Insanity rules, OK?

In Democracy is blocking intelligence (SMH) Elizabeth Farrelly really vented this morning.

It may be, as one correspondent wrote last week, that advertising works on the "80/80 principle", the assumption that 80 per cent of Australians have an IQ average of 80. Now I’m fine with stupidity in advertising. Indeed, I expect nothing less – isn’t that why God gave us the mute button? But what makes the 80/80 thought especially gripping – as in, by the throat – is how much it explains that branch of advertising we call politics.

This is all about scale, or if you like, dosage – a thing whose implications we perpetually refuse to grasp, although they are increasingly hard to ignore.

We’re used to the idea of economies of scale, the savings in time or money reaped by producing something – from attack helicopters to graduate dentists – en masse. We’re not as good at getting our heads around the costs of scale, how a small personal indulgence blows out, when repeated over time and space, into planetary destruction…

You can’t help wondering sometimes, can you?

I mean, could the US Republicans really be as stupid as to heed this over-publicised huckster?


Unfortunately for the USA and even more for the rest of the world the answer may yet be YES!

You’re right: I too thought it had to be a joke rather like this version: Exclusive: Donald Trump’s hair to run for president. But it’s not! It is just so sad.

Ah me, it is a punishment to be old and see so much mass idiocy in the world.

You might contemplate also the various responses in the thread which follows a perfectly ordinary scholar’s account of The Bible over at The Chronicle Review.

When it comes to the Bible, many feel there is a single right meaning—the one its divine author intended. "Well, what does the Bible say?" "The Bible is very clear about that." This is part of the iconicity of the Bible in contemporary society, the idea of it as the one and only divinely authored and guaranteed book of answers, with one answer per question. No more, no less.

For many potential Bible readers, that expectation that the Bible is univocal is paralyzing. You notice what seem to be contradictions or tensions between different voices in the text. You can’t find an obvious way to reconcile them. You figure that it must be your problem. You don’t know how to read it correctly, or you’re missing something. If the Bible is God’s perfect, infallible Word, then any misunderstanding or ambiguity must be the result of our own depravity. So you either give up or let someone holier than thou tell you "what it really says." I think that’s tragic. You’re letting someone else impoverish it for you, when in fact you have just brushed up against the rich polyvocality of biblical literature.

The Bible is anything but univocal about anything. It is a cacopho­ny of voices and perspectives, often in conflict with one another. In many ways, those dedicated to removing all potential biblical contradictions, to making the Bible entirely consistent with itself, are no different from irreligious debunkers of the Bible, Christianity, and religion in general. Many from both camps seem to believe that simply demonstrating that the Bible is full of inconsistencies and contradictions is enough to discredit any religious tradition that embraces it as Scripture…

“The Bible is anything but univocal about anything. It is a cacopho­ny of voices and perspectives, often in conflict with one another. “ Anyone who has ever read The Bible long enough and carefully enough could not but agree. I certainly do. But just go and read the thread that follows this extremely undaring scholarly article.


Australasian ScienceAnd then there’s this brilliant flash of scientific illiteracy, not to mention misrepresentation, from Gerard Henderson this week.

There is a consensus that climate change is occurring. However, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has acknowledged that it is only 90 per cent certain that global warming is caused by human activity. There has been an attempt to silence the sceptics by ridicule.

He may or may not be correct in his political analysis in that piece, but the “only 90 per cent certain” line is just so silly. That’s as close to certain as any consensus from thousands of scientists can possibly be expected to be! They’re probably only 90 per cent certain about plate tectonics too, and they certainly don’t know everything about how this works. Further, no scientist has actually ever said that global warming is caused by human activity, as in “sole cause”, though there is that 90% consensus that human activity has very significantly changed the game when it comes to greenhouse gases. Henderson’s carelessness is symptomatic of a greater conservative malaise, or should that be mental deficiency, I suspect. Gerard, meanwhile, seems happy to gamble on 10% possibilities.

And if you want to see ridicule, look no further than your average “anti global warmist” freak.  My reading is that serious argument does rather tend to be found on one side here – and that’s not generally in the denialist camp.