Closed-Mindedness Leading to Extreme Beliefs: Homicidal Cult-Marx Nuttery

Society is progressing broadly in a way that I have long feared.

You know what’s next. It will just get worse when people realise that the money has run out and there isn’t anything left to spend on ‘social programmes’, welfare payments and the like.

Prepare accordingly.

Posted in Cult-Marx Inversion, Mind-sets and Logic-Bubbles, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

Sound reasoning: two recent examples

Three recent examples of sound reasoning that I would like to bring to your attention.

The first is a speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation by the former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, delivered in London this last October 9 [film and transcript], under the title ‘Daring to Doubt’. Some of the paras from the speech:

It would be wrong to underestimate the strengths of the contemporary West. By objective standards, people have never had better lives. Yet our phenomenal wealth and our scientific and technological achievements rest on values and principles that have rarely been more widely challenged.

To a greater or lesser extent, in most Western countries, we can’t keep our borders secure; we can’t keep our industries intact; and we can’t preserve a moral order once taken for granted. Eventually, something will crystalize out of this age of disruption but in the meantime we could be entering a period of national and even civilizational decline.

In Australia, we’ve had ten years of disappointing government. It’s not just the churn of prime ministers that now rivals Italy’s, the internal divisions and the policy confusion that followed a quarter century of strong government under Bob Hawke and John Howard. It’s the institutional malaise. We have the world’s most powerful upper house: a Senate where good government can almost never secure a majority. Our businesses campaign for same sex marriage but not for economic reform. Our biggest company, BHP, the world’s premier miner, lives off the coal industry that it now wants to disown. And our oldest university, Sydney, now boasts that its mission is “unlearning” …

Everywhere, there’s a breakdown of public trust between voters and their leaders for misdiagnosing problems, for making excuses about who’s to blame, and for denying the damage that’s been done.

Since the Global Financial Crisis, at least in the West, growth has been slow, wages stagnant, opportunities limited, and economic and cultural disruption unprecedented. Within countries and between them, old pecking orders are changing. Civilizational self-doubt is everywhere; we believe in everyone but ourselves; and everything is taken seriously except that which used to be.

Just a few years ago, history was supposed to have ended in the triumph of the Western liberal order. Yet far from becoming universal, Western values are less and less accepted even in the West itself. We still more or less accept that every human being is born with innate dignity; with rights, certainly, but we’re less sure about the corresponding duties.

We still accept the golden rule of human conduct: to treat others as we would have them treat us – or to use the Gospel formula to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” – but we’re running on empty …

Beware the pronouncement, “the science is settled”. It’s the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages.  Almost as bad is the claim that “99 per cent of scientists believe” as if scientific truth is determined by votes rather than facts.

There are laws of physics; there are objective facts; there are moral and ethical truths. But there is almost nothing important where no further enquiry is needed. What the “science is settled” brigade want is to close down investigation by equating questioning with superstition. It’s an aspect of the wider weakening of the Western mind which poses such dangers to the world’s future.

It’s the great disappointment of the Abbott rise and fall, that he said all the right things, but didn’t believe them, so that when, after having been the victim of what I think was the most vile, ad hominem political campaign waged against anyone since the war, he finally won office, and found himself surrounded by the cultural marxists of the bureaucracy, he failed to follow through on his promises. And when he did rely on his own instincts, he seriously blundered. As a result, his strongest supporters quickly fell away, and after two years he found himself, for the first time in twenty years, on the back benches. So, he speaks a good game, but I’m under no illusions that he would ever deliver in accordance with his promises.

Faith, I have heard enough. For your words and
Performances are no kin together.

Just on that Sydney University mission being unlearning, I had to look it up for myself, as I was only recently a tutor there. Here it is, complete with film:

Why unlearn?

We’re changing the way we teach and how our students learn.

Throughout our lives we’re taught important lessons. We learn how to talk, to walk, and even how to behave. But there’s one important lesson most of us never get – a lesson in unlearning.

Unlearning is about challenging the established, and questioning the accepted.

It’s not about ignoring what you already know, but it’s about being brave enough to question it and break down old rules so we can write new ones. It’s about looking at things in the context of today, and tomorrow.

Take the future of work.

The World Economic Forum estimates that young people today will change careers at least seven times in their lives, while almost 5 million current jobs in Australia are expected to become obsolete by 2030.

That doesn’t mean those jobs won’t be replaced. But it does mean the jobs and careers of the future will be very different from today.

And so will students.

Many of today’s undergraduates have always lived in a world with smart phones, tablets, social media and always-on connectivity, and expect collaboration and social interactivity to be at the centre of their learning experience.

That’s why we’ve been doing some unlearning of our own: changing the way we teach and the way our students learn.

Our new curriculum provides students with the skills, capabilities and agility to thrive in a changing world. There are now more opportunities to study and combine a wider range of subjects, work on real-world projects, access cross-disciplinary learning tools and programs, and exchange and intercultural opportunities.

We’re committed to both learning and unlearning so our students can build the skills, confidence and resilience to manage the challenges, and make the most of the opportunities, the future offers.

So, it seems as though they’re using ‘unlearning’ as a word to represent the concept of keeping an open mind, critically appraising ideas and beliefs, and generating insights. In general I support this approach, but myself I’d be wary of using the term ‘unlearning’. And, sadly, the film at the bottom of the page associates unlearning with adopting all of the usual cultural marxist brainwashing baby-talk tropes: civil protest, aboriginal exceptionalism, sexual freakoidness, vandalism in the interests of marxist propaganda, islamic exceptionalism, open borders, drug legalisation, and homosexual marriage [but note that the film switches to another image before we see the two blokes pashing each other].

Hopefully the kids will see through the blatant propaganda, which surely must be getting old and tired by now, and apply ‘unlearning’ to the cultural marxist bullshit that they are bombarded with these days in order to make up their own minds about what is important in their worlds.

OK, enough editorialising. Following on from the Abbott speech is this excellent letter re. Australian energy policy by one Dr Michael Crawford, reprinted on the Catallaxy Files website. An absolutely scarifying condemnation of the stupidity, short-term thinking and gutlessness that has brought the island continent to crisis, ending with the wonderful line:

If you do not understand that, you are too clueless to be worth feeding.

The third piece of writing that impressed me was this essay from the consistently superb Slate Star Codex. I won’t extract any excerpts here: just go and read the whole thing.



Posted in Critical Thinking, Cult-Marx Inversion, Epistemic Rationality, Flotsam and Jetsam, Goal Rationality, Good Thinking, Groupthink, Narrative and Taboo, Principal-Agent Problems, The Mind & Society, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

Down The Memory Hole

In putting my course together, I’ve arrived at the section devoted to non sequiturs and, in looking for examples of utterly, mind-meltingly idiotic statements, I remembered a statement by Barack Obama, in response to yet another atrocity carried out in the name of islam, along the lines of:

This has less to do with islam than it has to do with any other religion.

So I went looking for it on the web.

I can’t find it.


I know that it exists. Sam Harris has referred to it in one of his podcasts – No. 51: The Most Powerful Clown (the quotation appears around the 17:30 minute mark). Douglas Murray has referred to it, in a speech in Denmark handily made available on Youtube (for how much longer, I don’t know – anyway, relevant quotation at the 14 minute mark):

My favourite is the movement from: ‘This terrorist attack has nothing to do with islam”, to: ‘It has nothing to do with islam, and in any case islam is a religion of peace’, to Barack Obama’s best hit ever, which came last year after an American hostage was decapitated in Syria, and Barack Obama said: ‘It not only doesn’t have anything to do with islam, it has less to do with Islam than with any other religion’.

So if somebody cuts off someone’s head while shouting ‘allahu-akbar’, the Buddhists should get it?

So I know that Obama made this statement. Two scholars whom I respect have quoted the statement.

And yet it doesn’t appear anywhere on the internet.

The closest that I can find is a question that someone, going by the moniker tavhkog, in search of the same information as me, put on reddit. He received an answer, to which he replied ‘Thank you’.

That response, to which Tavhkog replied, has been deleted. 

What is going on? Are we truly living in Orwell’s 1984?


Posted in Informal fallacies in reasoning, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

Slothful Induction: an insight from Orwell

Continuing with the theme of Spain and Spanish history, this also appeared in the Financial Times recently:

George Orwell, who fought in Catalonia on the Republican side during the Spanish civil war, well understood this. “All nationalists,” he observed, “have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency.”

Because he can’t see the resemblances (involuntary blindness), or because he doesn’t want to see the resemblances (wilful blindness)?

Posted in Informal fallacies in reasoning, Slothful induction | Leave a comment

‘No true Scotsman …’ prize: No true Catalonian?

From a letter in the Financial Times, the details of which I forgot to record (will look them up soon):

Spain will never be a true democracy unless it can free itself of its shackles from the past — demilitarise its police, create an independent judiciary, and most of all truly come to love and respect the Catalans. Two stark facts symbolise this conflict. Catalonia’s Lluís Companys remains the only democratically elected president to be executed in 20th-century Europe, and yet the person who signed his death warrant, Francisco Franco, is buried in a huge marble mausoleum near Madrid.

There’s one for the pol-sci scholars: it’s not enough to have rule of law, representative democracy through elections, and freedom of speech. ‘True democracy’ requires ‘freeing oneself from the shackles of the past (whatever that means – I suspect in Spain there are 45 million definitions) and coming to love and respect just one of many ethnic minorities.

Having seen this informal fallacy occur over and over again in the last few years, I’m amazed at its tenacity. ‘True X’ is used over and over again, the fact that it is a fallacy which renders an argument valueless never seeming to occur to either user or audience. I don’t know if the reason for its persistence is anthropological or neurological. But for whatever reason, it’s as robust as the virus for cold sores.

Posted in 'No True Scotsman' Award, Informal fallacies in reasoning | Leave a comment



I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man… Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!

It appears that President Trump has created a new variation of the old Good Cop / Bad Cop routine, in which the Bad Cop, while rolling up his sleeves, tells the Good Cop to leave the interrogation room.

There’s probably a good reason why it hasn’t been tried before.

It’s like watching 2002 all over again.

Posted in Decision-making, Epistemic Rationality, Flotsam and Jetsam, Goal Rationality, Instrumental Rationality | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton’s Logic Bubble

I’ve previously introduced readers to the idea of a logic bubble. This is a concept introduced by the magnificent and prolific Edward de Bono in his book Edward de Bono’s Thinking Course. The Logic-Bubble is a way of thinking about a person’s mind-set – the set of assumptions and logical reasoning which allow them to interpret the world around them and make decisions about acting in that world (page 83):

A logic bubble is that bubble of perception within which a person is acting. The bubble includes perception of circumstance, structure, context and relationships.

The similarity of the Logic-Bubble to a person’s mind-set can be seen from this quotation from page 10 of Heuer’s book, discussing the mind-set:

Patterns of expectations tell analysts, subconsciously, what to look for, what is important, and how to interpret what is seen. These patterns form a mind-set that predisposes analysts to think in certain ways. A mind-set is akin to a screen or lens though which one perceives the world.

They are universal and so we don’t often notice them and their influence on people’s ideas, thinking and behaviour. It’s only when something goes strongly awry with a person’s thought that we tend to notice the existence of the logic bubble that made such a mistake occur, and can begin to examine what is wrong with it.

One notable and important example of a logic bubble causing its owner to think and say something ridiculous is, I think, this example from Hillary Clinton’s recently published discussion of how she lost the 2016 US presidential election:

Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism. This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.

Now there are three errors that I can immediately spot in this passage:  Continue reading

Posted in Mind-sets and Logic-Bubbles, The Mind & Society | Leave a comment

Noticing what’s not there: the quiet

Notice how quiet it has gotten since the North Korean foreign minister came out yesterday, in New York, and stated that, in the eyes of North Korea, Trump’s tweet that Little Rocket Man and his foreign minister won’t be around much longer was a declaration of war?

Suddenly, things have become gravely serious.

Maybe even the Loudmouth in Chief realises what is at stake, and that the North Koreans aren’t kidding.

Even Scott Adams, who is usually quick off the mark with a video discussing such events, hasn’t said anything.

The North Koreans have just drawn a line in the sand, that Loudmouth wasn’t expecting. I’m not expecting the Americans to back down, but I suspect that from now, they will be more sober in their communications.

Posted in Flotsam and Jetsam, Strat. Assumptions v. Tac. Indicators | Leave a comment

Slothful induction and islamic terrorism: belling the cat

Colttaine says it forcibly and well.

Posted in Cult-Marx Inversion, Democracy and freedom of mind, Narrative and Taboo, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

‘No true Scotsman …’: time for a change of name?

Perhaps we should change the name of the ‘No true Scotsman …’ fallacy to ‘No true American …‘ ?

Don’t be jealous of my ideas now, you haters!

Posted in 'No True Scotsman' Award | Leave a comment