Our Unhappy Political and Religious Discourse

From a comment:

In Mark’s post-modern relativistic world it appears almost impossible for anyone on the right to say anything untrue. Likewise there’s almost nothing Obama can say that can’t be ret-conned into a lie.

In the above, the accusation leveled at myself is likely a charge made reflexively whenever Mr Boonton (or likely any number of interlocutors from the left) sees someone on the right suggesting that a phrase or word can be taken in more than one way. This is noted in the wake of the particular history of post-modernism/quasi-Derridan theories of language and as a result of the rejection of the same by conservatives. The ironic thing here is that the accusation of this sort attempts to at the same time defend relativism, i.e., multiple meanings while at the same time force a particular meaning to be established.

Foucault and Derrida, as is my understanding, suggest that fixing and setting the meaning of words and phrases, fixing the primary hermenuetic if you will, is an act of power and that furthermore there is no intrinsic meanings for things beyond being an expression of power. While this is undoubtedly a simplification at the same time has the problem of getting the matter exactly wrong.

Meanings are fixed … but their particular assignment to particular words is not. When one says something the intention, the meaning is the one thing which is fixed and not a thing captured or expressed fundamentally in and via particular words. The act of speaking and then of hearing is a distortion on the original meaning (or web of meanings) which is being expressed. Conversation is one aid to the exercise of transmitting this which allows one to correct and refine the transmission. This is of course an exercise made more complicated by the fact that the idea reflected back is itself distorted by the act of expression by the receiver. If speaking is a lossy transmission of one’s thought to another. When you converse and try to get your meaning across, discussion is the act of trying to correct the image of your idea into another’s mind through the quadruple layers of distortion (thought -> spoken words then perceived words -> thoughts with a reflection).

What perchance does this have to do with the title selected for this particular essay? Well, in our political discourse peculiar (particular?) assumptions are made about what phrases mean which are normally misinterpreted by the other side and which make our discourse more contentious than it would normally be. One of the common irritants between parties then aligns along the continual frustration which this engenders. One says a thing to express one idea and by the other’s reaction and comments it is clearly misunderstood. Furthermore as one clarifies and attempts to more clearly state and restate the original point one either gets nowhere or the act of restatement is interpreted as an attempt at “changing” what one originally said.

19 Responses to Our Unhappy Political and Religious Discourse

  1. Foucault and Derrida, as is my understanding, suggest that fixing and setting the meaning of words and phrases, fixing the primary hermenuetic if you will, is an act of power and that furthermore there is no intrinsic meanings for things beyond being an expression of power. While this is undoubtedly a simplification at the same time has the problem of getting the matter exactly wrong.

    Actually such power, if it exists, comes from being able to set the meanings of words before the discussion begins. Having to constantly reset the word meanings as you go along to keep ‘you side’ innocent of lies is not quote power, it’s weakness.

    What perchance does this have to do with the title selected for this particular essay? Well, in our political discourse peculiar (particular?) assumptions are made about what phrases mean which are normally misinterpreted by the other side and which make our discourse more contentious than it would normally be.

    The quote of mine you cited, I believe, came from Palin’s claim about ‘death panels’. Let me offer another incident from Obama. Around that time you cited a blog who made much of an Obama speech where he had a line that said something like “Now I do believe there’s a certain point where you’ve made enough money”. As you say, this line could be taken to have multiple meanings. One is money has diminishing marginal utility and at a certain point the good of getting more money does not exceed the good of the various things that must be sacrificed to obtain that money (health, family, etc.). The other is a directive for a planned economy with a cap on all incomes.

    Of course there are others. For example the speech in question was about Wall Street so it could be something along the lines of certain types of ways of making money should be cut off after a certain point….say making money betting against your client’s interests or making money by using particular types of transactions etc. But we needn’t get too worked up over which exact meaning this line, which seemed a throw away ad lib at the last moment, really meant. We have two ‘types’ of meaning on the table. One not very radical and one very radical. Clearly discourse is more contentious if you assume the latter.

    I don’t believe, though, that this is as much of a problem as you may think. We are a year and a half into Obama’s Presidency. While assuming the radical meaning allows the most dramatic charge by Obama’s enemies, it carries little weight since we haven’t seen any policies even approaching this radical meaning. Most people will dismiss it as nonsense. Not unlike, say, 6 years into Reagan’s term it would have been tricky to have asserted he wanted a nuclear war….even though there were statements that could be fairly taken to mean something along those lines.

    Now what I believe during the Palin ‘death panel’ fiasco we didn’t quite get this dynamic of one side picking a less radical meaning and the other side picking the more radical one. Here we see Palin initially embracing the most radical meaning…..that your grandma would have to go before Obamacare ‘death panels’ who would decide whether or not it was economical for her to receive life saving treatment for another year. Why? Because such a stance maximized political capital by casting her as a defender of the normal way of doing things and Obama as pushing a radical and insideous change. When it became clear no such thing was in the bill, the meaning choice was ‘ret-conned’ into something entirely different. First it was funding for ‘end of life counseling’. Then it became spending cuts for end of life Medicare spending. Then it became any slowdown in Medicare’s overall spending growth.

    Having to constantly change meanings is, IMO, a source of great weakness. Rather than simply admit that Palin is dishonest and not a very good representative of the GOP (which, BTW, is what the GOP actually thinks. Mark my words as the next election approaches her popularity will quickly dry up and she will be marginalized as the “respectable candidates” like Romney move her out of the spotlight… a similiar dynamic happens with Ron Paul), you mount a massive effort to re-choose meanings to make her nonsense sensible.

  2. The problem is not that words can mean more than one thing, but that you shift from one meaning to a second one without acknowledging the shift. It’s dishonest.

    When Sarah Palin mentioned “death panels” she stated that she was referring specifically to the end-of-life counseling section in the bill. It turns out that most Americans can see that that is a ridiculously inane characterization of that section. And yet, the term “death panels” carries such an emotional wallop, many on the right don’t want to let it go. Instead, they have tried to pretend that Sarah Palin was referring to something else, perhaps some kind of rationing board.

    You, Mark, did the same thing repeatedly in our abortion debates, by smearing the meaning of “human being” in the hopes that we won’t notice you’re just begging the question (i.e. that a fetus has the same rights as an actual, post-birth human being.)

    You also tried it with “intelligent design,” trying to redefine it so broadly that every scientist on Earth, theist or not, would believe in it.

    An honest debater defines and clarifies his terms early and often, to make sure he is understood. A dishonest one muddies and changes his terms whenever it’s rhetorically convenient to avoid admitting that he or his ally was wrong.

  3. Let’s explore this attempt to vindicate Palin by redefining her ‘meaning’.

    A quick Google search indicates that ‘Death panels’ didn’t even have anything to do with end of life counseling:

    Aug 7 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/07/palin-obamas-death-panel_n_254399.html

    The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

    Note Palin is:

    1. Not referring to counseling but literal panels.

    2. Asserting that such panels will be charged with deciding what to pay for not even on the basis of what works but on ‘level of productivity in society’. In other words not “does this treatment work relative to its cost?” but “does or will this patient produce useful work relative to what it will cost us to treat him?”

    Aug 13 Palin ‘ret-cons’ her statement:

    “Yesterday President Obama responded to my statement that Democratic health care proposals would lead to rationed care; that the sick, the elderly and the disabled would suffer the most under such rationing; and that under such a system, these ‘unproductive’ members of society could face the prospect of government bureaucrats determining whether they deserve health care

    “The provision that President Obama refers to is Section 1233 of HR 3200, entitled ‘Advance Care Planning Consultation.’ With all due respect, it’s misleading for the president to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients,”

    “Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often ‘if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual … or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility… or a hospice program.’”

    Right off the bat we see the ret-conning but in case you can’t:

    1. Palin’s original statement was that she was paraphrasing economist Thomas Sowell’s views on containing health costs. A few days she claims she wasn’t talking about health reform in theory but rather a specific section of a specific bill. But….

    1.1 Such a section isn’t laying out cost reduction measures, refusal to pay for things. Instead its laying out an additional benefit, planning consultations every five years or more.

    1.2 Such a section doesn’t lay out any requirement for consultants to steer patients towards cost reductions nor does it require planners to take into account a person’s ‘productivity. As a matter of fact, it’s quite possible such planners may increase costs by identifying additional treatments, doctors and procedures that Medicare patients may tap into that they wouldn’t have found on their own.

    1.3 Why would Palin’s baby have to ‘stand’ before such consultants as he is covered by her private health insurance and is too young for Medicare?

    Right off the back Palin was either telling a lie on Aug 7 or a lie on Aug 13.

    April 27 2010 Newsbusters ‘ret-cons’ the panel into yet something else
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/lachlan-markay/2010/04/27/despite-dismissive-media-palins-death-panels-resurface-wh-rationing-

    Well, Orszag didn’t specifically address Palin’s claim, but his description of Medicare’s new Independent Payment Advisory Board tried to cast health care rationing in nice rosy terms.

    But the Panel lie wasn’t about ‘health care rationing’. It was about deciding not to pay for life saving treatments because the *patient* is deemed ‘not worth it’.

    The article, though, gives us another insight from Palin’s book:

    Since health care would have to be rationed if it were promised to everyone, it would therefore lead to harm for many individuals not able to receive the government care. That leads, of course, to death…
    The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally.

    Going Rogue was published Nov 17 2009.

    Nov 9th Palin again presents death panels:

    “We had been told there were no ‘death panels’ in the bill either,” Palin wrote. “But look closely at the provision mandating bureaucratic panels that will be calling the shots regarding who will receive government health care.”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-5591565-503544.html

    At this point though we can barely make heads or tails of what death panels means. Does it mean a panel that decides if a particular treatment should be paid for by Medicare? If so then Medicare and every insurance company has some type of ‘death panel’. Does it mean paying for end of end of life counseling? If so then the “calling the shots regarding who will receive” statement is a lie since the planners are a service that’s covered by Section 1233, not a ‘panel’ you must navigate through in order to obtain service.

    So let’s map out some of the meanings:

    1. Broad economic theory, gov’t can only contain health costs by rationing care. This was Palin’s original statement which she claimed she was paraphrasing from Thomas Sowell. What’s not economic theory, though, was the assumption that rationing would be done on a basis of ‘productivity’.

    2. Section 1233 was creating ‘Death Panels’.

    3. The Independent Payment Advisory Board is a ‘death panel’.

    4. Death panels are not literal but the result of ‘promising health care to everyone’ vis a vie not having enough health care to give everyone ‘life saving treatment’. (although this seems totally incoherent, doesn’t ‘not promising’ some people health care by definition leave them without coverage which means ‘life saving treatment’ may be rationed out of their reach????)

    What I notice about this ‘morphing meaning’ is how each ret-con appears to be made not to further the debate but to keep the person making the statement from appearing plausible in the discussion. Instead of defending the assertion on in the broad meaning (#1, #4), meaning is quickly shifted to the highly specific (#2, #3). But the highly specific ground doesn’t hold so the meaning quickly dances to either another specific (going from #2 to #3) or shifts back to the vague (#4).

    What I also notice is the rather brazen rewriting of history on a par with Orwell’s “We are at War with Eurasia, we were always at war with Eurasia” line from 1984. The ‘death panel’ line wasn’t some vague theory, it was about section 1233! The death panel line wasn’t literal! One never gets the sense that we aren’t adding to the meaning, not refining it but rather we are totally reinventing it and at the same time pretending the new meaning was the original one all along!

  4. JA,
    I forget exactly to what you are referring in abortion discussions but your “example” doesn’t seem to cite any movement in meaning. Likewise our ID discussions, which it seems you missed the point (which you will note is part of the essay’s thesis). To remind you, I highlighted the difference between ID and evolution as one centered on timescales for particular evolutionary developments to occur. And yes, I think every scientist (and ID supporter) would agree with me on that point … even if you do not. My second point was that until evolutionary science has advanced to a point at which metrics and math can be applied to predict those timescales the argument is pointless. Now, I understand that there is room for discussion and disagreement on the second point. That was where I had thought the discussion would center, but it did not to my surprise.

    An honest debater defines and clarifies his terms early and often, to make sure he is understood. A dishonest one muddies and changes his terms whenever it’s rhetorically convenient to avoid admitting that he or his ally was wrong.

    Right. And another kind of dishonest debater calls attempts to clarify “his terms” waffling or retconing when it is not.

    As for Ms Palin … one man’s “ridiculous inane” is another (wo)man’s rhetorical embellishment. And yes, “death panels” carries wallop. So? Cutting costs on healthcare require one of two things, increasing supply or rationing. The plan in place will not do the former. Welcome to the latter. It’s too bad phrases with such “emotional wallop” are implicitly what goes on with rationing.

  5. Boonton,
    I don’t agree that the quoted piece by Ms Palin necessarily means “literal” death panels. This is again the literal hermenuetic of which progressives/liberals are so fond.

    And yes, digging deeper one finds Ms Palin didn’t personally read the bill. Neither did you. Nor likely anyone you know. So what?

    But looking at your map of meanings. If the conclusion of #4 is evident at statement #1 that gives your “retconning” theory something of a blow.

  6. It’s not that she didn’t personally read the bill but claimed she did. It’s that she both claimed to read the bill and claimed not to read it….so to speak. The ‘death panel’ was both the bill, a specific section of the bill, and also not the bill and also any possible bill all at the same time.

    Kind of like saying “Obama’s Afghanistan policies are wrong”, you get to have it both ways. But in reasoned discussion you can only do it both ways for so long.

    As for her original piece not meaning literal death panels, errr yea that’s what she said. She described panels that would determine care based on the individual’s ‘productivity’ and gave examples of presumably ‘low productivity’ people (her baby who has Down’s, any hypothetical elderly person) who would presumably be offed by said panels.

    This line began as a lie designed to exploit the maximum emotional gain with an audience that was known not to care so much about fact checking it. When the lie was exposed the need was seen to ‘retcon’ it into something with a bit more ‘truthiness’ Hence the intellectual gymnastics to imply that she ‘meant’ only to criticize things like generic spending cuts or counseling or evidence based medicine.

  7. Cutting costs on healthcare require one of two things, increasing supply or rationing. The plan in place will not do the former.

    Smells like the fallacy of the false choice to me. Rationing implies Medicare’s health benefits today are 100% efficient and no possible reduction in cost is possible without some reduction in useful healthcare received.

    Yet during the debate you had a great time citing attempts to show that having health coverage provided no net benefit to health. If coverage doesn’t benefit health then how is having less coverage limiting useful healthcare?????

    Of course we may not even begin to touch the other logical hole here. If saying certain procedures won’t be covered by Medicare is subjecting people to ‘death panels’ then how is saying a good number of people won’t have any coverage at all is not likewise a type of ‘hermaneutic’ death panel? If Medicare decides a 75 year old woman is too old to pay for a kidney transplant subjecting her to a ‘death panel’ then how is it not the same to say a 45 yr old singe mother who finds a lump in her breast but is uncovered also not a ‘death panel’?

  8. Mark,

    Boonton’s explaining the death panels great, so I’ll leave that to him.

    I forget exactly to what you are referring in abortion discussions but your “example” doesn’t seem to cite any movement in meaning.

    1) It’s wrong to kill human beings.
    2) Science says that fetuses are “human beings.”

    It’s just sophistry.

    Likewise our ID discussions, which it seems you missed the point (which you will note is part of the essay’s thesis). To remind you, I highlighted the difference between ID and evolution as one centered on timescales for particular evolutionary developments to occur.

    Right. But here’s what it’s really about:

    What is intelligent design?
    Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.

    You’re pretending that “Intelligent Design” has nothing to do with an “Intelligent Designer,” which is of course ludicrous. The way everybody except Mark uses the term, most scientists disagree with it. The way Mark uses the term, every person on Earth probably agrees with it.

    See the difference?

    It’d be like if I tried to defend “communism” by claiming it’s just saying that sometimes market failure exists in capitalism. It would be dishonest because it’s creating an idiosyncratic meaning not to clarify anything, but to make “communism” appear more reasonable than it actually is.

    Right. And another kind of dishonest debater calls attempts to clarify “his terms” waffling or retconing when it is not.

    Clarification is not retconning. Changing and distorting the meaning of terms for rhetorical gain is retconning.

  9. Clarrification is different from retconning, IMO, in that clarrification builds upon previously provided definitions. To use some pop culture, the later Star Wars movies ‘clarrified’ the previous ones. They took previous definitions (Luke and Leia are siblings, Vadar is their father) and provided additional clarrification.

    Retconning, though, throws out the past. The newer Batman movies, for example, ditched the storyline of the 1990′ movies. The last Star Trek movie seeks to retcon the entire series by a time travel plot device that alters the entire series history from the very beginning. Not that in fiction, though, retconning doesn’t necessarily mean inconsistency. Technically Star Trek remains consistent since the new movies show a ‘disrupted timeline’ that voids out everything that happened in the original series and beyond.

    In terms of debate and discussion, clarrification is a weakness. Ideally you want to be able to present simple and easy to follow definitions at the beginning and show how all your arguments flow naturally fromt hem. But it’s a minor weakness compared to retconning.

  10. Boonton,
    Where did she “claim” she read the bill. Certainly not in the fragment you quoted and I doubt you’ve heard a speech in which she claimed that she had read the bill in any substantial or comprehensive manner.

    No. She only said literal death panels if you take her literally. Do you want me to hunt down some Obama speeches and point out every instance of similar rhetorical flourishes that he uses. Look in part this is all about the identity of the speaker. If Mr Obama had noted those up against big insurance companies have to face down “death panels” to fight for coverage in his defence you’d argue that he was just describing the struggle against the internal insurance bureaucracy to get your coverage. If Ms Palin says the same thing … its certainly literal. Why? My guess is that you don’t imagine that Ms Palin isn’t “intelligent” enough to speak in non-literal means.

  11. JA,

    It’s just sophistry.

    So? It’s not “retconning.” You presented this is an example of retconning.

    On ID. First off, I return to the original point, how is this retconning? Secondly you miss the point. The inevitable consequence of ID as presented in your quote is that designed objects develop complexity quicker than non-designed ones do. Therefore a key method to distinguish between design and non-design is the time that it took for the feature to present itself. I fail to see how your communism example has the same rhetorical/logical structure. I would point out again a recent NOVA episode used the same point in defining ID, i.e., time to develop features as a key difference.

    Changing and distorting the meaning of terms for rhetorical gain is retconning.

    ?? You yourself said that when a discussion begins the honest person begins by defining terms. In the case of the ID discussion I did so right at the start. I did not retcon.

  12. Boonton,
    Clarification is not necessarily a weakness. It is a strength in conversation if you are attempting to be cognisant of how you ideas are being understood by your partner and try to bring your understanding of the idea you attempt to convey in line with your perception of how that image is held by the other. Clarification is essential to honest discussion.

  13. Where did she “claim” she read the bill. Certainly not in the fragment you quoted and I doubt you’ve heard a speech in which she claimed that she had read the bill in any substantial or comprehensive manner.

    I didn’t claim she had read the entire bill or even part of the bill. Her retcon was to shift the meaning of death panels from the original meaning to specific (but shifting) sections of the bill.

    No. She only said literal death panels if you take her literally.

    Actually that’s not what she ‘only’ said. Recall half of what she asserted, that panels would make their decisions based on a patient’s ‘productivity’, cannot be squared with the truth at all no matter which meaning you opt to take on Thursdays or Fridays.

    If Mr Obama had noted those up against big insurance companies have to face down “death panels” to fight for coverage in his defense you’d argue that he was just describing the struggle against the internal insurance bureaucracy to get your coverage. If Ms Palin says the same thing

    But if Mr. Obama first said the Republicans were the death panels, then the Republican bill, then those simply opposed to the public option, then the insurance companies, then the drug companies etc. he too would be guilty of shifting his meaning to suit the debate without regard to all previous contexts. Likewise if Mr. Obama also claimed said panels would be using ‘favored’ and ‘disfavored’ race of the patient as a criteria he would be guilty of a lie. It would not save Obama from the charge if it was discovered some insurance company had caused a death by denying someone coverage.

    Clarification is essential to honest discussion.

    I agree but the ideal debater will know his audience and not need to clarify. Kind of like in baseball the ideal defense always throws a no-hitter. But if you do have hits you want an outfield that are excellent at catching ;).

  14. Boonton,
    You offer in this comment:

    I didn’t claim she had read the entire bill or even part of the bill.

    Uhm. In the prior comment you said and I quote:

    It’s not that she didn’t personally read the bill but claimed she did.

    So which is it. She claimed she read it or she didn’t. Is this retconning in action?

    Regarding Obama … should we review his line of statements regarding his former pastor?

    I agree but the ideal debater will know his audience and not need to clarify

    Hmm. Well, that is problematic in today’s political debate (note the title of this essay) because neither side understands at all how the other thinks, i.e., we don’t know the other side very much at all.

  15. So? It’s not “retconning.” You presented this is an example of retconning.

    Maybe it’s retconning’s cousin. It’s exploiting multiple meanings for rhetorical gain.

    On ID. First off, I return to the original point, how is this retconning?

    ID means to everybody-but-Mark something that virtually every scientist says is false. Mark comes along to redefine it to mean something that everybody acknowledges is true. It’s a perfect example of retconning.

    Secondly you miss the point. The inevitable consequence of ID…

    We’re talking definitions, not consequences.

    ?? You yourself said that when a discussion begins the honest person begins by defining terms. In the case of the ID discussion I did so right at the start. I did not retcon.

    You did it at the start of OUR discussion. The ID discussion in America has been going on for years. You retconned the notion of ID that existed before our discussion. And why did you call the thing you wanted to talk about “ID” when everybody else means something else when they use the term? Because you were trying to pretend that all your allies who believe in what everybody else calls ID are reasonable and not, as they are in fact, wildly misinformed.

  16. Regarding Obama … should we review his line of statements regarding his former pastor?

    Sure why not, if the best you got is from the election a year and a half ago let’s roll!

    My statement was:

    It’s not that she didn’t personally read the bill but claimed she did. It’s that she both claimed to read the bill and claimed not to read it….so to speak.

    The ‘so to speak’ was meant to convey that I wasn’t asserting she literally read the bill but that she claimed both her criticism was not specific to the bill and then claimed it was specific to the bill. As you know, most of the time bills are not literally read in raw ‘code form’ but examined on a summary basis by those who are debating specific bills. As you can see my weakness there was that my initial statement was not clear enough and I had to clarify it.

    Hmm. Well, that is problematic in today’s political debate (note the title of this essay) because neither side understands at all how the other thinks, i.e., we don’t know the other side very much at all.

    Possibly but I think you’re overstating this. We aren’t all *that* different.

  17. JA,
    You’ve painted yourself into a corner on the ID thing. If something is an inevitable consequence … it can certainly be an alternative definition. And then if that inevitable consequence is a thing to which everyone would agree. You’ve become an ID supporter yourself. Hmm.

    The ID discussion in America has been going on for years.

    So what? I had not take part or read of it in any depth and to be honest still haven’t. The only books I’ve read on evolution are the three or four collections of essays by Mr Gould. I still hold to the claim that evolution is a relatively insignificant side show in the scientific bazaar and a big reason for that is the principle complaint central to my ID discussion. No metrics and no mathematical predictive methodologies.

  18. JA,

    Maybe it’s retconning’s cousin. It’s exploiting multiple meanings for rhetorical gain.

    No. It’s group theory extended to ethics. Now you may object to that meta-ethic … but dismissing it out of hand is another rhetorical sin.

  19. Mark,

    You’ve painted yourself into a corner on the ID thing. If something is an inevitable consequence … it can certainly be an alternative definition. And then if that inevitable consequence is a thing to which everyone would agree. You’ve become an ID supporter yourself. Hmm.

    This is Freshman logic. If A implies B it doesn’t mean that if B is true A is true or that B can be used in place of A.

    No. It’s group theory extended to ethics. Now you may object to that meta-ethic … but dismissing it out of hand is another rhetorical sin.

    I’m not saying that whole line of reasoning is out, just the faux-tautological rendering of it where you hide the most controversial step by using the same word with two meanings.

    I still hold to the claim that evolution is a relatively insignificant side show in the scientific bazaar and a big reason for that is the principle complaint central to my ID discussion. No metrics and no mathematical predictive methodologies.

    LOL. Have a pretty high opinion of yourself, huh?

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