Tag Archives: New York Times

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 30

Scott Van Pelt Fired Back At ESPN Haters
No cable and reading books all the time? Sounds like heaven to me.

Sean Parker unloads on Facebook “exploiting” human weakness
It’s not called Faceborg without a good reason.

Vegetarian Men Are More Depressed – Are Steaks A Treatment?
It might not be a bad idea, but I’m sure there’s more involved.

The New York Times and the “Lost Cause” of Bolshevism
Just about every macroeconomic system is doomed to failure, because of the calculation problem and because humans are perpetually imperfect creatures, but the history of Bolshevism in all its forms is one of the worst legacies of elitist materialism. No need to “look back” on it. Let it die. Related:

How Zero Population Growth Works
One of the most useless beliefs I’ve come across. No one can stop people from having babies, ever.

A couple’s fight in the middle of an airport just went viral and we have a new hero.
The whole story sounds fishy, almost as bad as the one Julia Price made up.

Share this post:

The “Roving Hordes of Heartless Pedophiles” Fallacy

stormtrooper_facepalmBack when mises.org had the forums, someone posed an hypothetical situation (ugh) of a “uncoerced exchange” between a young boy and a group of pedophiles. The boy has no means of acquiring resources somehow, so he exchanges sex with the group of pedophiles for food and shelter, etc. The idea with this situation is that free market libertarianism cannot say this exchange is immoral because it is voluntary on both sides (for the record, I don’t think it does qualify as moral either; that an exchange between consenting parties doesn’t necessarily make it moral but the consent is necessary for it to at least be not immoral).

Making this kind of argument ends up being a roundabout way of necessitating a state, as though dilemmas like this can be decided by the presence of coercive authority structures. Stefan Molyneux mentions it here lays out the problem the 7:45 mark, pretty much until the end, in response to this article in the New York Times. Besides the misunderstanding of the basics of free-market libertarianism, the critique is clumsy and appeals to cheap emotionalism.

I can understand the need to find a “universal moral constant” that can apply in every situation, but coming to a satisfactory moral rule from such unapplicable hypotheticals won’t help in everyday life choices. The idea that there’s a roving horde of heartless pedophiles and one boy and there’s no normal community of people somewhere within walking distance that would take the boy in is ludicrous on its face. The anthropology of human society just doesn’t work like that. Just because it can be conceived on an abstract level doesn’t mean it could happen de facto.

This isn’t to mention, too, that people in these goofball ethical scenarios are always in survival mode. I’m going to doubt that a ten year old is going to really give too much of a damn about playing catcher for a bunch of dudes/women if it means he gets proper food and shelter.

What I find is that most people that argue like this really, that are fine with governments, end up providing arguments against the state—the very thing they set out to support. Seeing as the state is defined by the exclusive use of the initiation force, there can’t be anything moral about its existence or anything it does.

Share this post:

Those Words Do Not Mean What You Think They Mean

inigo_montoyaFrom a NYT article on the decline of certain word usage in literature:

I’d like to tell a story about the last half-century, based on studies done with this search engine. The first element in this story is rising individualism. A study by Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell and Brittany Gentile found that between 1960 and 2008 individualistic words and phrases increasingly overshadowed communal words and phrases.

That is to say, over those 48 years, words and phrases like “personalized,” “self,” “standout,” “unique,” “I come first” and “I can do it myself” were used more frequently. Communal words and phrases like “community,” “collective,” “tribe,” “share,” “united,” “band together” and “common good” receded.

The second element of the story is demoralization. A study by Pelin Kesebir and Selin Kesebir found that general moral terms like “virtue,” “decency” and “conscience” were used less frequently over the course of the 20th century. Words associated with moral excellence, like “honesty,” “patience” and “compassion” were used much less frequently.

Since I’m a lazy blogger I don’t feel like really delving into the study more, but I’m wondering if the researchers took some things into account. Did they bother to look at synonyms? Or if they words were negated somehow (“not collective”, “not decent”)? Or if the characters who said or thought the selfish words and phrases were portrayed negatively?

The spotlighted responses in the comments section are predictably from moral busybody-types: restless tut-tutting of the phantom “us” for falling short of some prescribed morality (probably their own). I guess wringing your hands about people you’ve never met who will never have any bearing on your life at all is a preferred way to pass the time.

Share this post: