Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Validity of Thought

The United States is a fun place in that if you think something up, there are likely to be those that agree with you. Because others have agreed with you, your idea, no matter how random or outside the mainstream, will become a valid idea that others must treat with respect. You could make the claim this validity of ideas is enshrined in the US Constitution's 1st Amendment. I'm here to tell you that its utter bullshit.

People in this country have a right to believe whatever they want. The government can't and shouldn't do anything about what you believe. But that doesn't mean that because you believe it, your beliefs are valid. Over the past few years there are issues that come up that develop a point-counterpoint narrative that are so ridiculously stupid that it defies comprehension. With many of them, I've reached a point where if you have taken a certain position, all your other thoughts are immediately invalid to me. I don't care any more what you have to say because you have demonstrated an extreme level of stupidity.

I'll give you a for-instance. Climate Change and Evolution. People say they don't "believe" in them. Guess what? Its science. It doesn't give a shit what you believe. Thats the great thing about science; it either is, or it isn't. The other nice thing, is it builds on itself. People who take the opposing viewpoint like to retort "well its just a theory." These are people who don't know what they are talking about. Yes, in our colloquial understanding of the term, "Theory" doesn't mean much. In a scientific context though "Theory" is a whole lot more meaningful. In a scientific context, "Theory" means "a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena."

These are general propositions that are tested thousands of times over. Then, when they are tested, they are retested. Intelligent Design has tried to be some sort of counter-theory to Evolution, but frankly its a bunch of shit. With regards to climate change, opponents like to point out the e-mail scandal and also some of the problems with the UN's research council. But the thing they like to ignore is there are still thousands upon thousands of data sets, research papers, and models that all say the same thing. The Earth is warming and its most likely due to human intervention.

If you don't "believe" these two things as scientific theory, then frankly I don't care what you have to say on anything. You are wrong and no amount of evidence will ever dissuade you. I'm done.

But this brings us to our issue du jour. Of course, at this point we're all aware of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's SNAFU regarding "Confederate Pride Month" or whatever the fuck he wants to call it. Most of you are probably also aware of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's defense of Governor McDonnell's omission of slavery. These men like to talk about honoring the soldiers of the Confederacy.

Pardon me for a moment but what exactly are they honoring?

The Confederacy was comprised of a group of states that attacked American soldiers at Fort Sumter. They were fighting for the right to own other human beings as property. Thats what we're talking about when we talk about the Civil War. It was a rebellion fought for slavery. And because "the North" or as I prefer it now be known "The United States of America" was ready to end slavery they fought for the right to break up the United States of America.
They did this by launching an attack on an American military base. They did this by assassinating the President of the United States. They did this by forming an army and killing more American soldiers.

The Confederacy's leadership was composed of traitors to the United States. They were held up by a cadre of wealthy land owners who, today, would be charitably described as war criminals. One of the sadder things about the Civil War is it didn't really need to happen. The US was already showing that one didn't need to own slaves in order to be successful at much of anything. Mechanizing tasks had made simple human labor outmoded. But this was irrelavent to the South. They wanted slaves because they also knew they didn't have the population (without slaves) to be a potent political force. Their options were either to end slavery and let former slaves vote or resort to treason.

If you want to honor the Traitors of the South, by all means, go ahead. But I'm done with anything else you have to say.


Edmund Dantes said...

Outstanding post. I'm curious on when theory became an enemy to any conclusions. With conservatives, it seems that its conspiracy based.

Michael said...

Though the source seems to be in dispute (it may be James Schlesinger), I'll put this one out there: "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

There are plenty on the teabagging right who think their Faux News/Limbaugh/Bachmann/Inhofe/Falwell/etc-spawned "facts" are just as valid as the facts of 99%-plus of the scientific community. Al Gore actually had some great points along these lines in his book "Assault on Reason." If you haven't already read it, I definitely recommend it.

Nice post.