Aristotle and Aliens: Who Knows the Real World?

The planet Pitch is covered in deep warm oceans. It is inhabited with intelligent starfish called Pitchians who wander about the dark depths of their home ocean, feeding on their world’s version of clams and oysters. Pitchians have no sense of sight and no sense of touch, just smell/taste and hearing with a form of echolocation. The Pitchian’s senses do not work at all like ours. If we could get into a Pitchian mind, we would hear nothing but sounds of different pitches and tones and volumes. There would be no sense of space like humans have. Larger objects produce louder echos, softer objects produce fuzzier echos, moving objects produce echoes with a shift and/or a doppler effect, but to the Pitchian, this is just a difference in quality of sound, it does not  give a spatial intuition. It’s sort of like when a human hears two notes played on the same guitar at the same time. We do not sense two different sounds, but one sound with a special quality depending how the two notes harmonize.

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The Hazards of Thomism

Thomism is the unlikely child of Aristotelian science and Catholic theology birthed by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth Century. Thomistic philosophers always sound smart when they talk, and they should because they’ve had a thousand years to develop their act. In my experience, professional Thomist philosophers are careful and clear in their expositions, making sure they they don’t use a difficult concept without first laying it out in a way that modern readers can grasp, but Thomist philosophy in internet comment forums tends to be offered in ways that seem abrupt, impatient, and often scornful.

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Appealing to Authority is not a Fallacy; it is a sign of Wisdom

One of the most significant aspects of civilization is specialization of expertise. People get better at things through study and practice, but such study and practice take time. If you try to be competent at everything, you will have time for nothing but study and practice with no time left over to accomplish anything. It is the defining genius of civilization that each person becomes competent at just a few things and then trades services with other people who have become competent at other things. This organization lets everyone benefit from high competence in every area without actually having to develop high competence in every area.

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You Are Using the Word “Logic” Wrong

OK, I might sound like a pretentious ass–heck, I might even be a pretentious ass–but I’m just trying to save you from looking like a fool. Well, to be entirely accurate, I’m trying to save myself from aggravation, but I’m trying to save my self from the aggravation of watching you look like a fool, and logically, that benefits both of us, right?

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Sex and Substance–a parallel between Social Justice and Catholicism

Can a traditionalist Catholic, in good conscience, condemn the anti-rationality of the SJW doctrine of transexualism? They can call the doctrine false, obviously, but can they, without hypocrisy, attack it for being ridiculously, obviously false? I don’t think so, and this post explains why. Continue reading “Sex and Substance–a parallel between Social Justice and Catholicism”

The Dark Ages Myth

I’ve been reading The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy by James Evans. It’s a lovely book, highly recommended, but a few sentences caught my eye, and I thought it might be worth discussing them. First there is this:

After the second century A.D., Greek astronomy, and Greek science in general, went into decline. Why this happened is a great problem, bound up with the general collapse of classical culture. Some of the reasons were the rise of Christianity, which focused on the next world and had less interest in the sciences of this world; the military pressure of the tribes moving in from the Eurasian steppe; and the rigidity and weaknesses of an economic system based largely on slave labor.

I know that Evans is just following a well-worn scholarly path here, so I don’t want to be too critical of him personally, but this seems like a good place to criticize this historical theory.

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Sex and the Straw Man–an Exercise in Logic

This post is an exercise in objective thinking. Dalrock is a blogger who has views on sex and marriage that are generally similar to mine, but some of his arguments are deeply flawed. The exercise is for me is to pick out the weaknesses in his argument even though I may generally agree with his overall point. The exercise for you, if you care to join me, is to read my critique of Dalrock’s argument, without reading into it an endorsement of the opposite opinion. Objectively, there is a big difference between criticizing an argument and arguing the opposite.

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Logic and Status

Across the Inlet on a Foggy Day
Across the Inlet on a Foggy Day

Back in 2016, I attracted a lot of negative attention at Google for being logical (I’m the “other named plaintiff” on the James Damore lawsuit). Google ought to want to hire talented engineers, people who are characterized by their ability to think analytically and logically, but instead they are focused on filling quotas of people who have the right genitalia and the right skin tone. It’s not logical.

Since this sort of thing happens to a lot of analytical thinkers, I’d like to offer my analysis of the situation. If you find yourself often bewildered by the way people respond when you explain why they are wrong, this is for you. Continue reading “Logic and Status”

Space Opera

John C. Wright is one of my favorite authors. He writes science fiction and fantasy in the rich old style where you sometimes have to back up and roll the sentences around in your mouth to really appreciate it.

Mr. Wright was, er, unimpressed with the latest Star Wars movie; so unimpressed that even after writing thousands of words about what they did wrong, he still wasn’t satisfied, so now he has decided to do it right. Well, kind of.

Here is a worthy cause to contribute to if you want to help rescue Western myth from the barbarians who have sacked popular culture and now wander about its once great halls dragging their bloody axes over the marble floors and crapping in the corners.

What if Science Doesn’t Work?

What if science doesn’t work? What if it is all just an exercise in useless speculation that is never right? That may seem like an odd question for me to ask as I type on a digital computer to make data go over copper wires and glass fibers to be stored on magnetic disk, possibly one day to be delivered on electromagnetic waves via an orbiting satellite–but it’s a serious question. Modern technology is often taken as proof that science works, but is it? Clearly something works, but is it science or is it something else that science takes credit for?

I bring up the question now after reading about the latest project to attempt to reproduce important psychology experiments (found here). The project found only half of the previous results to be reproducible. These are important, widely cited experiments whose results have found their way into all the standard textbooks. In other words, this was settled science a few hours ago, but today the results cannot be reproduced. Nor is this unusual; there have been a number of attempts to reproduce experiments in various fields over the last few years (see here and here), and 50% is actually a good result compared to some of the others.

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