Sunday, February 28, 2010

It Must be Tough to be a Schlafly

Imagine growing up in a household where Phyllis Schlafly, that hypocritical harridan, was your mother. You'd hear things like "By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape". You'd have to live with the contradiction that your mother fought against the Equal Rights Amendment while simultaneously taking advantage of the improvement in women's rights brought about by the people supporting the ERA. Wouldn't it mess with your head?

So I feel sorry for Andy Schlafly, founder of "Conservapedia" (which is to Wikipedia what Fox News is to real news). But that doesn't prevent me from laughing when I read that "conservatism is mostly logic, and ultimately logic prevails". This from the same person who writes things like "conservative insights increase over time at a geometric rate, as in 1-2-4-8-16-etc" and had his butt handed to him by Richard Lenski.

And - only if your irony meter has been recently calibrated - go read the Conservapedia entry on relativity, in which one of the "counterexamples to relativity" is (I kid you not) "The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54". Yup, that's "mostly logic".

34 comments:

Filipe Calvario (from Brazil) said...

Of course there is something wrong with the TofR, as there is always something wrong with the theories. Someday, errors will be found (or have already been found), and a broader theory will be made, when the previous theory will be only valid in a case amongst the cases.

When it happens, those biased fellows will say: "aha! Instead of recognizing your mistake, you guys change it to adjust your views to new data", ignoring that this is what makes Science so strong: not ignoring evidence.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

I just couldn't resist reposting this. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Here are some other Andrew Schlafly highlights:

Jesus invented comedy.

The complex numbers are a liberal trick.

Cuneiform is a language (nope) that couldn't express concepts as complicated as "sin" becuase it's characters were wedge shaped, unlike modern lines, curves, and dots, I suppose.

IvanM said...

The complex numbers are a liberal trick.

At first one might think that this is no crazier than his usual shtick, but apparently his brother is a PhD mathematician and yet unable to convince him of how crackpottish he's being.

Bill said...

I'm sorry that Andrew is apparently mentally ill and is not getting treatment.

His denial of reality is way beyond crankdom.

Terence C said...

Someone took a closer look at his 1-2-4-8 insights law: Quite amusing...

Tristram Shandy said...

It is rather amusing to read the preening criticism of religious fruitcakes coming from someone with unacknowledged religion issues himself.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Tristram:

I don't know what you mean by "religious issues".

Ty said...

"I don't know what you mean by "religious issues"."

I'd guess that neither does he.

Tristram Shandy said...

At the core of religion is belief in the reality of concepts for which there is no evidence. For Jeffrey to criticize Schlafly for her kooky religious beliefs while he subscribes to his own kooky religious beliefs is amusing.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Except that you have failed to demonstrate your claim.

Filipe Calvario (from Brazil) said...

Now, being a honest and ethical person seems to be a "religious issue". Poor Udo Schuklenk, we've got to tell him!

Tristram Shandy said...

"being a honest and ethical person..."

So that's how to describe someone who makes an absurd accusation against a respected intellectual with a CV ten times as impressive as his own, calling him a moron. I always thought the right word was chutzpah.

Tristram Shandy said...

"Except that you have failed to demonstrate your claim."

You mean the claim that imagining something does not make it true?

IvanM said...

The only amusing things here (except Schlafly), Tristam, are the depths of the absurdity and vacuity of your concern trolling.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Tristram:

Your comments are really degenerating in quality and increasing in spittle.

You mean the claim that imagining something does not make it true?

First, ethical beliefs aren't purely "imagined" (in the sense that we imagine we see faces in clouds). There is abundant experimental evidence that they are hardwired as a result of our genetic heritage. Again, I point to The Moral Animal, which you haven't read.

Second, I never said that "imagining something makes it true".

Jeffrey Shallit said...

someone who makes an absurd accusation

It's not so absurd - many others have said essentially the same things about Fish, some with very good reputations.

I always thought the right word was chutzpah.


You say that like it's a bad thing.

Tristram Shandy said...

"There is abundant experimental evidence that [ethical beliefs] are hardwired as a result of our genetic heritage."

This is something neither I nor anyone on the Fish thread ever disputed. What you never get around to answering is why someone should not freely violate those beliefs if she wants to.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

What you never get around to answering is why someone should not freely violate those beliefs if she wants to.

More accurately, I've given several answers, but you ignore them or dispute their validity.

Why you enjoy this kind of repetition is beyond me, but I've lost interest in it.

DiEb said...

@Tristram: Thanks for the laugh - describing A. Schlafly as a a respected intellectual with a CV ten times as impressive as [JS's]...

@Terence; Thanks for mentioning the essay at RationalWiki. I elaborated my thoughts on Andy Schlafly's geometric law of conservative insights here. My conclusion:
When the words were chosen, a pattern for the full centuries was (consciously or subconsciously) observed. A finer division into periods which haven't been actively watched shows that the law of conservative insights doesn't hold. It's a figment of imagination, created by wishful thinking - and self-deception

Jeffrey Shallit said...

DiEb:

To be fair, I think Tristram was referring to Stanley Fish, not Schlafly.

Mumon said...

My favorite:

The lack of a single useful device developed based on any insights provided by the theory; no lives have been saved or helped, and the theory has not led to other useful theories and may have interfered with scientific progress. This stands in stark contrast with every verified theory of science.

I guess accurate GPS doesn't count.

jason said...

They liked that counterexample so much they included it twice:

11. The inability of the theory to produce anything of value, contrary to every other theory of physics.


Are Conservapedians really this thick? I can easily picture some blackhearted godless secularist who, lacking a moral compass, would make up stuff like this for fun. hee hee.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

jason said...
Are Conservapedians really this thick?

Yes, indeed, they are totally utterly thick and stupid. Just like creationists.

Tristram Shandy said...

"Your comments are really degenerating in quality and increasing in spittle."

Awwww...you're making me blush. I suppose this is your way of letting me know that you found my earlier comments smart, persuasive, and non-moronic.

"I always thought the right word was chutzpah.

You say that like it's a bad thing."

You know that I would never call something bad. It goes against my principles.

But, as you said earlier, maybe we aren't so far apart. Like me, you feel no compunction about dispensing with conventions of common decency when it suits your purposes. Hurling insulting rants at your intellectual superiors can, after all, be a pleasant way to spend a Tuesday morning.

jason said...

I just read the talk page for that entry on counterexamples to relativity. I was thinking it was just random cranks, and possibly pranksters who contributed this stuff. I didn't know it was Andy Schlafly himself. Bizarre.

Andy has an idiosyncratic understanding of the word "logic". How he thinks that a lack of practical applications (if that were the case) of relativity constitutes even one, let alone two separate logical counterexamples to this "mathematical system that allows no exceptions" is beyond me.

If you can operate, build, or maintain a device without understanding a certain physical theory, then the working of that device does not rely on the principles of that theory.

This, apparently, is logic. It is also an example of the Conservative Insight of Accountability. Liberal elites just love wasting taxpayer money on science that you can get by without knowing.

I also find his compulsive repitition of, "I am openminded about this. Are you openminded about this?" comical. What is one to make of that? I have given away too much. I hate to ruin it for those who might read it themselves.

Tristram Shandy said...

Jeffrey:
I forgot to mention that I am sincerely grateful to you for providing me with the best analogy ever conceived for rational ethical reasoning: Calvinball!

Perhaps we can consult Calvin and Hobbes for an answer to one of the existential question you seem be avoiding:
If evolution has programmed us to be cruel and violent, why is it wrong to be cruel and violent?

I swear to Schlafly, this is my last post.

IvanM said...

Thanks for recommending the talk page, Jason. That is high comedy!

John said...

Hey Ed Brayton the so-called journalist, you may have fun smearing others but you can't stop the conservative movement. The movement is growing, the majority of Americans align themselves with conservatives. You and the other liberal trash will be Tea Bagged by conservatives. Remember that right before you go to bed.

Rien said...

Yes, the talk page. I think this is the weirdest thing I ever read about relativity. I love how he says "Nothing useful has even been designed or built using relativity." Or "GPS is a work of engineering and any timing discrepancies between the satellite and ground are obviously better handled directly by synchronization rather than asking a physicist what he thinks of relativity." Because this he knows, you know.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Dear John:

You seem to be as confused as your moronic tea-bagger brothers. I am not Ed Brayton.

James Cranch said...

Jeffrey,

Of course I agree with the main thrust of your post. But I don't think it's reasonable to criticize people for campaigning to change policy while benefitting from the status quo, like you did when you criticized Phyllis Schlafly for simultaneously using equal rights and campaigning against them.

For example, I think income tax in the UK should probably go up for people earning about what I earn. But I don't put an extra few hundred pounds a year in a brown envelope and post it to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

I posit furthermore that it would be a little perverse to accuse me of hypocrisy for doing this.

Similarly, the only distasteful thing that Old Mother Schlafly was doing was opposing equal rights. I am actually happy that she enjoyed equal rights while she did so: everyone should enjoy equal rights, no matter how distasteful their political opinions.

IvanM said...

If Andy Schlafly keeps working hard, he might make it into the Texas school board standards jus' like his momma.

Jackie said...

"If evolution has programmed us to be cruel and violent, why is it wrong to be cruel and violent?"

Uh, Tristram? You are the only person making the claim that "evolution has programmed us to be cruel and violent". It has been pointed out to you that evolution has programed us to be, generally, social and cooperative.

"I swear to Schlafly, this is my last post."

We are all grateful.