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Link Roundup, 3/13/2017

Link Roundup, 3/13/2017

From The New York Times: Iowa Congressman Steve King, America’s favorite drunk uncle, summarized Trumpist white nationalism in a characteristically dumb, nasty weekend Tweet.

From The Week: Scotland is formally seeking a new independence referendum in response to Brexit.

From Aeon: Quantum mechanics is beginning to undermine the long-held assumption that everything truly “real” is measurable and material.

From The New York Times: A newly released video is undermining part of the police story about Micheal Brown in Ferguson.

From Quartz: One of the creators of the internet describes the challenges ahead for the platform.


  1. Have to post this latest insanity as we await the report today on Obama wiretapping Trump Tower.

    “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to soften Trump’s accusations, saying Trump wasn’t using the term “wiretapping” literally. ”

    ReallY? And how, pray tell, do we the American people know “when” potus is being literal? Does it even matter?

  2. Re: the AEON article –

    Well – I’ve studied, formally and informally, quantum mechanics, and applied its principles in my occupation for decades. Here’s my take on all of this:

    Reality itself is fuzzy at the scale of the very small. By fuzzy, I mean stochastic to the extent that strict determinism fails in explanation of the behavior of the world. This is not a new concept. This weirdness however, yields quite surprisingly, and with amazing precision to modelling and mathematics. The problem is that there seems to be a disconnect between the behavior of the small and the large. The question is whether or not this is justification to discard materialism as an ontological metaphysic. I think the answer is a resounding “No”.

    Critics may argue such a position belies an underlying dissonance. Let me explain. Materialism has been shown to be entirely predictive at the macro scale. Predictive means that it is incredibly useful. For those unfamiliar, this is called (roughly) utilitarianism. The abandonment of this principle leads us down a mystical trail of woo-woo that has *never* been shown to be of value, anywhere, at any time. At its worst, we end up with disasters and evil that are afoot in the world even now.

    Do I believe ‘consciousness’ is an emergent property of the quantum world? I don’t know. There is insufficient data. It’s an absolutely fascinating question that, in fact, occupies a fair percentage of my free time. But *whatever the answer is*, when and if ever we find it, that knowledge will be totally irrelevant to the central questions of ethics, the difference between good and evil, or how we should form stable and prosperous societies. Those questions are to be left to materialism. To do otherwise is a prescription for disaster.

    1. The problem here is that you’re response to the critic who points out a “dissonance” is really unsatisfactory, unless your critic is (roughly) a utilitarian to begin with. In other words, the pairing of the statement that “this view allow us to make/account for accurate predictions” and “anything that doesn’t make/account for accurate predictions is disastrous, practically speaking” does not a good ontological metaphysics make. It might be true, but it is certainly not metaphysics and really barely an ontology.

      The good news is, we aren’t stuck with the binary options of an old-school materialism that underwrites the science’s predictive capability, but has no metaphysical coherence and “a mystical trail of woo-woo” that is practically disastrous but has (at least the potential for) metaphysical coherence on the other.

      Check out “The New Realism” by Ferraris. Or Graham Harman’s “Tool-being”, in which he describes an Object Oriented Ontology (though this one is a bit more woo-wooy than the first).

      I only comment here because I spend a lot of my free time thinking about problems like this too (more on the metaphysics side than the quantum mechanics side, tbh) and I have found these two author’s to be extremely helpful. They take this issue as a central motivating factor for their work.

      1. Also, please excuse the typos (I’m tired) and any condescension you might be hearing in that comment. Just wanted to offer up new sources on the idea that many outside of certain academic circles have not yet come across.

  3. King is an embarrassment, but he keeps getting reelected, so that’s what his people want. The big intellectual dishonesty I see in arguments like the one King presents is the convenient omission that for a long time Western civization actively excluded many people who were not White or male or upper class from contributing things other than manual labor.

    1. I tend to seek out opposing opinions to help me understand my own, and thus found this piece from Ben Shapiro. He claims that King isn’t racist, he’s just championing “Western Cultural Superiority”, and not just “whiteness.” I’m pretty sure that’s a distinction without a difference. Hoping to turn all culture into white Western culture is not more defensible than plain old xenophobia, is it?

      1. Re: Brown second video tape…..The police didn’t release it because they deemed it non-relevant? In a case of this exposure? Brown may not have been a sterling figure but I doubt if we will ever know the complete, true story about what happened that day.

      2. “He claims that King isn’t racist, he’s just championing “Western Cultural Superiority”, and not just “whiteness.””

        He’s not racist, he’s just championing Regional Aggression Centered In Social Theory.

  4. From the Aeon, article.

    I have know since being a teenager how little we know about science and how contradictory at times it can be. And I made my living from chemistry and it’s laws for over forty years too.

    The basic question for me is does the universe roll out of the mind, it’s creation or does the mind roll out of the universe a random thing of chance. I think, believe that mind is first. But that still leaves the question of where does mind come from. Christianity and Judaism general say that God has always existed. That mind , (God) has always existed. The leading edge of science and philosophy are converging.

    And unexplained happenings , miracles have happened throughout our history even today. I personally have seen a few. One of the things a grown up does it admits he or she knows nothing and is humbled by that bit of wisdom.

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