Additions to a revised Determinists Strike Back Part 4

As I did for Determinists Strike Back Part 3, Part 4 has also been revised with many new additions. For anyone who has already read Part 4, I am including some of the new additions in this post:

Determinists Strike Back, Part 4

Scientific Studies Showing the Negative Effects of Believing in Determinism

One interesting new discovery comes from Iain McGilchrist in The Matter With Things[1] which points to studies concerning the negative effects of believing in determinism. McGilchrist points out that they involve an increase in antisocial attitudes and behaviors, increases in deceitfulness, aggressive behavior, selfishness, lower achievement levels and increased susceptibility to addiction.[2] In other words, determinism predictably gives rise to antisocial fatalistic nihilism, contrary to RP’s assertions. Lower achievement levels seem obvious, since why make an effort if the outcome is predetermined? A belief in determinism is inherently disempowering and counterproductive, as any fatalistic attitude will be.

A.I. Is On The Wrong Path. You Can’t Get There From Here.

Gad Saad interviewed cognitive scientist Gary Marcus who argues that what is described as A.I. mostly involves “look up tables.” Continue reading

The Village Blacksmith’s Sorry Seed

The public schools taught my children no poetry apart from a few stanzas of Emma Lazarus and Mia Angleo, along with a lewd limerick about the menstrual cycle or the water cycle, or maybe it was recycling . . . In any case, the ever-increasing poetic nescience of Americans makes poetic parody hard.  I’m not blaming you.  It’s not your fault if no one suggested you read Longfellow’s “Village Blacksmith” and instead gave you a copy of To Shill a Mockingbird. The Orthosphere exists to rectify this and other aspects of our universal miseducation.

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O Generation of Vipers, How Can ye, Being Evil, Speak Good Things?

“In our democracy, many good qualities are certain to be found; but it would be vain to seek there for that old virtue styled sincerity.  It is doubtless comprised of many excellent ingredients; but also of envy, deception, ambition and slander, which serve our so-called democratic politicians or demagogues as a rich treat . . . .  Where this state of things restricted to politics alone, it might pass, but . . . democracy with its cunning deceit penetrates our entire existence and becomes a poison . . .”

Charles Sealsfeld, Life in the New World, or, Sketches of American Society (1844)

Every American lives in a state of radical insecurity.  I mean that his job, his social standing, his reputation, his companions, and nowadays even his marriage and family, may vanish at very little more than a moment’s notice.  And thus every American is enslaved to the good opinion of other Americans who are themselves radically insecure, and who are therefore the very opposite of averse to expediently stabbing him in the back.

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That Hideous Strength, Again


“It is the main question at the moment: which side one’s on—obscurantism or order . . . .  If Science  is really given a free hand it can now take the human race and recondition it; make man a really efficient animal . . . . Man has got to take charge of man.  That means, remember, that some men have got to take charge of the rest . . . . You and I want to be the people who do the taking charge, not the ones who are taken charge of.”

C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (1945)

I just stumbled upon this image and thought at once to post it here for all the fans of C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, a novel I have more than once praised as prescient.  Nothing in the novel is more prescient that Lewis’s National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments, since the era of Big Science was just around the corner when he published the book in 1945.  The Nation Science Foundation was founded five years after Lewis published That Hideous Strength, and it has done to American higher education what the N.I.C.E. did to Bracton College.

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What it Means to be Ratchety and Why

My daughter looked in on her high school homecoming dance this weekend, but left early because, as she told me the next morning, “it was really ratchety.”  The word was new to me, as it is very likely new to you, so I pressed my daughter for its meaning.  It took some prying since my daughter has not inherited her father’s flaw of rude bluntness, but no one said the life of a lexicographer is easy.  It turns out that “ratchety” is an adjective that means after the manner of a low-class black bitch of loose morals.

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On a Hill Far Away, There’s an Old Ballot Box

“Your ship cannot double Cape Horn by its excellent plan of voting . . . . Ships, accordingly, do not use the ballot box at all; and they reject the phantasm species of captains . . . . Phantasm captains with unanimous voting: this is considered to be all the laws and all the prophets, at present.” 

Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850)

I was recently pleading beside the sickbed of commenter WinstonScrooge, who suffers from the sad but all too common mania for ballot boxes, voting, and “the sanctity of democratic elections.”  I did what I could to quiet the poor man’s raving, but a lunatic hates more than anything to hear he’s not right in the head.  The pink elephant that is stomping in the rank jungle of Winston’s delirium is a mob of howling infidels who, he says, despise the Word of the Ballot Box, and whose scoffing and jeering have angered his Democratic god.  Some, he stammered, are so far gone in unrighteousness that they say the Ballot Box is a myth invented by the men who count the votes.

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Alternate Realities: Two Movies on One Screen

Some of the people Marc Maron interviews are interesting to listen to, but fairly regularly they will suddenly go off on some political tangent. He is a self-described neurotic who suffers from anxiety and dread as, seemingly, his main emotional states and tends to catastrophize. He has said that he truly expected Jews (like him) to be rounded up into camps by Trump. Never mind that Trump has Jews in his family and was very friendly to Israel during his presidency. The fact that no such thing happened he seems to regard as some kind of fluke.

Being Woke he regards as simply being “nice,” and considerate to the feelings of others. Somehow, extreme anti-white racism is not part of the picture for him. Jan. 6th participants getting years in jail for misdemeanors and trespassing, while Summer of Love rioters being instantly released. Recently, he asked a guest, “What is virtue signaling?” ???!!!!

I have mentioned this phenomenon before, but I am as astonished each time it happens, and it is the phenomenon of Woke leftists and the like convinced that they are on the back foot, back up against the wall, about to be swamped by “fascists” who is anybody who disagrees with them. Every person who deviates from the current party line, which changes all the time, is a threat to democracy and the return of Hitler. Maron and his guest, some actor called Bradley Whitford, ended the podcast unironically or apologetically referring to all us normies as fascists. Whitford quoted Margaret Atwood, that little darling, as saying that it’s fun to be a Nazi. Continue reading

The acts of the Church

Some Catholic-Jewish meeting was in the news years ago. It was the usual grovelfest: Catholics apologizing and cursing themselves for their unprovoked and unmitigated antisemitism, followed by Jews pronouncing this “not good enough” and demanding more aggressive repudiations of past generations and current doctrine. The Jews were particularly incensed by the Catholic claim that while individual Catholics, including clergy and popes, are sinners (indeed, abominably wicked), the Church herself is holy and sinless. Of course, both sides took the absolute sinlessness of the Jews, both individual and collective, for granted. The whole thing was depressingly predictable, but it raised an interesting question: can the Church sin?

The question has several aspects. First, we must distinguish acts attributable to individual Catholics from corporate acts of the Church. Among the latter, one might ask whether all or some can properly be called acts of Jesus Christ, since the Church is His body. Second, one must distinguish the question of whether a corporation such as the Church can behave unjustly from the question of whether it can sin, since the latter usually relates to the state of someone’s immortal soul. Furthermore, the case may be special for the Church, since while other corporations are persons only by legal fiction, the Church is a genuine spiritual reality that transcends her members.

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Some general thoughts about authority. Not intended to be comprehensive.


Human society cannot function without authority. There must be authorities, and the people must, for the most part, respect the authority that the authorities possess.

As an attribute, “authority” means the right to be believed or obeyed. There are authorities who are rulers, and there are authorities who are experts. Real experts, that is.

The right to be believed comes from demonstrated mastery of some field of knowledge. It is defined by the truth, not the person. The right to be obeyed is less easily defined. It is defined by the society in which the authority and his subordinates is embedded. It is partly subjective, because the people will not respect a ruler who appears deficient. It is partly objective, as the rules of the society generally determine who has the right to rule.

There is currently an obvious crisis of authority. In part because the existing higher-level authorities are proving themselves to be unworthy (the higher the level, the less worthy), and in part because of the spread of philosophies which condemn or undermine authority. These are mutually reinforcing trends

But the existing authorities are not completely unworthy, and the people are not completely mistrustful. Without any authority, human society collapses and humans live like animals. Since society has not collapsed, and humans mostly do not live like animals, some authority remains.

But there is a crisis. The main cause of the crisis is the spread of a “democratic” way of thinking. Because of democracy, rulers cannot simply rule. They have to secure the explicit approval of the voters / customers / clients. To do this, they must devote themselves full-time to manipulating and intimidating the people. The people see this and respond with increased distrust, which amplifies the cycle. Continue reading

Beware the Groveling Life

“‘Southrons bow down,’ the Northmen say,
And tribute to us bring,
Fear ye the might we now display
And know us for your King
. . . . .
And ye may live that groveling life
The Northern poor now wear;
A long continued, struggling strife
’Twixt hope and wild despair.”

H.W.R. Jackson, Confederate Monitor (1862)*

Groveling is lying prone, face-down and prostrate.  The word is made of an Old Norse world grufe, face down, and the  stem ling that that we see in a word like sidling.  So just as sidling means to move to the side, groveling means to assume the prone, farce-down, or prostrate position. Continue reading