Category Archives: Critical Thinking

Analogy Misunderstood – The Pope and Hitler

There’s a common use of analogies as counter examples to some claim, that appear quite often on Twitter, but which are immediately misunderstood by one’s interlocutor.

You’re saying the Pope is equivalent to Hitler! How dare you compare them!

You might even be accused of falling foul of Godwin’s Law

Here’s what happens …
Continue reading Analogy Misunderstood – The Pope and Hitler

Biggest Threat – Islamism or Far Right? Trick Question – Islamism is Far Right.

My previous post had a dig at an article by Julia Ebner of Quilliam. I still support Quilliam’s efforts, even though they went hyperbolic over Tommy Robinson’s (typo alert) crass stunt, which in turn was a response to the hit job by Julia.

This post might be damning them with feint praise too, but I do agree with Adam Deen’s HuffPo piece:

The Emergence Of Meta-Jihad: Why Defeating Isis Won’t End The Plague Of Terrorism
Continue reading Biggest Threat – Islamism or Far Right? Trick Question – Islamism is Far Right.

Julia Ebner’s Hit Job – Is Everyone Far Right?

This is about a piece from Juila Ebner in the Guardian:

The far right thrives on global networks. They must be fought online and off – Julia Ebner –  Nationalists across the world are sharing knowledge and reinforcing messages of hate. The fightback begins with social media companies, and all of us.

It sounds like (look at the url) it’s about getting the social media companies to tackle hate speech. But that begins to look like a thin disguise for a hit job … or perhaps the person being made example of is an unlucky target. That will depend on your perspective.

It’s also related to the spat between Maajid Nawaz and Tommy Robinson deepening, and Robinson’s attempst to interview Julia about the article, when he ‘stormed’ the Quilliam offices.
Continue reading Julia Ebner’s Hit Job – Is Everyone Far Right?

Etymology Man! Help!

A post by Jerry Coyne on an XKCD comic strip riminded me of a problem that keeps coming up: how labels are used demonise, ostracise, and even to justify violence against people; and then to excuse the abuse of words for the greater good.

The following is an earlier comic strip from XKCD Comics. My interpretation here may have been covered elsewhere at the time it was published (though isn’t on the ‘explained‘ site), but I offer it now to explain the current related problem of how SJWs abuse words, and then deflect, by complaining of the relative insignificance of the etymology, when it’s their abuse of words that’s causing the problem.

etymology_man

I took the comic to be taking a swipe at any situation where an etymological discussion errupts while the real catastrophy proceeds to engulf the disputants.

This was used, for example, by some SJWs who complained that those citing ‘dictionary atheism’ where hung up on etymology while real social justice needed to be done. The problem was much SJW action is itself hung up on words – their abuse.

The Insanity* of the SJW

(* to abuse a word for effect).

As PZ Myers moved from New Atheist, to Atheism+, to whetever, denouncing each in turn (settling on the useless ‘our movement’) he was clearly, and in earlier guises explicitly, trying to create a movement, based on atheism, or the more general ‘Skepticism’. Of course we already have Humanism. When he started to demonise other atheists, specifically New Atheists, he needed to distinguish them from himself, and yet still make it an ‘atheist movement’. When his detractors pointed out his abuse of the term atheism he had a lot to say about how these ‘dictionary atheists’ were not helping. They were merely pointing out how it was PZ Myers and crew that wasn’t helping. Eventually the identity politics of Social Justice Warriorship started to go through one of its many implosions, until Myers lost it.

Identity politics relies very much on innapropriate use of labels to demonise and ostracise people … and often leads to the phnemenon of ‘eating their own’ … again an allusion from the Mantis that screws and eats its mates in the later  comic?

wrong_superhero

The self-destruction of ‘the movement’ as resulted in a few emissions from the Freethought Blogs community, and this was pretty much down to someone not being on-message, destroying their SJW credentials.

pzmyers-toxicstar

A current incarnation surrounds the tendency of SJWs to label anyone to the right of them as Nazis when they are nothing of the sort – so we have Dan Arel advocating punching those he sees fit to be called Nazis.

Call out the SJWs on their abuse of words to the point of where they diminish all useful meaning in their advocacy of attacks on totally inappropriate targets, and their backlash is yet more of their hate. It’s more important to punch Nazis than to figure out who is actually a Nazi, and much less to question the morality of pre-emtive violence.

Deflection ensues as Dan accuses his critics of ‘supporting Nazis’.

Here’s the problem when you get to decide that Nazis deserve punching and you are the one deciding who the Nazis are:

nazis
h/t someone on Facebook, who may or may not be the originator.

In one sense the XKCD comic is criticising those dusputing the incorrect use of terms, in that they are focusing on useless etymology while the SJWs are doing their good deeds. That’s how SJWs see it.

But the real issue is that the SJWs are indeed in need of Etymology Man, who could have perhaps set them straight so that they don’t go on pre-emptive self-styled vigilante sprees. But, hey, what right has anyone to tell them who they should or should not label as Nazis? Free speech!

The importance of free speech, unencombered by a violent opposition (but opposition with speech is good), is a core issue for many liberals. But not for Dan and his ilk. Violence first, … ask questions later, or not at all. This how it often goes …

nazis-supportingthem

 

Real Advocates of Freedom

Here are some people that get it. And, their concern for the use of words plays an important part in explaining how they understand freedom.

The Secular Detective breaks down terms to get to their meaning and how they are used, and how even Nazis have the right to free speech.

On Punching Nazis and the Justifications of Violence

Maajid Nawaz, acknowedging the freedom of expression due to everyone, including Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

My Open Letter To A Jailed Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Maryam Namazie and Sarah Heider do a great job here in trying to get across how terms like ‘safe space’, ‘no platforming’, ‘protest’ need to be understood in a context that benefits all, rather than letting these terms be used by ideologues to suppress freedom.

There’s a dignity to these writers and speakers, even in moments of frustration and anger, where they will not concede to the oppressive forces that demand that people be shut down, shut up, punched.

They in no way support or advocate for the views of their political opponents.

Sarah makes the point that no matter what your good intentions, shutting down free speech will lead to the most vulnerable being shut down. It’s a weapon that the powerful will use, if you submit to opposing free speech.

This isn’t to say people won’t disagree – they do. Plenty of people have criticsed Maryam on a number of points – her Communism, the removal of all borders, her spat with Sam Harris over something and nothing. But none of that detracts from the great work she does, at great personal risk. And this is part of the point. If on hearing Maryam on Sam’s podcast you were to write her off, you could very easily get carried along with her dishonest detractors and start retweeting things about here that smply are not true.

Words evolve. But if you abuse them by making them fit your own political agenda, and allow them to encompass people they really don’t apply to, the words become meaningless as descriptors and take on a role that is little more than a hate label for an out-group, and that then gives you tacit permission to demonise them and ostracise them,so you never actually get to hear what they say in their own words. Result: you end up spreading lies.

Let Them Speak

My personal feeling is that if you think you disagree with someone, first be sure you disagree with them: check out what they actually say. That means putting in some effort and not merely retweeting a false or out of context quote from years ago, that might not be the targets current position anyway. Letting your actual political opponents expose their views is the only way to find out what they are. The presupposition that you already know their views because someone you trust tweeted how bad they are doesn’t really cut it.

There’s a lot to be gained from letting people speak.

  • It’s not a matter of giving them a platform to spread ideas that you don’t want to spread. You get to point to their actual words that you disagree with.
  • You might find you don’t disagree with them as much as you expected.
  • You will find it exposes the lies of some people you thought were honest allies.

Over the last few weeks since he started his advocacy of violence, Dan Arel’s words have been captured for anyone to see. The hate filled comment columns of PZ Myers’ Pharyngula show him for the mean spirited hate monger he is. But both those characters have good sides too them, and I doubt any of those promoting full free speech would want them shut down.if they actually followed their own advice, they would be the very people meeting the criteria they think should be shut down – if only they had a modicum of self awareness.

The Loony Left Will Lose Violently

Dan Arel has been endorsing street violence. Supposedly only against Nazis, but when you can put that label on anyone it becomes a bit tricky. Street violence is a Nazi thing, so … think it through.

Dan’s moral position is lost. Violence is what we’re supposed to be against.

But there is a practical issue for Dan and SJWs generally, and anyone (what you’re Aunty Fa is getting involved for I can’t imagine) that thinks the sucker punch and the Berkley ‘riot’ is a good idea going forward.

A few pointers:

A Trump conservative state, with many highly weaponised police, and a military,

Hint:

… and a big portion of the Trump supporting public, a ‘malitia’ as they see themselves, including many vets, with guns, and the NRA on their side.

Oh, and Milo’s boss has Trump’s ear (and is maybe leading him by it).

Really? You think it’s a good idea? You make yourselves look like Nazis, and you think that’s smart?

The funny thing is you hear a lot of, “We defeated the Nazis before!” Mmmm, but a lot of the guys that defeated the Nazis didn’t do it with placards and the odd sucker punch. There are some seriously fit and beefy killing machines in the military (no offence, but I think some are pretty proud of their capabilites.)

And another one you hear, “Remember what we achieved the sixties!” Well them conservatives love their freedom. This isn’t about Vietnam, this is about their Homeland.

It would be the biggest damned mistake the Left in the US could make, to start endorsing violence.

Opposing Free Speech With Vigilante and State Violence

Dan Arel has been advocating vigilante violence against people HE perceives to be ‘Nazis’. Here’s one of his latest tweets.

No Dan, we’ve been opposing your jerking off and slobbering at the violent attack. I thought it was only Islamists and sociopaths that jerked off to watching people getting hurt.

Here’s another that seems unable to make simple distinctions – which is worrying among people that label others all too easily when there are violence advocates like Dan around:

No, we are not defending Nazism. You cannot possibly be that thick. Well, maybe, but I suspect you are being intentionally obtuse. You do realise in making such an assertion you basically give Dan’s bully boys the green light to get violent on our asses, right?

This is basically the Takfir of the Left: if you disagree with someone that has a different view, declare them apostates, or Nazis in this case.

This is part of a running battle that Stephen Knight has been having trying to knock sense into Dan’s thick skull. That’s a metaphor by the way, Stephen has been opposing Dan’s endorsement of actual violence, and his opposition to free speech.

But free speech is a selective right, it seems; and well, not he doesn’t confirm his opposition to violence but evades:

Even if JE doesn’t condone violence, isn’t advocating violence actually hate speech? Should Dan be prosecuted for his hateful tweets advocating violence against Spencer?

Can we get a definitive answer on the violence?

JE confirms he’s not with Dan on the violence, but I’m not sure his heart’s in the non-violence thing (as we’ll see):

So, JE is anti-free speech. It’s not the right of everyone. OK.

No answer. Why is it so difficult. If you are slective in who YOU think has free speech then you haven’t got a moral leg to stand on when actual Nazis or Islamic Caliphates take your free speech away. It’s like FAITH – anyone who thinks they have faith in their God and his demands that they should be peaceful doesn’t really have a come back to Islamic fundamentalists that want to kill apostates, because they have faith in Allah’s wish that this should be so. The peacefully faithful can try some basic humanism – but their faith already trumps human wishes, and humanism trumps the need for a god.

JE thinks that the crazy uncontrollable hate speech laws that have been introduced around the world are a good thing. I think he’s an anti-Constitutionalist.

But … but …

So, merely being a Nazi … National Socialism? Nationalism? White Nationalism? … it’s never made clear what the limits are of being a Nazi, it’s just a demonising word used against anyone to the right, although not against ultra conservative fundamentalist apostate killing Muslims – not all Muslim being that (caveat required to avoid recusrsive Nazi accusation). The term ‘Nazi’ is now as useless as ‘Islamophobia’ – it’s a term designed to silence others.

We’re ‘fam’ now?

But I guess he’s not an equal opportunity offender. Only Nazis. Correction, only those opponents one labels as Nazis, whether they are or not. And even if they were, Nazism

… the rabbit hole goes deeper …

What?! What the fuck?!

White Nationalists? Nazis? What’s the difference? Who cares. Dan’s Vigilantism or JE’s State Violence will do the job. And Muslims that think apostates should be killed? No answer.

Not happy with that …

That’s as good an excuse as any to abandon ship.

Of course someone had to come up with a Hitch quote. Spot on.

And …

And …

And …

twitterblocked-je

I think that was soon after posting this on Twitter. They are so full of shit.

Left Violence? Bad Idea!

This is both simple and fundamental. It’s not a difficult concept. Once you advocate violence against speech you open the door for anyone else who advocates violence against speech – including violence against your speech that advocates violence against speech.

The irony being that when we turn to it, it’s the Nazis that are going to be a damned sight better at it then the Left.

Dan and JE and those that follow their line are not doing themselves any favours. In particular Dan as said how he thinks it’s a good idea to give the ‘Nazi’s a bloody nose – that’ll teach ’em. Well he’s merely inviting the Right to up the ante…

I’M GLAD RICHARD SPENCER GOT PUNCHED IN THE FACE

It’s pretty unwise for the Left to be normalizing political violence given the way the wind’s blowing. It doesn’t take a genius to see that ours is the side with most of the guns, most of the veterans, most of the people who work out, and most of the people who can both execute and absorb a good solid punch. Our side avoids violence because we’re attempting to win a moral case. Our side avoids violence because the system’s itching for any excuse to crack down on us. Our side avoids violence for a lot of reasons, but fear of losing a fight isn’t one of them.

And then this was spotted:

I know JE has seen this, he retweeted it.

As much as I dislike Spencer’s views (and go and read the comments sections on posts on that site if you think his views are bad), violence is a losing game for the Left – morally and legally (ironically JE’s state violence will come after the Left if they continue). A Trump conservative state; with many highly weaponised police, the military, and from a big portion of the Trump supporting public, a ‘malitia’ as they see themselves, with guns.

The funny thing is you hear a lot of, “We defeated the Nazis before!” Well, think on, a lot of the guys that defeated the Nazis didn’t do it with placards and the odd punch. Them conservatives love their freedom. It will be the biggest damned mistake the Left in the US could make, to start endorsing violence.

Vigilante Violence and State Violence are what the moderate ‘Left’ has been fighting against. The far Left has always been authoritarian and not averse to a bit of thuggery, but Dan considers himself to be an SJW. This is not a good sign, Dan. You make SJW’s look like actual Nazis, rather than just autoritarian idiots.

I’ll give you an example of what’s idiotic about SJWs in this case. They are responding to Trump’s EO on entry from some countries and shouting about how the USA needs to be better than that; and when whataboutery is used to say, “What about ‘Muslim’ countries not allowing in Jews”, they rightly respond, “We’re better than that; we should not descend to their level.” But they don’t get that when sucker punching Spencer?

This is so important for opponents of racism, white nationalism, white supremecism,… Islamism … Islamofascism. We’ve got to get the criticism right, and we must not resort to violence.

Here’s where violence is reasonable:
– Self defence (even pre-emtive if there is a real imminent threat of violence)
– State control/restraint in response to illegal activity (without undue force)
– State violence by police (yes, I know there’s BLM issues to talk about)
– War (yes, I know, there are conversations about what acts of war are legitimate)

The above should be no more violent than is necessary. Want to talk about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, fine. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about pre-emptive violence vigilante style, and state oppression through violence, used against political oppoenents, in a lawful democratic liberal society. That doesn’t add up.

A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

There’s a very moving film made by Sally Phillips, one of Britain’s popular actors. Sally’s son Olly has Down’s Syndrome, and she’s made a BBC documentary about the wonderful life experiences of having a child with Down’s, and of the value he has for himself, and that which he brings to Sally and her family. It’s very moving. But it also makes a strong case for having children like Olly, and against a world without the condition.

The film is here, on the BBC: A World Without Down’s Syndrome? (BBC programmes are available for a limited time, so watch it while you can)

Thanks to others that brought this to my attention on a Lib Dems site. My response here is for them, but was too long to post directly.

Everyone owes thanks to Sally Phillips for this film. I disagree with some of the messages of the film, and below I refer to Sally and Olly in making my points. I don’t wish to disrespect either of them. All I can say is I am not saying anything that diminishes Olly’s or Sally’s value to themselves, or to the rest of the world.

My position is that there is some completely natural confusion around the subject, and that’s what I want to address here.  Continue reading A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

Amatrice Pasta, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

Yet again idiots around the world write clueless articles that incite horendous tweets, one actually suggesting Italians go and shoot up the offices of Charlie Hebdo [sarcastically, I’m assured] .

CharlieHebdo-ItalyMafiaShooting the messenger because YOU don’t get the power of satire? You are squandering the opportunity to address the problem, in such a manner you will fall silent with embarrassment for getting it so wrong (see later).

Amatrice sits in an unstable region of Italy, and this is well known. The techniques to retrofit safety measures to the houses in these old villages is available. It’s not as if it’s a new phenomenon. Accumoli, Posta and Arquata del Tronto.

It’s not Charlie Hebdo that built your homes , it’s the mafia!
Continue reading Amatrice Pasta, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

Pseudo-Liberal Double Standards

Pseudo-liberals are supposedly liberals, but they aren’t too fussed about being inconsistent in the way they apply their liberalism. And will employ methods that one would expect of an authoritarian regime, to the extent that one wonders how they would use their power, if the were in fact leaders of a government; or a secret police.
Continue reading Pseudo-Liberal Double Standards

Fireman Sam Exposes Victimhood of Muslims

I follow the Facebook page of British Asians UK. It has great well balanced articles. Very fair in reporting. A good place to come for honest articles when the mainstream press is too afraid to be un-PC.

But some of the followers do not do it justice. The outrage over a Fireman Sam episode that contained a page depicting script from the Quran just shows, in the context of Islamic terrorism and honour killings, the professional victimhood, and hypocrisy, within our Muslim communities.

There were many sensible Muslim voices too – but it’s setting a low bar when I have to point that out.

None of the Muslims commenting have all the details about the episode, but the importance of this fact is a crucial part of the fiasco that is an embarrassment to any credibility Islam has. Continue reading Fireman Sam Exposes Victimhood of Muslims

Cenk Uygur Misrepresents D’Souza – To His Face

Here I go again, unbelievably defending someone I disargee with: Denesh D’Souza. But Cenk does exactly what he’s done with others – totally twists their words, misrepresents the balance of fact by ignoring the salient facts and screaming the obvious but less relevant facts.

Remember, from here on in this isn’t about the case either is making, though some of the points will be covered, it’s about Cenk’s misrerpesentaiton of D’Souza’s case, right there in front of D’Souza, and D’Souza calls Cenk out on it. Naturally, Cenk passes that by; doesn’t hear it for the challenge it is; even misrepresents that.
Continue reading Cenk Uygur Misrepresents D’Souza – To His Face

George Clooney’s Lake Como Refugees

George Clooney has been done a great job of raising awareness of the plight of refugees. I wonder how committed he is.

Type this into Google:

  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees

Then try this for you ‘respectable’ press (this is for some British news outlets):

  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees site:bbc.co.uk
  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees site:independent.co.uk
  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees site:theguardian.com

Continue reading George Clooney’s Lake Como Refugees

The Cenk Uygur Files

This is becoming such a regular occurrence that it makes you worry about the guy. Hold that thought …. nope, when he’s so malicious in the treatment of his targets my sympathy is not with him, but with them – including Sarah Palin, FFS!

Yes, the voices of reason are actually defending Sarah Palin . Strange? No – when someone is being genuinely misrepresented it does your own case no good if you leave that out there. This is where Cenk and other Regressives go off the rails: the demonisation and misrepresentation they call out in others is exactly what they engage in themselves.

So, the evidence: Cenk’s victims. Continue reading The Cenk Uygur Files

Cenk Uygur – Knucklehead Extraordinaire

Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola jump on the regressive demonising bandwagon and smear a teacher, by saying what she said, then saying she means something entirely different.

 

Many people complained it appeared to be casting blame on women who were raped while drunk. It kept saying it wasn’t blaming those people, but, if you read between the lines …

John has learned well from his Dark Lord master. “Maybe … Just sayin'”

TYT reading between the lines amounts to nothing more than saying the opposite of what the lines say.
Continue reading Cenk Uygur – Knucklehead Extraordinaire

Another Greenwald Attack on The Evil West and its Media

A friend recently asked me why I attacked Glenn Greenwald for his Intercept article Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.

Specifically I was asked:

It’s strange that your focus is on the reputation of the person who wrote and also whether what is said is unique or not. Neither are relevant. Do you agree with what is said?

Where journalistic integrity is known to be lacking it’s worth pointing out to those that might not know, and in this case it is relevant.
Continue reading Another Greenwald Attack on The Evil West and its Media

The Quran – Polysemous or Duplicitous?

I’d like to address the bull shit that is passed off as reasons for thinking the Quran is a fine book, that it represents a religion of peace, that it’s all for freeing slaves, that blah blah blah … you know the score.

As an example, I’ll use a recent comment made to excuse Islam and the Quran. Continue reading The Quran – Polysemous or Duplicitous?