Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas.

I know it's not politically correct, but neither am I. None of this "Happy Holidays" crap.

It's Merry Christmas and best wishes to my small band of readers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Intellectual Ebola and HIV.

The Ebola virus was first recognised in 1976 and is one of the most deadly viruses on earth. It has a mortality of close to 80% (depending on the figures) and cuts a spectacular path of destruction. Spread is through the exchange of bodily fluids(including semen). The illness initially resembles a a typical cold but rapidly progresses to altered consciousness, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, bleeding, and a quick and gruesome death.

First recognised in 1981, the HIV virus is also spread by bodily fluids.  Infection initially causes a cold like illness and then the virus apparently seems to do nothing for a long period of time. The host, bearing no stigmata of the disease or any ill effects, carries on with the same behaviours that initially caused infection. Slowly the individual realises that something is wrong as opportunistic infections take hold. Without treatment, the mean time to death is ten years. Untreated, mortality is close to 100%.

The mode of death between the two illness is worth noting. In Ebola, the stigmata of the disease become readily apparent and the patients death is spectacular. In HIV, death's ensnarement is more leisured. For a long while the individual appears unaffected, even healthy initially, dying only years after infection.

The HIV virus is estimated to have killed approximately twenty five million people. Ebola, on the other hand, has killed roughly 1,800.

Two viruses, roughly discovered at the same time and with approximately the same mortality, yet the the death toll of one is four orders of magnitude greater than the other. Why?

Ebola's spectacular viciousness in claiming its victim alerts those unaffected of the danger in their midst. The malignity of Ebola is obvious and individuals can easily recognise the danger approaching and take appropriate steps to stop it. The afflicted are obviously unwell and the unaffiliated flee from them. Ebola consumes it's host before it is able to spread. It path of destruction thwarted by its obvious efficiency in killing.

HIV, on the other hand, is a more congenial fellow. After a mild illness, it leaves its host alone for years, minding its own business and slowly spreading. Bearing no stigmata of illness, the afflicted does not affront anyone and normal precautions are not implemented by others, allowing the virus to silently spread. The threat of HIV is not obvious, yet it kills to a greater degree than Ebola. It's evil is subtle as opposed to Ebola's gaudy display.

HIV is a less apparently obvious killer than Ebola, and its this subtlety which makes it far more dangerous. It's subtlety allows complacency.

Ideas can resemble viruses as well. Some, such as fascism, are seen as malignant early on and thwarted.  Others, such as communism, are just as malignant but for many years not recognised as such by huge swathes of the community. Over a hundred million dead trying to implement the Communist idea, that superficially, was meant to make the better place.

What got me thinking about this topic was this comments thread over at Jim Kalb's. Commentator Thursday wrote.
Yes, they do. Slumlord/The Social Pathologist, he who has posited absolute truth as the sole basis for conservatism, and the one who pointed out the Feser article to me, has made the argument that everybody is always the worse for having sex outside marriage. Plus, being raised in church and going to church schools, we were always being told about how the minute you had premarital sex, your life would just fall apart and you would be permanently damaged by it.
Perhaps the most dangerous ideas are the ones, which in the short term, seem harmless or are beneficial but which are toxic in the long run. The aim of diabolical genius is to allow tactical victories whilst aiming for strategic defeat.  The bovine populace, fixated as it is on the "here and now", never sees anything in particular going wrong in any single or particular act, yet not being able to see the big picture, wonder why society is crumbling around them.

Take radical liberalism for instance. It seems to have wilted both the identity of the West and its ability to respond to external threats. This comment by Steve Sailer deserves quite a bit of reflection.

In WWII and the Cold War, we faced enemies the caliber of Wernher von Braun and Andrei Sakharov. In the War on Terror, however, a strikingly large fraction of Muslim would-be terrorists, such as the recent Underpants Bomber and the Times Square Fizzler, are screwups.
Criminal masterminds turn out to be more common in movies than in real life. Even Osama bin Laden got lucky. A video shows him admitting gleefully that he hadn’t expected the World Trade Center towers to come down. And without George W. Bush’s campaign against airport profiling of Arabs, Mohammed Atta likely wouldn’t have even made it onboard.
Conservatives of all stripes bemoan the rise of Islam, but they look at the problem the wrongly. Sailer has got it right. Objectively, the Islamic world would be utterly crushed by a determined West. Islam is only relatively strong because the West's current cultural ideology renders it weak. Islam is opportunistically expanding in the West.

Secular democratic liberalism may yet  prove to be Western Society's cultural HIV.

(Image from Life magazine)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Intelligence and Wisdom.

Ferdinand Bardamu has put up quite a good post on the subject of intelligence. For the most part I agree with his views but it has got me thinking on the subject of wisdom and intelligence.  I suppose want to start with a few definitions.

Intelligence: The capacity to process information.
Wisdom: The ability to get things right. (I've chosen this definition because by implication the wise man always chooses the correct course of action, while the foolish man gets it wrong)

Now, I disagree with Ferdinand, in that I think we can measure intelligence. From the moment Binet started measuring intelligence, naysayers had always found "flaws" in his testing and all sorts of objections were raised against them. Binet's response to his critics was that the people who society considers intelligent are the ones who do well at his tests. I think this is fairly self evident.

The HBD crowd place a great deal of emphasis on the faculty of intelligence, seeing it as a some sort genetic Calvinism, separating the elect from the damned. Personally, whilst I think it is very important, I feel it's uber-elevation in amongst the HBD crowd is misplaced.

To make crude analogy IQ can be rougly compared to computing power. The high IQ man having a supercharged Intel processor, the common dullard, a simple transistor.

Now the quality of the processing is only as good as the data being fed to the processor, as the old computer adage goes, "garbage in, garbage out". What's happening right now amongst many of our high IQ set is that many of their input variables are simply rubbish.  Despite their high IQ, the conclusions that they form from their thought processes are wrong.

In a specialist fields such as physics and maths, reasoning is constrained by hard data, universally agreed upon constants and formulae,  and the rules of logic. There is very little "garbage in". As such the quality of the output is contingent upon the quality of the processor. Ultimately the test of any theory is its concordance with reality, and amongst the physical sciences this is easy to demonstrate.
Smart people have it easy in these fields and thrash their lesser endowed competitors.

The problem of the clever sillies really starts to rear its head when it comes to less defined subjects or subjects requiring data from broad spread of seemingly unrelated inputs. Here data does not resemble X=y, rather I believe X=y or let us assume that X=y. Here the predicate data may or may not have any bearing on reality. Crappy inital data produces crappy output, no matter how good the processor and the problem with many of the "high intelligence" advocates don't seem to recognise is many of the high IQ crowd have problems when it comes to non-rigidly defined input data.

The silly physicist does not approach the subject of the weight of carbon as an opinion, but as a fact. On the other hand, that same physicist's love life may be miserable because his assumptions about women, which are completely wrong, are treated and processed like facts. Likewise his finances may be a mess because of his financial beliefs, i.e house prices always go up, which are similarly treated as facts. In my experience, many of the intelligent people I know are usually very smart within their fields but go along with the crowd for everything else(SWPL). High intelligence is no protection against unrecognised erroneous assumption.

Sometimes the assumption is not erranous, but deliberately willed and information which directly contradicts it is filtered away. (See Orwell. Crimestop and Thoughtcrime). Paging Phil Jones.  Sometimes the assumption is simply not investigated because of time or dispositional constraints. The bottom line here is that no matter how good your brain is, if the underlying assumptions under which it operates are false then its conclusions are going to be wrong. The implicit assumption by the  HBD crowd seems to be that universal data objectivity is somehow correlated with high IQ. That assumption is tenuous at best.

These assumptions, with which a person operates with on a day to day basis, can best be thought of as a person's weltanschauung, and the average upper middle class man's assumptions can be thought of as conforming to the Liberal world view. As I have argued before, many of the liberal assumptions are wrong. It's no wonder that our managerial class gets it wrong on so many issues, despite it being the best and brightest.

Wisdom in a certain sense, precedes intelligence. Since wisdom requires an accurate(and reality conforming) weltanschauung. Wisdom's quality, lies not so much in an ability to process information, but rather, in not having faulty premises which will corrupt reasoning. It is a form of knowledge, and its correlate with age, simply a result of false assumption being "mugged by reality". It's also why simple people with modest intellects can frequently get things right whilst their smarter "betters" get things wrong: They don't start off with stupid premises. Wise people have a global grasp on reality.

Klaus Fuchs was without doubt a brilliant nuclear physicist. But his naivete about the rest of the world was astounding. He confessed in the false hope that he would be allowed to return to top secret nuclear weapons research work (after being found out as a spy for the Soviets!). His confession, an excellent example of the clever sillies.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fundamentals of Conservatism: Empirical Problems.

It may be worthwhile for some readers to read this post before proceeding.

Empiricism is the theory that the only valid knowledge is knowledge that is confirmed by sense data, and the strict empiricists leave no room for knowledge that is inspired by faith. As mentioned in the above linked post, a graphical representation of the strict empiricists conceptual schema can be represented as thus:

The green area and white areas represents knowledge which can be independently verified by way of sense data, the yellow are is falsehood. As mentioned previously, anything which lays outside the "sense barrier" is dismissed as unscientific knowledge. 

However, let us consider the following situation. Suppose there are two strict empiricists, one of whom has the faculty of sight, the other, is blind from birth. 

Now let us consider the proposition P, where P= raspberries are red in colour.

Now if we map P onto "epistemolgical space"we find that P lays within the Non-Blind empiricist's perception of reality and is outside the blind empiricist's perception.

Now, from the blind empiricist's frame of perception, there is no way he can verify that raspberries are red. On the other hand, the non-blind empiricist can easily verify that raspberries are red.

Now if our blind empiricist is a strict empiricist(in the Dawkins sense) he will declare the Proposition P= "that raspberries are red" is false as he is unable to independently verify the proposition. This of course is a logical error. Since  the correct answer from the blind person's perspective is that P is unverifiable. The blind empiricist can only be agnostic on the matter of the colour of raspberries. Any blind empiricist who dogmatically asserts that raspberries are not red is not being empirical about the matter at all. By saying that raspberries are not red he is making a positive statement about reality which exists beyond his sense barrier, a reality which he can in no way verify.

Now,  our blind empiricist may acknowledge that he is limited in some way, and defer to his sighted colleagues on the matter of the colour of raspberries. But his knowledge of colour is then not based on any "empirical" observation but is based upon the truthfulness and his trust in his colleagues. He is not being "empirical" about the matter at all.

On the other hand, our blind empiricist may be a Marxist or Postmodernist, and believe that the whole concept of colour and sight is an oppressive mechanism by other blind empiricists to keep him subjugated. He would be logically consistent though, because being unable to verify sight, he-- being a strict empiricist--would have to accept that the phenomenon is not real. In order to liberate himself from the chains of oppression he would have to wage war against those who claimed that they could see.

The point that point that I am trying to belabour here is that realities can exist beyond the "sense barrier" which we have no way of proving. This is and was the conservative view. The acceptance of "religion"as a valid source of knowledge stems from this conception of reality. How men gain knowledge of what's on the other side is a subject which I will deal with later, but suffice to say that whatever's happening on the other side of the sense barrier is empirically "unprovable".

As I have said before, Conservatism is the philosophy of living according to the truth of things. People who are intellectually, as opposed to dispositionally, conservative motivate their actions according to a perception of reality. As their knowledge of reality is improved, their behavior is modified. Conservatism is about living rightly, not living "oldly".

Conservatism therefore does not have a problem with logically consistent empiricism, where the problem lays is with logically inconsistent empiricism. An empiricism that makes positive claims about what exists beyond the "sense barrier" is logically inconsistent, since according to Empiricism, it's the senses which either positively confirm or deny a theory of reality. Atheism therefore represents a series of statements which resemble religion more than the scientific method. The only honest statement an Empiricist can make about what exists beyond the sense barrier is that it is unverifiable: Agnosticism.

It's this logical inconsistency which places Atheists outside the Conservative camp. The Atheist's conception of reality is at odds with the Conservative's one.  Conservatives accept that valid knowledge can exist "beyond the sense barrier",  this for an Atheist is intolerable since such knowledge is empirically unverifiable and therefore arbitrary or false.

The question is then, how do you rationally determine what is beyond the sense barrier? The answer is you can't.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yes Vladimir, it's all About Transparency.

Mr Assange seems to have some pretty powerful friends.

Vladimir Putin has chimed in for the cause.

Yeah...........Vladimir is all about openness and accountability.

Just ask Anna Politskovkaya and  Alexander Litvinenko. 
(Notice, no Russian cables.)

Perhaps he will support him financially. The Batcave needs a Batmobile.

Anyone for some polonium?

Something's Not Right.

I don't like Julian Assange. I feel that his compromise of the U.S. diplomatic cables should earn him a spot in prison. I know many people disagree with me, but I have a feeling that his supporters will end up with egg on their faces.  Whilst I think he should go to prison, it should not be on the grounds of rape, as clearly his actions in Sweden in no way constitute rape.  Roissy's take on the motivations of probably spot on. These "victims" are spurned groupies who want their "revenge". The fact that a country like Sweden has criminal prosecutors who can construe rape out of what many people would consider consensual sexual relations, shows just how politically correct Sweden has become. Sweden is ruled by a Feminist Taliban.

Whilst many people are hot under the collar about the rape charge against Assange(justified) I'm more interested in the man and his motivations. Several stories have been slowly been bubbling up on the internet, and whether this is a third party source of disinformation, I don't know, but they seem to point to a less than savoury character and someone who is not entirely objective when it comes to "transparency"

The first article is from Der Spiegel. ( I regard this as a reliable source of information):

Wikileaks Spokesman Quits.

Firstly, I wasn't aware that there was such disagreement amongst the staff. I understand that employees can disagree with the boss and his style of management but this quote seems to indicate something else at play.

Take the US Army Afghanistan documents at the end of July, for example. The video of the air strike in Baghdad in 2007, "Collateral Damage," was an extreme feat of strength for us. During the same period of time we also could have published dozens of other documents. And through our rising recognition in the last six months, we have again received a lot of material that urgently needs to be processed and published. 


Schmitt: No, pressure from the outside is part of this. But this one-dimensional confrontation with the USA is not what we set out to do. For us it is always about uncovering corruption and abuse of power, wherever it happens -- on the smaller and larger scale -- around the world. 
It appears that "employees" want to expose corruption around the world, Assange seems more intent on highlighting the U.S.'s shortcomings.  I'm not an uncritical supporter of the U.S. but why the slant? Why don't the Russians, French, Polish, etc feel the heat?

More of the same from this article.

The next article is,  TIME's Julian Assange Interview: Full Transcript/Audio.
(I regard time as a less reliable source than Der Spiegel, but reliable still)

JA: Let me just talk about transparency for a moment. It is not our goal to achieve a more transparent society; it's our goal to achieve a more just society. And most of the times, transparency and openness tends to lead in that direction, because abusive plans or behavior get opposed, and so those organizations which tend to commit them are opposed before the plan's implemented, or it's an exposure or something previously done, the organization tends to lose a [inaudible], which is then transferred to another, and then we [inaudible] organization. For the rise of social media, it's quite interesting. When we first started, we thought we would have the analytical work done by bloggers and people who wrote Wikipedia articles and so on. And we thought that was a natural, given that we had lots of quality, important content. Surely it's more interesting to write an article about top-secret Chinese [inaudible] or an internal document from Somalia or secret documents revealing what happened in [inaudible], all of which we published, than it is to simply write a blog about what's on the front page of the New York Times, or about your cat or something. But actually it turns out that that is not at all true. The bulk of the heavy lifting — heavy analytical lifting — that is done with our materials is done by us, and is done by professional journalists we work with and by professional human-rights activists. It is not done by the broader community. However, once the initial lifting is done, once a story becomes a story, becomes a news article, then we start to see community involvement, which digs deeper and provides more perspective. So the social networks tend to be, for us, an amplifier of what we are doing. And also a supply of sources and for us.

That's right. Julian decides what's necessary to achieve our Just society and in collaboration with Journalists feeds it to the proles. The social media merely a mechanism to spread prole feed. He is about controlling information to achieve a "just society". This isn't an orginisation meant to "energize" and empower the people, it's an organisation designed to control the people. Note, the important role the official media gets to play in this. This type of selective reporting to achieve a "just society" has been seen before.

Then there is this article in the Haaretz (Reliable source but left wing.)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday defended his disclosure of classified U.S. documents by singling out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an example of a world leader who believes the publications will aid global diplomacy. 

"We can see the Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu coming out with a very interesting statement that leaders should speak in public like they do in private whenever they can," Assange told Time Magazine in an interview on Wednesday, days after his online whistleblower published thousands of secret diplomatic cables. 

Look, even Israeli's regard their politicians as corrupt. No matter what your position on Israel, Julian's blessing of Netanyahu is a bit rich. This from one of the leaked cables.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, is “elegant and charming” but never keeps his promises, according to a cable from Cairo.
The "corrupt" Americans think him a liar but Julian is pushing him as some kind of fellow traveller.
What gives?

Normally I would regard articles from the Syria Truth as pure tinfoil, but as several commentators have pointed out, damaging cables concerning Israel have been rare. Particularly, comments concerning the recent war in Lebanon against Hezbollah. This is odd, given the enormous interest that the U.S has in Mideast politics. Sometimes what's interesting is not what's in the cables, but what's not.

This article seems to suggest that Assange met with the Israelis in Switzerland and they bought him off. (Use Google translate) Perhaps Assange's desire to negotiate with the U.S. state department was not only based on a desire for harm minimisation. You sort of wonder? It could all be bullshit.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I don't think that Assange is an Israeli agent, rather, he is a "businessman" who is prepared to do deals. I think that had the U.S. state department been a bit more "pragmatic" far fewer cables would have been released.  Maybe this is all unwarranted and my distrust of Mr Assange unfair.

But check out Wikileaks new headquarters.  
Clearly, they're doing it tough.

I think his supporters will be disappointed.

(Note. Any Anti-Semitic comments will be immediately deleted. Fair criticism of Israel is acceptable, but if I feel it crosses the line, it's deleted. No argument will be entered into. I'm quite happy to censor.)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

David Hicks Has a Friend.

The majority of my readership hails from the U.S. and given the U.S centric nature of its media, many of my readers would not know who David Hicks is.

A brief bio of the man can be found here.

The pertinent point is that Mr Hicks has admitted that he trained with a muslim militant camp linked with Al Qaeda, fought on their behalf, and was a member of their organization at the time of his capture in Afghanistan. When he was captured, he was a combatant of a proclaimed enemy of the U.S. and by implication, Australia, who is it's ally.

Americans have a chequered history with regard to the treatment of their captured combatants, though in the past their behaviour to prisoners was far better than nearly all the other nations of the world. I imagine the decline in their current treatment of prisoners mirrors the decline in their societal moral standards and the gradual re-acceptance of the use of torture as a legitimate intelligence gathering technique.

I personally feel that captured Al Qaeda, by forsaking the conventional rules of warfare, forsake the right to claim POW status ( and its legal protections). Though this does not mean that I approve of torture of prisoners. However, on the balance of probability, I imagine that that some of the captured Al Qaeda were tortured at Guantanamo and Mr Hicks probably was as well.

As an Australian citizen, I am concerned that an Australian is being mistreated whilst in a U.S. prison but on the other hand I'm appalled that he is in league with the enemies of my country, our allies  and my religion. The moral question then is what should Australia have done upon knowledge that he was captured by the U.S. forces and sent to Guantanamo?

Idiotic right wing commentators in Australia seemed to think that any form of punishment or torture is justified against Al Qaeda members. They fail to understand that torture doesn't only dehumanise the victim, it dehumanises the torturer as well. By accepting the practice of torture, we are corrupting ourselves.

Lefty commentators on the other hand, seem to think that the government should have petitioned more vigorously for the release of Mr Hicks from Guantanamo, as if his membership of Al Qaeda was an irrelevance. Their continual harping for his release showed their total unconcern for his membership of a terrorist organisation. An organisation which tortures, kills and treats prisoners appallingly and pushes its policy of expansion through deliberate non-distinction between civilian and military targets and whose purpose if realised, would trample those very liberties which the Left holds dear. By being a mistreated prisoner of the U.S. he gained moral legitimacy. His willingness to take up arms against the West was ignored, never mind his just deserts.

Our idiot lefty media, even arranged for him to confront the Prime Minister and I suppose the irony was lost on them; championing the man, who, if successful in his aims, would of have ruthlessly suppressed their very freedom of expression. Their idiot glee further proof that most men do not have the common sense to ensure even their own survival.

In my mind the Australian Government were excessive in their concern for Mr Hicks. They pressured the U.S. government for an early trial (he was fist cab off the rank) and argued for his humane treatment. I would have only argued for his humane treatment and kept his in prison till Al Qaeda was defeated. As it turned out, he was transferred to Australia where the predictable legal response occurred. He served just under seven months. The judiciary can be counted on always.

David Hicks is a evil man who was mistreated by the U.S. government, any moral evaluation of Mr Hicks must incorporate both these factors. The deliberate refusal to weight both aspects of his situation is an example of bias. To make him out as some type of martyr is Anti-American or Anti-West bias. It's as simple as that.

So which idiot has now come out in support of David Hicks? That's right Julian Assange

Mr Assange, 39, said his treatment by the federal government raised questions about what it meant to be an Australian citizen. ''Are we all to be treated like David Hicks at the first possible opportunity merely so that Australian politicians and diplomats can be invited to the best US embassy cocktail parties?''

That's right, he feels that David Hicks was wronged, which in my mind quite clearly illustrates the direction of Assange's moral compass. Al Qaeda laughs at the idiot West.