The Stupid-Driven Life — Part IX

This is the latest in our “Stupid Driven” series, in which we offer disconnected observations we’ve made while reporting on The Controversy between evolution and creationism. These are sometimes taken from our earlier articles, but all of them were inspired by reading and analyzing the “work” of creationists.

For earlier episodes in this thrilling series, see: Part I, followed by Part II, and then Part III, and then Part IV, and then Part V, and then Part VI, and then Part VII, and most recently Part VIII. Okay, here we go:

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The creationists call us Darwinists, Darwin lobbyists, naturalists, etc. We should have some readily available terms terms for them in addition to “creationists.” Some we’ve thought of using are: creationist vomiteers, supernatural scientists, Ark-ists, and Matherites (surely you remember Cotton Mather).

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In US politics, if one party wins, we’ll lead the world in social science. If the other party wins, we’ll lead the world in creation science. Either way, the world will move on without us.

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For those who become aggressive theocrats and claim that their tyranny is justified by the Great Commission, your Curmudgeon is guided by an even Greater Commission. It’s in James 4:7 (King James version, of course): “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The Greater Commission is further grounded in Galatians 5:1 — Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

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Everyone thinks his philosophical and theological ideas are correct, notwithstanding that his ideas conflict with those of others who are equally certain. Why is there such disagreement? It’s because such ideas are untestable. There’s no immediate feedback from reality. The supernatural view has no dispute resolution mechanism when it encounters a competing supernatural view.

Among the few human activities that provide reasonably certain resolution of disagreements are science, engineering, and free enterprise. What those activities have in common is rapid, readily perceived feedback from the real world.

The Founders had it right. Where there is no realistic error detection or dispute resolution mechanism, government must be forbidden to coerce acceptance of any doctrine. Except for the protection of an individual’s life, liberty, and property (the value of which really is self-evident), coercion must be eschewed.

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Next: The Stupid-Driven Life — Part X.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “The Stupid-Driven Life — Part IX

  1. “Everyone thinks his philosophical and theological ideas are correct…” etc.
    Bookmarked. Well said. Just one question. Would you consider political ideas to fall under your heading of “philosophical” ideas?

  2. Some we’ve thought of using are: creationist vomiteers, supernatural scientists, Ark-ists, and Matherites

    How about “Ussherites”, “Inquisitors” (from those responsible for the Inquisition) or “Salemites”?

    It’s because such ideas are untestable.

    Not just that, but testable in two ways, past or future. The past tests are those observations that a scientific idea must be able to successfully represent. A future test is some event that a model must successfully predict. So far, the creationist vomiteers, supernatural scientists, Ark-ists, Matherites, Ussherites, Inquisitors or Salemites have only been able to say that what has happened in the past aligns with their tortured reading of the Bible. I have yet to hear of one prediction of what might happen in the future (Revelations notwithstanding).

  3. aturingtest asks:

    Would you consider political ideas to fall under your heading of “philosophical” ideas?

    Sure. But there is a feedback mechanism. It’s so slow that the nation may collapse before they realize the error.

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    The Curmudgeon states:

    Among the few human activities that provide reasonably certain resolution of disagreements are science, engineering, and free enterprise. What those activities have in common is rapid, readily perceived feedback from the real world.

    But to be included with science and engineering, I would suggest that free enterprise should be restricted to only its original meaning. This included the premise that some human being, the entrepreneur, directly accepted the risk of losing his own investment in case of failure.

    Early entrepreneurs invested in building grist mills back when the barter system was common. The miller received a percentage of the resulting flour as payment, so the millers had an immediate and personal incentive to invent and maintain mills that could turn out high value flour rather than low value animal feed. The entrepreneur received nothing if the mill did not produce anything of value.

    But with the invention of fiat currency, where real capital based on actual savings or profits has been replaced by money loaned into existence by layers of increasingly leveraged financial instruments that collectively have no more physical reality beyond computer bits on a disk, what is now regarded as free enterprise can result in rewards for incompetence while the risks are passed on to the entire economic system.

    I may live long enough to see the term “free enterprise” become as much an oxymoron as the term “software engineer” is now regarded among some traditional engineers.

  5. Early entrepreneurs invested in building grist mills back when the barter system was common. The miller received a percentage of the resulting flour as payment, so the millers had an immediate and personal incentive to invent and maintain mills that could turn out high value flour rather than low value animal feed. The entrepreneur received nothing if the mill did not produce anything of value.

    We’ve left out the role the government. Peasants were forbidden by law to grind their own grain, and were required to grind it in their lord’s mills. The miller got a profit, but the bulk went to the lord.

    And this is crony capitalism in esse. The government decides who may engage in a trade or profession. The producers who go along benefit because competition is reduced. The government benefits because it’s easier to collect taxes. The consumers are the ones who have to pay for it.

    This has been the norm throughout human history:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_staple
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_patent
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Monopolies_1623
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Charter
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigation_Act

    There are endless examples today: licensing for interior decorators, taxi medallions, etc. At bottom, they are the government using force to decide who can and cannot produce something, at the cost of consumers and taxpayers.

    But with the invention of fiat currency, where real capital based on actual savings or profits has been replaced by money loaned into existence by layers of increasingly leveraged financial instruments that collectively have no more physical reality beyond computer bits on a disk, what is now regarded as free enterprise can result in rewards for incompetence while the risks are passed on to the entire economic system.

    Where to start? It was EVER thus.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_sea_bubble

    Ever since credit was invented, people have been able to inflate the currency; that doesn’t even count the government’s role in mandating what form legal tender had to take and profiting from the seigneurage, debasing the currency whenever they wanted a little extra. Boom and bust cycles are older than feudalism, fiat currency has nothing to do with it. ALL currency is fiat and always has been.

    And it’s the government that chose to reward incompetence with taxpayer money. So what’s your solution to the leveraged financial instruments you don’t like? The same government that caused the problem in the first place by forcing banks to lend to people with poor credit?

  6. “The same government that caused the problem in the first place by forcing banks to lend to people with poor credit?

    That does not explain why European banks happily jumped in to, when no one was forcing them. To my mind both banking institutions and Government were equally at fault.