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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Judging an argument on its own merits

Yesterday a friend, Dave Moriarty, sent an email saying, "I've just been reading the Unabomber manifesto. He has a LOT to say about the Left and political correctness. And he is spot on."

I applauded Dave for his open-mindedness in judging the Unabomber's arguments on their own merits rather than by the guy who made them.

(I, too, had been stunned to find out how cogent and insightful the Unabomber's manifesto was.)

Whenever I hear someone sniff, "Oh I would never listen to anything he has to say," I have a tendency to stop listening to the person who said that.

(Though, now that I think of it, I suppose that makes me a little like that person.)


Anonymous said...

John-I would have thought that the unibomber was an ultra leftist with all his distain for modern society, big corporations, etc? I'm probably missing something-so what's new-:) Brian PS-regardless of what his political philosophy is, he's certainly a serious sociopath and a disturbed guy

Unknown said...

I've often wondered does the left, right, center, or anyone actually believe their own brand of bullshit? I mean who does anyone think they're kidding here? A bunch of selfish, short sighted, fish bowl swimmers 99.99 percent of us are, and what we are now taking up a cause for the oppressed or whatever. What a bunch of self liars we are.

Also, read the passage you had previously posted on your blog regarding the Unabombers take on the left. What a fantastic read. I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with their real motives for their behavior. Great reading, thank you John for posting what is just not said!

John Craig said...

Brian --
When I first heard of the Unabomber, I just figured he was crazy. But the operative word there is crazy, as in paranoid schizophrenic. He's actually the only "serial killer" I know of whom I don't think is a sociopath. No sociopath would be happy living in a cabin with no running water or heat in the woods of Montana with only $30 in his bank account. And almost all sociopath serial killers do so for sexual reasons, and the Unabomber was engaged in what he thought was a noble cause -- misguided as he was. Some of the psychologists who examined him before the trial said he had schizoid tendencies, but evidently he was declared sane enough to stand trial. (There was probably a lot of public pressure on them to declare him fit to stand trial.)

John Craig said...

Michael --
Thank you.....I think a fair number of people believe in their own cause, even if they're unaware of their own personal motives for doing so. As you said, the Unabomber analyzed the Left's real motivations quite well. I also think a lot of us are a reaction against what we've been overly exposed to earlier in our lives. I know my hatred of the Left in general is in large part due to a lifetime of having been exposed to incredibly hypocritical and dishonest liberals. I suppose if I'd been brought up with a really strict religious, repressive religious background, surrounded by unthinking conservatives, I'd be inclined to dislike them. But, that's not my background, so.....

Steven said...

Reading that makes me wish a psycho terrorist never wrote it, so it could be quoted. Interesting theory. I wonder if its true. It might be absolute bollocks, of course, but I quite like people sticking it to sjws.

Steven said...

I suppose one way you could think about it is this: he was a maths professor for a while. Presumably he did a math phd. You would certainly judge the correctness and value of his mathematical work completely independently of any considerations of his character. In the same way, it possible that he said some true things in his manifesto about psychology or whatever. He obviously went wrong somewhere though if he ended up being a terrorist or if he thought it would advance his goals.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Yes, my point exactly. His math theorems should be judged on their own merits, as should his analysis of the Left. It IS too bad this stuff was written by a monster, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

All this gets back to the old "That's what Hitler said" that we hear so much from the Left. Yes, Hitler may have said something similar, but that doesn't mean it's not true. (Hitler believed in gravity, too; does that make gravity evil?)

Dave Moriarty said...

I concede I would not have predicted that I would be saying with regard to political correctness
" I stand with the unabomber on this "

Anonymous said...

He was experimented on by the CIA for the MKULTRA project while in Harvard.
In it there were several weeks of psychological stress and humiliation while having his vital monitored. One experiment told him he was just going to be debating an undergrad, so he wrote an essay to prepare, but he was led into a room had his essay torn apart and verbally abused for several hours, then forced to watch a videotape of the event. (Rubbing salt in wounds), then forced to repeat it again.
I think the whole experiment itself may have been up to three years, of the 22 subjects, he had the worst reaction.


John Craig said...

Ga --
That helps explain how he was the way he was, even if it doesn't quite explain how he came to hate modern inventions as much as he did.

You know an awful lot for a guy in his early twenties.

Anonymous said...

I browse reddit, everybody browses reddit or the equivalent site in their country.
Anyone with access to a computer is a walking encyclopedia. I visited a small farm in Australia once, they had a computer there, in villages in Thailand you can find internet cafes where teens spend 10 hours on a saturday gaming or googling crap.

Growing up, in your time without computers and less interconnectedness in the world, I imagine that kid who went to the library and read about the Aztecs or provinces of China, who Stalin was, a recipe for some Thai dish, atheism vs religion? Well that's every guy now on reddit. And boy we love to talk about these topics, like academics, everywhere, youtube comments, forums, chatrooms, blogs, instead of just chatting about baseball, girls, or whatever our grandparents did.

The internet let's anyone find out about anything and nobody digs deeper to gain an understanding, so facts are thrown around which only superficially explain the whole story.

That's why I try to be cautious, stuff like prostitution, the colonization of the Congo, or the legality of meat eating in Indian religous cities are things I won't comment on just to sound smart, I don't know enough to jump to an idea nor am I interested in finding out more. (But I probably do it anyway with a ton of other things. Thing I don't know that I don't know about.)

Did this stuff happen back when you were young?


John Craig said...

Ga --
No, honestly, I feel as if I grew up in the Dark Ages. And there just weren't that many people who did what you describe, hang out at the library to find out about stuff. some people were better read than others, but the main sources of information were newspapers and magazines and the three TV networks. The local newspaper would loom large, and that was about it.

I can see the difference with my son, he's far better informed on a wide range of topics than I was when I was young, as are you. But a lot of it is still a question of recall; and there are plenty of young people who don't remember much of what they read, and there are also a lot of young people whose reading isn't all that wide-ranging, most of their time is spent hanging out on places like Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I find myself chatting about all these topics on the internet more, in real life it leans to casual stuff like a recent movie or the recent typhoon, listening to colleagues complain about work, friends recommending me a new korean fried chicken joint. The internet and the real world are two different places for me. Your blog is an exception on the net, because it's talking on the internet about stuff in a way it would be in real life.

Everyone is a wise guy, troll, nutjob, on the internet. Even on facebook people share pages related to their interests or political beliefs. Everyone has an opinion, yes in Asia we have our own posts. WE don't have Clinton or Trump but we have some guy claiming the riots in Mong Kok over food vendor stalls was orchestrated by the CIA and the Beijing Government.

Humor is also more absurd, someone described it as being neo-dada.
We have people pretending to be idiots or crazy for fun, like this:

Or videos of movies, clips, cartoons, all re-edited to make it look like something else, or just bizarre things I have no word for:

Did any of this stuff exist back in your day? It sounds scientificy, but I believe the stuff about what makes a person laugh has triggers, the stuff now on the internet they make is like a drug, it's designed to make a person laugh by stimulating whatever it is that does for it's own sake. Not comedy, just laugh inducing.

The three stooges and Dumb and Dumber are dumb, but have more coherence and sense than what they churn out now. Kid's cartoons are just as bizarre like this one thing I saw my cousin watching:
This is a clip from real cartoon shown on tv for young kids.......

Is it just me or is the internet/modern world plus humor becoming....I have no way to create any sentence.


John Craig said...

Ga --
Similar stuff existed, but it was rare, and in any case, you had to go looking for it, or subscribe to some obscure magazine; it wasn't at your fingertips the way it is now. For hard-hitting, disrespectful humor, we turned to the National Lampoon, which was a huge departure from what had existed before, Mad Magazine, which wasn't hard-hitting at all.

Not sure where you were going with that last sentence.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't describe what I was thinking in any words. I hate it when that happens.
I really appreciate it when people can explain for me what I am trying to describe when they get figure it out. Translating it for me to say later.

I knew an opposite, someone who was limited by what he could say in words.

When I was younger, I was with a group getting ice cream, I was heavy at the time so I didn't want to get more than one scoop. One guy asked why, if I hated ice cream. I said "I wanted to eat more, but I also don't want to". He got confused and said "want is want, you are talking crazy". Everybody else looked at him surprised because they understood what I meant.

Have you met people like that?


John Craig said...

Ga --
I think everybody is at a loss for words from time to time. I know I am, at least in person. (On the blog I have time to think of exactly what I want to say.)