human and give that sort of wish? And, then, why should we listen when somebody that twisted tells me that I should have faith in something? It obviously has done that kid no good if he’s wishing that sort of rotten thing upon people.

I now feel quite sick to my stomach, thank you very much.

Of course, he must have said it without thinking… right?

But, then, that’s the problem I have with faith in the first place.

Unthinking acceptance of fairy tales is one thing. Unthinking belief that people deserve to burn eternally if they don’t have faith, or if they criticise it when you bring it to the public square is an entirely different thing. Unthinking belief that God is going to save you from eternal punishment and give you x number of virgins if you fly an airplane into a building based on what was said in a collection of those fairy tales is definitely a problem.

Am I saying that people who believe in those fairy tales are necessarily going to start killing people? No. That’s completely absurd.

But, if you’re going to say that we should unthinkingly accept something what’s to say we won’t unthinkingly accept racism? There are a lot of beliefs which could lead us to act in ways that won’t make the world a better place. Would you really want me to randomly choose something to have faith in?

We most certainly should not encourage unthought at any level.

Faith is anti-intellectualism in its purest form and the more we’re taught to value it, the worse we react when a belief of ours that ought to be criticised gets criticised. It’s the ultimate dam to a flowing river of ideas. It seals minds shut to exterior influences, yet still allows them to spout out their bollocks, even as it rots from lack of exposure to the changing world.

When a widely held belief needs criticism, it deserves to be criticised. Even if you have faith in it. So do I dare criticise your faith?

I dare. I dare bring reason and enlightenment to the mind of man. So burn me at stake.

I’m sorry, but I don’t need that. I’ve got no faith. I might have once held faith in humanity, but that went hurtling out the window just now at escape velocity and is orbitting the Earth somewhere beyond my reach. Yet, I’m perfectly fine. As shattered as my brain feels after reading all that, I still wouldn’t wish harm upon somebody solely for their beliefs as they would wish harm upon those who would simply support the healthy criticism of their beliefs… much less eternal harm.

Just Read and Weep

*sigh*

So I send out the FFRF lawsuit thing to my friends in the school district. Here are the responses I’ve been getting. I’m not going to bother giving any further responses to the latest two as easily as I could pwn them.

Kid:

this is disgusting
i fail to see whats wrong with an environment that teaches children basic morals and values

Me:

I fail to see why you need to violate the secular values this country was founded on to teach morals.

While I’m at it, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Therefore your argument is invalid.

Kid:

im not christian so i dont follow your argument

besides, said sign is encouraging freedom of religion cuz it encourages religion in general which could range from budhism to atheism
the ffrf is just trying to restrict religion or in other words, violating the 1st secular value this country was founded

and

how is teaching kids values such as the ten commandments not morrally right
or do you have issue with not stealing or being respectful to parental figures

i guess their perfect world would be one in which their is one philisophical belief: nothing
and in this world their would be no guidlines to living a fullfilling and ethical life and any attempt to disrupt this eutopia would result in a lawsuit that helps no one

Me:

You’re all over the place.

First of all, the FFRF isn’t saying you can’t practice your religion. It’s saying you have a right to not practice religion if you don’t want to.

Speaking of the 1st secular value this country was founded on…

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In other words, there shall be no state endorsement of religion.

The Ten Commandments do say a few agreeable things. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t be mean to your parents, etc. Let’s ignore for a moment that they recommend the death penalty for all of them (and even if you support capital punishment as I do in some cases, we can surely agree that you shouldn’t be killed for not helping your mum do the dishes cause you have homework), and look at the first four of them.

1. I am the Lord your God
2. You shall have no other gods before me
3. You shall not make for yourself an idol
4. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God

Not much room for polytheists, eh?

Now, if the state were to endorse these four commandments there would be no freedom of religion. That’s why we also need freedom from religion.

I also reject your suggestion that Atheists have no philosophical beliefs about morality, and that we can have a fulfilling life. What have I ever done to you, hm? Are you really going to insinuate that I’m a murdering, raping, pillaging, disrespectful twat based on my lack of belief in a supreme deity alone? What makes you think that kind of sick prejudice is morally justifiable?

I volunteer every weekend in a museum, I give money to charities, I’m polite, and, God damn it, I enjoy life. I think that the universe is an awesome place and I have some wonderful friends, teachers, and family. I’m no less happy than the next person.

Kid:

first of all
you are focusing in to much on specifics zoom out a bit
the ffrf is sueing because a sign was posted by a school district saying that kids can find support in a religious community

if you have ever been to a sunday school type program they dont actually force religious beliefs upon the kids, but teach them essential values such as not to steal and to do right by your mom and dad, not the gory details, so that one day they will be able to make an educated decision on what beliefs to follow

advocating for that isnt a breach of church and state
so if they were forced to take that sign down it would be interfering with their free speach rights

im sure this wouldnt be a problem if their was an established religion called atheism
but since there isnt they can still stand and openly oppose all religion and sucessfully combat moral values

you are twisting my words
i am saying that by the forceful taking down of this sign is setting a precedent by which any good that could come to children by means of religious establishment can not be advocated by a school district, or basically any secular force in society henceforth placing personal beliefs over the common good

also i never said anything about classifying atheist as possesing no morals
i respect all religions, and more importantly the support and good that can come from religious institutions, which is why im advocating the side of what is most likely the lutheran church even though i desagree wholeheartedly with many of their views

i dont respect the general denouncement of religion, which is the problem i have with most atheists
i dont have a problem with people saying they dont believe in a higher power or any of the other beliefs held by atheist, but when they go on to criticize established religion and say that it holds no validity i have a problem

Me:

I have been to a Sunday school program. They told me a story about a guy who got eaten by a big fish and stayed in its stomach for three days, and was told that he was punished for not following the Judeo-Christian god. They then essentially told me I was a sinner and that I was going to Hell if I didn’t keep coming to their church.

Do I necessarily object just because it’s religious values being advocated? No.

I do, by the way, go to a Unitarian Universalist church. I do enjoy the sense of community, and being taught values like being nice to each other without having them invoke their particular brand of god.

Yes, they teach you values, but what makes you think you have to go to a CHURCH to learn those values? What you get support from is having a community and there are other ways to find a strong community without being told you should participate in religion every week. If I don’t want to participate in a religious thingy to learn my values, I shouldn’t be told to.

First of all, taking the sign down is not criticising established religion. It’s just saying that the government can’t endorse an establishment of religion. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech, but everything to do with the first amendment.

Second of all, why shouldn’t we be allowed to criticise establishments of religion? I have no problem with people practicing what they want. No problem with freedom of religion at all. The problem is sometimes those practices include actively screwing with government and taking away other people’s civil rights. There are people just two and a half hours south of Denver who would stone people for privately, in their own home, committing a consensual act of love with a person of the same sex. Would you hesitate to criticise a piece of legislation that advocated that?

The rest was just me pointing out again that I have no problem with community, but you don’t need a religious community to get a feeling of community.

Other kid:

Hey, why dont we go ahead and take more money away from our already poorly funded school systems with a lawsuit. Our state is only 48th in the nation in school funding. So yes, lets take money away, lay off teachers, increase classroom sizes, and neglect building maintenance and upgrading. Heaven forbid the ONE plaintif be offended.
Ive been in this school district for almost 11 years, and not once have those 40 assets had any impact upon my education or the way i live. I have known that they exist for a long time, but hardly any students take the time to read them. Our constitution was also loosely based on teachings from relligion. In god we trust is written on every piece of our monetary system. Why dont you sue the entire government. See how far that gets you.
I am christian, and i dont care if the quaran is referenced in one of those assets, or nothing is referenced at all. Good can be derived from almost any religious text or not from one at all. Borden your horizon

As far as I’m aware the lawsuit has nothing to do with money and I’m not sure where she got that from. I’ll look into whether or not money’s involved anyway, but I’m pretty sure it’s class-action cause that’d make the most sense.

Other other kid:

Sorry, quick question. What are the other 39 “Developmental Assets” implemented by this program?

Also, I fail to see the harm in recommending that a child adopt a religious lifestyle. Please, before you all bitch me out-
All that this program does is RECOMMEND that a child adopt a religious lifestyle, which means that the child gets a choice. By simply recommending that a child make that choice, there isn’t technically any ammendment “breakage” here. If the document flat out said “you must worship this particular god or you will burn in hell,” then there would be an issue. This document doesn’t seem to be laying down a certain set of rules and regulations for a child to follow, just suggestions. It isn’t actively forcing anything on children here. But then again, I can see how that poster could be considered propoganda. In which case, it becomes a matter of what’s legal and what’s right.

For all you students out there who went through the first year of US History with me and forgot the first amendment, here’s the text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And in case you missed that, I think I’ll make it clearer. The government can’t endorse religion. My school paid for a subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary, but endorse means to support.

If they still fail to see what the problem is… to Hell with it. Edumacation has failed us. This post has a word count of 1776.

I’m an Elitist Bastard

Why didn’t I find out about the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards sooner? I missed the maiden voyage of the HMS Elitist Bastard!

And so, I’ve decided to make a giant leap between the dock and the HMS Elitist Bastard by creating a post reflecting on why I’m an elitist bastard.

I love the Oxford English Dictionary.

élitism

Advocacy of or reliance on the leadership and dominance of an élite (in a society, or in any body or class of persons). Hence élitist n. and a.

Am I an elitist bastard?

I just want to get along with people. At the end of the day, I don’t care if you’re black, white, purple, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, male, female, hermaphrodite, Thrawn, bisexual, or homosexual. But, I don’t get along with people. Sometimes I have no idea why. Sometimes I think that the people I don’t get along with are to blame. Sometimes I think that I’m the one to blame.

Even if I don’t get shit from kids my age because I actively try to seem superior to them, I’m quite sure that the term “elitist” now equals intellectual.

As one of Stephen Colbert’s grade-school videos informed me…

“Has your teacher ever tried to tell you something that you don’t need to know? Like where to find Europe on a map? What comes after the number 9? Or how to escape a burning building? Then your teacher is an elitist. Yes, an elitist. An “ist” worse than communist, feminist, and harpist combined… What do these elitists want? [They want] to put in our brains the belief that books are for reading instead of for tenderizing meat.”

If that makes me an elitist, then I think that I’ll have no trouble making myself at home on the HMS Elitist Bastard. I’m proud to be an elitist bastard.

Ok, so I ocasionally tell people that I think I’m smarter than them because I know the reason why the American Revolution was fought, what words like “forgery” mean, or because I don’t think that females are in a different species from males (those would be two doomed species). But, I don’t know a lot of stuff. I’m ignorant of many things. However, it’s not because I’m wilfully ignorant.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gone through a scenario where I’ve used a term that the person I’m talking to doesn’t understand and they say “what?” I proceed to define the term in as simple words as I possibly can but they just say “I don’t care… I’m going to go listen to my iPod/play computer games/talk about my friend’s sex life/watch MTV/etc.”

There’s a certain quote which I’m often reminded of when met with such hostility towards knowledge.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Thomas Jefferson

Ignorance is not just bliss. It’s all too easy. Learning requires the use of the brain, and the very thought of this particular organ seems to stir terror within the hearts of other kids my age. I justify taking the risk and using this brain power because of my curiosity. I want to know what those funny lights up in the sky at night are. I want to know how the Solar System formed. I want to know how the beautiful and complex forms of life arose on Earth by natural selection. I want to learn vector calculus so that I may someday understand Maxwell’s tantalizing equations.

I’m no more special for possessing curiosity than I am for possessing knowledge. I believe that all humans are capable of learning. I believe that we all come into the world hungering for knowledge.

“You’re weird,” is the reaction I get from my fellow classmates when I express this curiosity.

So the high school students I interact with on a daily basis are apathetic to such wonders as spectroscopy. To them it’s just another Chemistry lesson between the start of school and lunch time when they can hang out with their friends.

But, I find that explaining these scientific concepts to a younger audience, elementary to middle school children taken to the museum by their parents, elicits huge grins and “wows” when they understand the concept of looking at nothing more than light to find out what a star is made out of.

Something happens as they get older that makes learning uncool. Perhaps the school work gets harder, making all school-related things (including learning but excluding sports) no longer fun. Maybe it’s peer pressure to not do well in school in the first place. Maybe it’s all sorts of factors, but it definitely seems that this is the age when anti-intellectual hostility takes root.

That’s when I truly think that I’m better than them. I care enough to want to learn. I care enough to want to think. I care so much for these pursuits that I’m willing to take all the shit that’s hurled at me for my personal enrichment.

There’s a reason why it was a heinous crime to teach slaves how to read and write in the South before the Civil War. Education and freedom go together like bees and flowers (hooray symbiosis!). I find a refusal to think and learn a message that the person desires nothing other than mental slavery.

Speaking of mental slavery, there’s another quote which I feel should remind us of why we value literacy, knowledge, and thought.

“How fortunate for governments that the people do not think.”

Adolf Hitler

Yes, isn’t it telling that Adolf Hitler said this?

If you explain to a teenager that thinking is essential to the fuctioning of a democracy, they probably won’t try to understand it. Or they’ll say “so what?” Either way, I doubt that telling them that society will become 1984-esque if they don’t put an end to their anti-intellectual sentiments is going to cause them to wake up.

They’re basically asking for totalitarianism. Why not give them what they want? As appealing as it may be to ship off the wilfully ignorant to North Korea, I’m no more in favour of this than I am of wishing cancer upon someone (though there are certain quacks I know of who might deserve it).

Besides, if I walked out my door tomorrow to find “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” emblazoned all over the place, I doubt that they’d notice.

Headbands and Fictional Characters: Serious Business

So here I was, researching anti-intellectualism because I picked the topic for my research paper for my summer college composition class. I was reading a New York Times article online about Susan Jacoby’s book… when I notice something at the side of my page…

The “T Magazine” article was also put on the front page of nytimes.com.

So, I click on it and it says…

Imagine my surprise — while watching the season premier of E!’s reality show, “Living Lohan,” Blair Waldorf (my favorite “Gossip Girl” character) made a cameo. Only it wasn’t Blair. It was Ali Lohan, Lindsay’s 14-year-old sister, dressed up in Blair drag for her on-camera interview segments. It was full-blown fashion plagiarism, right down to the plaid headband. What would Blair say? Probably: “Nice try, Little Lo. Too bad you can’t style away your Long Island accent.”

I learned for the first time that Lindsay Lohan has a sister (though I really can’t remember what Lindsay Lohan is famous for), and that Blair Waldorf is a character in “Gossip Girl” which I have never read nor seen.

This “full-blown fashion plagiarism” of a fictional character sounds horrendous! A girl is wearing a plaid headband that a fictional character wears! How evil of this 14-year-old to do that!

Wait a minute… since when did this become news? Since when did dressing like a fictional character become a crime? I guess I’ll have to burn my Harry Potter costume and Starfleet uniform.

In all seriousness, I understand that a lot of people find this sort of thing to be… entertaining… But, The New York Times is a newspaper which is usually respectable. Have we really fallen so low that good news sources must sink to the level of supermarket tabloids? If people find this sort of thing enjoyable, that’s fine and I can’t stop them from liking it (though I wish they’d, I dunno… think about something important once in a while), but this shit doesn’t belong in reputable new organizations.

I wonder what “Little Lo” would say? Probably: “Blimey! I wasn’t expecting a kind of Spanish Inquistion!”