2020-08-19

How do we know what we know?

Why do we believe what we believe? How do we decide what is true, and what is important?

· internal consistency (details of the narrative agree with each other)
· external consistency (details of the narrative agree with information previously verified)
· insider details (information available only to an authentic source)
· dialog and dissent (narrative welcomes questions and challenges; fosters better understanding among divergent opinions)
· awareness of objections (narrative recognizes legitimate counter-arguments and seeks to refute them)
· nuance (recognition that a proposition may hold true in general and still admit of exceptions)
· the human voice (an intangible quality that may include a distinctive personality, awareness of ambivalence, self-analysis and self-criticism)

The internet is anarchical, and therefore makes great demands on the individual user in terms of critical thinking skills. How do we know to trust a site? We compare information from multiple sources, listen to different analyses, learn to weed out irrelevant input and compare the picture with what we know from our own previous experience.

With the traditional media, this is all delegated to the editor, publisher, producer, or university. Often we have to do this, because the material is specialized or technical in nature, or because individual contributors don't have the credibility to reliably provide the information we need.

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Originally posted 2004.

2020-08-18

Recent posts.

Wasn't that long ago, I made fun of conspiracy nuts. These days, I buy ALCOA wrap according to my hat size. Times change.

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Leftists love "states of emergency" because then all normal constraints and expectations are waived. Day-to-day technical and managerial competence is no longer scrutinized because "it's an emergency!" Any kind of action, no matter how ill-advised, can be justified because it's "doing something".

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If you take 50 random people off the street, and you want to find out which ones are alcoholics, invite them all into a bar and buy them each ONE drink.  And then watch to see what happens.  Because some people can't stop at just one.

Those 50 people are the 50 state governors.  The COVID-19 crisis gave them their first taste of unchecked, raw, 200-proof power.  And we saw which ones got drunk on it.

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The Covid scare campaign (as distinct from the virus itself, which nobody disputes is very real) appeals to a certain strain of vanity: the conviction that "I am among the selfless few, bearing the burden for an ungrateful and ignorant humanity".

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The "new normal" needs to be a Big Government that has been de-fanged, de-clawed, and neutered.

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The left tells you "don't have a stable family" because they want you to fail.

The left tells you "don't be active in your church or synagogue" because they want you to fail.

The left tells you "don't be on time for work" because they want you to fail.

The left tells you "don't learn history and grammar and mathematics" because they want you to fail.

The left wants to stigmatize and discredit all the things that contribute to success, because they want you to fail.

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The key thing about "climate change" is that there is no quantifiable metric and therefore no target for success. If you are targeting actual pollutants, you can work for a compromise.  You can get the enviros and the suits to sit down across from each other at a big mahogany conference table and hammer out a deal that neither side is thrilled with but both sides can live with.  You can say "our goal is < so-and-so many PPM of mercury or lead or SO2" and then either you meet that goal or you don't. But with "climate change" the goal is ever-shifting and is defined by unaccountable authorities.  There is no solution because the problem is not meant to be solved.

Fundamentally it is like masking in that it disaggregates the individual actor from responsibility for individual consequences. Any act is presumed to have potentially infinite negative effects. It's an application of the "butterfly effect" to suit a particular agenda.

So with masking, exactly as with "climate change", you are expected to feel guilty literally for breathing.

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There's a deliberate strategy to decouple moral reasoning from the objective, observable consequences of your actions. Global warming, pandemic masks. It's so that your sense of guilt can be properly manipulated.

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'Thus the principle of the unity of humanity, so noble in theory, rapidly divides mankind into two camps:  those who are regarded as favoring the good of mankind, in they adopt the empire's categories for determining what is beneficial and right; and those who are regarded as opposing the good of mankind, in that they insist on thinking in terms of the customary categories of the tribe, which the empire invariably condemns as primitive and barbaric.' - Yoram Hazony

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2020-08-05

Behold their shining liberal utopias.

They were the smart ones, the enlightened ones, the ones with all the answers. They were going to show the way for the rest of us. Their wise governance was to be the model that would inspire emulation across the country and around the world.

So, are we impressed yet?

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2020-08-04

Fifty governors walk into a bar ...

If you take 50 random people off the street, and you want to find out which ones are alcoholics, invite them all into a bar and buy them each ONE drink. And then watch to see what happens. Because some people can't stop at just one.

Those 50 people are the 50 state governors. The COVID-19 crisis gave them their first taste of unchecked, raw, 200-proof power. And we saw which ones got drunk on it.

2020-08-03

Recent posts.

facebook and youtube and twitter are ACTING like they've got something to hide. That's the thing. That's what they don't get. You may or may not have had an opinion about HCQ and C19, you may or may not think Stella Immanuel is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. But when the tech platforms suddenly come marching along in jackboots and disappearing articles and screaming about MISINFORMATION!!!! - they you've got to think something looks suspicious. They are showing with their own actions that there's something there.

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A lot of young people and wanna-be young people came to Portland from small towns out of state, and bought into the hipster myth. Their conservative old towns and churches and families weren't cool enough for them. They deserved better. So they set about the task of making over themselves - and the city - into something ever more exciting, exotic, glamorous, and dangerous. And we've seen the result.

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My observations about debating. (1) All of us have a filter in our brain, like the spam filter in your email inbox. What looks like junk, gets filtered out. If they are programmed to filter out your message, all the facts and logic in the world will be of no avail. Their thinking will not change until they update their spam filters.

(2) Visibility is the key thing. The left used its influence to exaggerate its own numbers, and to keep conservatives believing they were few and isolated. When this illusion collapses, the left's power to shame disintegrates.

3) At the end of the day, people go by experience. When day-to-day experience conflicts with the accepted narrative strongly enough and consistently enough, the narrative will have to go. People can only watch riots and Bible burnings for so long. At this point, a coherent, articulate alternate narrative will help them make sense of their world, and will be welcomed.

(4) Putting all of these factors together, what's going to win the day is for all of us to keep speaking out, courageously and clearly, and putting the lie to the leftist establishment's castle of illusion.

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"Stay home, stay safe." Because if we could come out of hiding, we might learn how many more of us there are. And then their spell of fear would lose its power.

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If I convince myself that most people are ignorant bigots, then I get to feel "special" just by not being a bigot.

If I believe the other guy is a nazi, then I only have to be 1 percent better than a nazi to be the good guy.

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You put a whole population of law-abiding citizens under indefinite house arrest, sooner or later incarceration is gonna lose its value as a deterrent.

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2020-07-29

I'm on social media.

Codias
https://www.codias.com/profile/ZW5jcnlwdF8tXzI0MDE2

Gab
https://gab.com/asherabrams

MeWe
https://mewe.com/i/asherabrams

Parler
https://parler.com/profile/asherabrams/posts

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Tech censorship.

facebook and youtube and twitter are ACTING like they've got something to hide. That's the thing. That's what they don't get. You may or may not have had an opinion about HCQ and C19, you may or may not think Stella Immanuel is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. But when the tech platforms suddenly come marching along in jackboots and disappearing articles and screaming about MISINFORMATION!!!! - they you've got to think something looks suspicious. They are showing with their own actions that there's something there.

2020-07-26

Recent posts.

The riots were never about a police killing, and the lockdowns were never about a virus.

Institutions and their petty rules are the refuge of the emotionally immature and the mentally unstable. They look to bureaucracies for the validation they are unable or unwilling to find in healthy human relationships and community.

The filter. We all have an information filter in our brain that acts like the spam filter in your email program. Its purpose is to filter out junk information so that your processor doesn't get overwhelmed. What looks like junk, gets ignored. It is the reason we screen out noise like the crazy guy ranting on the street corner. And thank G-d it's there, because we wouldn't be able to function without it. But like the spam filter in your inbox, you have to check it once in a while, because its algorithm is not infallible. You have to update your assumptions about what's reliable and what's junk; otherwise you could miss important information.

I don't have a lot of specialized expertise. Instead, I look at what I can observe directly. What I can observe directly is the people in power and their actions; what I can observe directly is the media and their actions.

The left used its influence in culture and social media to inflate its own numbers and to create the illusion that conservatives were few and isolated. They got into trouble when they started to believe their own propaganda. There were never as many of them as they wanted everyone to believe, and their Potemkin village has collapsed like a house of cards. Their tactic of shaming and ostracizing their opponents will backfire: in the end, they will be the lonely ones.

Dismantle systemic leftism.

Your body is made of bones and flesh; a robust system includes a rigid component and a flexible component.

Time is an economic good: a scarce commodity with alternative uses. Use it wisely.

If the hipsters would just stick to the things they do well - brewing craft beer and riding unicycles - it'd be great.

The leftists are destroying their own centers of power. It's almost as if they already know they've lost - like a retreating army burning everything behind it.

Covid doesn't scare me; contact tracing does.

Establish good habits - it's easier than breaking bad ones.

They say history is written by the victors. I say history is written by people who can write.

2020-03-30

This is the most 2020 headline you will read today.

San Francisco Man Sends Pal a Roll of Toilet Paper Via Drone.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

Italy and France are now prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for coronavirus patients.

In France, the government caved to pressure from renowned Dr. Didier Raoult, who led the new additional study on 80 patients, results show a combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin to be effective in treating COVID-19. Dr Didier Raoult, a professor of infectious diseases who works at La Timone hospital in Marseille, then declared in a video on YouTube that chloroquine was a cure for Covid-19 and should be used immediately.

Dr. Raoult reportedly walked out of the scientific advisory committee advising the government after allegations that the government was being influenced by the big pharmaceutical companies which wanted to block hydroxychloroquine because it was cheap, being out of patent.

In another report, France now allows drug chloroquine to be given to coronavirus patients with extreme case of the disease. Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Monday, “The anti-malarial drug chloroquine can be administered in France to patients suffering from the severest forms of the coronavirus but only under strict supervision.” Veran also cautioned: “The high council recommends not to use this treatment… with the exception of grave cases, hospitalized, on the basis of a decision taken by doctors and under strict surveillance.” ...


Nevada governor bans malaria drugs for coronavirus patients.

Nevada’s governor on Tuesday banned the use of anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s executive order came after President Trump touted the medication as holding promise for combating the illness.


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Door to door.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced during a press conference on Friday that the state would take drastic steps to “pin-point” individuals who had recently traveled to New York in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. ... Raimondo also announced that, starting Saturday, the National Guard will work with local law enforcement to go “door-to-door” in the state’s coastal communities, asking if anyone has come from New York and requesting their contact information.

Impressive. Efficient. And if they can do that, they can damn well find illegal aliens.

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