Sunday, March 29, 2009

Might we view the supposed Placebo effect as a sophisticated form of the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy? Es posible (No Choprak, or chiropractors needed).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Einstein on philosophers

""""Hume saw that concepts which we must regard as essential, such as, for example, causal connection ,cannot be gained from material given to us by the senses. This insight led him to a sceptical attitude as concerns knowledge of any kind. If one reads Hume's books, one is amazed that many and sometimes even highly esteemed philosophers after him have been able to write so much obscure stuff and even find grateful readers for it. Hume has permanently influenced the development of the best philosophers who came after him. One senses him in the reading of Russell's philosophical analyses, whose acumen and simplicity of expression have often reminded me of Hume.

Man has an intense desire for assured knowledge. That is why Hume's clear message seems crushing: the sensory raw material, the only source of our knowledge, through habit may lead us to belief and expectation but not to the knowledge and still less to the understanding of lawful relations. Then Kant took the stage with an idea which, though certainly untenable in the form in which he put it, signified a step towards the solution of Hume's dilemma: whatever in knowledge is of empirical origin is never certain (Hume). If, therefore, we have definitely assured knowledge, it must be grounded in reason itself. This is held to be the case, for example, in the propositions of geometry and in the principle of causality. These and certain other types of knowledge are, so to speak, a part of the implements of thinking and therefore do not previously have to be gained from sense data (i. e., they are a priori knowledge). Today everyone knows, of course, that the mentioned concepts contain nothing of the certainty, of the inherent necessity, which Kant had attributed to them. The following, however, appears to me to be correct in Kant's statement of the problem: in thinking we use, with a certain "right," concepts to which there is no access from the materials of sensory experience, if the situation is viewed from the logical point of view.

As a matter of fact, I am convinced that even much more is to be asserted: the concepts which arise in our thought and in our linguistic expressions are all -- when viewed logically -- the free creations of thought which cannot inductively be gained from sense experiences. This is not so easily noticed only because we have the habit of combining certain concepts and conceptual relations (propositions) so definitely which certain sense experiences that we do not become conscious of the gulf -- logically unbridgeable -- which separates the world of sensory experiences from the world of concepts and propositions.

Thus, for example, the series of integers is obviously an invention of the human mind, a self-created tool which simplifies the ordering of certain sensory experiences. But there is no way in which this concept could be made to grow, as it were, directly out of sense experiences. It is deliberately that I choose here the concept of a number, because it belongs to the pre-scientific thinking and because, in spite of that fact, its constructive character is still easily recognizable. The more, however ,we turn to the most primitive concepts of everyday life, the more difficult it becomes amidst the mass of inveterate habits to recognize the concept as an independent creation of thinking. It was thus that the fateful conception -- fateful, that is to say, for an understanding of the here-existing conditions -- could arise, according to which the concepts originate from experience by way of "abstraction," i. e., through omission of a part of its content. I want to indicate now why this conception appears to me to be so fateful.

As soon as one is at home in Hume's critique one is easily led to believe that all those concepts and propositions which cannot be deduced from the sensory raw material are, on account of their "metaphysical" character, to be removed from thinking. For all thought acquires material content only through its relationship with that sensory material. This latter proposition I take to be entirely true; but I hold the prescription for thinking which is grounded on this proposition to be false. For this claim -- if only carried through consistently -- absolutely excludes thinking of any kind as "metaphysical."""""


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ayn Rand Re-ryn: The principle of individual rights is the only moral base of all groups or associations

"""A group, as such, has no rights. A man can neither acquire new rights by joining a group nor lose the rights which he does possess. The principle of individual rights is the only moral base of all groups or associations.

Any group that does not recognize this principle is not an association, but a gang or a mob.

Any doctrine of group activities that does not recognize individual rights is a doctrine of mob rule or legalized lynching.

The notion of “collective rights” (the notion that rights belong to groups, not to individuals) means that “rights” belong to some men, but not to others—that some men have the “right” to dispose of others in any manner they please—and that the criterion of such privileged position consists of numerical superiority.

Nothing can ever justify or validate such a doctrine—and no one ever has. Like the altruist morality from which it is derived, this doctrine rests on mysticism: either on the old-fashioned mysticism of faith in supernatural edicts, like “The Divine Right of Kings”—or on the social mystique of modern collectivists who see society as a super-organism, as some supernatural entity apart from and superior to the sum of its individual members.

The amorality of that collectivist mystique is particularly obvious today in the issue of national rights.

A nation, like any other group, is only a number of individuals and can have no rights other than the rights of its individual citizens. A free nation—a nation that recognizes, respects and protects the individual rights of its citizens—has a right to its territorial integrity, its social system and its form of government. The government of such a nation is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of its citizens and has no rights other than the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific, delimited task (the task of protecting them from physical force, derived from their right of self-defense).

The citizens of a free nation may disagree about the specific legal procedures or methods of implementing their rights (which is a complex problem, the province of political science and of the philosophy of law), but they agree on the basic principle to be implemented: the principle of individual rights. When a country’s constitution places individual rights outside the reach of public authorities, the sphere of political power is severely delimited—and thus the citizens may, safely and properly, agree to abide by the decisions of a majority vote in this delimited sphere. The lives and property of minorities or dissenters are not at stake, are not subject to vote and are not endangered by any majority decision; no man or group holds a blank check on power over others.


Miss Rand was not one for subtlety, but she at least understood the principles of the Founding Fathers. In terms of what we might call ontology, Rand was usually correct, though her arguments for her vaguely Aristotelian "axioms" could have been more fleshed out (Rand rejects any and all forms of skepticism, really). Miss Rand had no Kantian (or xtian) doubts of the reality of phenomena, and no truck with "altruists". Objectivism accepts scientific naturalism (though not exactly a Darwinian sort). Contrary to popular opinion, Objectivism rejects mysticism, whether in the form of organized religion, or the paranormal-quack sort (though a few quacks might be found among the Peikoff crew). Rand was a naturalist, par example (one problem for naturalists: what is Reason itself then, Fraulein Rand, given nada mas que .....Tio de Carne?). Her views are similar to Nietzsche, but she still has a faith in secular democracy, of some type (Rand also rejected the divine right of Kings, which Nietzsche himself would never have done).

Though many leftists view Rand as a symbol of conservative errors, Rand had no love for the biblethumping right--at one point Rand and the Objectivists broke with the hawks on 'Nam, and dissed Nixon and Reagan (unlike say the Buckley and Star-Kapitan Heinlein crew, and many LBJ/Humphrey type DINOs). She also well understood what sorts of disasters trade unionism and marxism resulted in. Really, I find Ayn Rand's character and writing fairly nauseating (and chock full of facile generalizations). In comparison to the usual leftist apparatchik or sunday-schooler GOP zombie, however, Rand seems about like a Condorcet or James Madison.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Make Bono Pay Taxes


"""More than 40 years ago, the Beatles followed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to India in search of a spiritual haven. Three years ago, U2 followed him, in search of a tax haven. (By the time the Maharishi faded from mortal life in February 2006, he was living at his Dutch estate, presiding over a business empire worth more than a man who scorned money could be bothered to count. He’d moved to Holland in 1990 for tax purposes. Or, rather, no-tax purposes.”)

Cork-born British television super-star Graham Norton commented at the time: "People like Bono really annoy me. He goes to hell and back to avoid paying tax. He has a special accountant. He works out Irish tax loopholes. And then he's asking me to buy a well for an African village. Tarmac a road or pay for a school, you tight-wad!”

But Norton’s words of modest wisdom didn’t resonate with the media mainstream which endlessly celebrates Bono. They laud his selflessness in occasionally taking time off from counting the cash he had squirrelled away to berate the Irish authorities for refusing to give more of the money they had collected from tax-compliant citizens towards alleviating world hunger. They report worshipfully on Bono’s peregrinations around the planet in the company of the liars, murderers, thieves and whores who were have run the global economy into ruin.

The arrival of U2 confirmed Holland as the European Union’s number one tax haven. Corporations which have joined the band in establishing headquarters there to avoid paying tax in their home countries include Coca Cola, Ikea, Nike and Gucci.

The band is set to tour their new album, “No Line on the Horizon”. So stand by for the latest swirl of jangly guitar enclosed in a fog of undefined feeling. Expect no grit, no danger, nothing jagged or ragged to disturb tranquillity, but a toxic cloud of fluffy rhetoric, a soundtrack for the terminally self-satisfied, not forgetting heart-felt homilies on how to live a moral life. """""

Shades of James Connolly--or the Fein (No green beer, leprechauns, quasi-Molly Blooms, fiddles, or U2 needed). The Fein were not joiners, at least initially. Connolly himself (though I doubt McCann would approve of the comparison) remained somewhat aloof from the leftist-unionists--though a pen-pal of VI Lenin hisself--yet detested the loyal-royals. Connolly supposedly received catholic communion a few minutes before Churchill's men had him and his comrades shot via firing squad, and tossed into an open grave.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"DiFi Can't Handle The Truth"

(DDay from Calitics).

""""The previous President, aided by his allies, asserted broad executive powers far outside Constitutional strictures, and the results were illegal wiretapping, torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, and a series of other crimes against the state and violations practically every amendment in the Bill of Rights as well as international law.

But one member of the Judiciary Committee wasn't at the truth commission hearing yesterday - Dianne Feinstein. Through a spokesman, she sidestepped whether or not she supports a commission, saying she "hasn't seen a proposal." But she is instituting a competing investigation, from her perch at the Senate Intelligence Committee, that is bound to be a whitewash:

....."The Senate investigation will examine whether the detention and interrogation operations were carried out in ways that were consistent with the authorities and instructions issued in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said.

The panel will also look at whether lawmakers were kept fully informed. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the committee, and others have said that the Bush administration improperly withheld information from Congress on the CIA's operations.

This is basically a turf war. Feinstein wants control of the investigation process in her committee, over Patrick Leahy. And she wants the hearings to be private as well as the final report."""""

Princess Feinstein most likely wants control of Zee Investigation process and the TRUTH Commission because she wants immunity for.......Princess DiFi!, and DiFi's spouse Richard Blum, Perini Co executive, and war profiteer. Entrusting the Democrats--or DINOs, in Feinstein's case-- to handle the prosecution of BushCo and GOP seems about equivalent (on a less spectacular scale, of course) to the allies allowing Stalin and his henchmen in the NVDK to prosecute, and carry out the executions of nazi leaders (a situation a few cynics, including George Orwell, pondered during the Nuremburg trials).

The Orwellian viewpoint--recognizing the crimes of right, and left, and indeed all parties involved (even the party one happens to favor)--may not appeal to many Demopublicans. The events of the last seven or eight years, however, suggest bipartisan guilt--both in terms of war and the economy--and the present situation regarding the proposed Investigations does not lack Orwellian overtones, at least in terms of Ratness (a scribe such as Orwell often better understands the complexity of political corruption than do academic apparatchiks, whether scientific-naturalists, or SocratesCo). Nearly all the Demos supported the War Effort, and the related "security measures"; that some recanted, mostly during the rise of Obama, does not count for much, and generally the recanting sounded weak and hypocritical.

Feinstein in fact has consistently backed the CIA, the PatAct, FISA, the Homeland BS, and BushCo itself. She has called for checkpoints and for warrantless searches of anyone suspected of any connection to terrorists (read, muslims). Immediately following 9-11, DiFi pushed for national Cyber-ID cards, with support from pal Larry Ellison of Oracle. Given Feinstein's consistent conservative policies--if not police state tactics--she has no business being involved with an objective assessment of possible war crimes on the part of the Bush Administration.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


California Faces Water Rationing, Governor Proclaims Drought Emergency

"""SACRAMENTO, California, February 27, 2009 (ENS) - Parched California is a step closer to mandatory water rationing today as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency and ordered all government agencies to implement the state's emergency plan and provide help for people, communities and businesses impacted by the third consecutive year of drought.

"This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment - making today's action absolutely necessary," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "This is a crisis, just as severe as an earthquake or raging wildfire, and we must treat it with the same urgency by upgrading California's water infrastructure to ensure a clean and reliable water supply for our growing state."

The governor's order directs that by March 30, the Department of Water Resources will provide an updated report on the state's drought conditions and water availability.

If the emergency conditions have not eased, the governor said he could start mandatory water rationing and mandatory reductions in water use.

Schwarzenegger said he could order reoperation of major reservoirs in the state to minimize impacts of the drought. He also could provide additional regulatory relief or permit streamlining as allowed under the Emergency Services Act. """""

The H20 experts and bureaucrats have begun moderating/curtailing the irrigation water to agriculture, the real water hog. Parks, golf courses, stadiums now rely on gray water (perhaps Ahhnuld will have the Dodgers play Torres-Ball on sand-lot). Really, the ag people are as much to blame as anyone (as is Schwarzenegger admin). Inessential produce (most fruits and vegetables, really) consumes a great deal of the H20, and the lack of planning and foresight resulted in this crisis as much as the lack of rainfall did.

A drought should remind all humans of their biological and economic dependencies; hydration issues seem rather Malthusian. The entire Central Valley economy has for years depended upon abundant agua, for fruits, vegetables, and legumes: drytown and dry farms mean jobs drying up as well. There's little time for metaphysical speculation when dying of thirst, and no non-locality or "quantum indeterminism" involved with our need for hydration. In severe droughts, political structure itself often becomes unstable and precarious: if things get bad enough maybe civil war will erupt in the Golden State.
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