Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Republicans and Factual Relativism

Introduction

Republicans like to accuse the left of "moral relativism."

Well, I'm here to accuse them of "factual relativism." By this I mean that they don't care about facts. You may provide facts, but they will ignore, twist, and deny. They will never provide facts of their own, simply providing ever-retreating statements until they find something that isn't falsifiable (but has no basis in fact) or else repeating the lie over and over again.

Minor Example

I just had a dispute with Sadie Lou over at her place when she claimed that yesterday's California election came down, among other things, to "Christians vs. non-Christians." You can read it yourself, or you can enjoy this reenactment:

Me: But a majority of Democrats are Christians, too. Here's proof.
Her: Maybe for the rest of the country, but not for California.
Me: But a majority of Californian Democrats are also Christian. Here's proof.
Her: They aren't real Christians. They probably don't go to church, believe that Jesus died on the cross, or read their Bibles, and think that bombing abortion clinics and beating up gays is okay.
Me: They do go to church (here's proof) but I don't have data on the rest of it.
Her: Aha! I was right.

Political Examples

Kansas just decided to change the definition of the word "science" because Intelligent Design doesn't fit into the actual definition of science.

The Bush administration distorts scientific research. For example, they "sought changes in an Environmental Protection Agency climate study, including deletion of a 1,000-year temperature record and removal of reference to a study that attributed some of global warming to human activity" when the facts didn't agree with them on global warming.

41 comments:

Sadie Lou said...

"They aren't real Christians."

Don't put ugly words in my mouth, JA, to prove an ugly point. The words "they aren't real Christians" never left my keyboard.

My point was that your so called statistics/precentages are not exactly accurate. When I say Christian vs. non Christian that is as black and white as me vs. you at the polls. It is not some vauge precent of people who claim to be Christians. That didn't even include Catholics--it was like some broad spectrum of Christians, in which case, I don't even agree with them at the polls. I was talking about a representation of straight up Christians vs. straight up atheists--not these middle of the road people that believe in "god".
Can you understand what I'm saying? Or do you just want to be right all the time?
The numbers mean jack crap to me because how did they get that number anyways? Did people fill in some bubble somewhere to claim their spirituality?
I'm not talking about those people.
I'm talking about what I know.
ex: Me and You

Suzanne said...

Um, I read what you and Sadie Lu said to each-other and that wasn't a very good reenactment of it. Maybe you should have just copied what was really said instead of trying to put it in your own words.

Sadie Lou said...

JA
The term "Christian" is used by various groups with diverse beliefs to describe themselves. Some groups, such as Born Again Christians and others, use a very strict definition of "Christian". They believe to be Christian one must agree with the doctrines and creeds begun in 325 CE which they believe elucidate the essentials of the Christian faith. Other groups, particularly those classified as Restorationist reject these creeds as the doctrines of men; however because of their belief in Christ as the Savior of mankind they claim to be Christian.
Many Christians are grouped into ecclesial communities called denominations which are separated by the nuances of their respective theologies. The liturgical denominations, including Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Roman and Eastern Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism, along with many constituent components of the reformed traditions of Presbyterianism, Methodism, Moravianism, et al., teach that the title Christian is honorificly bestowed upon those who have received the sacrament of Baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Most of these groups advocate infant baptism, or paedobaptist (beside that of adult converts).
Others who refer to themselves as Christian only require that one believes in Jesus as the Son of God to claim the term Christian. Yet other Christian denominations require a formal commitment to become a member such as baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, such as with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Baptism for the LDS church is done once an individual has achieved an age of accountability, held to be the age of eight years, or when an individual joins the church as a convert. Other denominations (The Church of Christ, International Churches of Christ, and the Independent Christian Churches) teach that the definition of a Christian is someone who has been baptized as a repenting adult “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”– (Matthew 28:19). For them, adult baptism is the transition from non-Christian to Christian. These varying definitions arise from different biblical interpretations and differences regarding the authority of scripture in context with tradition.
A small but significant minority of ecclesiastical groups are often referred to as Christian whose creeds consider Jesus to be theologically significant but not God. Movements along these lines include Jehovah's Witnesses.


Your numbers and precentages are better explained when you understand that "Christian" is too broad of a term.

Jewish Atheist said...

Don't put ugly words in my mouth, JA, to prove an ugly point. The words "they aren't real Christians" never left my keyboard.

But the exit polls clearly show that a majority of Kerry voters were Christians. If you aren't implying that they aren't real Christians, how can you continue to argue that most Californian Democrats are not Christians? Are they or aren't they Christians?

Um, I read what you and Sadie Lu said to each-other and that wasn't a very good reenactment of it. Maybe you should have just copied what was really said instead of trying to put it in your own words.

Maybe I should have. But I at least linked to it.

Your numbers and precentages are better explained when you understand that "Christian" is too broad of a term.

You can't have it both ways. Either they are Christians or they aren't, and you're claiming that you didn't imply that they aren't. So which is it?

Sadie Lou said...

I should have said

Christian moralist vs. Non Christian moralist

but my fan base on my blog knew what I meant so I didn't feel the need to get all scientific about it.
Thanks for calling me to the mat. Case closed.

Shlomo said...

I feel another Liberal/Progressive blog beginning to emerge. Oh, what a fine day it is!

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou, it's still not fair to say that your side has the Christian moralists when Christians on the left are moralists too! Wasn't MLK Jr. a moralist? Isn't helping the poor a moral issue? Isn't health care a moral issue? Isn't resisting unnecessary wars a moral issue?

Really, Sadie Lou. It's fine to disagree, but you can't just say that your side has all the Christians or all the Christian moralists when the facts are clearly against you. You're just making stuff up.

Again, you're presenting no facts of your own, just making assertions over and over again, trying to twist, distort, and ignore the facts presented by the opposition.

Sadie Lou said...

Ah Ha! Now we come to it!
I said:
Christian vs. Non Christian
Us vs. Them
Democrat vs. Republican

what I didn't say was: All Republicans are Christians OR no democrats are Christians

Again...you are putting words in my mouth. I stand by what I said as it is still true in it's essence without complicating the issue.

Jewish Atheist said...

I said:
Christian vs. Non Christian
Us vs. Them
Democrat vs. Republican


What the hell? Your statement clearly implies that Christians are on one side and non-christians are on the other. I've PROVED that Christians are on both sides. In other words, it's not Christian vs. Non-Christian, it's:

Christian and non-Christian vs. Christian and non-Christian.

Your statement is 100% false. Yet you can't admit it.

Sadie Lou said...

What? You are so weird!
"I've proved that Christians are on both sides"

How can Christians be on both sides of
Christian vs. non christian???? Are you saying there are non christians that are christians?
Are you reading this right?
Are you saying that since I said

Republican vs. Democrat--that there are Christians on both sides of that political party?
Because that would make more sense but that's not even what I said. I purposefully separated the spiritual and the political, you're the one mixing the two!
I did not say Christian vs. Democrat...are you aware of that?

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou, let me ask you this. What -- exactly -- did you mean by Christian vs. Non-Christian?

Jewish Atheist said...

I did not say Christian vs. Democrat...are you aware of that?

One more question. If this isn't what you meant, why did you argue that the majority of Democrats were not Christian? You're trying to change what you originally said because you've been proven wrong.

July Al said...

I doubt that any of the California voters can be classified as Christians because I don't think anyone anywhere adheres fully to the teachings of the bible.

For example, Jesus warned against public prayer, and yet, going to church is public prayer! Likewise, Paul forbade wearing gold in church, and yet churchgoers are flush with that crap.

In today's world, calling oneself a Christian is meaningless as an indicator of one's faith or commitment to living an ethical life, as anyone who follows the tawdry affairs of priests and preachers well knows.

Now, as for Kansas - what an embarrassment. I would urge college and university admissions offices around the country to downgrade or reject outright any student applicant who admits to graduating from a school in that state, because their state has decided that a proper science education is subservient to religious dogma and hence, their education is suspect.

I'd also like to call BS on the idea in "Intelligent Design" that says that complexity (of life, or whatever) is evidence of design.

That is just foolish. Simplicity and elegance are evidence of design, NOT the complex sloppiness of biological life.

Consider a ceramic coffee mug. It is simple unitary device that elegantly solves the problem of storing, transporting and consuming a hot beverage. THAT'S intelligent design.

CyberKitten said...

july al said: That is just foolish. Simplicity and elegance are evidence of design, NOT the complex sloppiness of biological life.

Consider a ceramic coffee mug. It is simple unitary device that elegantly solves the problem of storing, transporting and consuming a hot beverage. THAT'S intelligent design.

Well put. As with the complexity issue - if the human eye was so marvelously well 'designed' then why is there a blind spot? Why do so many people need corrective lenses? When does our eyesight deteriorate so quickly after we reach our 40's?

If God 'designed' us (or any other creature for that matter)... He didn't do a very good job did he?

CyberKitten said...

That's *Why* does our eyesight deteriorate so quickly after we reach our 40's?

July Al said...

The eye of the Octopus contains no blind spot - and they (and many birds) can see UV light, which means they can see two additional primary colors and unlimited combinations of them.

Science may soon be able to add UV support to our eyes, fixing at least part of the Sloppy One's mistakes.

Random said...

July Al,

Science can do it now, and indeed has been able to do it for ages - if you have the natural lens in your eye removed and replaced with an artificial one you can see an extra 500 or so Angstrom units into the UV, which is roughly the equivalent of a colour or two. This was actually used during WW2 to enable a form of secret signalling.

Random said...

"when Christians on the left are moralists too!... Isn't helping the poor a moral issue?"

Nice segue there, but helping the poor isn't a left-wing issue. Spending other people's money and claiming you're doing it to help the poor is a left wing issue, but helping the poor by reducing the taxes they have to pay and getting the government off the backs of the people who might create jobs for them are right wing issues.

July Al said...

I was not aware of that...

This article (http://www.slate.com/id/2079371/) details the research to add UV vision through both cybernetics and/or gene therapy.

Random said...

Yes - it was discovered as a side effect of cataract treatment, where the natural lens which has clouded over is removed and replaced with a glass or plastic one. Personally, I have no intention of having the operation done just to be able to see a couple of deeper shades of purple!

July Al said...

Will they be purple? They may be a different as red is from blue is from yellow.

Random said...

I read it in a book about secret intelligence ops during WW2 - I think they said the UV signalling lamps looked purple to the people who'd had the operation (I hasten to add the intelligence agencies didn't operate on healthy people, they recruited volunteers who'd already had cataract operations!) but I need to dig into my library to be sure.

Jewish Atheist said...

Nice segue there, but helping the poor isn't a left-wing issue.

Of course it is. You may argue with the methods, but there's no disputing the issue. Leftists favor a more progressive income tax, which benefits the poor. Leftists favor minimum wage hikes, which help the poor. Leftists favor universal health care, which helps the poor. Leftists promote workers' rights, which helps the poor.

but helping the poor by reducing the taxes they have to pay and getting the government off the backs of the people who might create jobs for them are right wing issues.

I agree that some Republicans believe that their policies will help the poor, but I've seen no evidence of it. Republican presidents have seen more people added to the ranks of the poor and more rich people becoming richer, while the Democrats have seen the reverse. Republicans fight workers' rights, fight minimum wages, fight universal health care, and cut taxes on the wealthy.

We could debate policies until the end of the Earth, but saying that helping the poor isn't a Democratic issue is just stupid.

asher said...

Um, can we get back to moral relativism. This a cop out term used to say "we can't really blame anyone for being wrong"

For example..when a "Palestinian" homicide bomber makes his way into a crowded neighborhood and blows up himself and several people who happen to be in the area, and then the Israeli army goes into Palestinian area and takes out the leader of this group of suicide bombers, most leftists will say it's the same thing. That is moral relativism. No blame, no fault. There is no right or wrong, there are only actions.

Actually raising the minimum wage does not help poor people, affirmative action (i.e. quotas) does not help anyone, and civil rights act of 1964 was passed by mostly Republicans (Al Gore's dear old dad voted against it).

Any other generalizations you care to discuss?

Jewish Atheist said...

Um, can we get back to moral relativism.

Let's do that another day. I've had enough excitement for today.

civil rights act of 1964 was passed by mostly Republicans

The areas from which Democrats who voted against it are now Republican because of that bill. LBJ (a Dem) signed the bill knowing he'd lose the South for a generation, which he did. Racists like Strom Thurmand switched parties around 1964. Then in 1968, Nixon and the Republicans used the "southern strategy" (i.e. "states rights" or "racism") to win the presidency. Republicans voted for the Bill, but all the racists have long since switched to that side.

The demographic is pretty similar to those voting against gay rights today.

dbackdad said...

Asher,
Do you have a blog of your own (none listed on your profile)? You're quite the strident blog tourist, so I'm sure you'd have plenty of ideas for one of your own instead of trying to direct the discussion on other people's blogs. In one comment, you've managed to make unsubstantiated generalizations about the left, moral relativism, affirmative action, the minimum wage and the Civil Rights Act.

Jack's Shack said...

Hi JA,

Most of the time I find you to be precise and logical in your arguments but I think that there is an aspect here that you are losing that to and that is the attempt to paint the parties into corners.

I don't think that it is fair or reasonable to say that Democrats are the party of helping people and Republicans are the party of big business. In truth the platforms are often very similar but that aside I think that the ultimate goal is still to try and produce a healthy and vibrant society. The methods and philosophy of doing so are different.

We could argue that Dems want to improve life for people by increasing the minimum wage, providing welfare and other social programs to assist society.

We could also argue that by doing so they create many problems. Welfare reform was needed because too many recipients chose to just subsist on that and did things to make sure that they stayed upon it. The increase in minimum wage killed some smaller businesses because they couldn't afford to survive and as a result it increased unemployment. In short this argument says that Dems create a society of dependents and not independents.

I could go and create the same argument for Republicans but I think that the point was made.

Random said...

"I agree that some Republicans believe that their policies will help the poor, but I've seen no evidence of it."

In an earlier thread you accused some of your opponents of parochialism, now you're being guilty of it yourself. Try an international comparison - the countries of the European Union have all the left wing anti-poverty measures you are calling for in spades, and what is the result? In the last ten years the USA has created over 50 million jobs and the EU25 only 4 million - and most of them by padding the government payroll. Additionally, there was a survey earlier this year that showed that if the EU25 were US states only one (Luxemburg) would even make the top 40 in terms of GDP per capita, percentage of population below the poverty line and so on. Everybody else was down there with Alabama and Mississippi. If the policies you call for really are any good at reducing poverty, then why isn't the EU much richer than the US?

Helping the poor isn't a left wing issue, it's a political issue. Your preferred tactics for doing so are what are left wing or right wing.

Judith said...

"You may provide facts, but they will ignore, twist, and deny. They will never provide facts of their own, simply providing ever-retreating statements until they find something that isn't falsifiable (but has no basis in fact) or else repeating the lie over and over again."

You kidding??? This is a great description of the antiwar Left.

Shlomo said...

The US has created 50 million jobs, Those jobs are due to outsourcing to China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India. Other than unskilled low-wage service jobs i.e. Walmart greeters, we have had no net gain in job growth. Corporate America continues to screw American workers, American consumers, and American taxpayers who have investing time, effort, and sweat in helping these corporations amass their fortunes. Now, in the name of Holy Capitalism (All Bow and Kneel at the Throne!), your sacrifice to them and their promise to you i.e. pensions, benefits, salaries, etc. is meaningless.

Oh by the way, if you look at China's growing economy, we are already seeing the huge disparities in income between rich and working class that we see here. Countries like Indonesia, where politicians and industrialists live like gods, 1000s of children turn to sifting through the city dumps for food and sellables or to prostition. Is this what you want to see in America?

I've seen first hand that kind of poverty. Everywhere I've seen it, I've seen the filthy hands of Holy Capitalism and human exploitation all over it. In India, you can walk less than 100 yards from unbelievable and astounding opulence into the most horrific poverty imaginable. There are human being willing to sell their own children if for no other reason than to spare themselves one day of dire poverty. You cannot know the desperation of their suffering and remain blind to system that permits it.

GREED & CAPITALISM MUST BE STOPPED!

Jewish Atheist said...

I don't think that it is fair or reasonable to say that Democrats are the party of helping people and Republicans are the party of big business.

I don't think it's true of Republicans the people, but it does seem to be true of Republican politicians.

We could argue that Dems want to improve life for people by increasing the minimum wage, providing welfare and other social programs to assist society.

We could also argue that by doing so they create many problems.


Absolutely. Which is why the Democrats have become much more fiscally conservative the last couple decades.

Politics isn't my area of expertise -- I just got into this topic because I felt the Democrats were being held up as the "immoral" party.

Helping the poor isn't a left wing issue, it's a political issue. Your preferred tactics for doing so are what are left wing or right wing.

I agree, although I'd say it's both a left and a right wing issue. I bristle when the right tries to cloak themselves as the moral choice.

July Al said...

Do increases in the minimum wage harm businesses and the poor? Economic theories are unclear on this point, but the most recent results of minimum wage increases don't seem to be too bad.

I suppose it is possible that a marginal small business might be hurt by having to pay higher wages - but if the customers of that business are themselves workers who have more disposable income as the result of the increase, our hypothetical business might well find itself better off, not worse off, in the net aftermath of the increase.

The last two increases in the minimum hourly wage were in October, 1996 (from $4.25 to $4.75) and September, 1997 (to $5.15). Despite the "damage" these increases supposedly caused, the economy, as measured by the GDP, grew in excess of 4% in each year (1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999), the first 4-year period of such growth since the early 1960's. Roughly 10,000,000 workers benefited directly from the wage increases, and employment surged.

By 1999, the unemployment rate fell to 4.2% - the lowest rate since 1969 - despite the minimum wage increase.

Under Bush, with NO changes in the minimum wage, unemployment grew to 5.6% by the time of the 2004 election.

However sound or unsound minimum wage theories may be, the actual economic evidence against the minimum wage is non-existent, based on the last 10 years, unless someone is asinine enough to argue that it took 7-8 years before the increases of 1996 and 1997 started killing businesses and employment.

Score on helping the poor: Liberals 1, Conservatives 0.

Shlomo said...

http://shlomoaronovitz.blogspot.com/2005/10/for-love-of-money.html

Jack's Shack said...

July Al,

I always laugh when someone tries to establish themselves with faulty theory and unsubstantiated scholarship. If you want to play you have to really pony up. Put down the beer and lube and ask yourself who was in office when the most recent recession started and the impact of 911 upon business and the pictures becomes far muddier.

JA,

I am an independent. One of the reasons I became an independent was the silly rhetoric from both sides in which they both continually claim to be more moral, ethical, nicer etc. If they would spend more time doing things for altruistic reasons the world would be a better place.

Jewish Atheist said...

If they would spend more time doing things for altruistic reasons the world would be a better place.

Agreed. However, I agree with the Democrats on virtually every issue as compared to the Republicans, so I remain a Dem.

July Al said...

Good point, Jack.

Well, according to this article (http://money.cnn.com/2001/11/26/economy/recession/) the last recession began under President GWB in March, 2001, 6 months PRIOR to the 9/11 attacks that his administration failed to prevent despite warnings from the FBI and briefings on the Al Qaeda threat in August, 2001. 9/11 made the recession worse, of course.

Of course, one could argue that W is not a true fiscal conservative, but just an incompetent religious nut.

Still, I'd say that makes the score on helping the poor: Liberals +1, Conservatives -1.

Random said...

Al,

Bush had only been in office for two months by that point. Are you really saying that he managed to tank the economy that quickly, and that the recession had nothing at all to do with the situation he'd inherited? I know the left likes to give Bush credit for almost demonic powers of evil (at the same time as calling him a drooling moron but hey, that's what the expression doublethink was coined for), but this is a bit much even for him, surely?

In any case - please look closer at the definition of recession being used. It's a peaking and then drop-off of business activity. I thought Bush was supposed to be a tool of Big Business - why would he mess things up for them like that?

Jack's Shack said...

Actually Al you are not nearly as smart as you would like to appear.There have been a number of scholarly articles that discuss the recession and the economic cycles that surround it and how this would have happened even if Clinton had remained in office.

They also discuss the reality that the blame for 911 is easily shared between several admins including Clinton who had the opportunity to capture OBL and did not and basically watched several terrorist attacks on the US including the first attempt on the WTC.

Perhaps your education left out that little ditty or maybe you just aren't willing to be intellectually honest.

July Al said...

Random said: Bush had only been in office for two months by that point. Are you really saying that he managed to tank the economy that quickly, and that the recession had nothing at all to do with the situation he'd inherited?

Al says: Jack, between insults, challenged my analysis of the effect of minimum wage increases by suggesting that I "ask...who was in office when the most recent recession started". (Answer: GWB).

Bush inherited an economy that had been booming for a record period of time throughout the peaceful, prosperous Clinton administration. Now, did Bush, that evil ghoul and drooling fool-tool of Big Business, manage to tank this solid economy after just two months? Proof of this is not absolute, but I think it is likely for several reasons, including:

1. His "victory" in the election was a fraud that was equivalent to a coup d'état. After such a sudden leadership dislocation, a rapid economic dislocation is inevitable.

2. As far as business goes, Bush is a tool of oil companies, oil service industries, and Saudi Arabia, all of which have prospered at the expense of other businesses and the economy as a whole. Lest we forget, gasoline was less than $1.50 per gallon throughout the Clinton administration. Facing such a prospect (Bush's loyalty to Big Oil was hardly a secret), other businesses would naturally cancel expansion plans and retrench, triggering the recession.

Random said: I know the left likes to give Bush credit for almost demonic powers of evil (at the same time as calling him a drooling moron but hey, that's what the expression doublethink was coined for)

A schoolyard bully can still be a dunce.

Consider: the Bush administration is desperately fighting legislation that would outlaw their policy of torturing prisoners. Torture is evil and stupid, in that intelligence gained through torture is dubious at best.

It is true that Clinton didn't capture OBL, but GWB hasn't either, despite invading two countries and losing 2000 troops in the process.

Jack's Shack said...

1. His "victory" in the election was a fraud that was equivalent to a coup d'état. After such a sudden leadership dislocation, a rapid economic dislocation is inevitable.

Unsubstantiated allegations do not prove your point, such as claiming that a change a leadership would cause such thing. That suggests that there should be a problem after every presidential election. It is a weak argument. If you want to try and make that stick try and flesh it out with facts, such as the fact is that Bush won the election. All of the evidence supports it.

Not to mention that if things were so good under Clinton why didn't Gore just walk into the White House. His loss suggests that many people see things differently.

As far as business goes, Bush is a tool of oil companies, oil service industries, and Saudi Arabia, all of which have prospered at the expense of other businesses and the economy as a whole.

Do you remember that Richard Clarke approved the release of numerous Saudi officials right after 911, but before he decided to write a tell-all book.

Beyond that it sounds good to claim that if gas prices were lower the economy would be doing better but the reality is that you still haven't proven your case. You suggest that things would be better if gas was lower but you haven't any data to prove that. Scarecrow is getting bigger, add some more straw.

t is true that Clinton didn't capture OBL, but GWB hasn't either, despite invading two countries and losing 2000 troops in the process.

OBL was offered to Clinton and he didn't take him. Have you forgotten that the first attack on the WTC came on his watch as did the Oklahoma City Bombing, and if memory serves the USS Cole, the attacks on the African embassies and the Khobar Towers.

Sure, Clinton did a lot to prevent terror. Al, you need to debate with fact and not rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

July Al,

For a dude who replied so quickly to everything else you are awfully quiet. I'll take that to mean that you concede that you were wrong and haven't any responses.

TJ- Total Jack.