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    Blasted with both barrels

    Apparently, the du Toits looked across their dining room table at each other this past week and said: “You know, darling, people are really stupid sometimes. More Yorkshire pudding?” “They certainly are. Wish they’d knock it off. And no thanks, I’m full.” Their posts come at it from different angles, but they’re essentially on the same topic: critical thinking.

    By that I mean the good kind: questioning and investigating not only the information presented to you but also your own assumptions. It’s necessary to specify that, because what’s often referred to as “critical thinking” nowadays seems to consist of little more than the ability to write a five-paragraph essay that’s consistent within its own hermetically-sealed logical framework. (I’m hardly the first person to say this, but that’s my main gripe with many libertarians: their arguments have the internal purity of rock crystal but are useless for a country of 300 million strong-minded people who all have to live with each other.) Anyway, good reads both.

    6 Responses to “Blasted with both barrels”

    1. 1bodyand2faces says:

      I’m not sure why I even bothered to follow the first link — it is my BELIEF that Mrs. D has never strung together an entire post’s worth of coherent sentences in her life — but I was mildly curious as to what the punchline would be. Sure enough:

      > “Many studies….”

      This paragraph is already starting to sound like, what was the term? Right, a meta-study.

      > “have concluded that children who grow up in a home without a man and a woman have dramatically increased risk of sexual assault, rape, depression, suicide, criminality….”

      My, those must be some sophisticated studies. Criminality, you say? Certainly no possible definitional problems there. And thank you, Mrs. D, for investigating all of these “many” studies and finding them to be free of the agendas and methodological flaws that plagued all of those bogus climate-change studies. Oh and also, thanks for all of the specific citations and details, so that we might draw our own conclusions, reasonable and educated people that we are.

      > “,etc…..”

      EXTREMELY sophisticated studies! How on earth did they manage to demonstrate an increased risk of “etc.”? They must be much smarter than I; I will accept these conclusions unquestioningly!

      > “Until there is evidence that some group, by nature of sexual preference or otherwise, doesn’t cause the same increases in risk to children, there is nothing to support an alternate view….”

      What a fascinating way of framing the null hypothesis. But if “many” studies discovered all of this stuff, what about the other studies? Am I not allowed to cite those as “evidence”? Or are those the flawed ones?

      And if what she says is indeed true, then why don’t we just make it illegal for single people to raise children? What, is that not reasonable? Isn’t it that important to prevent THE CHILDREN from suffering rape, suicide, criminality, and etc.? As the saying goes, what does that tell you about her seriousness in addressing the problem?

      I would humbly suggest an additional rule of argument: If you are arguing that your style of argument is vastly superior to that of the poorly-educated masses, in all likelihood the reverse is the case. Oops, sorry, I meant I BELIEVE in all likelihood the reverse is the case.

      Sorry to be so argumentative on your blog, Sean — if she allowed comments, I’d post this over there. But to bring this on-topic to your blog, I do not understand why you, as one of the most reasonable voices out there, cite, so approvingly, and so frequently, someone that I BELIEVE is such an outlandish partisan hack.

      (And no arguing with my last sentence there! The rules of argument disallow it!)

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      First of all, thanks for taking issue with Connie’s content, staying on-topic, and having a sense of humor about it. Normally, I don’t offer people gold stars for simple civility–that’s the least that should be expected of adults–but when Connie mentions gay issues, it usually takes approximately 0 nanoseconds before someone decides a good “counterargument” is to call her a homophobe and make a disgusting pun on her surname.

      I don’t want to put words in Connie’s mouth, but I think I’m safe in saying that she was addressing the way she hears people defend their policy positions and not the positions themselves. Which is to say, when people contend that there couldn’t be any potential issues with gay adoption because the cutie-pie gay couple down the street would make great parents, their logic is flawed. If they want to demonstrate fitness for parenting, they have to come up with research that is as well-constructed as the existing studies that show a two-parent household is optimal. I don’t really see the problem there.

      If you’re going to go beyond that basic point and actually get into formulating a policy position, then you have to get into the issues you’ve raised. Even well-constructed studies require interpretation, after all. Also, IIRC, the real dividing line in the studies that have been done is between households with both biological parents and households that lack at least one.

    3. Connie says:

      Wow. I’ve been back to blogging for 3 days and a personal attack! That’s gotta be a record.

    4. Eric Scheie says:

      Welcome back Mrs. D!

      (I too have never strung together an entire post’s worth of coherent sentences in my life.)

      Sean, if I may change the subject a little, my main gripe with many libertarians is similar to yours. (“Their arguments have the internal purity of rock crystal but are useless for a country of 300 million strong-minded people who all have to live with each other.”) I’ll never forget a meeting of libertarians in Berkeley which turned into hours of arguments over whether handguns should be allowed to be sold in vending machines to elementary school children. (Yeah, sure, there’s a “principle” involved, but it’s about as practical as debating how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.)

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, if the pin was produced by a state-controlled corporation subject to arbitrary standards set by a know-nothing centralized bureaucracy, the metallurgy and casting that went into it were probably so shoddy it would buckle under a single angel, if in fact the distribution system functioned well enough to convey it to the angels in the first place. Expose the pin factory to free competition and customer feedback, though….

      It’s funny you should mention that, because when I was at the du Toits’ in December, we had a good long bitch session about that very thing: “Libertarian conversations I have politely restrained myself from laughing out loud at.” Extreme hypothetical situations can be great subjects for debate at leisure; they train the mind and can be illuminating. But the urgency people sometimes bring to them–as if it were immoral to set a real-life policy without first making sure that the outcome would be exactly the same in every last ridiculously implausible situation–I mean, hello? The world that exists has to keep running, guys.

    6. Gay Orbit says:


      A post at Dean

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