Saturday, January 13, 2018

Carts And Horses

     If one isn’t careful about inferring causation, one can get into quite a lot of absurdity, and sometimes some serious trouble.

     One old demonstration goes like this. There are two clocks, A and B, side by side. They both keep perfect time. When A points to the hour, a little hatch opens on B, and out comes a wooden cuckoo which chirps out the hour. Did A cause the cuckoo to emerge?

     That’s so absurd that anyone can see the absurdity of it, which is what makes it a valuable teaching tool. Yet seemingly less obvious absurdities are rampant in men’s “reasoning.”

     Here’s one from a site I’ve recently enjoyed. The author seems to want to blame the First World’s low reproduction rate on...wait for it...ever more available substitutes for actual sex. Here’s his summation:

     You can't find connection with real women? Ha! Try "you want to get off, but don't want to make any effort." Or, better yet, our sex industry has outstripped (haha) the human male's ability to cope. Porn and sex dolls are the pheromone sources, emitting at volumes much higher than a normal woman.

     That’s superficially plausible. Indeed, it would be appealing to anyone with an anti-porn, anti-sex-substitutes agenda. However, it’s not in agreement with the trend in birth rates in First World countries, which have declined steadily since the Industrial Revolution. The decline has sharpened these past four decades, but that correlates just as well with other developments as it does with the availability of sex substitutes:

  • Feminism;
  • The abortion culture;
  • Women in wage employment;
  • The general weakening of religious convictions;
  • The disappearance of social stigmas on infidelity and divorce;
  • Legal trends, particularly as regards divorce and post-divorce arrangements.

     Correlation is not causation. Remember those clocks.


     Just in case you’ve been in a deep coma until just this instant, the national press, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party, is agog over the allegation that President Trump, in a discussion of immigration policy, referred to “shithole countries,” specifically as lands whose migrants America does not desire and should not admit. The press frenzy is curiously ill-focused; it wavers between deploring the vulgarity and deprecating the president’s “insult” to certain countries.

     Huh? Previous public officials have been equally vulgar, sometimes more so. Remember Vice President Joe Biden, upon the passage of the ObamaCare bill, saying that it was “a big fucking deal” -- ? Remember Vice President Dick Cheney telling Senator Pat Leahy to “go fuck yourself” -- ? Remember President George W. Bush being caught saying that Hezbollah should “stop this shit,” meaning its terrorism? Remember, after Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement to our Congress, President Barack Hussein Obama saying to his aides “What the fuck was that?” Surely mine isn’t the only eidetic memory in the audience!

     Clearly, the press’s high dudgeon isn’t about the coarsening of our national discourse. Maybe it’s about the “insult” to Haiti, Somalia, et cetera.

     But wait just a moleskin-gloved minute there, Colonel. The population flux of those countries is nearly entirely outward. Does anyone not certifiably insane ever immigrate to Haiti or Somalia? If not, why not? No broadband Internet?

     For President Trump to call Haiti and Somalia “shithole countries” doesn’t make them such. It merely recognizes the realities. But that’s of no moment to those determined to delegitimize him.


     This piece isn’t really about causation; it’s about persons with an agenda who seek a justification for becoming exercised about it.

     He who actively desires to become outraged can always find a pretext. Note that word: pretext. Whatever he cites isn’t the true cause of his outrage; it’s merely the facile excuse he’s given for it. Quoth Roger Kimball:

     Outrage...is a dour beast. It glowers. It fulminates. It glories in moral indignation, which it eagerly manufactures whenever it is in short supply....

     Sometimes, the experience of outrage, and its accompanying moral indignation, is essentially a feeling of displeasure—at a wrong done or suffered, an injustice or cruelty observed, etc.

     But sometimes, outrage is but a patina of indignation whose chief motive is incontinent delight. Which is it for the talking heads at CNN? Are they genuinely morally offended by the president’s comments? Or are they really absolutely delighted by the opportunity he has given them to say “shithole” over and over again while also running endless chyrons reminding viewers that the president referred to (if he did refer to) Haiti, El Salvador, etc., as “shithole countries” from which we should not seek immigrants?

     President Trump’s alleged use of the word shithole is not the reason for the outrage of Main Stream Media commentators; it’s merely their latest pretext. For President Trump to refer to shithole countries as “shithole countries” is no more the reason for those commentators’ current pretended indignation than is it the reason Haiti, Somalia, most of Asia and South America, and all of Africa are cesspools of squalor and human detritus.

     To make any degree of sense out of developments in American political discourse requires that we keep the sequence of events clearly in mind. The Main Stream Media, with very few exceptions, have been on the anti-Trump bandwagon since November 9, 2016. They’ll continue to seize on any and every imaginable pretext for dismissing him, deploring him, or condemning him. As Martin Peretz once remarked about President George W. Bush (whom I’ve recently taken to styling Bush the Younger, in Roman Empire fashion), were he to discover a cure for cancer, the press would accuse him of cruelly disenfranchising the American Cancer Society.

     I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

3 comments:

John C. said...

As usual you called it, Francis. I have yet to hear any leftist on TV or even at some of the web sites I visit say that Trump was correct, they are shitholes. They don't offer trips to Haiti on "The Price Is Right" for a reason.

steveaz said...

Another fact that will help Americans understand the inane media taunts of late is: outlets like CNN are not catering to Americans. Their content is designed to appeal to foreign constuencies.

The fact that some Americans will consume their product is ancillary to their business model.

These media are not American.

James said...

I believe the press/left thinks they have to do it, they have nothing else. It's like the baited animal in the cage, strike the bars and it WILL attack mindlessly. Trump knows this and takes advantage of this. It's like clockwork he says something (bangs on the cage) and they hit the bars mouths frothing........... every time.