You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Ten Things…

Posted in Miscellaneous by Stacy McMahon on December 4, 2008

Via Ann Althouse, ten things you’re not supposed to point out (“Am I not supposed to point out this list?”)

1. The will of the people is wrong.

True, but it’s still a best-available solution, as the will of one person can be much wronger (see e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Jim Jones, etc)

2. Everything isn’t “for the best”; we only look for the best and ignore the rest.

True, if you take the saying literally, which I don’t. A better interpretation is that it’s meant to remind us that while we’re not entirely in control of our fate, it’s not completely out of our hands either. Just because the last thing that happened was bad, doesn’t mean the next thing has to be.

3. Nature is evil.

Wrong, but we begin to get the thread of this list …it’s more like “ten things you probably think if you grew up in a rich society and don’t get out much”. If your window into nature is The Lion King, I can see how you’ll think ‘evil’ the first time you find out about that whole food chain thing. Nature isn’t evil, it’s amoral.

4. Patriotism is dumb.

True, but irrelevant – as Mussolini, among others, found at the outbreak of World War I. Anachronistic as it might be, people are hard wired to feel a group identity. If you don’t think you feel one, chances are your group’s ideology includes the conviction that only the unenlightened others are susceptible to an us-vs-them mentality (see e.g. “Obamania“)

5. Christianity is polytheism.

Also irrelevant, except to those who enjoy clever mocking of Christianity. Polytheistic religions haven’t been influential since the fall of the Roman Empire, and devotees of any religion are interested in advancing their exact creed, not measuring the relative drawing power of broad religious categories.

6. Sports are homoerotic.

Obnoxiously wrong. Just because you aren’t a competitive personality (I’m not) doesn’t mean that nobody else is either and therefore people who idolize athletes are secretly gay and hot for them. I admire Bode Miller‘s skiing talent, but I don’t necessarily want to throw back a beer with him, let alone sleep with him. (I’m not hot for Picabo Street either)

7. Traditional gender roles are prostitution.

See #3. Yes, humans are herd animals. Yes, that means it’s in our nature to act like other herd animals. Yes, it’s ridiculous to call it prostitution. Unless it’s your position that apes or gazelles are also prostitutes suffering under the patriarchy.

8. Parents teach their children to lie, and are then infuriated when their children lie.

Yes, hypocrisy – and especially obliviousness to same – are the main block to social progress.

9. Most knowledge is restricted to elite experts, and even they don’t know very much.

As comforting as it is to think that nobody else is any smarter or more knowledgeable than you, it’s just not true. Accepting this fact is better than ignoring it (see #8 above) Most of the people around you have knowledge to share, and you will always be surprised – sometimes shocked – at just how much.

And finally…

10. People are convinced more by how confident someone sounds when making a point than by how correct it is.

No argument there. You tend to expect people to sound unsure if they don’t know what they’re talking about, but I’ve run across several people over the years who can converse with total confidence about things of which they are utterly ignorant. The only way you’d realize it is if you happen not to be ignorant in the same subject.


2 Responses

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  1. Clint said, on December 4, 2008 at 10:52 am

    This is a very interesting post, Stacy.

    1) If the will of the people in general is forced onto every individual, it can be very wrong. See: Tyranny Of The Majority, slavery, suffrage, prohibition, religious violence. So it’s fine to say it’s wrong. Just don’t imply the people’s will onto ME. (OR Hitler’s!)

    3) Hmm. I think something can be evil and amoral at the same time. But it’s more of an effective/de facto evil. But I guess that’s just semantics because I totally your point! But teleport a baby to a random point in the universe and he will probably explode in a vacuum… Though not done with motivation in mind, it’s certainly not “good” of the universe to explode that baby… tee-hee. At best, “neutral and very killy” is kind of bad to me.

    That’s nature in the universe/all-of-reality sense. But narrow it down to the earthly sense, and you are basically in a jungle where life feeds on life, and might makes right. The tiger eats the weaker lifeform. We say “Oh, he’s not evil, he’s just acting in his nature”. But his nature is to act in a way that would be evil! Saying he’s not evil BECAUSE it’s just his nature is like saying “This isn’t murder BECAUSE the person killing me is a serial killer and it’s his nature because he’s missing the part of his brain that gives him compassion.” I still find that evil. It’s just natural. But I don’t think that makes it not evil. Try surviving in the jungle. Whoever’s bigger wins. That’s more amoral de facto evil, but these guys have brains and are doing it on purpose. So’s a serial killer. What’s the difference? Intelligence? What if the serial killer has a 60 I.Q. and brian damage? Where is the line drawn where you are stupid enough that your evil acts are just “nature”? What about monkey clans that wage 10+ yr wars on each other, complete with patrols and mass murder? And then you have viruses and parasites. They basically live via theft.

    6) All-male sports are DEFINITELY homoerotic. Especially football. But not as much as wrestling 🙂

    7) Some consider that all woman are prostitutes because they all trade something for sex. (Men too — I want to hit both genders equally here.) After all, would either of us split a mortgage with some hairyballed dude just because we happen to be great friends who share some sort of connection? I’ve had some damn close friendships with dudes, but never wanted to split a mortgage with one. Nope. They gotta be a chick to get that. Everybody trades with everybody, and marriages are no exception. I think saying it’s prostitution might be a semantic stretch, but it’s not just 100% bullshit either.
    Traditional gender roles ARE evil, though. I’ll say that much. The notion of such gender roles help cement people’s belief against non-traditional relationships.

    10) Agree strongly, and I wonder what is wrong with everyone else that they think like this. It’s like people can’t separate the data transmission protocol from the data payload. It doesn’t matter HOW I’m transmitting my protocol — an impassioned lecture, or screaming in someone’s face — the payload data of what I say should be what matters, not how I say it. It’s a real testament to the major superficiality of most human beings.

    “He who shouts first loses the argument” just smacks me as such utter bullshit, probably invented by a calm person with very neutral opinions and brain chemistry (and low testosterone) as a way to mock those who have valid subjective passions about things they actually give a shit about. But last I checked, freeing the slaves in the 1860s didn’t actually work until 100 years later when the civil rights movement started YELLING and getting LIVID about not having their rights. Sometimes you gotta get pissy. And some people will just not listen to you then. They impede progress. . .

    okay, that’s my 2 cents 🙂

  2. Stacy McMahon said, on December 4, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    All-male sports are DEFINITELY homoerotic. Especially football. But not as much as wrestlin

    Actually football is a ritualized form of pre-20th century warfare. Two sides line up and bum-rush each other, each one trying for the breakthrough that allows them to capture the other’s capital (the goal)

    Wrestling might have a better claim, being as it comes down to us from the cradle of homoeroticism – ancient Greece 😉

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