Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Bad Arguement / Good Argument
A good argument requires that you understand your opponents views. Here we can learn from nagative example:
You may be surprised to know that Capitalism doesn't bother Liberals one bit. It's an awesome way of distributing goods and services and though it oft doesn't work perfectly, there's certainly nothing inherintly wrong with it. That's why American liberals saved Capitalism under FDR.
And what's wrong with something being driven by "male capitalism's" view of beauty. Don't males want to look at porn? Why should we stop them? And unlike most of advertising which is also driven by capitalistic male impulses, pornography is honest about what's it's selling. There's certainly a lot of bad porn out there that is degrading to women, but it does no more to objectify women than football does to animalize men.
Did you mean to address this argument to communists perhaps? I have the phone number of the last one in the United States. He lived next door to me in the Co-ops.
FDR a liberal? He fucking locked up all the people of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps. That sounds pretty totalitarian to me.
You are right, FDR should never have given into the demands by conservatives that Japanese-Americans be interred. It is a blight on his otherwise honorable record. I am proud that modern liberals do not let their partisan pride in FDR cloud their judgement on this issue: I have never heard a Liberal defend internement. THough I have heard quite a few conservatives do so.
Heh so because FDR does somethign bad, he "gave in to conservatives." Is interning people at the federal level an inherently conservative ideal of states' rights and smaller national government.
Tommaso, you've implicitly defined conservative as something you don't like. Only one "conservative" defended internment, Michelle Malkin.
Tommaso didn't say that FDR gave in to conservatives. He said that he had heard conservatives (I assume contemporary ones) defend the internment. There is a big difference.
Thinker, yes he did.
"You are right, FDR should never have given into the demands by conservatives that Japanese-Americans be interred."
Originally FDR only agreed to internment if there was fighting on Americna soil and while you did have some otherwisee good liberals pushing for internment (like California's governer at the time) there was a lot of push from the Hearst Newspapers who were the Fox news of their time.
I do consider racism to be something associated with conservatism and not liberalism. It's no secret that the main repository of racism in today's scociety are on the far right (and in the case of Bob Jones University the mainstream right). And it was racism that caused the conservative southern Democrats to split off to join the Republicans. This is not to say that no liberals can be racist, it's just that conservatives dont have a good track record when it comes to these kinds of things.
DTI wrote, "Thinker, yes he did."
You're right, he did. However, he was not historically correct. Looking back briefly at the history of the internment, it appears that the only organized resistance to it came from the Northern California branch of the ACLU. Apparently even the national ACLU supported it and attempted to prevent its local northern california chapter from representing Fred Korematsu who made the constitutional argument that eventually was supported by the Supreme Court in 1945.
For those interested, this timeline is informative. By the late 1980s, it was pretty much universally agreed that the internment was a dark stain on American history, and that great Liberal Ronald Reagan signed the Japanese-American reparations act.
I was wrong when I stated above that the Supreme Court supported Korematsu's appeal in 1945. Actually, the Court decided in December 1944 against Korematsu in a 6-3 decision. It was not until the 1980s that the Court overruled its 1940s decisions upholding the internment.
Another correction. (One should be accurate when pointing to the historical record.)
Apparently, the 1940s Supreme Court decisions in the internment cases were never overturned by the Supreme Court. Instead, the individual convictions of those still living in the early 1980s were overturned by Marilyn Hall Patel (SF Federal District Court Judge) and affirmed by the 9th Circuit.
Liberals have a horrible track record as well. David Duke contemplated joining the Republican party but Ronald Reagan denounced him in public; he joined the Democratic party in 1988 and ran for President. He also served on the Louisiana state legislature.
Louis Frrakhan is also someone I wouldn't consider conservative, perhaps not liberal, but definitely someone who wouldn't qualify as right-wing under most people's litmus tests. Yet he is one of the most racist people in America.
I think people on both sides have their share of racists, and b oth sides ahve people vigorously fighting against racism. On the left, look at a lot of civil rights leaders, those who don't lead with hate. On the right, we have prominent leaders like Clarence Thomas (read his dissent on the Grutter v. Bollinger case). So I strongly disagree that racism is a conservative viewpoint and actually think it's simply somethign people on the left say to try to get people riled up against conservatives.
And yes, I really do think FDR, Eisenhower and a lot of the former presidents were clear racists. You can't intern every person of Japanese descent and call yourself an anti-racist. Also, Tommaso, Hearst was a liberal and campaigned against conservatives in his time.
David Duke ran as both a Republican and a Democrat at different times. I don't think either party ever embraced him, but we live in a country where an individual can register in any of several parties, and can change registration whenever and as often as s/he wants. I believe the only recourse a party organization has is to refuse to provide party funds to individual candidates, and to publicize their opposition to those of their members holding views at odds with the party's stated goals.
While it is true that Bob Byrd was at one time a member of the KKK, he has publically renounced them in as strong terms as conceivably possible, and stated that his membership is one of the things he most deeply regrets having done in his life. His record speaks for itself, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find much racism in his public actions in recent decades.
Trent Lott, on the other hand, paid dearly for the implied racism evident in his remarks at the 100th birthday party for Strom Thurmond.
Hearst may have been liberal in his youth, but he certainly became conservative in the final decades of his life.
I think one of the problems you're having is that you're trying to fit all public figures into either the liberal or conservative camps. There are others - populism, nativist and libertarian spring to mind - that draw from both traditions, adding seasonings of their own that make them different.
Thinker, DTI and Tomasso, how are you defining liberal and conservative? It soudns like all of you people like to define whatever poltiical ideology isn't your own in derogatory terms like racist.
Definitions of Liberal and Conservative are somewhat fluid, and have been redefined at least a couple of times in the course of US history.
But to me, a liberal is one who believes the proper role of government is to regulate the power blocks in society in such a way as to minimize the abuse individuals and classes can mete out, and to preserve a playing field and environment where as many individuals as possible have the opportunity to identify and develop their talents and interests.
Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to believe that the proper role of government is restricted to protecting the rights of those in the markeplace to act as they see fit.
In the past decade or so, George Lakoff has made an interesting argument that liberals are those who favor a government that supports an environment where individual creativity and expression can be nurtured; while conservatives support a paternalistic government where "father knows best".
There was a time when conservatives seemed to want to conserve things as they were (the environment, social class, etc.), and liberals proposed change to improve the lot of the poor and powerless as a way to create a more just and prosperous society for us all.
I find the "father knows best" idea hard to reconcile with the "leave it to the market" idea. If anything, the liberal view of using government to level playing fields and prevent abuse and whatever else you ascribe to them reeks much more of the paternalistic attitude Lakoff ascribes to conservatives.
The problem with Lakoff's definition si that times have changed. For example, take liberals on hate speech, diversity and morals. They have a very paternalistic view of the government telling people what they can and can't do and assuming that they know what's best for the people, "father knows best." Of course, conservatives do this too in opposition to gay marriage, etc. creating a feeling of government knwoing what's best and moral for the people.
It sounds like all of your definitions are skewed to making people think that being liberal is better. It is probably as skewed as DTI's definition would be. Let me offer a more balanced definition.
Liberals believe in a strong national government that will "do good" and promote values that are better for society like economic development, equality, etc. Liberals believe that some states do not preserve the rights of certain people simply because the majority in a state says so. Thus, it is important that the national government step and and promote values that benefit the minority in a state over the majority.
Conservatives believe in a smaller government, states' rights because they believe that each region knows better than the national government about what's best for their own citizxens and state governments are more connected to the people than the national government. Conservatives feel that the national government is ignorant of the needs of a specific region of people.
Of course, there are pitfalls to each ideology. The problem with the liberal broad expansion of the national government is that what if the national government becomes too powerful and in turn ppresses people? There is no way to stop oppressive power if it is at a antional level. The problem with cosnervative restriction of national power is what happens if a state stomps upon the rights of individuals, and the national government is powerless to do anything? Local oppression and national oppression are valid concerns on both sides.
I think you're wildy off the mark about how Lakoff defines liberal/conservative. He doesn't say that conservatives are more paternalistic. He says that conservatives are more apt to try to change people's behavior through punishment and reward rather than leading by example which is the liberal paradigm.
And please: maybe some Conservatives believe "states' rights because they believe that each region knows better than the national government about what's best for their own citizens" but it pretty clear that people support states rights when that is the best way to achieve their political goals. The second state's right stands in the way of their goals (like in gay marriage) they flip on a dime and suddenly discover it's a federal issue.
Also, I find it interesting that you seem to assume that a correct definition of liberal/conservatives will not show one to be generally superior to the other. How do you know this? if one posed the question as how do you define liberal/fascist would you balk at one I present a defintion that favors liberalism?
Whoa. Conservatives only like states rights when it helps them? That's amazing. I'm so stoned right now.
Oh, wait, I guess it's true of liberals, too. Maybe it'd be easier to just write "people" when you make your statements about what "conservatives" do.
I'm more interested in this "lead by example" concept, though, because I don't quite see how it even theoretically fits into the use of government power.
I never said my definition was the correct definition, I just said it was more balanced than Thinker's explanation. Your opinion might think one is superior than another, but it doesn't make one fundamentally superior than the other.
Conservatives can be just as hipocritical as liberals. Take, for example, Scalia's opinion on Gonzales v. Raich, when he starts supporting antional rights over states' rights in medicinal marijuana. He, in that case, would be using a judicially liberal philosophy. I can make the argument that a gay marriage amendment, for example, is not following a conservative philosophy. Bush v. Gore is a good example of conservative and liberal justices voting their opinions ratehr than on political philosophy.
About your defintion of liberal/fascism. I know several cases where it would actually be more approporiate to have a fascist government than a liberal government to achieve national ends. Plus, with fascism, you're going to have a hard time making a clear distinction because there are a lot of aspects of fascism that borrow from the left and the extreme left.
I agree with you that few have a non-strategic position on federalism BAD. That's why I wrote "pretty clear that people support states rights ...". I'll get to the "lead by example" issue in a later post because it's really one part of a broader view according to Lakoff.
As for Moderate, we are you looking for "balance" when defining liberal and conservative? You haven't explained this. These are two different things and there is no reason to think they are magically going to be equally appealing or correct just because they may have comparable political power.
Not too long ago someone may have asked you to compare Capitalist-Democracy to Autocratic-Communism. Would you have searched for a definition that presented these two as equal, neither superior to the other? I suspect that you would not. I have no problem accepting that you happen to think that liberals and conservatives are generally each right about half the time (a common position which I find foolish) but why you should expect me, a liberal, to share your view is a little beyond me.
I expect you, a liberal, to realize that when giving an objective definition, you can put aside your political biases to look at liberals and conservatives along a spectrum. If you qualify your statements as "In my opinion..." who am I to say you're wrong? But when you start providing as a defintion soemthing biased, then that's when someone needs to pull you back from your perspective and provide a balanced definition.
"Not too long ago someone may have asked you to compare Capitalist-Democracy to Autocratic-Communism. Would you have searched for a definition that presented these two as equal, neither superior to the other?"
I probably could find a defintion that provided a balance. It's not like communists, fascists, religious fundamentalists regimes one day say "let's be oprpessive and evil". Their ideologies contain rationale and reason, as much as we'd not like to believe. For example, I think that all communist regimes are actually simply developmental dictatorships, the same with fascist regimes. They're not fundamentally good or bad; we would probably agree that they all do things we don't, as Americans, believe is the way things SHOULD be.
Tomasso, you're confused about my point on liberalism and conservatism defintions. It's perfectly valid to express your opinion about what you think liberals and conservatives are (same with Beetle). However, when you start preaching about what something "is" based on a biased viewpoint, it becomes less valid.
When in doubt or conflict, open a dictionary.
Below are the definitions for liberal and conservative from the Random House Webster's 2nd Unabridged Dictionary.
Moderate, do you still think I unfairly biased my definitions?
And Beetle, I don't see any conflict at all between "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to the market". Paternalistic conservatives don't favor one "Big Daddy", but defer to various father figures in their own realms.
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. (often cap.) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.
15. (often cap.) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain.
[1325–75; ME < L l#ber!lis of freedom, befitting the free, equiv. to l#ber free + -!lis -AL1]
—Syn. 1. progressive. 7. broad-minded, unprejudiced. 9. beneficent, charitable, openhanded, munificent, unstinting, lavish. See generous. 10. See ample.
—Ant. 1. reactionary. 8. intolerant. 9, 10. niggardly.
1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4. (often cap.) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5. (cap.) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
7. Math. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.
8. a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
9. a supporter of conservative political policies.
10. (cap.) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain.
11. a preservative.
[1350–1400; < LL conserv!t#vus, equiv. to L conserv!t(us) (see CONSERVATION) + -#vus -IVE; r. ME conservatif < MF < L, as above]
But my point is that my perspective is every bit as objective as yours. I have an belief that Liberalism is better. It is no different from your bias that both liberalism and conservatism are equally valid. I'm fine with you having your opinion, but when we are discussing how to define liberal and conservative you should not expect me define it in such a way as to conform to your biases. Moderate biases are just as unfounded as conservative or liberal ones.
How about objectivly defining pro-genocide ideologies and democratic ones so as to not favor one over the other. It can't be done becuase one is objectivley superior to the other. Sorry. The only thing Moderates can be sure of is that in the long wrong they will be proven wrong.
Let's take it to the extreme: If we were in Nazi Germany wouldn't the correct middle-way policy would be to simply injur the Jews. Why not? The liberals who disagree are just biased!
When in doubt, good dictionaries will fail to resolve doubt, because good dictionaries are interested in usage. A good dictionary would define words based on how the words are used, and if there's disagreement in how words are used, dictionaries will note it, but not resolve it.
What follows is a quote from a recent essay on gay marriage by George Lakoff. It is posted on his Rockridge Institute web site.
As I discuss in my book *Moral Politics*, conservative and progressive politics are organized around two very different models of married life: a strict father family and a nurturing parent family.
The strict father is moral authority and master of the household, dominating both the mother and children and imposing needed discipline. Contemporary conservative politics turns these family values into political values: hierarchical authority, individual discipline, military might. Marriage in the strict father family must be heterosexual marriage: the father is manly, strong, decisive, dominating -- a role model for sons and a model for daughters of a man to look up to.
The nurturing parent model has two equal parents, whose job is to nurture their children and teach their children to nurture others. Nurturance has two dimensions: empathy and responsibility, for oneself and others. Responsibility requires strength and competence. The strong nurturing parent is protective and caring, builds trust and connection, promotes family happiness and fulfillment, fairness, freedom, openness, cooperation, community development. These are the values of a strong progressive politics. Though the stereotype again is heterosexual, there is nothing in the nurturing family model to rule out same-sex marriage.
Beetle wrote, "When in doubt, good dictionaries will fail to resolve doubt, because good dictionaries are interested in usage. A good dictionary would define words based on how the words are used, and if there's disagreement in how words are used, dictionaries will note it, but not resolve it."
I'm not sure what your comment means Beetle. There is a debate in the linguistic community between those who advocate that dictionaries serve a prescriptive role (dictating how words are to be used) and those who advocate they be descriptive (showing how words are actually used in the real world), but your comment doesn't seem to reflect that.
There are always disagreements over how words are used, that is why we have dictionaries.
In the case of the word liberal, conservatives have been attempting to redefine it perjoratively for more than a generation. Apparently they've managed to confuse you, but check any dictionary considered authorative (Random House Websters, Merriam Websters, American Heritage, or Oxford English) and you'll find pretty much the same definition as I quoted from the Random House Websters Unabridged. There is no disagreement over the meaning of liberal in the linguistic community!
I probably should have typed "lexicographic community" rather than "linguistic community" above. I am certain there is no debate among lexicographers, a little less certain about linguists.
Lakoff fleshes out his views about conservative "strict father" politics and liberal "nurturing parent" politics in an interview published in Alternet. Some pertinent parts are:
"In the conservative world view, which starts with a model of the family I call a "Strict Father" family, there's an assumption that the world is a dangerous place, that there is competition, there will always be winners and losers, that children are born bad and have to be made good.
"What is needed to deal with all this is a strict father who supports and protects the family, who raises children to know right from wrong, who raises his children to be able to take care of themselves in the world. He does it in only one way -- by strength and punishment. Only punishment works. Only shows of strength work. That is part of the family model that's involved, and it's also part of the politics involved. When you have fear in the country, fear evokes a strict father model. It's to the conservatives' advantage to keep people afraid, to keep having orange alerts, to keep having announcements that they have secret information that there might be a bombing somewhere in the country. As long as you keep people afraid, you reinforce the strict father model."
As for liberals:
"The "Nurturant Parent" model goes like this: It assumes that there are two parents involved and in charge of the family. And it has a set of background assumptions: that the world can be a better place, that it's our job to make it a better place, that children are born good and need to be made better, and that the job of a parent is to nurture his or her children, but also to turn those children into nurturers themselves -- nurturers of others.
Now what does it mean to be a nurturer? Well, two fundamental things. First, empathy. The parent has to know what all those cries mean when a baby cries. Does he need his diaper changed? Does she need to be fed? Second, responsibility. A parent has to be responsible to a child. And you can't be responsible to someone else if you're not responsible for yourself. You have to be able to take care of yourself to be able to care for someone else. Being responsible means being strong, being competent, being educated -- taking your role very, very seriously. If you want to turn your child into a nurturer, then you want to make that child responsible to others, strong, capable, educated, competent, and so on. Then there are other values that follow from empathy and responsibility. One of them is protection. If you're responsible for a child, and you care about the child, you want to protect her or him.
Some of the things that liberals want to protect children from are things like pollution and smoking, and cars without seatbelts, and unscrupulous businessmen -- the same things they want the government to protect citizens from. But they also want to protect children from other things like terrorists and invasions and so on. In fact, protection in general -- protection of the environment, for example -- is a major part of the progressive worldview."
Below is the definition for "dictionary" from the American Heritage 4th edition. I don't see anything to indicate that the primary purpose is to explain how words are used. I would think that was the function of a style guide.
dic·tion·ar·y ( d¹k“sh…-nµr”¶) n. pl. dic·tion·ar·ies Abbr. dict. 1. A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words, with information given for each word, usually including meaning, pronunciation, and etymology. 2. A book listing the words of a language with translations into another language. 3. A book listing words or other linguistic items in a particular category or subject with specialized information about them: a medical dictionary. 4. Computer Science a. A list of words stored in machine-readable form for reference as by spelling-checking software. b. An electronic spelling checker. [Medieval Latin dicti½n³rium from Latin dicti½ dicti½n-diction; See diction ]
You do realize that there is disagreement, of a sort, in the meaning of liberal in the very dictionary definition you quoted, don't you? There are many definitions, because people use the word differently. In any case, whether there is disagreement or not in the "lexicographic community" has little bearing as to whether there is disagreement in the real community.
Quoting a dictionary definition to explain the role of a dictionary should appear circular enough for a "Thinker" to recoil from. In any case, the dictionary, according to the dictionary, is a reference book that gives tells you what the meaning of a word is. In much the same way that references such as encyclopaedias only describe things rather than define what they are, dictionaries describe meanings rather than define them. It would be a rather lame reference book if the meanings listed did not reflect the meanings that are actually associated with the words when people use them. While the linguists have there discussions about whether language is somehow separate from people, normals generally recognize words as a form of communication.
Tommaso, your definition is biased and mine isn't. If you read my definition, you may THINK mine is biased because it gives each side equal justice. In fact, I probably believe that one is better than the other personally, but I am willing to put my biases aside to write a defintion that lacks normative aspects. Being fair and balanced means putting your biases and beliefs aside to write a definition without clouding the definition with your personal beliefs.
I never said, for example, "both ideologies are equally good". That would be biased. I just gave what I felt was was the aspects of both. Your definition comes with value judgment. That's cool that you have your own set of values but don't go around assuming it's the gospel truth.
Genocide has never been an ideological aspect. The Nazis, the Khmer Rouge and the Hutus never came to power with genocide in mind. It was a means to get to an end, and often it would be an end that you and me would agree with. However, somewhere along the line, killing off people became an intermediary step into establishing the ends. Yes, I strongly disagree with their processes.
By the way who is Thinker and why is he/she such a tool?
You're displaying your ignorance.
"You do realize that there is disagreement, of a sort, in the meaning of liberal in the very dictionary definition you quoted, don't you?"
Most English words have multiple meanings. That doesn't mean lexicographers are in dispute over them, just that (as you said) people use them to mean different things in different contexts. For example, the word right can be used to mean a direction, good or proper behavior, perpendicular (as in a right angle), etc. In fact, the Random House Websters Unabridged lists 62 different meanings. That does not mean there is a dispute over the meaning of right. In any given context an individual who uses it will be using the word either correctly or not.
As individuals, we don't have the right (meaning privilege) to make up our own definitions of words. If we did, language would cease to function, human cooperation would be impossible, and society as we know it would collapse.
If you really believe that a major role of dictionaries is not to arbitrate disputes over the meaning of words, then your education has been deficient in a major way.
"dictionaries describe meanings rather than define them" If you really believe that, then you weren't paying attention in third grade, or whenever it was that a teacher first introduced a dictionary to you.
I think, Beetle, that you are showing yourself to be a sophist. And, I use the word sophist in that sentence as defined by Random House Webster's definition 2 for it, "a person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly."
Ok! Maybe then I misunderstood you, Moderate. I don't mean to say that any good definition of liberal/conservative will show one to be clearly superior to the other - it is possible to have a definition that doesn't make a normative judgment - it's just that we shouldn't assume that they are morally equivalent. I thought this is what you meant by “unbiased”. It is clear that I was wrong.
Let me put it this way: Conservatives a generally predisposed to see people as acting out of reward and punishment, therefore you punish the bad and the poor and reward the good and the well-off, liberals see people acting out of what they’ve been taught, therefore you ask the rich and the good to nurture the bad and the poor.
It would certainly be a mistake to say that people aren't motivated by punishment and reward. I'd say that people are *mostly* motivated by it. But it just so happens I live in a country where the "right" has take a position so extreme on the issue that the middle ground almost all belongs to the left. I think that people are motivated by both example and reward: that means I should support the Democrats. If I lived in Communist Russia where they believed in nurturance so much they tried to teach wheat to grow out of season by planting next to winter plants, I would be proud to call myself a conservative.
Each ideology is prone to certain types of mistakes. Liberals are prone to be overconfident in government and regulation, conservatives are prone to be overconfident in free markets (again, this is lopsided – markets really are generally better than government at any given task, but since free-market provide most things in the US, the fight is usually over those few areas where government is demonstratively better). Liberals are prone to overzealous of civil-rights, conservatives tend be weak on defending the rights of minorities (well sure – they’re weak! Why should we encourage them with special protection!) Also racist and genetic-predetermination* ideas are appealing to conservatives because it fits with their ideas that the weak deserve what they get and can’t be helped. You can see this throughout history and to the modern day with books like The Bell-Curve
(Speaking of normative statements: The Bell-Curve uses a lot of crappy data to prescribe the very same policies the eugenicists wanted, for the very same reasons, but its ok because – get this – it doesn’t make any normative statements! This exact same dynamic can be found on modern right-wing white separatist groups [like a certain web-site we used to link to]. They use white supremacist “science” to push white supremacist policies, but since they never actually make any normative statements – whites are better than blacks – we’re suddenly supposed to respect them or something.)
*Now there’s a loaded statement. Few deny that there are actually difference between the races - Whites tend to be better than Black at reflecting light off their skin and Blacks are generally better at being resistant to malaria. But the theories I’m referring to are those that believe that *behavior* is strongly influenced by race or genetics. Something science is not yet capable of proving.
Excellent, Tomasso! I'm glad we're touchign base here. However, I do disagree with the follwoing statement you made,
"Also racist and genetic-predetermination* ideas are appealing to conservatives because it fits with their ideas that the weak deserve what they get and can’t be helped. You can see this throughout history and to the modern day with books like The Bell-Curve"
There are racist conservatives (like there are racist liberals), but a vast majority of conservatives think the whole notion of genetic disposition is hogwash. Similarly, liberals mostly disagree with racist ideology, although some do ascribe to it. I think "racism" int he form of extreme hatred (KKK, Nation of Islam) derives from a feeling of being held down by some force; the Klan sees society holding them down (most Klan members are poor whites) for the benefit of Jews and blacks, and the Nation of Islam gets its membership and ideals from blacks who feel oppressed by society and government, and turn to racist views. Most of the leaders of these racist movements are, surprisingly, pretty well-off people who spread the hate through the masses who are displaced and poor.
Otehr than that, I feel we have come to a general understanding at this point.
Thinker, I was referring to your long posts that always tend to agree with Tommaso. Nothing personal.
Moderate wrote, "Thinker, I was referring to your long posts that always tend to agree with Tommaso. Nothing personal."
Why would the fact that two liberals (whatever that word means) tend to agree make me a tool of Tommaso? Are people who agree with you your tools?
Moderate wrote, "There are racist conservatives (like there are racist liberals), but a vast majority of conservatives think the whole notion of genetic disposition is hogwash."
I assume that you meant to write "genetic predisposition". But in either case, genetic disposition or predisposition to what?
Ha! OK, let's not get into another discussion about what it means to be a tool. Let's focus on one difficult to resolve definition debate at a time.
I do agree that most racism is an outgrowth of ignorance and that most conservatives are not racist and that some liberals are. I just mean that if you look at history it's clear that racism and similar ideas are more compatible with conservatives existing biases. I can't think of any minority rights battle that hasn't been spearheaded by liberals.
Tommaso wrote, "I just mean that if you look at history it's clear that racism and similar ideas are more compatible with conservatives existing biases. I can't think of any minority rights battle that hasn't been spearheaded by liberals."
To add to this, history shows that the liberal position has not always been held by Democrats.
The battle against slavery was picked up and successfully waged by the Republican party. Indeed, that was what prompted its founding. It was not until the New Deal, when Democrats picked up the fallen banner for Civil Rights, that African-Americans left the Republican party. Of course this position (and the Democrats ability to follow through on it) eventually drove the descendents of the anti-abolitionists out of the Democratic Party and into the Republican one.
Nothin personal Tommaso, but you're full of shit. I have a feeling you never read the Bell Curve because you're ascribing positions to the authors that were never made, or implied for that matter.
Also, genetic predisposition to behavioral ranges has been scientifically backed for some time. It's very well established that testosterone levels affect behavior in such was as making men more prone to be impulsive and aggressive than women. And it's now no mystery that black men have higher testosterone levels than white men. Do the math.
You ought stay out of an arena you know little about. And don't mention books you've so obviously never read.
I checked the AMA site to which you linked your moniker, and could find nothing about testosterone levels in black men being greater than that in white men. That assertion sounds like an urban legend to me. Can you cite any reputable research to support your claim?
Thinker, I have used dictionaries since grade school to learn the definitions of words that I don't know. If I read something, and a word comes up that I don't recognize, I look it up. If the dictionary I look it up in doesn't reflect the actual usages that the word has, looking it up isn't going to do me much good.
But going to your definition of liberal:
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
Are clearly rather different meanings, both of which could be applied to describe 'liberals.' Meanwhile, phrases like "maximum individual freedom possible" are so loaded as to make the definition extremely limited in its ability to settle disputes as to the meaning of the word.
As for TS:
Conservatives a generally predisposed to see people as acting out of reward and punishment, therefore you punish the bad and the poor and reward the good and the well-off, liberals see people acting out of what they’ve been taught, therefore you ask the rich and the good to nurture the bad and the poor.
If you really want to run with that definition, you're going to have to come up with something to do with the poor and good, or the rich and bad. While omitting them makes sense in your definition of liberal, it doesn't work for your definition of conservative.
Tommaso, I can think of one liberal policy that is racist: affirmative action. Basically, it's a rob Peter to pay paul game that screws asians over. ALL groups of Asians which are overrepresented.
If you look at the history of affirmative action, at some point it was hijacked by whites and blacks who felt that there were too many Asians, notably at the UC level. You still see similar racist sentiments of "no more asians" on campus (I ran as a satire campaign to show this was the case). Asians are model minorities so they should sacrifice themselves for the good of "diversity" and whatever more important benefit society sees fit.
Society is scared of Asians, whites, blacks, etc. After Sharon Han was elected, she was hit by a barrage of racist comments by blacks, whites and Latinos, insinuating that she was unfit to lead because she was Asian. Asians shoudl be followers and not leaders. This is clearly racist.
Beetle wrote, "Thinker, I have used dictionaries since grade school to learn the definitions of words that I don't know. If I read something, and a word comes up that I don't recognize, I look it up."
I'm glad to know that Beetle, but what about situations where you think you are using a word with its proper meaning, but you're wrong. You have no incentive to look it up, so you continue to misuse it?
Beetle wrote, "If the dictionary I look it up in doesn't reflect the actual usages that the word has, looking it up isn't going to do me much good."
Since it is the job of lexicographers (those who write dictionaries) to identify the meanings of words as they are used by people (as well as their pronunciations and etymologies), if individuals do not use words as defined in dictionaries, then they are misusing them.
Beetle wrote, .... "Are clearly rather different meanings, both of which could be applied to describe 'liberals.' Meanwhile, phrases like "maximum individual freedom possible" are so loaded as to make the definition extremely limited in its ability to settle disputes as to the meaning of the word."
You still don't seem to understand the value of a dictionary, or what gives a word meaning. English words rarely have one definition. The proper one to use (where there are more than one identified in a dictionary) is determined by the word's context in a sentence.
There is no one, absolute meaning for the word liberal. There are several (15 according to the lexicographers who wrote the Random House Webster's Unabridged). All are valid, but only in their proper context. However, there are as many ways to misuse the word as there are attempts to define it in ways that are not in a recognized dictionary. Republican spinmeisters have been attempting to do that with the word liberal for more than 30 years. Clearly they have had some success, and have managed to confuse you; or you would not be arguing about this.
Although my feelings on Affirmative Action are mixed (I'm not going to defend it as a good idea) I think you are mistaken in believing that the primary impulse behind it is anti-Asian or racist in nature. At its root, Affirmative Action is just the idea that race can be used to indicate traits to admissions officials that might not be discovered in other ways. This is only racist if you make the extra assumption that the traits in question are caused by race, not just correlated to it. In my experience, I have never heard any liberal make that argument. The only arguments I have heard is the diversity argument (which though stupid, is not racist) and the argument that people should be chosen for admission based on their abilities, not the amount of money their parents had to throw at SAT prep courses.
The original idea behind affirmative Action was that race would be a good indicator of whether the person faced bigotry and other extra obstacles in their life that would indicate that they worked harder to get the same score as someone else. Obviously a person who grew up in the ghetto but achieved a 3.0 through self-motivation would be a better student than a lazy 3.0 student who was pampered and received all kinds of help from rich parents.
Racism was a big factor at one time; it's not as big a factor now. In my opinion, it's mostly about class nowadays. Consequently, we should recognize the extra effort of students from poorer backgrounds (people who were so incredibly determined and smart that they were able to overcome their humble beginnings). Of course, what we should really do is adequately fund schools in inner-cities and rural communities where the poor people are.
No, I haven't read The Bell Curve but then I haven't read Mien Kampf either. And yet I still have an opinion on Hitler's eugenics ideas. What a hypocrite I am!
FAIR does a pretty good job of demolishing the book. All you need to know is that the "science" used in the book was funded by the Eugenics "Pioneer Fund" and that methodology assumes that low test scores equals low innate intelligence. It’s the same claptrap they pushed to show that the Italians weren’t intelligent when they first came to America, or the Polish, or the eastern Europeans. Guess what, when they became more affluent their test scores rose. Big whoop. Just because you take an old theory and give it a new name doesn’t mean I have to give it another benefit of the doubt.
If you really want to battle it out then challenge me to read it. We can face off here when I’m done.
Is the following definition, from the Oxford English Dictionary, more acceptable to you? If not, will you provide the meaning you intend when you use the word liberal in a political context (which I believe is our context here)?
"5. Of political opinions: Favourable to constitutional changes and legal or administrative reforms tending in the direction of freedom or democracy. Hence used as the designation of the party holding such opinions, in England or other states; opposed to Conservative."
Tommaso wrote, "If you really want to battle it out then challenge me to read it. We can face off here when I’m done."
Maybe JAMA has yet to read it too.
Thinker, that definition just reinforces what I'm pointing out to you. 'Liberal' can mean different things in the same context.
"Since it is the job of lexicographers (those who write dictionaries) to identify the meanings of words as they are used by people (as well as their pronunciations and etymologies), if individuals do not use words as defined in dictionaries, then they are misusing them."
Are you sure this doesn't seem to circular to you? If they're identifying how the words are used, and the words are used differently, shouldn't the lexicographers be identifying that as well?
If you're talking about liberals, it's worthwhile to find out what the people talking think "liberal" means, rather than what the dictionary says it's supposed to mean. Otherwise, you aren't even holding the same discussion.
"Racism was a big factor at one time; it's not as big a factor now. In my opinion, it's mostly about class nowadays. Consequently, we should recognize the extra effort of students from poorer backgrounds (people who were so incredibly determined and smart that they were able to overcome their humble beginnings). Of course, what we should really do is adequately fund schools in inner-cities and rural communities where the poor people are."
God damn, Tommaso, I strongly agree with everything you said in this paragraph. I am pushing for socio-econoic affirmative action, but only temporarily until we fix K-12 education. I think that affirmative action is a sellout because politicians see it as an easy quick fix instead of improving the lot of the inner city and the rural poor who may have already little opportunities as it is. It's easy for politicians to make it seem like they're doing their jobs by pointing to easily made quotas but it doesn't help the already class-structured society.
I guess I'm more easily prone to see affirmative action as racist because as a member of the Asian community, I'm seeing what it's doing to my community first hand. However, I know that the affirmative actiont hat Johnson/Nixon developed was good intentioned; it's just outlived its time and because our laws are "living documents" maybe we need to modify it to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Fair enough. The way I see it, the world is a lot bigger than Berkeley. Just becuase AA seems to negativley impact Asians here doesn't mean it has that big an impact in other places. And AA's base of support is a lot larger than Berkeley.
As far as the supporters go, their hearts are generally in the right place, they're just stuck in an old mode of thinking. If we are to start recognizing the extra effort put forth by poor students we are going to have to work with people who currently support AA and change their minds.
Beetle wrote, "If you're talking about liberals, it's worthwhile to find out what the people talking think "liberal" means" ...
That is precisely what lexicographers do, and what appears in the dictionaries they write. It is why there are 15 different meanings for the word in the RHWUD. After decades of study, the RHWUD lexicographers determined that when people utter or write the word liberal, they use it in one of those 15 senses.
If anyone can make up his/her own definitions whenever they don't like the commonly accepted one(s), communication breaks down.
Say you and I decide to switch the meanings of right and left (in the directional sense). If you give me directions to your house, I'll be able to follow them because I know what you mean when you give them. However if we give the same directions to Tommaso, he'll get lost (and probably mad) because he will turn right (in the dictionary sense of right because we haven't let him in on our change), when he really needed to turn left according to the definiton you and I use.
Can you see where society would get pretty messed up very quickly if we follow the reasoning in your argument? We might just see much of the same types of conflict that make periodic appearances on this very blog.
I think Lewis Carroll satirized the argument you seem to be making in Chapter 6 of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Here is the relevant part:
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory'," Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't- till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master- that's all."
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They've a temper some of them- particularly verbs: they're the proudest- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs- however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"
Through the Looking Glass, Ch. VI
Thinker, I'm a conservative but you don't see me agreeing with everything Beetle says. Unless you're a clone of Tommaso, you probably disagree on a number of things.
Differences in testosterone levels. There you go.
You said, "All you need to know is that the "science" used in the book was funded by the Eugenics "Pioneer Fund" and that methodology assumes that low test scores equals low innate intelligence." This is an ad hominem. Only someone who cannot refute evidence would rely on an ad hominem. The Pioneer Fund also was a major contributer to the Minnestoa Twin studies. Do you discredit them? Also, for your information Planned Parenthood was started by eugenicists. Do you discredit them? The Pioneer Fund is definitely not a eugenics organization right now. And Planned Parenthood probably isn't either.
As for your argument about IQ not measuring intelligence, I'm afraid most organizations would disagree. Read Arthur Jensen's "The g Factor"--the definitive text on general intelligence. The US embraces IQ tests in its military, universities all over the world embrace IQ exams in their entrance exams, and job employers embrace it in hundreds of industries. I'm sorry to say to you that, in the real world, you are in a very small defiant group who refuses to acknowledge the predictive value of IQ.
Further, your comparison to Italians is ridiculous. You are trying to connect the two, but there's no evidence put forward by you to suggest that what is said about IQ is not true. You may notice (if you ever do research on the topic) that Italy has a higher national mean IQ than the United States.
And lastly, you might as well read the Bell Curve. I have. It's not the best text on this discussion (once again I suggest Jensen's "The g Factor"), but at the least it will expose you to ideas other than George Lakoff's.
With all due respect, Tommaso, how is the theory of IQ and such any less valid than the theory of evolution? Both theories have a lot of unknown aspects and neither have been proven 100%. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with either but people who make the assertion that one or the other should not be examined are being closed-minded.
For example, on intelligent design, it's preposterous to say that we have proved divinity had a hand to play in creation. You can't prove religion. However, we must also cede that because religion is metaphysical, it is also impossible to disporve it as well. By people sayign we should rule out intelligent design completely are as wrong as the people who say we should embrace it fully. It's osmethign you can't prove or disprove.
I actually ate dinner with the Boalt Hall professor who helped create the theory of intelligent design. Of course his arguments had a lot of holes but he also brought up a lot of good poitns, and I wouldn't be closed-minded enough to rule his theories out altogether.
Thanks for the citation JAMA, I'll follow up on it. It does seem to be a bit of a leap from that abstract to your "do the math" comment. Have you any citations to reputable research linking higher testosterone levels to increased aggression in human males?
Moderate wrote, "You can't prove religion. However, we must also cede that because religion is metaphysical, it is also impossible to disporve it as well. By people sayign we should rule out intelligent design completely are as wrong as the people who say we should embrace it fully. It's osmethign you can't prove or disprove."
I don't hear evolution proponents calling for schools to halt classes in intelligent design or religion. What they are saying is that since neither is susceptible to scientific investigation (and you appear to agree), therefore neither belongs in the science classroom, and neither should be confused with science education. With that I heartily agree.
ID proponents also confuse biological evolution with theories about the origin of life. Evolutionary theory says nothing about how life originated; rather it explains how life developed after its beginning.
DTI wrote, "Thinker, I'm a conservative but you don't see me agreeing with everything Beetle says. Unless you're a clone of Tommaso, you probably disagree on a number of things."
Read my posts carefully, you'll find a number of points on which Tommaso and I disagree. If they are not all that obvious, it is probably because I don't insult him as part of the disagreement. I have a great deal of respect for him and his ideas even when I disagree. If anything, I'm probably more liberal than he is. You should look for places in his posts where he disagrees with me - you'll find them too.
Here's one- http://www.ingentaconnect.com/search/expand?pub=infobike://els/00319384/1996/00000060/00000001/art02246&unc=
JAMA wrote, "Thinker:
Here's one- http://www.ingentaconnect.com/search/expand?pub=infobike://els/00319384/1996/00000060/00000001/art02246&unc="
Thanks JAMA, but somehow I don't think that particular research makes your case. This group (according to their abstract anyway) describes looking for increased agression in castrated male hamsters treated with testosterone injections versus uncastrated controls. At best they seem to claim that treatment with testosterone injections "facilitates offensive agression" in many species (humans were not specified).
I don't see any way to make a sound logical leap from such research to your claim that black men are "more prone to be impulsive and agressive ... than white men." Have we been giving them testosterone injections? If so, is there any evidence that this accounts for increased agression? Indeed, is there any sound research that black males are more aggressive than whites (either before or after controlling for various socio-economic factors)?
I just checked the first link you sent
I looked for citations to it and couldn't find any. For work published in 1992, that doesn't appear to be a very good indicator of its validity.
I just did a Google search on the title of the first abstract you sent a link to. A number of papers that cite it come up there. (I could find none via the PubMed tools at the link you sent, hence my previous post.) However, none have to do with agression. The ones I looked at dealt with the development of various physical diseases. Again, it seems that you've made an unfounded leap when you claim that black males are "more prone to be impulsive and agressive ... than white men."
The reason I sent you both papers was to validate both points (racial differences in testosterone + behavior side-effects of testosterone). Of course the effects of increased testosterone levels has been fairly common knowledge for some time (ever hear of roid rage?).
Now, the reason you rarely see scholarly papers joining racial biodiversity with behavioral characteristics is because of the expected outrage. The typical response from many would be "that's racist", rather than "are they right?" Look at Tommaso's reaction to the Bell Curve. He assumed arguments made by the book that were in fact never suggested. Unfortunately, today we have to learn things in a roundabout way if it's not 100% politically correct.
Of course I'm familiar with "roid rage" reports. But, like the Hamster research you cited, as far as I know it results from non-naturally occurring injection or ingestion of testosterone or testosterone-like compounds. I know of no reports of "roid rage" from naturally occurring testosterone.
As for "political correctness" stopping research from being done or published, I won't say it doesn't happen (because I don't know whether it does or not), but I do know that charges of racist or sexist research have not stopped valid studies in areas such as prostate cancer, heart disease, and blood pressure.
On a purely anecdotal level, I've worked with a lot of teen males (or all races and socio-economic backgrounds) in my working life, and invariably the most violent I've known have been white and wealthy. So, if by some chance they've had lower testosterone levels than the black teens I've known, your supposition about the relationship (for which you have yet to provide any research citations) is clearly wrong.
It would be a bit too difficult to control for everything but testosterone levels in an experiment if you were to observe the natural levels. For that reason, injections are given so that you can control within groups (such as within races, or income levels, or statures, etc.). To do otherwise would be to leave too much ambiguous. Though the results of the studies that suggest a positive correlation between testosterone levels and aggression are validated by real life observance, such as with men. (Believe it or not, this is the way most things are validated.) Roid rage is generally attributed to anabolic steroid use (synthetic testosterone), just is marked by the same symptoms seen in naturally occurring aggression in different levels of the population.
Yes, political correctness prevents much research from being done. Did you hear about the new pill being marketed to people of African descent? It shows huge benefits to blacks but negligible results in whites, yet those in the political correctness camp have tried to discredit its findings and ban it's production. If you'd like to look it up, the name is BiDil.
As for your anecdotal suggestion of aggression in teen males, I highly doubt your analysis. I'm not saying you're lying, but you might have a severely unrepresentative sample group. Your results (as opposed to the ones I suggest) are highly ungeneralizable.
In my lifetime the most aggressive people I've dealt with were black males. There, I guess either one of us is lying or we both have unrepresentative samples.
I believe that many, probably most, African-Americans are actually of mixed race descent. If so (and assuming for the sake of argument only that your supposition about black males, testosterone levels and aggression is valid), does a mixed racial heritage have any effect on your argument?
Why does anyone have to be lying? People have different experiences. We should be able to discuss them civilly without resorting to insults. I have no reason to doubt your experience, or your perception. I hope that you'll give me the same courtesy.
By the way, it is quite unlikely that any given individual will have had a "representative sample" of any experience in his or her life. That is why reputable research is so important.
JAMA wrote, "Though the results of the studies that suggest a positive correlation between testosterone levels and aggression are validated by real life observance, such as with men."
Do you have citations to those studies, especially those that looked at aggression and testosterone levels by race? The abstract of the Hamster study you cited says nothing about correlation to aggression, just to diseases such as prostate cancer and heart disease.
I'm sorry the Hamster study abstract was focused on aggression, the first citation is the one I was thinking of when I wrote my previous comment. Also, when I searched with Google to see where that paper had been cited, most of the research I found cited it in reference to work being done on prostate cancer and heart disease.
So, do you have any citations to studies that might be a bit more relevant to statistical discrepancies in aggression levels of black and white human males?
Thinker, I'm going to have to wait to give you a more detailed response. I'm quite busy with studies of my own, here at work. But I'll provide you with another top study on the relationship between T-levels and aggressive behavior.Post a Comment
As I said, you'll use this as the answer to whether testosterone and agression are linked. Then, you'll use the previously cited article about racial [mean] differences in testosterone.
Once again, I'll explain to you that the reason you don't see cited journal articles making the direct link is because of the vast implications. Accurate or not, these aren't the implications politically correct people want to see for fear that others may validate them in their everyday lives.