Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘war on truth’ Category

I’m one of those people whose life has spanned the transition from the paper era to the digital era. When I went to college, researching any topic required going to the library and using the card catalog and microfiche indexes to locate material. If I wanted government statistics, they were on paper in what was basically 1/4th of the bottom floor of our college library and I had to use a big paper index to find them. Making a copy for later was 5 cents per page. So basically, there was an excuse back then for someone to say something stupid — the information just wasn’t easily available.

But today? If you want to look up tort costs in healthcare, you can look up the total amount spent on medical liability insurance (approximately 0.3% of total healthcare spending), then look up tort limits and healthcare costs by state, and easily see that a) the amount spent defending and paying out on lawsuits is trivial, and b) defensive medicine isn’t really a “thing”, states with strict tort limits don’t have lower healthcare costs on average than those without. Then you can go look for the real causes of high healthcare costs, which isn’t lawsuits. Despite access to every bit of information needed to prove or disprove the assertion “tort costs causes high healthcare costs”, virtually nobody does the few mouse strokes needed to do so.

Instead, we seem to have weaponized ignorance. Ignorant memes that can easily be disproved by a few mouse strokes use social media to sweep the nation within hours of their release by Russian troll factories. Despite the fact that so much information is available, most of the American public seems disinterested in looking it up. And that surprises some people.

But not me. Because I’ve studied American history (hell, I’ve lived half a century of it). Ignorance has always been the preferred state of the average American. Few regardless of the era have cared about education. There’s a *reason* why the atom bomb was built mostly by European immigrants. Even today, close to half of our STEM workforce is foreign-born or the children of immigrants. All that technology has managed to do is allow the ignorant to confirm with each other that their ignorance is truth and anything that doesn’t agree with their ignorant opinions is fake. Science textbooks? Fake. Government statistics? Fake. Scientists? Elitist fakes. By allowing them to confirm with each other that anybody who actually knows anything is a fake, their ignorance is not only confirmed, but weaponized.

The fact that immigrants have contributed much of the intellectual advancement of America in the past century is also why the ignorant are so anti-immigrant. The last thing they want is for people smarter and harder working than they are to render them obsolete. Even if they are.

– Badtux the Ignorance-spottin’ Penguin

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Trump lied about a border agent’s death. So Trump invented an imaginary attack upon border patrol agents. It turns out that it was a simple auto accident — the driver ran off the road and slammed into a culvert, maybe after being sideswiped by a big rig.

But Trump used his trumped-up lie to tar a whole group of people as being evil criminals and as an excuse to instate brutal policies that tear families apart. And the MAGAts don’t seem to care that it’s all based on a lie. Because for a large subset of Americans, any chance to demonize brown people is fine, whether it’s true or a lie makes no difference to them.

If you wonder why I despise Trump, it’s not because he’s a Republican. It’s because he’s a liar, and I despise liars. They’re the 10 Commandments, not the 10 Suggestions, and one of those Commandments is “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. Add in the blatant bigotry, and, well.

— Badtux the Annoyed Penguin

Read Full Post »

“You’re just not willing to accept the truth!” shouted the rightie.

So we were talking about solutions to the housing crisis that afflicts many big cities, and the possibility of the government itself stepping in to build the affordable housing that the private market apparently is unwilling to build. And he whipped out this gem:

“The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.” – F.A. Hayek

Nice quote, dude. Doesn’t deal with the reality that is the free-market utopia of Singapore, though. Over 80% of the population of Singapore lives in government-built housing. And Singapore is hardly a place where it’s difficult for the individual to plan, or difficult to live at all. It’s a very livable city-state given the density imposed by its geography (it only has a certain number of square miles and a lot of people to put onto them).

What this brings to mind is the fundamental difference between those of us in the reality-based community and those who are not: Our differing attitudes towards truth. For me, truth is something that is approached by careful examination of reality, making sure that my observations can be replicated by others and that there are no contrary examples to the hypothesis I arrive at about what is true. And even there, I am quite willing to rearrange what I think is true if new information comes in. For example, I once thought that lawsuit costs accounted for much of the high cost of medicine in the United States. Then multiple pieces of data came to my attention: 1) States with strict tort limits that make it very difficult to sue don’t overall have cheaper health care costs than states without those tort limits (for example, California’s tort limits are so strict that finding a lawyer willing to sue on contingency is basically impossible, making healthcare lawsuits basically impossible for anybody who isn’t rich here in California, yet California’s healthcare costs are amongst the highest in the nation), and 2) overall medical malpractice insurance premium costs account for 0.2% of healthcare costs nationwide. I.e., we spend more on tongue depressors than on medical lawsuits. So, given those facts, I changed my view of what was true and decided medical malpractice lawsuits were *not* a major cause of higher health care costs. Because careful observation of reality led me to understand that the truth was not what I thought it was.

Now back to the dude spouting Hayek: You’ll see a lot of that from the un-reality based community. Because they have a completely different conception of the word “truth”. For them, truth is something handed down from authority figures like Hayek. Or by a pastor. Or by God. Or by Ronald Reagan. Whatever. They’re always spouting quotes from those people as if it means something. The thing is, it doesn’t, not really. Ideological hacks have said things for centuries that weren’t actually true when you carefully examined reality to ascertain whether a statement agreed with reality or not. Things aren’t true because someone says they’re true. They’re true because when you make actual observations of reality, your observations agree with the statement, and your observations can be replicated by other people.

But that sort of truth — a truth that is conditional, that depends on the best available observations of reality — seems wishy-washy and somehow “wrong” to these believers in truths handed down by authority figures. So they quote Hayek instead, and shout “you’re just not willing to accept the truth!” if you reject their Argument By Authority Figure argument.

Which is why we have an epistemological problem here in the United States, where a significant portion of the population believes things as “truth” that, if you make systematic observations of reality, just aren’t true. Which is no way to run a country. Just ask the Soviet Union, where the Communist Party to its dying days defended Communism as “truth” even when it was clear to everybody observing the facts of the Soviet economy and Soviet society that Communism just wasn’t working.

As the Soviet Union went, so goes the United States.

– Badtux the Epistemology Penguin

Read Full Post »

Another one on Faux News. John Garofalo, 72, did some pro-Trump artwork and claimed to have served seven years as a Navy SEAL during Vietnam with numerous commendations and medals. Turns out, however, that he was lying. He was an aircraft handler — one of those guys wig-waggling the pilot to direct him where to park his plane, and moving planes around on the ground so they could be maintained. He never served in Vietnam. He never was awarded any medals. It was all a lie — a lie so that he could seem like a tough guy down at the VFW, I guess.

What I don’t get is this: What’s the point? When my dad got out of the Navy, he was happy to tell people that the only reason he joined the Navy was to avoid being sent up Hamburger Hill in Korea with a rifle in his hand, and he spent the entire war bobbing safely in the middle of the Pacific in a submarine tender, cooking spuds to serve to squids. He was happy to talk about his adventures — snorkeling in the crystal clear waters around Midway and the gooney birds there that made the whole place a giant shithole as well as made aircraft operations hazardous, a knife fight in San Diego, adventures in Tijuana — but combat? He wanted no part of that, and never claimed to want part of that. Not because he wasn’t an asshole — he was an asshole of major proportions, abusive and negligent in equal measures and ridiculously racist. But he just never had the need to blow himself up that way into something bigger than what he was. He may have been small-minded, but he wasn’t that kind of small-minded.

Not like Garofalo. Or like another person that I know of who has done much the same thing, claiming that injuries he got from an auto accident actually happened in combat, claiming that he was a SEAL when he was actually a cook at a Navy base, that kind of thing. Just baffling.

– Badtux the “WTF is with these people?” Penguin

Read Full Post »

“The roads are all open!”

Not according to the latest FEMA map as of September 28. PR-52 is open between San Juan (the port) and Salinas (on the opposite coast) as well as PR-53 towards Guayama. Roads to the east or west are largely closed due to flooding, mud slides, washed out bridges, or the road simply sliding off the side of the mountain. Most roads that can be cleared by hand labor have been cleared by the locals without any FEMA help, but hand labor isn’t going to make much of a dent in a mud slide that has buried a road under hundreds of feet of mud, and can’t rebuild a bridge.

So who should I believe — FEMA, which is actually on the ground, or some random right-wing blogger in his mommy’s basement?

“There is a hospital ship offshore, I can see it in the video!”

Perhaps they’re seeing one of the cruise ships that have volunteered to help. That’s not a hospital ship, though, unless it is some other navy’s hospital ship, because the USNS Comfort left Norfolk, VA two days ago and will arrive off of Puerto Rico tomorrow night at the earliest, but more likely on Tuesday. San Clemente class oil tankers are driven by steam turbines and have a top speed of 16.5 knots, that’s 19mph, and it is 1400 miles from Norfolk to Puerto Rico. That’s 73 hours if they were cruising at top speed, or 3 days. Thus why they’re not going to arrive in Puerto Rico until tomorrow at the earliest, and why anybody who claims there’s already a U.S. hospital ship offshore off of Puerto Rico is full of shit.

– Badtux the Fact-based Penguin

Read Full Post »

58% of Trump voters say higher education is bad for the country.

Fifty. Eight. Percent.

And this surprises me not at all. The worship of ignorance is rampant in the United States. Experts who’ve spent their lives studying and researching a subject have their expertise dismissed with a few pithy talking points by a bleach blonde Fox news bimbo, and millions believe her. Millions willingly embrace bizarre conspiracy theories like NASA is running a child slave colony on Mars or shape-shifting reptilian people control our world. Even the notion that the world is flat has taken on new life in the modern United States.

It’s no wonder, then, that so many of these pro-ignorance people willingly embrace fake news. They are so ignorant that they lack the fundamental knowledge to tell the difference between fake news and real news. And furthermore, they’re proud of their ignorance. None of that sissy intellectual stuff for them, nosirree! And science might contradict the Bible, so it’s clearly out too!

It’s not some foreign enemy that’s going to destroy the United States. It is the cult of ignorance that dominates the nation, where everybody thinks they’re an expert after a couple of Google queries turn up a few web sites. There’s no way that a population so ignorant, so hateful of education, can maintain or sustain an advanced economy. No way. In the end, the United States is going to collapse from within, hollowed out like a rotten apple by the ignorance of the people charged with keeping it intact.

– Badtux the Educated Penguin

Read Full Post »

Jared Kushner admitted in a statement not under oath that he met with Russians, but stated, “I did not collude.”

I suppose that, as with sex, it depends on your definition of the word.

Bill Clinton of course was impeached for saying “I did not have sex with that woman.” Ivanka’s little Kush-Kush doesn’t have to worry about that. All he has to worry about is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act for lying on his security clearance form, but Daddy-in-law will make sure that doesn’t happen. Unless he annoys Ivanka. In which case Ivanka might tell her daddy, “Daddy, I don’t like my Kush-Kush anymore, put him in jail!” and well.

So did he have sex with that Russian err sorry, collude with that Russian? Well. My guess is he’s telling the truth the exact same as Bill Clinton did — i.e., not much. And that it will mean about the same long-term.

– Badtux the Sex Penguin

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »