Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Varieties of Religious Expression

...manifest fabrications [of biblical scripture] should not be regarded as deliberate fraud, done with intent to deceive...they spring from a concept of the nature of documentary proof which is alien to us. Thus, an earnest scribe, believing wholeheartedly that the doctrine of the Trinity was true, thought it merely an accident or oversight that it was not made explicit in 1 John, and therefore saw it as his duty to remedy the matter. He was merely doing constructive work in the cause of truth!
--Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity

There is no doubt whatsoever that Gould’s humane and passionate writing in defense of racial equality will be looked upon by future anthropologists and historians as a beacon of rational positivism in an age in which genetic reductionism was showing alarming signs of resurgence—as indeed it still is, as race-stratified genome-wide association studies continue to dominate research on human variation. As Gould’s longtime friend, the anthropologist Richard Milner, told a correspondent from Discover magazine: “Whatever conclusions he reached, rightly or wrongly, he did with complete conviction and integrity. He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels."
--Ian Tattersall, Remembering Stephen Jay Gould

We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.
The Humanist Manifesto I, 1933

Oh assumption!

Johnson's "concept of the nature of documentary proof" above--which would better be described merely as faith--is no more alien to us now than it was to his "earnest scribes" of before. They knew the truth, and that all roads of inquiry would end there--in Christian revelation. Likewise the modern "rational positivist" knows his truth--all races are equal in all things--and likewise that no truth can contradict it. In the minds of both morality and materiality intersect at this higher truth, like two ropes tethered to to an anchor.

Conventional liberalism has gone from resembling religious faith to becoming one, and like all religious faiths it bases its logical defense on an appeal to consequences--that any evidence against the absolute equality of races is thereby false, contradicting as it does our moral injunction and fervent desire that all races must be equal. This article of faith has become so dominant, so ingrained, men of science routinely invoke a fallacy they learned to detect in grade-school, without recognizing it!

When they cite, with that stubborn insistence that hasn't abated through decades of contrary evidence, the "debunking" of the "scientific racism" of the past by such as Gould (debunking that needs no empirical basis according to Tattersall and Milner, but merely the approval of "the angels"), they are reciting their version of Revelation. The conceit is now dogma (fitting that SJ Gould himself proposed science and religion be treated as "separate magisteria"); secular materialism and those who march under its banner have their own unassailable "truth" beyond the reach of reason or evidence. And they are very much on the march.

The religious tendency, which is natural to man, was not killed off with God by the Enlightenment, it has merely adapted; to use a term Gould himself helpfully defined for us, its present manifestation can be usefully viewed as an exaptation:

 (1) A character, previously shaped by natural selection for a particular function (an adaptation), is coopted for a new use—cooptation. (2) A character whose origin cannot be ascribed to the direct action of natural selection (a nonaptation), is coopted for a current use—cooptation. 

 As I've written here before, belief in God (or gods, for that matter) distorts less our understanding of the world than does our new regnant faith, which demands an equally unyielding belief in a fantastic view of human nature and thus has immediate consequences for society and the individual in the here and now. The old faith created a fantasy of the supernatural; the new created a fantasy of the natural world.

The Tattersalls of the world may not be as deluded as I make them out to be here, but if they aren't they're then banking on none of it mattering in the end--that is, they're counting on truth itself being of no ultimate consequence, or at least something that can be defied, indeed must be defied, for the good of mankind.

Of course this is the charitable view--they may be more accurately viewed as mere cowards, unwilling to sacrifice their careers, their positions of respect, the esteem of their fellows, for truth and principle. And, curiously, this brings us back to a belief in God--and the attendant belief in His judgment in the afterlife; because if there's only the judgment of other men to fear, and death brings no accounting, why shouldn't a man abide the egalitarian lie and get by? Indeed, why not perpetuate the lie with as much skill as one can, as Gould did, and get by very well? Telling the truth is still a mug's game in the absence of God--maybe more than ever.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Take Me To Your Leader

Rock and Roll Goddess

Christina Short Short
Sketches by Keith Rehm

Friday, March 08, 2013

We Didn't Start the Fire...

NBC is facing a defamation suit for deliberately altering the recording of George Zimmerman's 911 call to make him look "racist". To recap, the actual recording:

 Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about. 

911 Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic? 

Zimmerman: He looks black.

was "abridged", for time NBC asserts, to this:

 Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

In their response, NBC is asking a judge to stay the case until the misinformation campaign has run its course and Zimmerman is safely locked away:

...if Zimmerman is convicted, that fact alone will constitute substantial evidence that the destruction of his reputation is the result of his own criminal conduct, and not of the broadcasts at issue which, like countless other news resports [sic] disseminated by media entities throughout the country, reported on the underlying events.

If Zimmerman is convicted it will be (indeed, he's only facing trial) largely because of this lynch-mob narrative of which the dishonest edit in question is part and parcel, and which NBC helpfully documents elsewhere in its response:

[N]ewscasts across the country played relevant excerpts from the recording and newspapers and other publications similarly quoted only portions of it. On March 19, for example, the Los Angeles Times reported that “[t]he slaying has dominated social media and national news outlets in the wake of Friday’s release of 911 tapes in the Feb. 26 shooting. On the tapes is Zimmerman’s call to report Martin. ‘He’s got his hand in his waistband and he’s a black male,’ Zimmerman can be heard telling the dispatcher, saying he’s following Martin.”… Similarly, Fox News reported a summary of the call as follows: “On the 911 call, Zimmerman is heard describing Trayvon martin as a black man who appears to be, quote, up to no good and reaching in his pocket.” PBS’s “McLaughlin Group,” in a program taped March 23 and broadcast the weekend of March 23-24, summarized the Call this way:

MCLAUGHLIN: Here’s Zimmerman on the phone reporting to a 911 operator the presence of a suspicious person. (Begin audiotaped segment) 
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: He’s got his hand in his waistband and he’s a black male. 911 OPERATOR: Are you following him?
 MR. ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. 
911 OPERATOR: OK, we don’t need you to do that (End audiotaped segment) 

 Keep in mind their first defense was that it was a "mistake", now that it's a time-edit--the first strains credulity because it's nearly impossible an honest mistake would just so happen to turn an indifferent exchange into a neat narrative fit. The second is no excuse at all--that they edited for time (saving a whole three or four seconds) oblivious or indifferent to an inflammatory alteration of meaning.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sequester Reveals Government Hiring Bias Favoring Women, Blacks

...is not the title of this article at The Hill about the disparite impact the sequester will have on that massive, perpetually besieged cohort know as Women and Minorities (which covers by my quick estimation something like eighty percent of us, albeit with some confusing overlap), due to their prevalence in government work. I keep waiting to see that headline, but they went with a variation on that old standby World to End, Women and Minorities Hardest Hit. Maybe someday.

Friday, March 01, 2013

There is nothing so frightful as a bustling ignorance.
--Goethe