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January 26, 2009

Wired for Sentiment

I’m busting a gut over Clive Thompson’s Wired column-o'-gripe.  In the piece, ostensibly about the quite likely reality that our Web-empowered culture is gaining in information but declining in knowledge, Thompson complains that there are too many rubes who ask the following ignorant questions about “incontrovertibly” “settled facts”:

Is global warming caused by humans? Is Barack Obama a Christian? Is evolution a well-supported theory?

Thompson rails that too many Republicans doubt anthropogenic global warming, too many Texans believe that Obama is Muslim, and too many Americans do not subscribe to evolution.

Thompson blames this horror on a “disinformation revolution” that “attempts to foster ignorance," of which the result is that “reality dies screaming."

But if there exists a more ironic (put together, “more” and “ironic” form … well, you can figure it out) published complaint, it’s a glorious, secret deprivation and I demand to be informed immediately.  Thompson’s piece is unintended hilarity of the most delicious sort.

After all, the case for catastrophic global warming has never been on thinner ice. As a result, the Greens find themselves trying to reinvent the problem to be "climate change." Like global warming, climate change is a fine theory.  But the claim that there’s a scientific case here is not “knowledge”; it’s dogma. It sure ain’t science. Never has been.

Ditto macroevolution. Seriously, ask your favorite macroevolution expert what, pray tell, the slam-dunk scientific evidence for Planet Darwin actually is. My experience is that the answer is “Evidence?? There’s warehouses full of evidence!” And then ... they won’t produce a single example.

It’s gotten so pathetic, that they’ve had to invent << cue Star Wars theme >> “the multiverse." THE MUUULTIVERRRRSE!!! Hurrah for the multiverse!! But, man, accepting that bad boy is ALL faith! Scientific evidence? “Knowledge”? Guffaw to the 10th power.

As for President Obama and Islam, all I can muster is an eye roll. Maybe I’ve been unknowingly blackballed by the Vast Right-wing Conspiracy, but the only time I've ever heard anything about Obama being a Muslim, it has been in accusations from the Left. In fact, the rumor was started by Team Hillary during the Democratic primaries. I’d consider being informed of that rumor’s source to be a pre-requisite to claim “knowledge” on the subject. Maybe Googling is beneath a Wired columnist.

I, for one, am happy to accept President Obama’s claim that he is a Christian. Back to irony, though: his Inauguration seemed much like beatification. So when I joke that I spent January 19 weaving a prayer mat, upon which I will kneel five times daily, facing D.C., to say the requisite prayers to Allbamah for the next eight years, it is a comment upon the weird, near-religious fervor for the man. Not his faith. 

But now I begin to digress. Look, the Church is a big enough tent to accommodate fans of macroevolution, global warming, and President Obama. It’s the practice of ignoring truth, both observed and revealed, that will prove problematic to even the most sincere believer. No, information is not knowledge. But the meaningfulness of either is fully dependent upon facts and logic, and Thompson seems to be missing quite a bit of both.

Here’s hoping for more Truth. In Thompson’s life, in the Church, in the American culture as a whole.

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Straight is the way, and narrow is the gate, that leads to life.

Supporting a mass murderer and supporter, promoter of the abomination that causes desolation leaves you on the broad and easy highway.

Further, if the Bible is true, Obama is not a Christian. Presuming that God gets to define the term.

We should pray that he does become one, the sooner the better. The same for the entire Pelosi-Reid-Obama junta.

Giving false assurance is like a doctor telling someone they are fine when they have cancer.


Shouldn't Clive Thompson cut a residuals check to the estate of H. L. Mencken? Liberals have been using this same "if you disagree with me, it's because you're ignorant, and the solution is education" diatribe for a *very* long time. Mencken said only uneducated backwoods buffoons would believe in creation over evolution, and ever since then that's been the party line, irrespective of the topic.

I.e., all you have to do is transform their poor, ignorant mind - not renew it. And the mind is the focus, not the heart. Unfortunately for this theory, Germany in the 1930s and 1940s was one of the most thoroughly educated societies in all of human history.

And the elephant in the room with education is that someone has to decide what will be taught and what won't. Which, of course, points out that selecting the facts that are taught is not education but indoctrination. Interesting to go through the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, and note how many of the "heroes" had huge character flaws; the Bible isn't selective in its choice of facts. And neither should we be.

Jason Taylor

If one is to believe in a multiverse, what is the point in criticising people for believing in Genesis literally? Noah may have been washed through a dimensional portal after all. Which is not a doctrine but something to demonstrate the fact that one cannot be sure about things which one is unsure about. And that the one theory is no more stupid then the other.

Jason Taylor

For the matter of that LeeQuod, all that is question begging. Presuming that people who are educated are liberals does not allow for the fact that the educated will by definition be affected by what they are educated to be. At one time educated people were Stoics. At another they were Puritans. At another they were Catholics. In China, educated people were Confucians. In Tibet, educated people were Lamas. And in Utah, educated people are Mormons.
And so on, ad infinitum. And I need only alude vaguely to the most egregious examples of "education".

Jason Taylor

To continue LeeQuod's point.

Saying "educated people are atheists and not Christians" requires:

Many educated people are Atheists
Few educated people are Christians
Therefore being an Atheist is necessary to being an educated person.
And being a Christian is detrimental to being educated.

Which makes as much sense as:

Roman Legionaires are good soldiers
Most Roman Legionaires are Mithrists
Few Roman Legionaires are Christians
Therefore Christians cannot be good soldiers.
And all good soldiers shoud be Mithrists.


Jon Sobieski was a Christian and not a Mithrist. Therefore Jon Sobieski was not a good soldier.

Yoni Natanayu was not a Mithrist but a Jew.
Therefore Yoni Natanayu was not a good soldier.

Suliman the Magnificient was a Moslem and not a Mithrist.
Therefore Suliman the Magnificient was not a good soldier.

Jason Taylor

Or you can forget all that and say that the education makes atheists thing is meaningless as by definition, if atheists are wrong then insofar as they are wrong, they are uneducated.


Jason, thanks once again for limbering up my neck with all those double-takes. But I see we strongly agree.

In fact, both you *and* I probably get the same fierce chuckle out of Thomas Cahill's "How The Irish Saved Civilization", in that a liberal education (in both the sense of a university curriculum, and in the political sense) is only possible today because evangelical monks - ahem, extremely dedicated *Christian* monks - toiled away in the Middle Ages copying ancient works by the Greeks and Romans. If the monks hadn't been literate conservatives back *then*, the liberals wouldn't be literate *now*. Haw.

Or to fit better with the H.L. Mencken stereotype, "Hee haw".


Good discussion. I will now go a bit beside the point, since you mentioned Cahill, and recommend *against* Sailing The Wine Dark Sea. I do this as a public service. I loved Irish Saved, thought well of Gifts of the Jews, but was deeply disappointed by Wine Dark Sea. Weak.

Jason Taylor

Actually I found the whole thing a rather amusing bit of Socratic dissection.

Steve (SBK)

Allen! My feelings exactly about Cahill's "Irish" and "Gift of". I hadn't yet read "Wine Dark Sea", but am now wary since it appears I am following in your footsteps.


Steve! Long time!

Trust me: don't do it. I didn't even PAY for the book ... I got it from the library ... and I still felt cheated. It's just a bunch of stuff you already know about the Greeks wrapped up in the trappings of the Iliad, except somehow made less interesting than you remember it.

Perhaps I'm being harsh, but I couldn't wait for it to end.

The context-relevancy-stretching rip on the Bush Admin (yeah ... seriously ... Cahill did that ... so silly) was the real capper.

What a waste. Cahill has such talent. It didn't show this go around.


Jason Taylor

Oh, doing context relevancy-streatching rips on the Bush administration was fashionable. Now it will be context relevancy-streatching praises of the Obama administration. Apparently no one is willing to let history be history.

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