Saturday, February 13, 2010


Theology Geek NZ lists a dozen or so statements which are, in philosopher-speak, self-referentially incoherent - i.e. they're self-refuting. If they're true they must be false. Here are a few of them:

  • Truth does not exist (Is that a true statement?)
  • Nothing is absolute (Is that absolutely true?)
  • I do not exist (You must exist to deny that you exist)
  • Science is the only way to know (Can you scientifically prove that?)

There are more at the link. Meanwhile, here a couple of my all-time favorites:

A quote from the famous evidentialist William Clifford: "It is wrong always and everywhere for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence." If that's true then we shouldn't believe it for there's no evidence that warrants it.

Then there is the verification principle of the logical positivists: "Only those statements which can be empirically verified are meaningful." Since there's no way to verify this statement is it therefore meaningless?

HT: Dangerous Idea


Defying the Popular Will

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey discusses the latest results from a Rasmussen poll that show that overwhelming numbers from almost every demographic believe that the Obama administration must reign in spending. After showing that the President is continuing to lose ground with the American people in terms of his favorability rating. Morrissey offers this:

Part of the problem certainly springs from the massive deficits that the Obama administration has created. In a separate poll this week, Rasmussen shows that only 11% support deficit spending to fix the economy, while 70% believe that the federal government needs to downsize. Obama tried to get in front of that impulse by talking about the deficit in the SOTU speech, but the announcement of a $1.6 trillion deficit in FY2010 and another $1.35 trillion in FY2011 made a mockery of Obama's sudden deficit-hawk pose.

The internals of that poll should worry Obama and his team. Even a plurality of Democrats believe that the US needs to cut federal spending rather than splurge even more, 47%/21%. Republicans want to cut spending, 87%/6%, and independents are almost as adamant, 77%/6%. Even the normally safe demographics oppose Obama on his budget plans: a majority of black voters favor cuts, 58%/19%, women 68%/10%, young voters 68%/4%, and under-$20K earners 58%/14%.

It's as close to a consensus as anything seen in American politics - and Obama is taking the opposite direction. No wonder his approval deficit continues to grow.

These polls notwithstanding Mr. Obama continues to insist we need to spend more, and then he expects us to believe him when he tells us he's not an ideologue? In the past people would scoff at the characterization of the "tax and spend liberal." This characterization was, we were told, an unfair caricature. Well, the current Congress and White House have certainly done everything they could to ensure that that "caricature" lives on in the collective memory for another fifty years or more.


Ten Most Redeeming Films

Christianity Today lists their ten most redeeming films of 2009. They describe a "redeeming film" as:

... movies that include stories of redemption-sometimes blatantly, sometimes less so. Several of our films have characters who are redeemers themselves; all of them have characters who experience redemption to some degree-some quite clearly, some more subtly. Some are "feel-good" movies that leave a smile on your face; some are a bit more uncomfortable to watch. But the redemptive element is there in all of these films.

One of the films they list is the The Hurt Locker, a movie that certainly deserved its nomination for Best Picture. I won't bother to summarize the story since most are probably familiar with it, but it gives an excellent insight into what war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has been like for the young men who are sent there to fight.

Perhaps the most significant point the film makes is how difficult it is for our troops to do combat under our rules of engagement. Early on a soldier sees a man holding a cell phone as his teammate is disarming an IED. Is the man an insurgent about to use the phone to trigger the explosive and kill his friend? Should he shoot? What if he's just an innocent civilian? What if he doesn't shoot and the man detonates the bomb? He has three seconds to decide what to do.

The Hurt Locker subtly poses those quandaries over and over - who are the bad guys? How can you tell? I don't see how any young man placed in those kinds of situations can be charged in a military court for making the wrong decision. Indeed, it boggles the mind that three Navy SEALs are currently on trial for simply punching a terrorist in their custody who had murdered several Americans and desecrated their bodies. Worse than getting punched happens in the midst of almost any football game on any given Autumn weekend in America. We need to hold our military to a high standard of conduct, of course, but we don't have to be fetishistic about it. Surely there are disciplines short of court martial for such breaches.

In any event, The Hurt Locker is apolitical and as realistic as a war movie gets. The realism, however, means that the language and violence are pretty raw, so I encourage anyone who has reservations about viewing such films to take a pass on this one.