Chris Hedges the Prophet

Former New York Times war correspondent, Chris Hedges, has, over the past couple of years, taken on the mantle of a secular prophet—an emperor has no clothes truthteller—writing scathing (and I think powerful) books and essays documenting the messes that we find ourselves in and our ridiculous responses to them.

At TruthDig, for example, Chris Hedges compares contemporary American civilization to Easter Island’s (when its civilization went into permanent decline):

The desperate islanders developed a belief system that posited that the erected stone gods, the moai, would come to life and save them from disaster. This last retreat into magic characterizes all societies that fall into terminal decline. It is a frantic response to loss of control as well as despair and powerlessness. This desperate retreat into magic led to the Cherokee ghost dance, the doomed Taki Onqoy revolt against the Spanish invaders in Peru, and the Aztec prophecies of the 1530s. Civilizations in the last moments embrace a total severance from reality, a reality that becomes too bleak to be absorbed.

The modern belief by evangelical Christians in the rapture, which does not exist in biblical literature, is no less fantastic, one that at once allows for the denial of global warming and of evolution and the absurd idea that the righteous will all be saved—floating naked into heaven at the end of time.

Chris Hedges’ claim that populist fundamentalism is a sign of America’s accelerated decline is also Kevin Phillips’ thesis, and I buy it. But Hedges doesn’t let secularists like me off the hook either: 

The faith that science and technology, which are morally neutral and serve human ambitions, will make the world whole again is no less delusional. We offer up our magical thinking in secular as well as religious form.

And he thinks it is the global plutocratic elite (including the 150,000 or so individuals in the United States who own most of the country’s assets and fund its politics), and not populist fundamentalists, who have ultimately betrayed Enlightenment humanism:

Nothing to these elites is sacred. Human beings and the natural world are exploited until exhaustion or collapse. The elites make no pretense of defending the common good. It is, in short, the defeat of rational thought and the death of humanism.

So Hedges believes neither religion nor science nor the plutocratic elite can save us. And he thinks that, before century’s end, global warming will bring on vast and apocalyptic forms of human suffering and ecological collapse:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the measurement [of CO2] could reach 541 to 970 ppm by 2100. At that point huge parts of the planet, beset with overpopulation, droughts, soil erosion, freak storms, massive crop failures and rising sea levels, will be unfit for human existence.

And Hedges also takes after America’s Herderian right:

We in the United States, only 5 percent of the world’s population, are outraged if anyone tries to tell us we don’t have a divine right to levels of consumption that squander 25 percent of the world’s energy. President Jimmy Carter, when he suggested that such consumption was probably not beneficial, became a figure of national ridicule. The worse it gets the more we demand illusionary Ronald Reagan happy talk. Those willing to cater to fantasy and self-delusion are, because they make us politically passive, lavishly funded and promoted by corporate and oligarchic forces. And by the very end we are joyfully led over the cliff by simpletons and lunatics, many of whom appear to be lining up for the Republican presidential nomination.

Bleak as he is, just about everything that Hedges says strikes me as true (though I don’t like to think about it much). We need to start listening to Chris Hedges more. If Matt Ridley has an eye on what’s right with the world, Hedges has an eye on what’s wrong with it. Here he is in prophet (not profit) mode:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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50 Responses to Chris Hedges the Prophet

  1. TomH says:

    Hedges wrote that the rapture isn’t mentioned in the biblical literature. However, wiki’s entry about the rapture states otherwise. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture

    Hedges is a false prophet, maybe?

    Wonder what other of his claims need to be fact-checked?

    • santitafarella says:

      Tom,

      Hedges can sometimes play loose with the facts and overgeneralize. I do see that in him on occasion. But he may also simply be reading Paul’s Thessalonian passage differently from you.

      And I think that his viewpoint is important—that he has an eye on the forest that I, frequently focusing on the trees, tend to miss.

      —Santi

      • SalemSteve says:

        “We have tolerated the intolerant—from propaganda outlets such as Fox News to Christian fascists to lunatics in the Republican Party to Wall Street and corporations—and we are paying the price” (Chris Hedges, 3/14/11). “And what’s terrifying about movements like the Tea Party is that they provide a kind of emotional consistency. And, of course, that undercurrent of racism towards undocumented workers, towards Muslims, is very much a part of the language of that pernicious right wing”, (Chris Hedges, 12/20/10). “Every time I go to these (Muslim) groups, they fall all—the most radical person in the room is myself, or they fall all over themselves to talk about American democracy and how great it is and how they are so proud to be citizens. It’s heartbreaking to watch”, (Chris Hedges, 12/20/10). “The Founding Fathers deeply feared popular democracy. They rigged the system to favor the elite from the start” …(Chris Hedges, 3/14/11). So this is Chris Hedges. He attacks Christians as intolerant fascists but extols Muslims as proud but persecuted/misunderstood, loyal citizens. And of course, Tea Partiers are racists because they are concerned about the invasion of this country by illegal aliens, and the agenda of radical islam here and around the world. Can you imagine anyone being worried about that? As proof of their fidelity to America, he claims the muslims he met with extolled Americas’ system of democracy, the same system he says that the founders rigged to favor the elite. You’d think that them saying that, would actually damn them in his eyes. This man has nothing good to say about Western/American ideals and will defend the actions of any group that hates them as much as he does. In his mind, any violence against America is always warranted but if America retaliates in defence of itself, we are the evil ones. He is judge and jury of who and what is moral in this world but what does he use as a yardstick to measure morality? Answer: anything or anyone who hates and attacks America in any way, shape or form. In his mind, America and the west in general, have never done anything that can be called good in the world. And what are his reasons for hating this country? It is not perfect. America is actually composed of human beings that get up and go to work every day, try to make a living to take care of their families without hurting anyone else, and basically try to do the right thing. When natural disaster hits anywhere in the world who are the first ones to show up with help in the form of food, services, money and ask for nothing in return? Americans, that’s who. And where does a lot of the wealth come from that makes this possible? Corporations generally composed of people of good will. I wonder, where his paycheck comes from? The bottom line is, I’ve never heard anyone as cynical as this guy, who talks about hope all the time but lacks even the smallest amount of it. I can only shudder at the thought of a world with him in charge.

    • santitafarella says:

      And I notice that NT Wright, a prominent Protestant theologian, thinks that fundamentalists are misreading Paul’s Thessalonians passage—that a literal rapture is not there. So maybe Hedges is referring to readings like Wright’s, rejecting the fundamentalist one:

      http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm

      —Santi

  2. santitafarella says:

    SalemSteve,

    Your rant turning Hedges into a hater of America and Christians and an enabler of Islamic fundamentalism is inane. It is possible to make distinctions between moderate and fanatical Muslims (as it is also possible to do the same with Christians and atheists). Hedges makes these distinctions. Deal with the person himself, and not the phantom of your imagination.

    Oh, I forgot. If you deal with the person himself you would have to admit that he is, in many respects, right and you would have to then think about your own premises. Easier to demonize and dismiss, correct?

    —Santi

    • SalemSteve says:

      I dealt with the person himself by using his own words. Words that came out of his mouth. He talked about Christians and Muslims, and like his quote says, when he mentioned Christians he put fascists after the name. Oh, and lunatic Republicans, and racist Tea Party members. Did I leave anybody out? You say deal with the person himself but it looks to me like Hedges has no problem painting the people he doesn’t like or know with a pretty broad brush. So, you’re saying I shouldn’t use his quotes to characterize him? If you don’t like the ones I used, I can certainly come up with many more which would give your readers an even clearer picture of who he is. You say I turned him into a hater of America and Christians. I can’t turn him into something that he already is but, okay, I’ll bite. Why don’t you find a quote or quotes by Hedges where he extolls the virtues of Christianity, America, and western ideals. Maybe you can reference something he wrote or said and I promise to give them very real consideration. If warranted, I’ll certainly revise my opinion.

  3. TomH says:

    Chris Hedges disqualifies himself from serious discourse. If Fox News is a “propaganda outlet,” how much more CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, and, of course, the New York Times.

    “Christian fascists?” Please.

    “Lunatics in the Republican Party?” Who is Hedges referring to? Doesn’t this strike you as tarring with a broad brush?

    Wall Street? Corporations? How have they been intolerant? Didn’t they accept subprime loans? Don’t they have mandatory gay-tolerance propaganda (er, strike that) “education” classes?

    Why should we take Hedges seriously? Certainly, National Review Online considers him to be quite ignorable.

    • santitafarella says:

      Palin is a lunatic. Gingrich is an authoritarian, and may be a psychopath (given the treatment of his wives and obvious nihilism). Huckabee thinks the earth is 10,000 years old and shaped like a burrito (or something very near to this).

      And I don’t know what you mean by serious discourse if not someone like Hedges. He has extensive experience with war and the Middle East, he’s a Harvard graduate, he’s even been to seminary.

      Serious as compared to what, Rush Limbaugh?

      —Santi

      • SalemSteve says:

        From the sound of your reply, I’m beginning to think that you’re actually Hedges. Oh well, did you manage to find any quote or writing in which Hedges extols the virtues of Christianity, America, or Western ideals?

      • TomH says:

        Santi,

        Wow! What hateful things to say! And where did you get the notion that huckabee said that the earth is shaped like a burrito? I googled “huckabee earth shaped like a burrito” and didn’t get any support for your statement. Did you forget to take your meds again?

        Anyone who thinks that the earth is millions of years old is a lunatic. Huckabee’s on the right track.

        What do Hedges’ experience and credentials have to do with his making nonsensical, hateful statements? Do they somehow make them more believable and less hateful? Seems like they would just bring more opprobrium on him for failing to live up to the expectations that accompany someone who has them.

        Steve,

        I think that it’s clear that Hedges is a hater.

      • @TomH – anyone who thinks that the earth is millions of years old is a lunatic? I guess that God came down and imparted this information to you since virtually the entire scientific community disagrees with you. Could you be any more arrogant?

      • TomH says:

        Jared,

        Well, as God was there at the founding of the earth and no human was there, He’s the one to listen to, isn’t He?

        Any “community” that disagreed with Him must be composed of lunatics.

      • TomH says:

        Jared,

        Furthermore, don’t you think that it is the height of arrogance to contradict God about the creation of the earth? How is it arrogant to agree with Him?

      • @Tom – First off, you would have to prove that there is a god. then you would have to prove that the bible is actually the word of god. Neither of which is something you can do. Which makes “god” your completely unsubstantiated opinion. To think that your opinion is fact about the biggest mystery of the universe is indeed arrogant.

        Look at why you believe in God – the bible. No testable criteria, nothing provable, simply the unchallenged writings of a few guys a few 1000 years ago, and you take this as indisputable. Compare that to geological sciences, which you can test yourself in a lab, observe the results yourself, and conduct innumerable experiments which support the millions of years age of the earth – and these you doubt. What you can see and test and prove < what you desire to believe.

        This makes you not only arrogant beyond belief, but makes your mental health quite questionable. You ignore what can be proven and accept what you desire. there is a name for that, it is called schizophrenia.

      • TomH says:

        Jared,

        You are the one who made the controversial statement that I am arrogant, which was based on your controversial assumption that the “scientific community” has a better way of knowing than the Bible. You are the one who has to prove something, not me. You have made an unsubstantiated accusation.

        The Theory of Common Ancestry is merely an axiom. (http://www.arn.org/docs/nelson/pn_darwinianparadigm061593.htm) It hasn’t been proven. In fact, short of being able to observe the events of the past, it isn’t even empirically testable. You make lots of wildly hyperbolic claims.

      • @Tom – you just shifted the goal posts from age of the earth to common ancestry. I will stick with age for now.

        While we cannot observe the age of the earth, we can observe numerous other things which are what we then use to calculate the age of the earth. Tree ring formation alone gets you to a 8000 year old earth. Direct radiometric dating gets you to about 450,000 years based on calcite formations from places like Devil’s Hole. Start using correlation and cross reference data and you get to a minimum age of 500,000,000. The 4 Billion age is also done through radiometric dating and correlation of objects in our solar system.

        The fact that you attempt to use the bible as a source for anything of scientific value is absurd. History is filled with idiotic religious claims, many based on the bible, destroyed over and over again by science. Heliocentricity, Geocentricity, etc. etc. You have a better shot at answering scientific questions by reading Descartes.

      • TomH says:

        Jared,

        I wasn’t moving the goal posts. The age of the earth is inferred indirectly from Common Ancestry via the theoretical Geologic Column. Index fossils are linked by Common Ancestry. They are also included in the Geologic Column and are used to identify which part of the Geologic Column a particular geologic formation should be associated with. The theoretical Geologic Column existed long before radiometric dating or tree-ring dating. Common Ancestry therefore controls geologic dating. Common Ancestry has an age associated with the geneological map which comprises Common Ancestry. Each of the index fossils in the geneological map have an age associated with them.

        Whenever Common Ancestry has required re-dating the earth, solar system, and universe, geology and astronomy have complied. http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/40/40_3/Henry.htm Since entailment forces geology and astronomy to make the ages of the earth, solar system, and universe entail, the entailment isn’t independent. If the entailment were from the data and blind to the theory, then it would be correct to say that the dating methods are independent. However, since the entailment uses theory to link the data, the entailment isn’t independent.

        You know, strangely, physics has validated geocentricity. Geocentricity is a very useful way of looking at things when you live on the earth. Relativity has validated geocentricity as being very useful. Did you know that meteorologists (who are ostensibly scientists) use terms like “sunrise” and “sunset,” which are geocentric terms? So your assertion that science has invalidated geocentricity or heliocentricity is plainly false. Those viewpoints are quite useful for solving certain physics problems. I can remember many problems in physics that I had to solve which assumed geocentricity and heliocentricity.

        So, your assertion of problems with the Bible which relies on attacks of its usage of geocentricity also fails.

        I hope that helps.

      • @Tom – yup, it helps to know exactly how loony you are. While we all use geocentric terms in everyday life, the idea that there is any scientific backing of geocentricity is beyond absurd. You really are so far off the crazy end that it makes me worry about America. You doubt what you can test, try and see – but view ridiculous stories as indisputable. This is part of why America has so many problems now days. People who refuse to accept reality when it collides with what they desire the world to be like.

      • TomH says:

        Jared,

        You have a beef with physics, not with me. Have a nice day.

  4. SalemSteve says:

    I’m not sure where Palin, Gingrich, or Huckabee fit into this conversation. I’m still waiting for a reply to my request that Santi provide some quote or article where Hedges says something positive/favorable about America, Western ideals, and Christianity. I think it probably doesn’t exist. I’ll bet he could find plenty of references where Hedges extols the virtues of groups that hate those things. You see, in Hedges’ eyes, America or more generally, Western ideals and principles, are always the oppressor and any person or group who feels likewise are kindred spirits to him. That’s why he aligns himself with radical Islam. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hedges’ conception of the Crusades is that Christian Europe were the aggressors and the Muslim world was the oppressed innocent.

    • TomH says:

      Where is the love in Hedges’ statements? I thought that progressivism was all about compassion. And where is the civility? Why haven’t the progressives decried the hate and anger in Wisconsin shown by the unions and their angry white men? There were death threats against republican state senators! I guess that progressives only care about civility when conservatives are uncivil. There’s no principle involved on their side.

  5. Paradigm says:

    “I googled “huckabee earth shaped like a burrito” and didn’t get any support for your statement. Did you forget to take your meds again?”

    Tom: If you google something and don’t find it, only someone off his meds would claim it exists?

    “Anyone who thinks that the earth is millions of years old is a lunatic. Huckabee’s on the right track.”

    That’s 85 percent of the population here in Sweden. We have a strong economy, universal healthcare and anyone can get their kids to college – even a homeless person. Not bad for bunch of lunatics.

    • TomH says:

      Paradigm,

      Did you find it? I found that saying, but it wasn’t attributed to Huckabee.

      I find that most people are clueless when it comes to the question of how to know things. I’m sure you’ll agree that any major problem with knowing is a type of insanity. The question of the age of the earth involves the question of how to know things.

      Monomaniacs can often function normally in everyday living.

      • Paradigm says:

        No, I didn’t find it. I didn’t even say Huckabee said that. I only object the assumption that Google is the way to know things and that Santi is off his meds for not realizing that.

        There is a lot of data on the web, some of it is less than accurate, like that article on Swedish health care you mentioned.

        “Monomaniacs can often function normally in everyday living.”

        So 85 percent of all Swedes are mentally ill? Honestly. You should call Psychology Today, that’s quite a scoop ; )

      • TomH says:

        Paradigm,

        The burrito issue seemed so ridiculous that it surely would have made it to the web if Huckabee had actually said it.

        There’s actually quite a lot of fact-checking on the web.

        You’d need to back up your assertion that the article I referenced is inaccurate before I’d believe you.

        Most people are mentally ill, imo. I know how to know, so I know that in that respect at least, I’m not mentally ill.

        Many people use the way to know, but do so inconsistently, which is why they are able to function. For instance, in research, many times experimentalists use the way to know for some things, then use an incorrect approach to knowing for others.

        Most people haven’t thought about how to know things. Even philosophers are often confused about it.

    • TomH says:

      Paradigm,

      Since you brought up the issue of Swedish health care, I thought that readers might find the following link interesting. http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA555_Sweden_Health_Care.html

      As regards the Swedish economy, did Sweden ever have a housing bubble? Does Sweden have a large minority population?

      In the States, states with small minority populations never had high unemployment. Texas has a large minority population (whites are in the minority there), but since it has good govt. it hasn’t had high unemployment. It didn’t have much of a problem with a housing bubble. California has high unemployment due to a large housing bubble, a large minority population, and its govt. is liberal–i.e., incompetent. Maybe Brown will be better than Schwartzenegger, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

      • Paradigm says:

        That article says our health care is to expensive and puts a strain on the government budget. But American health care costs way more than ours, and our state finances are among the strongest in the world. The article fails to mention this.

        Yes, we had a housing bubble (in the 1990s), and yes we have a a large minority of Muslims.

      • TomH says:

        Paradigm,

        The article also states quite a bit about waiting times for treatment. That is the biggest problem with Sweden’s system.

        Comparing American health care with Sweden’s is apples to oranges. Does Sweden have America’s problem with a proliferation of malpractice lawsuits? Does Sweden proportionally pay for the R&D of pharmaceuticals? Does Sweden have hordes (4%) of poor illegal immigrants like America does? America has a problem of a lack of free market competition among insurance companies because insurance is regulated by individual states, which contributes mightily to the cost of health care. Many states force insurance companies to cover “treatments” like sex-change operations and drug rehab and this is passed on to the payers in the form of higher premiums, which contributes to higher health care costs.

        Furthermore, unions often have “cadillac” plans which require no out of pocket expense, encouraging union members and their dependents to overuse the health care system, resulting in higher costs. I don’t believe that this is a problem in Sweden.

        Why was Sweden able to recover from the housing bubble so fast? Was more capitalization required of the banks? That’s why Canada did better than the U.S.

        Are Swedish minorities adequately served by the health care system?

  6. Paradigm says:

    Tom: You’re the one who claimed our health care was so bad. Now you make excuses for the fact that American health care is much worse. Where are you going with this? The WHO has ranked health care in different countries. Sweden got 23rd place and USA came 37 – after Costa Rica and Morocco. Maybe you should just admit that the article you refer to was wrong and that you were misinformed.

    “Why was Sweden able to recover from the housing bubble so fast?”

    Because of regulations and laws preventing speculation and bad loans.

    • TomH says:

      Actually, I never made the claim that Sweden’s health care was so bad. Rather, you boasted about Sweden’s health care. I wondered if there was any contrary evidence to your boast, so I searched and found the link, which I posted. I don’t claim that it’s the final word, but you would need to show problems with it before I believe you.

      Who cares about WHO? The U.S. is a multi-tier system as regards health care. At the bottom are the people without health insurance (who may be young and rarely need health care). They get health care promptly whenever they go to the emergency room. They lack prophylactic care. The U.S. gets lots of illegals to care for who haven’t had much prophylactic care. They are often put into MEDICAID after they already have preexisting conditions upon immigrating, so WHO’s statistics are misleading. Furthermore, in the border states, the illegal immigrant population is much greater than 4%. Furthermore, in those states, the illegal immigrant population is situated close to the border with Mexico, in the south. The illegal immigrants in southern California have been so numerous that several hospitals and clinics there have been forced to close, so the illegal immigrants have even worse health care than before. Imagine if Sweden lived next door to the Balkans and illegal Balkan immigrants were streaming across the border into Sweden and overwhelming its health care system. Comparing Sweden’s health care system with the U.S. system as regards the quality of health outcomes is apples and oranges. It’s the old essentialist fallacy.

      For the vast majority of Americans, we have excellent health care–far better than in Sweden if you look at waiting times only. My immigrant wife thanks God every day that she lives in the U.S. where we get excellent health care, paid for by her employer’s private insurance. We pay $120/month in premiums plus some other out of pocket expenses. We don’t have to wait long for appointments or meds or treatment. Our experience is typical. Some union people don’t have any out of pocket expenses and many retirees don’t either if they have supplementary Medicare insurance.

      Some people only have catastrophic insurance.

      Maybe you should admit that you are not as knowledgeable as you think you are about U.S. health care and not as informed as you think.

      Oh, the U.S. had a ton of regulations and laws regarding banking, so it must be something else. Can you inform me about the way that the Swedish banking system is regulated? I’d love to learn about that.

      • Paradigm says:

        No, no, no. I never boasted about the Swedish health care. I merely pointed out that we have universal health care. Just scroll and read if your memory is that short. And I only did that because you implied that 85 percent of all Swedes were mentally ill.

        The problem with the article is that it claims that we have a problem with healt care costs. Here’s some stats that show our costs are in line with other European countries and significantly below USA:s costs: http://www.visualeconomics.com/healthcare-costs-around-the-world_2010-03-01/

        It also states that the costs puts a strain on the government budget. Here is a little about that: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/may/27/debt-deficit-oecd-countries-data#data

        You can find these facts on numerous other sites. The article you refer to is seriously flawed.

        “For the vast majority of Americans, we have excellent health care–far better than in Sweden if you look at waiting times only.”

        Is this based on any other source than that bogus article? I know the Swedish system; I live here. I’ve never had to wait more than to the next morning to see a doctor. And it’s real cheap too.

  7. Paradigm says:

    “You’d need to back up your assertion that the article I referenced is inaccurate before I’d believe you.”

    Our costs are not problematic in comparison to most countries and about 50 percent higher than USA:s – http://www.visualeconomics.com/healthcare-costs-around-the-world_2010-03-01/

    And our government finances are also quite good – http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/may/27/debt-deficit-oecd-countries-data#data

    “Most people are mentally ill, imo. I know how to know, so I know that in that respect at least, I’m not mentally ill.”

    Heard of a guy called Occam?

    • TomH says:

      Paradigm,

      What a bunch of pathetic links you provide, with absolutely no reasoning to back them up. And you ignore my important point about how you rely on the essentialist fallacy. How puerile!

      May I recommend a proctologist who can perform a cranio-rectotomy for you? You might even be able to find one in Sweden who can perform the operation, but you will likely have to wait more than 3 months.

      • Paradigm says:

        If you find any reputable source that contradicts my sources feel free to post them here. It’s not like there is a controversy regarding the fact that Swedish health care costs are average by European standards or that our state finances are in very good order compared to almost all other countries.

        And it is a bit funny that you call me puerile while telling a proctology joke. Not much introspection going on there.

      • TomH says:

        Paradigm,

        Ah, now you’re ignoring my counter-argument to your claim that Sweden’s health care is better than that of the USA and throwing out a red herring, pretending that the issue is whether Sweden’s health care costs are average by European standards. Good show!

        And you also fallaciously assert that my proctology joke was puerile after you answer my claim about Swedes being mentally ill by a reference to Occam, which is rather pin-headed. I’ve published in philosophy of science and am quite knowledgeable about the epistemology of testimony. Where’s your work in the epistemology of testimony? What study have you done in the field? Have you read Shapin or Coady or any of the other philosophers who publish about testimony?

      • TomH says:

        Paradigm,

        Is it true that in Sweden you can’t walk into a pharmacy and buy Tylenol, Nyquil, or iron supplements, even with your own money?

  8. Paradigm says:

    Correction: The costs should be 50 percent lower of course.

  9. santitafarella says:

    I’ve been super busy and so haven’t been able to jump into this thread, but my burrito comment was a joke. I regard YEC as epistemically equivelent to claiming the earth is shaped like a burrito. I should have put an emoticon after the original sentence. And the burrito reference is to a Bloom County cartoon in which a creationist in a school textbook trial melts down and says the earth is shaped like a burrito:

    http://meercat.livejournal.com/442395.html

    —Santi

    • TomH says:

      Santi,

      I hope you realize that I regard old earthism as equivalent to claiming that the earth is flat.

      Tom

      • santitafarella says:

        I’d be far more impressed by what you regard as true if your view was shared by the biology and geology faculties at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and Berkeley (or any other major university anywhere in the world that you care to name).

        —Santi

      • TomH says:

        Santi,

        I’d be far more impressed by what you regard as true if your view had some actual contemporaneous observational evidence to back it up. Seeing that it is composed merely of baseless speculation, it isn’t something to take seriously.

  10. Pingback: Chris Hedges the Prophet on Print Culture Turning to Image Culture | Prometheus Unbound

  11. santitafarella says:

    Tom,

    I’ve invited you twice to give me a better theory or story for the Grand Canyon’s formation, and the rocks and fossil layers it exposes, than the current scientific abduction accepted by the consensus of professional biologists and geologists. You’ve declined both times. They can account for the Grand Canyon in a full and plausible way. You can’t.

    It’s not enough to be a contrarian. If your YEC views are to be taken seriously, you’ve got to actually pose an alternative story that accounts for the converging lines of evidence better than all the other stories on offer.

    If YEC can’t do this, it has the epistemic warrant of Holocaust denial, UFO abductee belief, and flat earthism. That is, zip.

    —Santi

    • TomH says:

      Santi,

      There are creationists who might be willing to take you up on your offer of epistemic insanity. I am not one of them.

      “Better” is highly subjective and dependent on one’s metaphysical commitments.

      I would rather focus on developing my epistemology of testimony with the aim to improve sanity and allow people to leave the traps of epistemic insanity that have caught them.

  12. Paradigm says:

    “Ah, now you’re ignoring my counter-argument to your claim that Sweden’s health care is better than that of the USA and throwing out a red herring, pretending that the issue is whether Sweden’s health care costs are average by European standards. Good show!”

    The issue was wether 85 percent of all Swedes are mentally ill or “lunatics” as you say. I countered that “we have a strong economy, universal healthcare and anyone can get their kids to college – even a homeless person. Not bad for bunch of lunatics.” Then you countered with an article claiming our costs for health care is a problem. You brought up the issue of the costs and now you say I pretend that’s the issue. Again, just scroll and read if your memory is a problem.

    “And you also fallaciously assert that my proctology joke was puerile after you answer my claim about Swedes being mentally ill by a reference to Occam, which is rather pin-headed. I’ve published in philosophy of science and am quite knowledgeable about the epistemology of testimony. Where’s your work in the epistemology of testimony? What study have you done in the field? Have you read Shapin or Coady or any of the other philosophers who publish about testimony?”

    I would say proctology jokes are puerile by definition. My references to Occam makes perfect sense and is not discredited by the fact that you’ve been published. That’s ridiculous. Remember that article you leaned on so heavily? That is contradicted by every reputable source you can find. There mere fact that something is published doesn’t make it true. If you were knowledgeable about epistemology you would know that. Many 12-year old children know this.

    • TomH says:

      All your arguments (strong economy, universal healthcare, and universal education) which purport to show that Swedes aren’t mentally ill have been refuted by my explanation that mental illness may allow someone to function normally in most circumstances. Of course, you ignored this non-controversial fact.

      I showed the link to an article that examined Sweden’s healthcare system merely as something interesting and showed that your implicit claim that Sweden’s universal healthcare system showed Sweden’s mental acuity was controversial since the article undercut the notion that Sweden’s system was effective due especially to the long waiting times for some procedures.

      I wouldn’t say that proctology jokes are necessarily puerile. Your claim is controversial.

      The article that I “leaned on” is not contradicted by any reputable source that I have been able to find. Even though some of its data and conclusions may be controversial, much of its data and conclusions are not–especially the data and conclusions about waiting times for procedures. You seem to be falling for the baby/bathwater fallacy.

      Publishing an article in a journal generally shows that you have done some work and have managed to convince someone that your work is valuable enough to publish.

      Arguments about the knowledge of “truth” shows a puerile metaphysics. The absolute truth of any claim is exceptionally difficult to establish. It is easier to establish a claim for utility.

  13. Paradigm says:

    “All your arguments (strong economy, universal healthcare, and universal education) which purport to show that Swedes aren’t mentally ill have been refuted by my explanation that mental illness may allow someone to function normally in most circumstances. Of course, you ignored this non-controversial fact.”

    No, that’s just wrong. Your referred to us a “lunatics”. Then you claimed it was monomania. This is misleading since most people – and language is a matter of convention – interpret lunatic as something more than having an eccentric idea. Also, there is no such thing as monomania. Whenever someone has one single idea like this it comes with other mental symptoms. For that reason it is no longer listed in the DSM. And there is no psychiatric condition that afflicts 85 percent of the population in any country at any given time. So you’re wrong in so many ways.

    “I showed the link to an article that examined Sweden’s healthcare system merely as something interesting and showed that your implicit claim that Sweden’s universal healthcare system showed Sweden’s mental acuity was controversial since the article undercut the notion that Sweden’s system was effective due especially to the long waiting times for some procedures.”

    You still use that bogus article to support the idea that our waiting times are so long? In Sweden you have to wait a maximum 3 days to see a doctor, unless it’s an emergency. I have never waited more than one day, and I have never heard of anyone who had to wait longer than that. According to Business Week the situation is much worse in USA: ”

    There is no systemized collection of data on wait times in the U.S. That makes it difficult to draw comparisons with countries that have national health systems, where wait times are not only tracked but made public. However, a 2005 survey by the Commonwealth Fund of sick adults in six nations found that only 47% of U.S. patients could get a same- or next-day appointment for a medical problem, worse than every other country except Canada.”

    “I wouldn’t say that proctology jokes are necessarily puerile. Your claim is controversial.”
    Eh, ok then.

    The article that I “leaned on” is not contradicted by any reputable source that I have been able to find. Even though some of its data and conclusions may be controversial, much of its data and conclusions are not–especially the data and conclusions about waiting times for procedures. You seem to be falling for the baby/bathwater fallacy.

    See above about waiting times. There is no baby. As for the sources I don’t know what I can do. An obscure and clearly flawed article is you only source that trumps WHO. I guess you have your sources, I have mine and anyone reading this can make their own mind up regarding what makes the most sense.

    “Publishing an article in a journal generally shows that you have done some work and have managed to convince someone that your work is valuable enough to publish.”

    Yes, but it doesn’t infer quality or truth.

    Arguments about the knowledge of “truth” shows a puerile metaphysics. The absolute truth of any claim is exceptionally difficult to establish. It is easier to establish a claim for utility.

    Find me puerile if you like. And keep those proctology jokes coming ; )

  14. TomH says:

    Ah, I see the reason for the confusion. I referred to anyone who believes in an old earth as a lunatic. I didn’t specifically refer to Swedes as lunatics, though 85% of them would fall in that category. Of course, their being lunatics wrt a dodgy epistemology which only manifests in their believing harmless fantasies wouldn’t prevent them from functioning normally in many respects.

    I’m not necessarily wrong–merely controversial. You are soooo hyperbolic. I don’t hold much respect for the psychiatric profession compared with other specialties, nor do most doctors. Psychologists are held in even lower esteem.

    Waiting times to see a doctor aren’t the same as waiting times to get a procedure performed. Furthermore, there may be factors which cause significant differences in wait times for some parts of the population, such as the patient’s age. Your reliance on merely your own experience reminds me of the anecdotal fallacy.

    Your dismissal of the article’s waiting times ignores its reliance on an article referenced from The National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden (2003). Are you arguing that the article is obsolete? Do you have a reference to more recent data on wait times? And if wait times have declined, is it because more patients are using private insurance? Are govt. doctors performing more procedures on patients? Have more doctors been licensed? You would need a whole lot of detail to avoid comparing apples and oranges.

    Frankly, you seem to be someone who has already made up their mind and isn’t terribly concerned about facts or reasoned arguments. You never offer any new arguments with any kind of rigor or thoughtful questions. You have never referenced any articles with thoughtful analysis. Seems blinkered. You might think a bit about this.

    Have a nice day.

  15. Jesus Christ says:

    blah blah blah – these idiots are hired Koch Puppets

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