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Aug 02 2012

Jared Diamond spanks Mitt Romney

In an obvious ploy to appear erudite and well-read, Mitt Romney recently cited Jared Diamond to support his ill-informed opinions on culture. It’s really a bad idea to misrepresent a living scientist, because they tend to come back and expose you as a dishonest fraud.

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it. My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents’ sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, “No Apology: Believe in America.”)

Oops. Didn’t read the book, huh? I’ve had a few student papers like that.

The real stinger is in the conclusion.

Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.

191 comments

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  1. 1
    bbgunn

    I guess Mitt shouldn’t have gone to Jared’s.

  2. 2
    Martin Wagner

    From a man who write a book on the collapse of civilizations, I’d think about taking that warning seriously.

  3. 3
    Justin

    I read Collapse as a child and it was a very good, if terrifying read. And yeah I second Martin; you should take his warning seriously.

  4. 4
    keithb

    _Collapse_ came out in 2005, are you a teenager now?

  5. 5
    holytape

    It’s not Mittbot 2000′s problem that he did read Jared Diamond’s book. If Jared really wanted his book to be read and accurately discussed by Mittbot, he should have written it in binary code on golden plates. Since Mr. Diamond obvious did not, it is obvious that he wanted Mittbot to say whatever the hell came to Mittbot’s random word generator.

  6. 6
    jwherrmann

    “Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, …?”

    Like God, perhaps?

    What do you expect?

  7. 7
    Justin

    I consider my teenage years to include my childhood.

  8. 8
    jaybee

    It seems daring to me for Romney to ascribe America’s success as the result of anything but our inherent exceptionalism. He further exposes himself to right wing criticism by claiming to have read a book written by an intellectual.

  9. 9
    machintelligence

    Mitt Romney: born with a silver foot in his mouth.

  10. 10
    Lynna, OM

    This is a cross post from The Endless Thread — should have posted it here in the first place.

    More commentary on Mr. Romney’s reading comprehension problem:

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/08/02/13087779-reading-comprehension-is-a-virtue?

    I’ve never met Mitt Romney personally, but I suspect he’s probably a reasonably bright person. Dummies don’t usually get two post-graduate degrees from Harvard.

    But these assumptions are frequently tested. Take Romney’s reading comprehension skills, for example.

    The good news is, the Republican candidate has a habit of buying books and citing them on the campaign trail. The bad news is, he doesn’t seem to understand what he’s read. This came up a few months ago when Romney seemed badly confused about Noam Scheiber’s The Escape Artists. He then struggled with the point of David Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations and Daron Acemoglu’s Why Nations Fail.

    As Mr. Romney is fond of citing “culture” as an explanation for behavior, I would like to cite mormon culture as the source for Romney’s habit of referencing books he does not understand, or quoting authors in misleading ways. This habit must be taught to mormon babies in the crib. It is certainly used for indoctrinating teenagers in Seminary classes, and it is a staple of General Authority talks.

    There seems to be no penalty for being way off base in one’s literary references. Mormons get full points just for making the references — they don’t have to be relevant, nor do they have to make sense.

  11. 11
    BrianX

    I’d have to say Diamond is nitpicking a bit, but that’s beside the point. GG&S is about the last book Romney should be citing, because it’s a very strong argument against racism and national exceptionalism.

  12. 12
    Lynna, OM

    Mitt Romney failing at reading comprehension back in May.
    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/05/mitt-romney-very-bad-book-reviewer.html

    Mitt Romney misunderstands author David Landes:
    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/07/romneys-historical-misunderstanding-continued.html

    Mitt Romney fails at reading Why Nations Fail:
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-31/author-mitt-is-confused-on-palestine-and-culture

    Excerpts from responses to Romney from the two authors of Why Nations Fail:

    “But more seriously,” Acemoglu added, “Israel is so much richer than other countries in the area because it was founded by people with high human capital bringing in technology from Europe, and has been integrated into the world economy, continuing the process of technology transfer throughout the last several decades. The reason why this better technology and better human capital has not benefited Palestinians next door clearly has to do with institutions and with Israel’s policies (blockades but more importantly its understandable unwillingness to invest in the West Bank and Gaza). So it’s much more institutions, human capital and technology with clear historical roots rather than some sort of Palestinian or Arabic culture holding these places back.”

    Robinson also wrote back in a similar vein. His key sentence: “Mitt is confused.”…

  13. 13
    Lynna, OM

    More on Romney’s style of failing and flailing when it comes to reading comprehension:

    I commend Romney on his choice of reading material. The Escape Artists is a compelling narrative, deeply reported and beautifully written. Yet Romney’s account is wildly wrong in two major ways, one of which undermines what is supposed to be his central economic argument.

    The passage cited by Romney as evidence that Obama willingly chose to “make life harder for the American people” is an interview with Larry Summers:

    “I always admired the president’s courage for recognizing that 50 years from now, people would remember that all Americans had health care,” Larry Summers later said in an interview. “And even if pursuing health care affected the pace of the recovery, which was unlikely in my view, people wouldn’t remember how fast the recovery from this recession was.”

    As you might notice from the phrase “even if,” Summers denied that health-care reform affected the pace of the recession. That is, he was claiming the opposite of the position imputed to him by Romney.

  14. 14
    eric

    Yeah, politically idiotic move for a big-business republican to cite Diamond, given Diamond’s thesis in Collapse. Its like playing a Beetles or U2 song as their theme; are they that naive to think the authors aren’t going to say anything?

    Romney seems to have decided to make the opposite mistake of Palin. Instead of being embarrassed for reading too little, he’s come up with a reading list so long that it pretty much has to be fake. I’m sure he’s smart enough to read and understand the books he cites. I just call BS on the claim that he’s actually read them. Maybe he read his staff’s self-produced cliffs notes of them. But I don’t think he’s had the free time to actually read all those while being Governor, campaigning for President, etc.

  15. 15
    Glen Davidson

    Copper and tin ores, as well as the control of trade routes and exchanges of copper and tin, did matter a good deal in and around the Meditteranean. Iron’s main advantage at first was its availability and its relative cheapness.

    I don’t know exactly what Diamond wrote, but if Mitt mixed up bronze and iron, ascribing the distribution and cost issues of the former to the latter, it’s not the worst mistake ever. Not exactly impressive either, of course.

    Glen Davidson

  16. 16
    Reptile Dysfunction

    A Romney aide later clarified the candidate’s remarks.
    Speaking to an NPR reporter, Eric Fehrnstrom explained:
    “Shut up.”

  17. 17
    robro

    Lynna:

    There seems to be no penalty for being way off base in one’s literary references. Mormons get full points just for making the references — they don’t have to be relevant, nor do they have to make sense.

    Well, yes, of course there’s no penalty. It’s practically a requirement. Mormons and other Christians routinely misinterpret the Bible to fit their preconceived ideas about it and they are incredibly uninformed about it. It’s no surprise they do it with other works.

  18. 18
    carlie

    I don’t know exactly what Diamond wrote, but if Mitt mixed up bronze and iron, ascribing the distribution and cost issues of the former to the latter, it’s not the worst mistake ever. Not exactly impressive either, of course.

    It’s more like Diamond wrote that certain cultures rose to prominence mainly because of point A, also points B and C, and then also there was a little extra push later on because of point D, and Mitt said it’s all due to point D. Kind of like the kid in the back of the class who sleeps through the lecture and only catches the last 5 minutes.

  19. 19
    carlie

    …and not only that, but Mitt is strongly pushing policies that will actively harm the entities in points A and B, not understanding how important they are, because he’s fixated only on point D.

  20. 20
    Storms

    I’ve read “Guns, Germs and Steel” and “Collapse”, the latter by far the scariest book I’ve ever read. Of the two, I think Collapse should be required reading for any political candidate. How can they lead without a deep understanding of how close to the edge we are as a world?

    We really need politicians that can resist “dumbing down” their rhetoric for the masses. Lead, dammit, not toward a 7th grade modern ‘accessible’ target, but toward an Enlightenment one where the reader was expected to rise up to the author’s/speaker’s level.

    Of course, having said that, I love it when PZ explains Bio and Evo concepts in terms I can understand. In doing so, however, he tantalizes us with depths of complexity and nuance unseen and undiscovered, not with condescendingly simplified soundbites.

  21. 21
    feralboy12

    I don’t know exactly what Diamond wrote, but if Mitt mixed up bronze and iron, ascribing the distribution and cost issues of the former to the latter, it’s not the worst mistake ever.

    The central thesis of Guns, Germs and Steel is that the fact that Europeans built the big ships and came to the Americas rather than the other way around is an accident of geography. Most of the world’s great cash crops had their wild precursors growing in and around the so-called “fertile crescent” and the large domesticable animals came from not too far away, giving the people in that part of the world a jump-start on agriculture and civilization. Agriculture spread through Europe because its east-west orientation, without significant barriers, means a similar growing season and faster spread of particular crops. And with large animals to do more work, and to provide food, you get larger populations, earlier division of labor, more innovation like metal working, and of course built-up resistance to the diseases that devastated the natives in the Americas.
    Agriculture was independently developed in other parts of the world, but in the Americas and Africa, they didn’t have the raw materials to work with, and agriculture was generally unable to compete with hunting & gathering lifestyles.
    It’s not about superior culture or intelligence, or iron ore. It’s about building a larger population with a food surplus

  22. 22
    Lynna, OM

    I’m sure he’s smart enough to read and understand the books he cites.

    It’s more likely that Romney has installed an extra heavy duty mormon filter in his brain. That filter twists all input to correspond with mormon theology and culture

    Romney reads the books, but he cannot comprehend what he reads.

    Once the mormon filter is installed during childhood and reinforced during the teen years, the adult mormon is programmed to receive all input as confirming the mormon version of manifest destiny. Over-simplification of issues is guaranteed. The adult mormon robot can function, sort of, in the business world, but is incapable of the nuanced understanding required to be successful in fields like diplomacy or being President of the U.S.

  23. 23
    robro

    Glen — Sure, and the point of GGS is that the success of Western civilization has a lot to do with geography. Diamond focuses primarily on factors that he thinks were unique to Eurasian civilization as opposed to the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Pacific islands: a wide range of domesticable plants and animals, a geography that supported the spread of those domesticates and later technologies across a wide region (all of Eurasia and North Africa), and the acquired immunity to diseases from domestic animals.

    “Guns” and “Steel” are in the title because the geographic and biological advantages of Eurasian civilizations led to the early adoption of writing and the evolution from tribal to state societies which promoted such technologies.

    Copper, tin, iron were available to those less successful areas of the world and trade was a part of the economic culture of those regions. But there were limits on the breadth of that commerce. He puts a fair amount of emphasis on the limits of transferring domesticable plants and animals across the North-South oriented geographies of the Americas and Africa.

    Of course, Mitt is probably just trying to use GGS to support his White man culture bias which is particularly pathetic since the whole point of GGS (I think) is that the dominance of Western civilization is not the result of racial superiority but the accident of a slightly more fortuitous geographic circumstance.

  24. 24
    schnauzermom

    “..presiding over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history…”

    Hmmm. Sounds pretty much like the republican game plan to me.

  25. 25
    Thomas Holtz

    On top of all this, at the scale that Diamond is investigating in GGS, the Palestinians and the Israelis are two communities of the same culture! It compares cultures on the broadest scales (e.g., the West in GGS is western Eurasia, not just western Europe or even all of Europe).

  26. 26
    BrianX

    One of the important points of GG&S, for those unfamiliar with it, is that although the geography arguments are important from a cultural standpoint, there are no substantive differences between people. Intellectual capacity is absolutely divorced from race or ethnicity and given the opportunity and support, someone can go from complete isolation (say, the deep Amazon or the Andaman and Sentinel Islands) and become a functioning member of an advanced society with relatively little trouble. Intellectually, it’s the worst nightmare imaginable for the Bell Curve crowd, because it stomps *all* of their justifications for racism, especially the intellectual ones, into the ground and gives a virtually inexhaustible supply of ammo to us mushy bleeding hearts. (Some of the reviews from people like that on Amazon are impressively butthurt.)

  27. 27
    Lynna, OM

    Posted on the ex-mormon forum Recovery from Mormonism:

    Maybe we can forgive Romney for not being able to read a book and understand it, after all, he sometimes does not know where he lives nor in what state he pays taxes.

    Excepts from online article about Romney trying to establish residency in Massachusetts in order to run for Governor in 2002:

    Clearly he met the residency requirement, he’d been paying Massachusetts resident taxes. That’s what he said all along, but that June, that year that he was running, June 2002, under pressure from the Democrats in the state and under scrutiny from the Boston press, that story fell apart because it turns out that he had not been paying taxes as a Massachusetts resident. [emphasis added] Like he said he did. He had not been paying taxes as a Massachusetts resident, he had been paying taxes as a Utah resident.

    Mr. Romney had said that wasn’t the case, but he got caught. After he got caught, he admitted yeah, he’d been paying taxes as a Utah resident, BUT he was retroactively now, after the fact, now that he was running for Governor, now going back a few years that he was going to change that … retroactively….

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/02/1115963/-Rachel-Maddow-helps-President-Obama-insert-Political-Shiv-Twists-the-Knife

  28. 28
    raven

    If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.

    “squandering”???? WTH!!! Squandering????

    It’s more like actively destroying our accumulated capital and heritage.

    Bush, “Hey, lets cut taxes and increase spending while starting two wars in the middle east.”

    I could give Bush the advantage of being well meaning but completely clueless.

    Romney: Hey, lets cut taxes some more, increase spending, and start another war in the middle east with Iran.

  29. 29
    Lynna, OM

    “You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially,” Mrs. Romney said. “He’s a very generous person. We give 10% of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it.” — Ann Romney Link.

    Um, no Ann. I’m sorry, but Romney has proven himself to be a liar.

    RM: [Rachel Maddow] He was trying to retroactively, essentially refile his taxes, so his Massachusetts taxes would be filed as if he were a resident of the state. He was making that retroactive attempt while he was still publically maintaining, up until June of that year, that he had always filed as a Massachusetts resident.

    JR: [James Roosevelt, Jr., lawyer] That is true.

    Did you get that? While Romney continued to state in public that he had filed all his taxes as a Massachusetts resident, he knew that he had filed in Utah, and he knew that his accountants were working on retroactively filing taxes to change the Utah filings to Massachusetts filing.

    So, first he lied and then, while he was working behind the scenes to cover the lie, he lied some more.

    And now both Romney and his wife tell us to trust him on his taxes because he is an honest man who has always given 10% of his earnings to the mormon church.

    Repeat of link. Scroll down quite a bit to find the section quoted above.

  30. 30
    cartomancer

    The idea that the character of a land determines the character of its vegetation, mineralogy and autocthonous inhabitants was a commonplace of thirteenth-century geographical treatises. Albertus Magnus’s De natura locorum springs to mind, though he did think a lot of it had to do with the different patterns of refraction of cosmic rays from the planets through the atmosphere.

    Clearly Mitch Romford has an incisive and adept mind. I mean, come on, he thinks in terms that were cutting-edge a mere 750 years ago. Compared to most of his Republican brethren, who haven’t got out of the sixth century BC, that makes him so up-to-date he’s virtually a prophet.

  31. 31
    Lynna, OM

    More details on mormon culture and the mormon version of Manifest destiny.

    Excerpts below:

    When Mitt Romney tells Israelis and Palestinians that “culture yields success,” he speaks the logic of nineteenth-century imperialism. But he does so with a Mormon dialect. Going back as far as the 1600s, British-American colonists told themselves that they had the right to take land from Indians because they would make it bloom. That same logic yielded Manifest Destiny in the nineteenth century, when the U.S. doubled its size between 1845 and 1848. That logic continues to prevail among Mormons today, who are taught that culture yields success from the time they are babes. It’s an ideological juggernaut (though there are of course a few liberal Mormons who don’t agree with it), and it is precisely what has made many of them into Tea Party conservatives….

    Mormon colonists also got access to railroad lines courtesy of U.S. and Mexican subsidies. And they got capital investment from the church. Mormon tithings got used for development. That was theocratic socialism, and it worked….

    The Mormon understanding of their historic success is dangerous not only because it is simplistic but also because it is imperialistic. In the past, it legitimized taking land from Indians, or from Mexicans. It also legitimized Jews taking land from Palestinians….

    Link.

  32. 32
    ChasCPeterson

    Richie Rich for President!

  33. 33
    Stardrake

    Hey, don’t’ be insultin’ Richie Rich!

    He’d NEVER have done that to his dog!

  34. 34
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    I’ve not read Collapse but GG&S is a very interesting and enjoyable book. I have no idea how Romney could have come to his conclusion from actually reading it…

  35. 35
    David Marjanović

    Mitt Romney: born with a silver foot in his mouth.

    Thread won.

    I don’t know exactly what Diamond wrote, but if Mitt mixed up bronze and iron, ascribing the distribution and cost issues of the former to the latter, it’s not the worst mistake ever.

    Wasn’t he talking about the present?

    I’ve read “Guns, Germs and Steel” and “Collapse”, the latter by far the scariest book I’ve ever read.

    We are all the Tikopia.

    Some of the reviews from people like that on Amazon are impressively butthurt.

    =8-)

    Richie Rich for President!

    + 1

  36. 36
    Lynna, OM

    “Romney appears to be saying while Palestinian despair has its roots in their culture, God is also holding them down,” — Jon Stewart.

    “Or, if you prefer to look at the converse, Israel’s economic progress is evidence of the hand of providence — going to assume that all the horrible @#$%& that happened to the Jews prior to that was the hand of providence’s middle finger.” — Jon Stewart

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/31/jon-stewart-mocks-romneys-israel-gaffes-jews-are-culturally-money-making-motherfckers/

  37. 37
    Sili

    “He’s a very generous person. We give 10% of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it.” — Ann Romney Link.

    Someone should do a more thorough job of publicising just how much money Rmoney gives to the Mormoneys. I’m sure the good Christian Republans will appreciate it.

  38. 38
    David Marjanović

    Someone should do a more thorough job of publicising just how much money Rmoney gives to the Mormoneys.

    Is it more money than 10 % of his income, or is it less…?

  39. 39
    loopyj

    Sounds to me like Mitt didn’t read the book at all, but probably just caught that one scene from the documentary (which was so much awesome!) that mentions the availability of raw materials in the environment and how a population is able or chooses to utilize them.

  40. 40
    A. Noyd

    Lynna (#29)

    “He’s a very generous person. We give 10% of our income to our church every year.”

    Is she seriously asking for good person credit for paying their tithe—something Mormons are obligated to do?!  How the fuck is that generosity?! My Mormon BFF paid her tithe while working to put herself through college, FFS. She still pays it. She may give less in total than he does but I’m sure she feels it more.

  41. 41
    Paul

    Is she seriously asking for good person credit for paying their tithe—something Mormons are obligated to do?!

    The funny part is that the same people that say that sort of thing will say that taxes to help the less fortunate go against Biblical principles because such charity must be given “cheerfully and without coercion”.

  42. 42
    Trebuchet

    Mitt doesn’t NEED to read those books — he has people to do that for him. And like all good yes-men, they tell him what they think he wants to hear, which he then has his speechwriters incorporate into his speeches. It’s not a matter of reading comprehension fail, he’s never read them at all.

  43. 43
    Francisco Bacopa

    I must add here that Bill Clinton was a voracious reader. By all insider accounts he actually understood what the books were about and was able to extrapolate plausible potential policies based on those books’ contents.

    Israel succeeded because of its huge founding base of human capital. It falters now because that capital has been depleted. It’s been somewhat propped up by the recent influx of Russians, but the Haredi are huge drain.

    There was a blistering rant against the Ultra-Orthodox over at Friendly Atheist by an Israeli citizen. He went on and on about how he wanted the Haredis to be forced to paint tanks in the hot sun. I’m pretty sure our ranter was a tank painter.

  44. 44
    sadunlap

    Re: Romney and tithing to the Mormon Church.

    The Mormon church threw lots of money into the California Prop 8 (repeal of gay rights) initiative. Boasting about tithing to that church does not win points with a lot of people.

  45. 45
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    The funny part is that the same people that say that sort of thing will say that taxes to help the less fortunate go against Biblical principles because such charity must be given “cheerfully and without coercion”.

    So, threat of jail = coercion.
    Threat of burning forever in hell = not coercion.

    hhhhhhhhhhhhhhuh.

  46. 46
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Boasting about tithing to that church does not win points with a lot of people.

    But the voters who infest the GOP primaries it . . . hmm. Would a Baptist consider donating to the LSD in order to deny human rights to gays and lesbians to be a good thing (denies human rights to the right people) or a bad thing (gives money to a non-Christian cult)?

  47. 47
    sadunlap

    I am somewhat surprised that anyone would ignore the enormous amount of money the U.S. government sends to Israel, its “51st State.” I guess Romney is desperate to find some other explanation for Israel’s success.

    $115 billion since 1949. I would guess that if someone gave the Palestinians $115 billion over half a century they’d be doing well too.

    See p. 30 of the following Congressional Research Service report:
    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

    Of course, it’s a Republican article of faith that government assistance never obtains anything but dependency and more need. He can’t oppose aid to Israel (no one wants to step on that land mine) but how to explain the success of the state without it? What’s a Republican to do!?

  48. 48
    sadunlap

    46 Ogvorbis

    Would a Baptist consider donating to the LSD …

    That would be the LDS (Latter Day Saints) not lysergic acid diethylamide-25 (LSD). That said:

    MY FAVORITE TYPO EVER!

    (Explains a lot of the prophecies. But, wait, that would explain a lot of everybody’s prophecies).

  49. 49
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I am somewhat surprised that anyone would ignore the enormous amount of money the U.S. government sends to Israel, its “51st State.”

    Which is fascinating considering I just watched a Romney lievertisement in which the slow economic growth in the US was blamed on millions being sent to other countries. Hmm.

  50. 50
    ChasCPeterson

    Is it more money than 10 % of his income, or is it less…?

    Pre- or post-tax income?
    Income from all sources?
    Shell-corporation income?
    etc.

  51. 51
    chrisv

    $115 billion since 1949.

    Ironic that we have politicians financially supporting universal health care for Israel while doing their very best to kill the President’s plan.

  52. 52
    ChasCPeterson

    btw, if I may kw*k, I once spent 3 hours as the sole passenger in Jared Diamond’s car. He speaks exactly as he writes and is a maniacal driver imo. We also published as coauthors once (vanity citation).
    [/kw*k]

  53. 53
    silomowbray, sans frottage pour la douche

    I had to go visit Amazon and read some of the 1-star review comments of GG&S after BrianX (#26) mentioned extreme butthurtedness being exhibited by folks whose pet theories were obliterated by Diamond’s work.

    Impressive is right. Is there a fallacy known as Argument by Butthurt?

  54. 54
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    lievertisement

    Here, hang on a minute while I polish up this Internet with my sleeve for you.

  55. 55
    opus

    I ran across an interesting article which argued that Diamond may not be correct about why nations fail, at least as far as the Americas are concerned:

    http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/07/why-nations-fail

    What I found so interesting about the article is that it puts America’s decline in a new perspective: We are declining because the elites have decided to change the basis of our society from inclusive to extractive. In the USA’s case the resource that is being strip-mined is the collective contents of the wallets of the middle class.

  56. 56
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ OP

    [Mitt:]“basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

    [Jared Diamond:] “I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples.”

    Though it is a little beside the main point (Mitt’s lack of reading comprehension), we may also point out two things:

    1. Although iron ore was widespread, the technology to utilise it (though surprisingly widespread) was in short supply and, for many centuries, completely underappreciated in terms of its real value and potential.

    2. Distribution of iron ore did, in fact, have some very important consequences. Egypt, for example, did not have enough iron (supplied by the Hittites) to enter the iron age and paid heavily for this lack. (This is even described in Isiah 36.6 (KJV): Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.)


    @ Lynna

    That was theocratic socialism, and it worked….

    This was also true of the early xtian church.

  57. 57
    plutoanimus

    I was hoping Jared Diamond would bitch-slap that stupid Mormon asswipe.

    Well done, Mr. Diamond!

  58. 58
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ plutoanimus

    bitch-slap

    It is the policy on Pharyngula not to use gendered slurs. Please don’t do so here.

  59. 59
    petejohn

    Yeah having read GG&S several times for a graduate history class, and knowing it fairly well, I am 99% sure Mitt just skimmed it, if even that.

    Which is a pity, it’s a good book. Sacrifices depth for breadth, but Diamond was going after a fundamental question of human history so the answer in a reasonable-length popular history/science book was going to have to be broad.

    Shoot, the whole PBS documentary is on YouTube. Mitt could’ve watched it on the campaign trail for free.

    Glad to see Diamond clobber Romney’s appalling arrogance and wrongness.

  60. 60
    Eric O

    Jared Diamond is the reason I started studying anthropology and archaeology. I’m amused to see him give Romney a verbal spanking.

  61. 61
    McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if Rmoney is called-out for lying about what’s in someone else’s book. What are the chances that anyone from Mordor TBaggerville are ever going to read an exposé on his rampant bullshitting? They’re certainly not going to see it on Faux News.

  62. 62
    richvr

    I’ve read “Guns, Germs and Steel” several times in my life. And I can say without any fear of contradiction that Romney is a fucking germ.

  63. 63
    'Tis Himself

    Romney’s “cultural” distinction between the Israelis and Palestinians is an old conservative mantra: The rich owe their success to hard work and moral values, the poor have only themselves to blame for their poverty.

    Israel was established primarily by educated Europeans, familiar with the commercial and legal systems needed for capitalism to flourish. The Palestinians are ruled by a kleptocratic dictatorship kept in place by military occupation from an unfriendly power.

  64. 64
    David Marjanović

    vanity citation

    Ooh! Open access! And an interesting topic! Immediately downloaded. I just hope it hasn’t been superseded in the last 22 years.

    lievertisement

    Here, hang on a minute while I polish up this Internet with my sleeve for you.

    All seconded!

    This is even described in Isiah 36.6 (KJV):

    Please explain. That just seems to mean “Pharaoh king of Egypt suffers from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, so don’t trust him”.

  65. 65
    Jadehawk

    plus, if we’re going to cite the bible for potential importance to cultural-dominance of iron, I figured the “iron chariots” bit would have been more relevant…

  66. 66
    David Marjanović

    …yeah. :-)

  67. 67
    Anri

    He can’t oppose aid to Israel (no one wants to step on that land mine) but how to explain the success of the state without it? What’s a Republican to do!?

    …presume your primary voting base is heavily composed of ignorant fucktards who either don’t know about this, or presume we’re sending that much aid to Israel because they’re the only Christian nation in the Middle East.

  68. 68
    ChasCPeterson

    I just hope it hasn’t been superseded in the last 22 years.

    Well, of course it has. Not ‘superceded’ but tested, expanded and winnowed some.
    Diamond himself followed up with this (flawed) review in 1997:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v386/n6624/abs/386457a0.html

  69. 69
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Fuckin A, Chas!

  70. 70
    sadunlap

    51 chrisv

    $115 billion since 1949.

    Ironic that we have politicians financially supporting universal health care for Israel while doing their very best to kill the President’s plan.

    Even better, TRMS had a segment in which we see Romney during his recent overseas trip expressing amazement that Israel spends 8% GDP on health care vs. the U.S. 18% but has better outcomes. Amazed, he is, over how healthy they are.

    Back the the CRS report: the breakdown of what the different programs pay for makes my head hurt. There’s an education one that supports schools (all levels) and libraries. Funding for Community Colleges in the U.S. is on the decline and the republicans are pushing for-profit colleges (can you say “Harkin Report?”) as a solution. What do you think would happen if the Republican even suggested dropping that funding for Israel while telling them to go with for-profit solutions instead? And then there’s the up to $60 million a year to help immigrants settle in Israel. Given the “welfare reforms” of the 90s does the U.S. government spend any money to assist immigrants in the U.S. anymore?

    The more you scrutinize the U.S. government spending for Israel the more you find at odds with Republican policy for the U.S.

    Can we have what we’re paying for them to have?

  71. 71
    Lynna, OM
    Is it more money than 10 % of his income, or is it less…?

    Pre- or post-tax income?
    Income from all sources?
    Shell-corporation income?
    etc.

    Everyone is speculating on the reason(s) for Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns. Some ex-mormons have speculated that he won’t release them because they will show that, in some years, he paid less than 10% to the LDS Church. That might doom him in mormondumb and would also indicate that he lied to his Bishop and that is Temple Recommend was obtained under false pretenses.

    Personal story that reveals the coercive nature of mormon tithing:

    I was a full-fledged member, obeying all the “commandments”, etc. I hadn’t been to the temple for years; my daughter was planning on a mission and wanted me to go to the temple with her. She really wanted me there with her! At the time I had lost my job, unemployment benefits had run out–I was living on food stamps and not much else. I was one step away from that recommend, but I wasn’t paying tithing. My bishop said he was sorry, but couldn’t issue the recommend– he said he talked to the SP about it, and the SP said NO. I was really disappointed, but I put it “on the shelf” in the back of my mind, with everything else. But then that shelf finally came crashing down under the weight of all the accumulated doubts.

    It’s actually extortion, for you’re told you can’t be together with your family unless you go to the temple. And Mormons can’t go to the temple unless they pay a FULL tithe. And if you work for the church, they know exactly how much you make. You will lose your job if you don’t pay up!

    Quote is from this thread: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,578321

    The mormon law about tithing seems to vary according to interpretation by Bishops and members. Here’s one ex-mormon’s take on the situation:

    In my family growing up we paid on net, sounds like we were in the minority, my Dad owned his own business and he refused to pay on gross, he simply could not afford to.

    When my husband and I married, we also paid on net (I’m assuming his parents who also owned their own business did the same, because he had no objections to this) until our medical bills got to high, then we stopped paying and quit going to the temple. When we realized paying tithing actually continued the poverty cycle and we’d never get out, we never went back to paying tithing.

    Tithing in the Mormon church is not voluntary, you pay it to get your temple recommend or no recommend. Most wards do monthly trips to the temple and if you are involved with the youth you could go more–there is a constant push to go to the temple. We used our young children as an excuse for as long as we could. I’m glad we never gave the Mormon church that much money, but it still bothers me that the money I did give didn’t go to help people. Something else you may want to look into, as a young child I helped pull weeds on their welfare farms, as an adult I learned via the internet most of the food on those farms is sold at the current market price and the money is sucked back into the church. Very little actually goes to help people in need, yet they get tax exempt status? I would like nothing more than to actually have them release financial statements and show everyone where the money is going. In the meantime, as an ex-mormon I now donate to causes that reveal their financial information and I can see exactly where the money goes, which is to help other people.

    Link.

    More tithing stories: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,429371

  72. 72
    Lynna, OM

    A more in-depth look at mormon tithing:
    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon136.htm

  73. 73
    Lynna, OM

    Salon did a story on Romney’s taxes that includes the mormon tithes (not paid?) theory.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/03/10_theories_on_romneys_taxes_salpart/

    Excerpt:

    ….perhaps he doesn’t want to piss off Mormons. After all, the right-wing Daily Caller reported that in 2010 and 2011, the two years for which Romney released partial returns, it looks like the former Mormon bishop under-tithed the church, paying 7 percent of his income one year and 9.7 percent over the two-year period. As the Caller noted, “Romney recently told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, ‘I made a commitment to my church a long, long time ago that I would give 10 percent of my income to the church, and I’ve followed through on that commitment. So, if I had given less than 10 percent, then I think people would have to look at me and say, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with you fella — don’t you follow through on your promises?’”…

    Nine other theories are presented, including everything from past donations to Planned Parenthood and undervaluing his assets to giving gifts to his sons that exceeded the $1 million limit and that were improperly reported. I like the theory that Romney just thinks that we peons do not deserve to see his tax returns before we are required to vote for him.

    Esquire’s James Wolcott doesn’t think there’s any there there. Sure, Romney’s tax returns would provide an object lesson in how the ultra-rich avoid paying their fair share of taxes, but everyone already knows that those at the top of the pile game the system. For Wolcott, the issue comes down to Romney refusing to bow to the little people on principle.

    It is helpful always to remind yourself that, in the mind of Willard Romney, there are only two kinds of people — himself and his family, and the Help. Throughout his career, and especially throughout his brief political career, Romney has treated the Help with a kind of lordly disdain…

  74. 74
    Lynna, OM

    Adding to the long, long, lone line of Moments of Mormon Madness when it comes to “same sex attraction.”

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/lifestyle/54619090-80/women-sex-mormon-gay.html.csp

    Not all LDS men who have same-sex attraction desire gay sex, a speaker said Thursday during the opening session of a meeting of Mormon apologists. Many want to follow church teachings either to marry or remain celibate.

    “Just because somebody is gay does not mean they need a same-sex relationship. We may not choose our attractions, but we do choose our behaviors,” Joshua Johanson told hundreds of people gathered at Sandy’s South Towne Expo Center for the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research. “My attraction is [toward men], but my desire is to be faithful to my wife. I am here to act and not to be acted upon.”…

  75. 75
    clastum3

    It’s intriguing to find Diamond suddenly the hero round here, because my up till now, impression was that he was pretty non-grata with the left. But it’s brought some of the most flagrant left-liars out of the woodwork. Here we have :

    #26 Brian X

    One of the important points of GG&S,……………there are no substantive differences between people. Intellectually, it’s the worst nightmare imaginable for the Bell Curve crowd

    You don’t distinguish between differences between populations and differences within populations: are you a liar or stupid or both?

  76. 76
    Lynna, OM

    opus in comment #55, I’m not certain, but it looks like you may have assumed that Jared Diamond wrote Why Nations Fail. He did not. <a href="http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/08/02/jared-diamond-spanks-mitt-romney/comment-page-1/#comment-420039"See comment #12.

  77. 77
  78. 78
    anathema

    I was wondering how long it would take for the butthurt (which, as other commenters have mentioned, is so prominent in certain Amazon reviews) to find its way over here.

    Well, now I know the answer: 75 comments.

    Hi, clastum3. Do let us know if you actually have anything of value to contribute, okay?

  79. 79
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ David Marjanović

    This is even described in Isiah 36.6 (KJV):

    Please explain. That just seems to mean “Pharaoh king of Egypt suffers from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, so don’t trust him”.

    The time in question was the spectacular rise of the state of Assyria, which made its fortunes through violently attacking those about it. (RL Klingons?) They preyed, inter alia, on Israel and Egypt (~671BC). The relatively small nation of Assyria could pull this off because Egypt could not keep up with the times. It could not make a go of the iron age *. Observing the state of affairs, it was an Assyrian officer who reminded the Jews of this.

    * Technologies like iron. Meaning relatively poor people could be relatively well armed. (Eg: Compare the extravagant expense of bronze technology as mentioned in the Illiad.)

  80. 80
    clastum3

    anathema #78

    Smarmy comments are the best way out when you can’t deal with the substance.

  81. 81
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Oops, that posted itself. Anyhow… Another big technical breakthrough was the warrior on horseback (as opposed to the (again) extravagantly expensive chariots that had been the sole perogative of the very rich.) A modern technological equivalent might be the introduction of SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) by the CIA in the Soviet-Afghanistan War. A total, and sudden, game changer.

    (Note to ‘Merkins: Your nation’s neglect of Science, Technology & Engineering will not make itself felt gradually. Societal collapse happens shockingly rapidly.)

  82. 82
    anathema

    @ clastum3 (#80):

    Um, what substance?

    Was the substance the bit where you whined about how it was funny that Jared Diamond was suddenly a “hero” to liberals now (even though you are the only one who referred to him as a hero), despite having previously been a persona non grata with the left ( . . . since when? I sure didn’t get the memo)?

    Or was the substance the bit where you called Brian X a liar for no good reason?

    Or maybe the substance was the bit where you complain about how Brian X didn’t “distinguish between differences between populations and differences within populations” when it was perfectly clear that he was talking about supposed differences between racial groups?

  83. 83
    Amphiox

    intriguing to find Diamond suddenly the hero round here, because my up till now, impression was that he was pretty non-grata with the left.

    Since this “impression” is patently false, the rest of the ludicrous argument that follows it falls like a sand-castle built on quicksand.

  84. 84
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ clastrum3

    You don’t distinguish between differences between populations and differences within populations: are you a liar or stupid or both?

    Er…That was likely the most ridiculous brainfart of the year. What the fuck does it even mean? Diamond’s overarching overview does not particularly discriminate amongst people in such a fashion. The longue durée is incompatible with such narrow mindedness.

  85. 85
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    Oops, that posted itself. Anyhow… Another big technical breakthrough was the warrior on horseback (as opposed to the (again) extravagantly expensive chariots that had been the sole perogative of the very rich.)

    And as you said earlier, the ability to arm relatively poor people is a huge advantage. A chariot with one person controlling it and another shooting arrows was an incredible weapon–particularly with the smaller, lighter Egyptian chariots–but it took a lot of resources. It couldn’t compare to greatly increasing that maneuverability and speed (absent the drag of the chariot itself) and the number of people benefiting from those factors.

    One archer and the investment of a driver, a chariot and a team of horses or spend the same amount and get six soldiers on horseback? Sure, the chariot was good for smashing through enemy lines, but not nearly so good at its primary use, which was protecting infantry.

  86. 86
    clastum3

    anathema #82

    Thanks for your prompt reply.

    What mainly provoked me was that he dragged the bell curve into it, which surely is applicable within populations. His conflation between intra- and interpopulation must have been deliberate.

    It would be a strange world in which bell-curves didn’t describe the distribution of characteristics within a group.

  87. 87
    clastum3

    Amphiox -
    it seems to have escaped you that my comments were about Brian X’s spoutings.

  88. 88
    clastum3

    …er sorry, #87 applies rather to theophontes #84

  89. 89
    Lynna, OM

    Mitt Romney makes Obama’s case really well. Of course, the video is from several years ago, from MittBot 2004. Amusing. Excerpt below:

    “The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by one candidate to somehow say, ‘Oh, this recession and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president magically being elected,’ people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock. And they recognize it as that….

    The full effect is not really available without watching the video. Available here http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/08/03/13104757-what-counts-as-poppycock?
    and on YouTube under “Romney in 2004: Blaming President for Economy…”

    In the 2:51 minute video, Mitt also makes a strong case for stimulus spending during a recession.

  90. 90
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    What mainly provoked me was that he dragged the bell curve into it, which surely is applicable within populations. His conflation between intra- and interpopulation must have been deliberate.

    The Bell Curve. Not the bell curve.

  91. 91
    BrianX

    clastum3:

    I’d ask what the hell you’re talking about but I’m not sure I want to know.

  92. 92
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ clastum3

    Brian X’s spoutings……er sorry, #87 applies rather to theophontes #84

    Woah Safari! I cannot really see any fault with what Brian X said. What exactly do you disagree with? (Other than “butthurt”…)

    You come across as truly confused on this issue. (No, really. I cannot even imagine what your point is.)

  93. 93
    ChasCPeterson

    fuck sakes
    It’s The Bell Curve, not the ‘bell curve’ (i.e. normal frequency distribution).

  94. 94
    ChasCPeterson

    ueah, like the maroon said, w/ link (but no italics)

  95. 95
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ The Mellow Monkey: Caerie

    What we haven’t mentioned yet: Once people commit to a certain way of doing (here, say, chariot warfare… but also bronze armour … or conventional weaponry in the age of IED’s) they have an incredible resistance to changing their ways. This has too often cost them dearly. (I shout at my books: “No,no! Don’t you see it is going wrong?“)

  96. 96
    Jerry

    I skimmed some of the ex-Mormon site’s justification to avoid paying 10% of gross income to their church, to “only” pay 10% of net income. Holy faux-antique word salad written on gold-plated tablets, Ratman! That gibberish is even worse than the tax code. Meleuch told Jedzebed that he’d have to pay 10% of his surplus and or interest on everything he owned or maybe not. A True Believer(tm) has to convince Bishop Armtwister that he does or doesn’t owe money, and does or does not get a chance to go to Heaven(tm), based on interpreting that mess. Congresscritters are experts on screwing up the tax code, but they’re amateurs compared to religious tax code writers. Then again, L. Ron Hubbard of $cientology and Joe Smith of Mormoneyism of recent history were both documented liars and fraudsters. The other religions just had more time to *ahem* lose the court records.

    My second point (inspiration? revelation?) is that I had no idea Mormon victims were being asked to pay 10% of _gross_ income. After deducting federal and state income taxes, Medicare and Social Security taxes, and health insurance (if you can get it), middle class people keep anywhere from 80-70% of their gross pay. Housing is often 20-30%, then not so optional stuff like food, clothing, and utilities take a bite. Now they have to convince Reverend Clubs Kneebreaker their mandatory voluntary contribution comes from net instead of gross income? It’s relevant to people on a salary, but if you’re self-employed, that change in interpretation could break your business. There are stories on that ex-Mormon site about people going bankrupt because of that expense, and still being coerced into paying their tithe. Bishop Romney (R-Money) and his family are proud of paying into that scam… but won’t release their records. How convenient. I’ll bet the holy ordained accountant is paying Bishop R’s tithe based on his net U.S. declared non-trust non-corporate surplus income, all $15 of it. He’s got the culturally superior right to do so, naturally.

  97. 97
    clastum3

    This really is breathtaking: my use of caps gets corrected, and the usual abuse and attrition, but not a word on my arguments, which must be self-evident anyway.

    Do I have to spell it out in words of one syllable? For any characteristic, in a population there will be a distribution, which, if not a perfect poisson, will have a similar shape.

    Brian X was trying to use Diamond to deny this and the cohorts are weaseling along with him.

    Is there no-one here with an ounce of intellectual integrity?

  98. 98
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Some moremoney inspirational posters: Live the Fantasy!

    (I shall usurp an image of Ro-money when the time comes.)

  99. 99
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    No, clastum3. That is not what is happening. Diamond’s book attacks the central thesis of a book called The Bell Curve, which is a pile of racist bullshit.

    That traits manifest in bell curves is not disputed. The content of The Bell Curve is.

  100. 100
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I just checked Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse out from the library.

    At the same time, I got Delusions of Gender and Bring Up the Bodies. The librarian gave me a funny look.

    I should have grabbed Bonk as well.

  101. 101
    anathema

    Clastrum3, Brian X was talking about Charles Murray’s book The Bell Curve. No one here is denying that bell curves exist.

  102. 102
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ clastum3

    which must be self-evident anyway.

    To yourself obviously.

    Do I have to spell it out in words of one syllable?

    The fatuous bullshit you have presented too date?

    For any characteristic, in a population there will be a distribution, which, if not a perfect poisson, will have a similar shape.

    Relevance much?

    Is there no-one here with an ounce of intellectual integrity?

    Oooh… O_0

  103. 103
    Inaji

    Esteleth:

    I just checked Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse out from the library.

    They’re both good reading, I have them both. It’s a pity Romney doesn’t have the wherewithal to actually read and understand them.

  104. 104
    Jadehawk

    *looks at the current argument*

    oh wow. that can’t even aspire to being trolling. Tragic.

  105. 105
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I’ve seen the documentary of G, G & S, but have not read the book. Time to change that.

  106. 106
    clastum3

    Esteleth,

    it’s a couple of years since I read GG&S, but it made quite an impression on me and my recollection is that it was in no way an explicit attack on any ideology, but simply offered an explanation of the way things turned out the way they have.

    It was that objectivity that made it so influential.

  107. 107
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    ueah, like the maroon said, w/ link (but no italics)

    Maroon. Not maroon.

    @claustum3,

    If someone talks to you about The Grapes of Wrath, do you get a mental picture of angry berries?

  108. 108
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    @theophontes

    Oh, absolutely. Particularly when that commitment has been made by wealthy people and the alternative would be empowering to the less wealthy, who will then gain wealth through utilizing the new technology. It takes away some of the control and power of those who have invested in the current technology, so of course they resist. But as they do that, they leave themselves open for losing ground to their more adaptive neighbors.

    An endlessly fascinating subject!

  109. 109
    ChasCPeterson

    For any characteristic, in a population there will be a distribution, which, if not a perfect poisson, will have a similar shape.

    You’re an idiot or a troll.
    Poisson ≠ normal.

  110. 110
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    This really is breathtaking: my use of caps gets corrected, and the usual abuse and attrition,

    That word does not mean what you apparently think it means.

    Maybe you should slow down a little, bro, and compose your “arguments” so they actually say what you thought they were saying when you heard them in your head.

  111. 111
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Do I have to spell it out in words of one syllable? For any characteristic, in a population there will be a distribution, which, if not a perfect poisson, will have a similar shape.

    Jesus. You’re not even a third rate pedant. The poisson is only bell-like under certain values of lambda, and is certainly not useful in describing any random* variable in a population, but is specific to events or occurences occuring at a set probability in space or time.

    I’m ignoring the point made to you previously, that The Bell Curve is not an overly capitalized and italicized version of the normal distribution, but rather a somewhat dicier thesis. Feel free to continue ignoring that, I guess.

    *I’m being charitable and assuming you meant this.

  112. 112
    clastum3

    Esteleth -
    I was being too kind to you: at my last post I hadn’t imagined you’d never read it.
    But then on pharyngula that’s no bar to pontificating about it.

  113. 113
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    clastum3, do you have any idea what the book The Bell Curve is about? It is about how there is a correlation between race/nationality and intelligence, and that this correlation is the cause of differing economic outputs of societies.

    Diamond’s thesis that a lot of these things are accidents of geography attacks this racist thesis.

  114. 114
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    @claustum3,

    If someone talks to you about The Grapes of Wrath, do you get a mental picture of angry berries?

    Apologies for misspelling your ‘nym, clastum3.

  115. 115
    clastum3

    hotshoe :
    I understand attrition as in “WWI was a war of attrition”. In other words you trying to wear me down, in typical pharyngulite manner when they’re trying to distract from the fact that they’ve got it all wrong by picking on the interpretation of words that are not central to the thesis.

    Just how do you understand attrition then?

  116. 116
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    it’s a couple of years since I read GG&S, but it made quite an impression on me and my recollection is that it was in no way an explicit attack on any ideology, but simply offered an explanation of the way things turned out the way they have.

    It was that objectivity that made it so influential.

    As contrasted with, say, Bell Curve, which was not an example of objectivity (but was still influential for right-wingers and bigots).

    It’s nice to think that the Bell Curve controversy has died down enough that a commenter like clastum3 has never even heard of it, or heard of it but so remotely that – even when capitalized – the name “Bell Curve” don’t remind them of anything about a history of racism.

  117. 117
    BrianX

    clastum3:

    You presume to discuss societies and don’t know the difference between a statistical construct and a book with the same name? Back to the minors with you.

  118. 118
    clastum3

    Esteleth

    me in arch-pedant mode: It doesn’t attack that thesis – it undermines it.

    But this is more than pedantry – if you want to be taken seriously you must express yourself objectively, and the cant language used pharyngula is a poor guide along that path.

  119. 119
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    In other words you trying to wear me down, in typical pharyngulite manner when they’re trying to distract from the fact that they’ve got it all wrong by picking on the interpretation of words that are not central to the thesis.

    Your whole criticism of BrianX in 75 and 86 was based on confusing the book The Bell Curve with the concept of the bell curve. Your mistake has been pointed out several times by several posters; some of us have even provided links. Yet you refuse to even acknowledge your mistake.

    Your initial confusion can be attributed to ignorance, which is fine, but now your just being obtuse.

  120. 120
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    the cant language used pharyngula is a poor guide along that path.

    Um. Gibberish much?

    Also, what What a Maroon said.

  121. 121
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    but now your just being obtuse.

    um, you’re….

  122. 122
    Lynna, OM

    For an update on Mitt Romney’s latest lies (or shall we be charitable and say “latest comprehension failures), see Steve Benen’s 28th edition of Mitt’s Mendacity.

    Benen provides links that back up his claims that Romney is lying.

    Romney may not know that Obama’s American Jobs Act exists, so he claims it does not exist. I don’t know which is worse, to be that ignorant, or to know about the Jobs Act and then lie about it’s existence.

    That’s just one example out of 28 examples presented by Benen.

  123. 123
    clastum3

    Brian X and others
    this is going round in circles, you picking me up on editing slips: I’ve tried not to distract by mentioning e.g Maroon’s.
    Post 26 you said “there are no substantive differences between people” , and mentioned “The Bell Curve”. I haven’t read The Bell Curve, but from Wikipedia it seems that the racial part of it was very small and it was largely about differences within groups. It was fair and correct to take you at your word.

    Is the difference between poisson and normal distribution really so relevant:? what is the distribution of height of a group of the same sex? I admit I don’t know exactly, but if it doesn’t look more-or-less like a bell I’d be very surprised.

    Is my inexactitude so relevant, or is there some attrition, dissembling or even worse going on on your side?

  124. 124
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I haven’t read The Bell Curve, but from Wikipedia it seems that the racial part of it was very small and it was largely about differences within groups.

    Wikipedia is incorrect. While the section that overtly deals with race is small, the overarching theme of the book is that certain races/nationalities are less intelligent than others, as are women compared to men.

    To construct the book, Murray outright ignores data that contradicts his thesis, and massages the data he includes.

  125. 125
    anathema

    Clastrum3, Brian X’s point was that Guns, Germs, and Steel has undermined the arguments of people who use the book The Bell Curve to claim that some races are inherently more intelligent than others.

    If you simply didn’t know about the book and simply misunderstood what Brian X was saying, fine. Just say that you didn’t know about the book and that led you to misinterpret what Brian X wrote and we can all move on.

    As it stands now, I have no idea why you are arguing with us. I don’t even know what you are trying to argue for.

  126. 126
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    I understand attrition as in “WWI was a war of attrition”. In other words you trying to wear me down, in typical pharyngulite manner when they’re trying to distract from the fact that they’ve got it all wrong by picking on the interpretation of words that are not central to the thesis.

    Just how do you understand attrition then?

    Jesus fuck, are you determined to remain an idiot as well as an ass ?

    Let’s look again. Here’s what BrianX wrote (#26)

    One of the important points of GG&S, for those unfamiliar with it, is that although the geography arguments are important from a cultural standpoint, there are no substantive differences between people. Intellectual capacity is absolutely divorced from race or ethnicity and given the opportunity and support, someone can go from complete isolation (say, the deep Amazon or the Andaman and Sentinel Islands) and become a functioning member of an advanced society with relatively little trouble. Intellectually, it’s the worst nightmare imaginable for the Bell Curve crowd, because it stomps *all* of their justifications for racism, especially the intellectual ones, into the ground

    {Do note the capital “B” capital “C” Bell Curve – the name of a specific book, not the generalized concept of a bell curve …}

    Here’s you losing you shit on your very first reply in this thread:

    26 Brian X

    One of the important points of GG&S,……………there are no substantive differences between people. Intellectually, it’s the worst nightmare imaginable for the Bell Curve crowd

    You don’t distinguish between differences between populations and differences within populations: are you a liar or stupid or both?

    [italics/emphasis mine]

    Not one of us is “trying to distract from the fact that [we've] you’ve got it all wrong” – because in fact we do have it all right. We do understand that BrianX was referring to the book Bell Curve, which was motivated by racism and which is contradicted by Diamond’s central thesis in GGS (a book which you supposedly admire for its objectivity. The irony.) We al are competent to distinguish between populations, but that’s irrelevant. Your whole screed is moot because it’s based on your misunderstanding of the topic of discussion – even though you quoted it yourself!

    And yet, now you want to whine about “abuse” against you ? Must be nice to be you, such a special little snowflake, entitled to freedom from any blowback from coming here nastily blazing away – without even thinking at all – or at least without paying attention to the “Bell Curve” book reference, which was obvious to everyone else.

    +++++

    As for “attrition” – yes, you’re ignorant – or one of the sloppiest writers – or a liar – or all three. Here’s your fucking crappy sentence again, in full:

    This really is breathtaking: my use of caps gets corrected, and the usual abuse and attrition, but not a word on my arguments, which must be self-evident anyway.

    See, you left out at all the verbs necessary to make sense of your sentence. But a charitable reading, attempting to make honest sense, looks something like this:

    This really is breathtaking: my use of caps gets corrected, and the usual abuse and attrition [is posted about/against me], but not a word [is posted in reply to] on my arguments, which must be self-evident anyway.

    But the problem is, you can’t use “attrition” that way, in a direct conjunction with “abuse”, as you wrote it. “Attrition” isn’t a countable noun the same way that “abuse” is.

    So now, in order to charitably assume that you understand what attrition is, we have to rewrite your sentence yet again.

    This really is breathtaking: my use of caps gets corrected, and the usual abuse [is posted about me] and [the pharyngulites conduct a war of] attrition [against me], but not a word [is posted in reply to] on my arguments, which must be self-evident anyway

    If you fucking meant to say we’re “conducting a war of attrition against” you, then fucking say that! Don’t say something else entirely different, and then try to pretend you understand how to say things right.

    Goddamn, if I have to do all that much work to understand one self-pitying (and objectively false) sentence from you, I expect a big paycheck.

    You’re not worth it. I won’t reply to you again on this subject, and I won’t give you even a fragment of the benefit of the doubt if I see you on another thread.

    Toodles, cupcake. Have fun hating on Pharyngula for “abuse and attrition”. Tee hee.

  127. 127
    Gaebolga

    clastum3 wrote (in #123):

    I haven’t read The Bell Curve, but from Wikipedia it seems that the racial part of it was very small and it was largely about differences within groups.

    clastum3 also wrote (back in #112):

    Esteleth -

    I was being too kind to you: at my last post I hadn’t imagined you’d never read it.

    But then on pharyngula that’s no bar to pontificating about it.

    Shorter clastum3:

    “Since you only watched the documentary but didn’t read the book, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. If only you’d read the Wikipedia article on it….”

  128. 128
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    Hey, folks, take a look at the troll outing itself.

    First it says:

    Esteleth -
    I was being too kind to you: at my last post I hadn’t imagined you’d never read it.
    But then on pharyngula that’s no bar to pontificating about it.

    Only minutes later, it says:

    I haven’t read The Bell Curve, but from Wikipedia it seems …

    Riiight, no bar, no bar at all to trolls like clastum3 pontificating about things they haven’t read and don’t understand.

    Not worth your time, folks.

  129. 129
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    clastum3: Your original point was that your intelligence is something that commands awe. I’ll concede that, in a sense, you are correct.

    I’m gobsmacked, anyway.

  130. 130
    Lynna, OM

    Romney gets the wrong stuff stuck in his head, and he sticks with it. No fact-checking can dissuade him. He has been abusing Jared Diamond’s work since 2007. This makes me think it is even more likely that he did read Guns, Germs and Steel but is just incapable of understanding it.

    Garance Franke-Ruta writes in the Atlantic:

    In the summer 2007, I followed Mitt Romney around Iowa for a few days. In a small town west of Des Moines, I heard him speak at an “Ask Mitt Anything” town hall and point to America’s culture as the reason for its success, citing Jared Diamond’s 1997 book Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and David Landes’ 1998 book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some Are So Poor in part as having influenced his thinking. His takeaway from those two works seemed like a classic extension of the frequently heard conservative argument that values help breed economic success, but applied to the international arena, and trotted out as a way of back-patting an audience worried about America’s place in the world in the wake of the Iraq War. Don’t worry, he seemed to be arguing — as long as we’ve got our culture and stick to our conservative values, everything will be OK. He made the same basic case at an August 2007 luncheon with David Brooks and other journalists, and later that year, The New York Times’ Michael Luo, who traveled with Romney more frequently, noted that Romney often cited these books:

    Mr. Romney stands out among the presidential candidates for how often he cites books, from across the ideological spectrum, in his speeches and forums. When talking about globalization, he often mentions ”The World is Flat,” by the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman; he likes to contrast the perspectives of David S. Landes in ”The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” and Jared Diamond in ”Guns, Germs, and Steel,” on what explains the rise and fall of countries …

    In his 2011 book, No Apology: Believe in America, Romney again returned to the argument he’d pioneered on the stump, this time extending it to a comparison of high-tech Israel and the Palestinians’ “not yet even … industrial” economy to make precisely the argument he did Monday when he attributed Palestinian poverty to Palestinian culture, and contrasted it with the values found in Israel….

    Link.

  131. 131
    Gaebolga

    Hey, hotshoe

    Jinx!

  132. 132
    clastum3

    congratulations hotshoe, you’ve proven you can parse and understand a sentence expressed a little conversationally and elliptically, and you’ve shown your working. Just need to improve your speed a little so you can keep up with the others. Might pass the elementary English exam next time.

    Time to go to bed, but couldn’t resist this:
    Maroon #107 @Clausius,

    If someone talks to you about The Grapes of Wrath, do you get a mental picture of angry berries?

    Never read it, but think to understand its cultural significance in the States. In England, for my generation probably George Orwell was the equivalent, and I read virtually everything he wrote (Burmese Days is the only gap, I think). It was years later that it emerged that there were serious questions about the factual basis for his supposed “reportage”. He was a journalist who needed to make his stories piquant, he needed a line, and was politically motivated. Grapes of Wrath was written to sell as a novel: tear-jerking was essential.

    Both authors were writing about people, who, compared with most of the world’s population at the time were extremely well-off.

    If someone talks to me about The Grapes of Wrath, I get a mental picture of political manipulation.

  133. 133
    Gaebolga

    …and still no recognition that he (yeah, I’m going out on a limb here, but the language and attitude just scream “he”) was totally wrong about BrianX’s argument, that the people pointing out the The Bell Curve referred to a book rather than a statistical artifact weren’t just correcting his “use of caps,” and that his hypocrisy is screamingly obvious to all.

    Boring troll is really, really, really boring.

  134. 134
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Never read it, but think to understand its cultural significance in the States.

    Wikipedia should be sufficient to give you a very thorough understanding of everything.

    If someone talks to me about The Grapes of Wrath, I get a mental picture of political manipulation.

    You must be a hoot at parties.

  135. 135
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    Hey, Gaebolga,

    Hey, hotshoe…

    Jinx!

    I owe you a soda!

  136. 136
    'Tis Himself

    Both authors were writing about people, who, compared with most of the world’s population at the time were extremely well-off.

    Actually The Grapes of Wrath is about people in Oklahoma who had been financially just making it but, due to circumstances beyond their control, become poverty stricken. They move to California which turns out not to be the land of milk and honey.

    If someone talks to me about The Grapes of Wrath, I get a mental picture of political manipulation.

    Perhaps if you read the book your mental picture would change.

  137. 137
    'Tis Himself

    Blockquote failure in #136. I’ll try again:

    Both authors were writing about people, who, compared with most of the world’s population at the time were extremely well-off.

    Actually The Grapes of Wrath is about people in Oklahoma who had been financially just making it but, due to circumstances beyond their control, become poverty stricken. They move to California which turns out not to be the land of milk and honey.

    If someone talks to me about The Grapes of Wrath, I get a mental picture of political manipulation.

    Perhaps if you read the book your mental picture would change.

    Addendum:

    Steinbeck is a quite readable author. I’m particularly fond of Cannery Row

  138. 138
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I love Tortilla Flat, but Travels with Charley can go screw.

  139. 139
    echidna

    Clastrum3,
    We would welcome your comments if you talk about something you actually know something about.

  140. 140
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    Having to read Travels with Charley for high school English nearly ruined Steinbeck for me. Fortunately, I spent a lot of time in Monterey and got to hear the history, so I eventually took a fancy to Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, and Tortilla Flat.

    There are three or four recent murals behind the buildings which make up the tourist part of the street named Cannery Row (used to be Ocean View Ave, officially renamed in 1958 to honor Steinbeck). The murals depict the background characters of Cannery Row world. I love the interaction between the artwork and my mental picture of Steinbeck’s vividly described world.

    music mural

    “The nature of parties has been imperfectly studied. It is, however, generally understood that a party has a pathology, that it is a kind of an individual and that it is likely to be a very perverse individual. And it is also generally understood that a party hardly ever goes the way it is planned or intended.”
    – John Steinbeck Cannery Row

  141. 141
    BrianX

    clastum3:

    You don’t by any chance live in the Metro Orlando area? Because one of the dumbest people I know lives there. (Admittedly, so does one of the smartest people I know, but he’s likely to have heard of the book before.)

  142. 142
    vaiyt

    Clastrum3:

    Maybe I could engage your discussion if I knew what the hell your point was.

  143. 143
    chigau (違う)

    Why am I thinking of Emily Litella?

  144. 144
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    Why am I thinking of Emily Litella?

    What’s all this I hear about presidential erections?

  145. 145
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Why am I thinking of Emily Litella?

    Too many fuckwits think “freethinkers” = believe any bullshit I put out there, including islamophobia….But we are true freethinkers, free of their prejudices.

  146. 146
    Anri

    I haven’t read The Bell Curve, but from Wikipedia it seems that the racial part of it was very small and it was largely about differences within groups. It was fair and correct to take you at your word.

    Is the difference between poisson and normal distribution really so relevant:? what is the distribution of height of a group of the same sex? I admit I don’t know exactly, but if it doesn’t look more-or-less like a bell I’d be very surprised.

    “Hey, guys, even though I was wrong, I was actually right. Because – let’s face it – I’m way too smart to be wrong. I get so tired of having to explain that to every single person I meet!”

  147. 147
    Lynna, OM

    Salon posted an article that digs a little deeper into the source of Mitt Romney’s delusions when it comes to Israel. Mitt Romney: Son of Abraham?”
    Excerpts below:

    Conservative Christianity teaches “supersessionism,” the idea that God’s covenant with Christians replaced his covenant with the Jews and now Christians are the Chosen People, the spiritual heirs of Abraham. Mormonism takes this a step further, teaching that Mormons are not only the spiritual heirs of Abraham, they are his physical descendants as well.

    Mormonism includes a ritual called the “ patriarchal blessing ” in which a member in good standing receives a set of pronouncements spoken by an older male who is thought, during the ritual itself, to act as a latter-day prophet…. One of the most central functions of the patriarchal blessing is to reveal which great-grandson of Abraham a person can claim as his ancestor. Per Mormonwiki:

    “Through these blessings, Latter-day Saints are told their lineage from the tribes of Israel. All tribes have been represented, but Latter-day Saints descend mostly from the sons of Joseph—Ephraim and Manasseh.”


    Our quest to bend nature’s or society’s rules to stack the odds in our favor, means that we are constantly vying for a little more status. For that reason, it would come as no surprise to a scholar of sacred stories that a preponderance of Mormons are said to descend from the lineage of Joseph ….

    The belief that our ancestry matters to God has drawn the LDS Church into several kinds of awkward or ugly dogmas. Officially sanctioned racism was prominent in theology and church practice for a century and a half after Smith founded the religion. According to the story , a tribe of Israelites traveled to the Americas around 600 BCE, but split into two warring factions. The evil faction, the Lamanites, eventually killed off their righteous brethren and were punished with brown skins, becoming the forebears of Native Americans. Offspring of Adam’s son Cain (who murdered his brother) were cursed with even darker skin, became the forebears of Africans. Anyone with African blood was banned from the full privileges of Mormon membership until 1978 and Utah refused to celebrate MLK Day until 2000. Recent DNA research showing Native Americans to have Asian ancestry has caused consternation and even defections among science-minded Mormons.

    Mormon Church leaders like Mitt Romney appear to have moved beyond the divinely sanctified racism of church history – at least when it comes to matters of skin color. But the issue of privileged bloodlines remains. In the Mormon version of the end times, the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob will be gathered together into the land promised so long ago by Yehovah to a wandering band of Semites. The tribe of Judah will return to the land surrounding Jerusalem, but the tribe of Joseph (divided between Ephraim and Manasseh) as part of “10 lost tribes” will be gathered together in Zion, also called the New Jerusalem, centered in Jackson County, Missouri.

    According to the Tenth Article of the Mormon Faith, this is not a spiritual metaphor: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.”

    Does Mitt Romney think he is a son of Abraham and that Zion will be his inheritance? It is hard to imagine otherwise. He worships a god who cares who your father was, and his father, and his father before him and who, in part, allocates blessings accordingly. Indeed, Mormon doctrine may offer a little insight into why Romney appears so untroubled by an America where fortunes increasingly are dictated by heredity.

  148. 148
    Lynna, OM

    Wonder how Romney feels about porn star Jenna Jameson endorsing him.

    Mormons fear porn almost as much as they fear the Outer Darkness. Must be hard to have your supporters being rich folk from that industry.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election-2012/porn-legend-jenna-jameson-romney-unhelpful-endorsement-article-1.1128334?localLinksEnabled=false

    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/03/quote_of_the_day_9/

  149. 149
    ChasCPeterson

    Travels with Charley

    I remember enjoying that one too. ‘Course I was like 14.

    Really serious Steinbeck is East of Eden and Log of the Sea of Cortez.

  150. 150
    Lynna, OM

    Romney has a talent for aligning himself with political operatives who have proven themselves to be complete dolts in the past. Take for instance, the guy he hired to push the fantastic, plastic, magical mystery economic plan that is supposed to produce the Romney Economic Boom.

    Kevin Hassett co-authored Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. That book was not just wrong, it was spectacularly wrong. So, is it a good idea to have Kevin Hassett making predictions about economic outcomes, and providing input for Romney’s pie-in-the-sky plans? Well, I guess if you’re going to be a wingnut, you might as well go all the way.

    …This week the Romney campaign was knocked on its heels by a study which suggested that Romney’s tax plan would — in addition to giving a windfall to the wealthiest Americans — increase taxes on 95% of Americans. So the guy who’s running for President to turn back President Obama’s supposedly high-taxing and deficit creating ways would actually raise taxes on virtually everyone and also explode the deficit.

    But, wait, there’s more!

    …the campaign’s main campaign angle has been to posit a Romney Economic Boom that would take hold on Romney’s election. So basically, all the formula and modeling doesn’t really matter because Romney’s policies would spur such massive growth that tax revenues just couldn’t help but go up and everyone would do great.

    So a typical supply-side argument. But just look who the campaign is putting forward as the expert on the Romney Economic Boom. I’m sort of surprised no one has pointing this out. It’s none other than Kevin Hassett….

    Link.

  151. 151
    ChasCPeterson

    self-policing:
    East of Eden and The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

  152. 152
    'Tis Himself

    Lynna, OM #150

    Hasset was an economic adviser to McCain four years ago.

    I’ve met Hasset. He’s a very charming man, which isn’t surprising for someone who, when he isn’t advising politicians, is a salesman. Romney, like many CEOs, likes to have yes-men around. Hasset fills that niche quite well. Plus Hasset knows the same jargon as a financier like Romney.

  153. 153
    'Tis Himself

    I see all through my post #152 I misspelled Hassett’s name. Oh well.

  154. 154
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    *Sniff* Do I detect damning with faint praise? ;)

  155. 155
    chigau (違う)

    Nerd
    cryptic

  156. 156
  157. 157
  158. 158
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Try again (hitting moderation filter)
    Faint praise

  159. 159
    chigau (違う)

    Nerd
    yabut
    who?

  160. 160
    BrianX

    Lynna:

    Considering she couldn’t have been more explicit about it being solely about the money, I think being endorsed by a porn star is the least of his worries about that particular statement.

  161. 161
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Nerd
    yabut
    who?

    ‘Tis, talking about Hassett as Mitten’s economic advisor.

  162. 162
    Amphiox

    I’m currently running on the theory that Jenna Jameson is actually a stealth democrat who is deliberately trying to sabotage Romney’s campaign.

    There’s really no other rational way to parse the comments she made accompanying her “endorsement” (or the fact that she made the endorsement public at all).

  163. 163
    Lynna, OM

    ‘Tis Himself:

    I’ve met Hasset. He’s a very charming man, which isn’t surprising for someone who, when he isn’t advising politicians, is a salesman. Romney, like many CEOs, likes to have yes-men around. Hasset fills that niche quite well. Plus Hasset knows the same jargon as a financier like Romney.

    So, Hasset can be charmingly wrong, like he was in Dow 36,000. See http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/09/dow-36000-2/
    It continues to amaze me that Republicans can be proven wrong, or even shown to be criminals (Ralph Reed types), and suffer very little for it. They’ll certainly still get a job stumping for Mitt Romney. Is this the triumph of style over substance? (Well, Romney has no style, or an anti-style, but some of his advisors and surrogates are charming.)

  164. 164
    Lynna, OM

    All of us are still trying to understand Mitt Romney’s strange combination of cluelessness and ruthlessness.

    An article in today’s Salon looks at Romney’s odd culture war.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/05/mitt_romneys_culture_war/

    This is the same guy whose sense of what’s culturally right is so strong that it compels him to do what’s morally wrong.

    Sounds religious to me, with mormon icing.

    Ayn Randians find the poor responsible for their poverty, and Romney loves that take on poverty. So does his religion. If you are righteous and obedient, you will prosper in the land.

  165. 165
    Lynna, OM

    Mike Lofgren, a guy who worked for 28 years as a professional staff member in Congress, has written a sort of tell-all for Salon, GOP insider: Religion destroyed my party . Excerpts below.

    … I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war….

    All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars….

    If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad! This rationale may explain why some poor voters will defend the prerogatives of billionaires….

    In his fairly long article, Lofgren provides specific examples of Republicans bowing before infusions of cash, family values be damned. Christian Dominionism, selective Libertarianism, the tax-exempt status of religious organizations and more are discussed.

    I disagree with Lofgren in his plea to leave Mitt Romney’s religion alone, but the rest of the essay is informative. Here’s Lofgren on Michelle Bachmann and the takeover of education by the religious right:

    Hence the policies pursued for at least two decades by the religious right on the federal, state, and local levels. It usually starts at the school board, after some contrived uproar over sex education or liberal indoctrination. The stealthily fundamentalist school board candidates pledge to clean up the mess and “get back to basics.” After a few years they capture a majority on the board, and suddenly “Catcher in the Rye” is heaved out of the curriculum and science teachers are under pressure to teach the (imaginary) controversy about evolutionary biology. This was the path to greater glory of Michele Bachmann: Her first run for public office, barely a dozen years ago, was for a seat on the school board in Stillwater, Minnesota. Up until then she had drawn a taxpayer-funded salary for five years working as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service, not, of course, because she was one of those lazy, good-for-nothing government bureaucrats that Republican candidates routinely denounce. She was secretly studying the ways of the government beast so as to defeat it later on.

    Romney is all for private enterprise taking over schools, and with fewer restrictions on curricula. Romney may be a mormon, but he is a tool of the broader religious right.

  166. 166
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Lynna,OM

    Ayn Randians find the poor responsible for their poverty, and Romney loves that take on poverty.

    In South Africa it gets even more creepy. Poverty is “infectious”. People actually murder the poor in order to prevent the “infection of poverty” from spreading. (This is actually a common trope with primitive forms of superstition. And primitive superstition is very much the driving force behind all religiousity.)

  167. 167
    Lynna, OM

    In South Africa it gets even more creepy. Poverty is “infectious”. People actually murder the poor in order to prevent the “infection of poverty” from spreading.

    Well, that’s one way to make Mitt Romney look moderate. Sheesh. I think you may have ruined my morning. Again, sheesh.

  168. 168
    Lynna, OM

    Romney is doubling down on his Jerusalem-is-the-capital-of-Israel statement. He has a new ad out that repeats this incendiary pronouncement

    “As President, Barack Obama has never visited Israel and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.”

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entries/romney-reaches-out-to-jewish-voters-plays-up

  169. 169
    Lynna, OM

    New York Times cartoon on the subject of Mitt Romney’s finances:

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/the-strip.html#3

  170. 170
    Nick Gotts

    In his 2011 book, No Apology: Believe in America, Romney

    Well I believe in America, and see no reason to apologise for that: I’ve been there several times, and it seemed real enough, although I suppose it could have been an ultra-sophisticated simulation; or maybe aliens have been fiddling with my memory.

  171. 171
    Lynna, OM

    All of Romney’s lies in one place. Link.

    … I have been working to gather all of Willard’s grotesque falsehoods into one central blog. I don’t carry advertising on it, and I have not “monetized” it in any way. It’s strictly a labor of love/hate. It can be found here. You see, I loathe and despise liars. I’m 60. I’ve been following politics since I was 12 (yes, a misspent youth). I vividly remember such world-class prevaricators as Richard Nixon. But for the life of me, I have never seen a more brazen liar than Romney running for president in my entire life. By God, I won’t stand for it, not without a fight. Hey, I’m just one little person. But just as a few hundred thousand small fires can make a conflagration, a few hundred thousand dedicated truth-tellers can out Mitt Romney for the lying, unprincipled, morally bankrupt sociopath that he is. So, with this conviction in mind, here are Romney’s lies all exposed…

    The list includes Romney lying about his own first name.

  172. 172
    Nick Gotts

    “I’ll take books I haven’t read for $500, Alex” – clastrum3

    Anyone notice a similarity to another idiot who frequented Scienceblogs Pharyngula for a while – nym of clausentum, IIRC?

  173. 173
    Lynna, OM

    Well I believe in America, and see no reason to apologise for that: I’ve been there several times, and it seemed real enough, although I suppose it could have been an ultra-sophisticated simulation; or maybe aliens have been fiddling with my memory.

    Surely you have noticed Romney’s robot-like walk and demeanor. Under the Romney skin there is an alien who forced the illusion of the existence of the U.S.A. on your poor brain. And for that, he does not apologize.

    You should be wary, though. The Romney/alien’s believe-in-America campaign is not finished with you. You have been reading Pharyngula again. That’s all the evidence needed to send a major fiddling expert your way. You must BELIEVE in Romney’s USA, and nothing else will do.

    Here’s Romney’s latest lie, President Obama is trying to restrict voting rights for those serving in the military. Link. Faux News is all over this, eating it like candy. Apparently, there is no lie so blatant that Romney can not get away with it.

  174. 174
    Nick Gotts

    It’s intriguing to find Diamond suddenly the hero round here, because my up till now, impression was that he was pretty non-grata with the left. – clastrum3

    I know others have already commented on this piece of nonsense, but seriously, WTF? While Diamond is not overtly of the left, the major theme of GG&S is that the 19th and 20th century predominance of European and European-derived societies is not the result of either biological or cultural superiority, but of geographical and most notably biogeographic factors; while that of Collapse is that we face an immensely serious environmental crisis, including but not limited to the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Thus he directly contradicts central dogmas of much of the right.

  175. 175
    Lynna, OM

    Chris Hayes discusses Mitt Romney and federal money for the Olympics.

    Video interview with former Salt Lake City Mayor, Rocky Anderson.
    http://UpwithChrisHayes.msnbc.com/_news/2012/07/21/12877714-mitt-romney-and-federal-money-for-the-olympics?lite

    $1.3 billion in federal dollars.

    Romney claims credit for creating a $100 million surplus at the Salt Lake Olympics, and says he donated that surplus to an endowment for Olympic sport.

    Dear Mitt Romney, $100 million is more than twice the amount that was actually received by the endowment fund. $40 million is not $100 million. And credit for the surplus goes to we the taxpaying people, not to you.
    Link, with facts about endowment, etc., plus documentation of Romney saying, “Balderdash!”

  176. 176
    ericatkinson

    ….But we are true freethinkers, free of their prejudices.

    Turd, that’s the funniest Goddamn thing I have ever seen you write.

  177. 177
    clastum3

    KG # 170,172 yes, I was earlier clausentum and changed my nym (and posted the fact here) because I was having trouble logging in when blog moved to freethought.

    One of the points on which Diamond doesn’t fit into the left mould is on population: he sees it as the major part of the problem. In fact he ascribes the Rwandan massacres largely to population pressure. On the left the preference seems to be to snipe at anyone who mentions it as a “culler” (copyright Pharyngula), or misanthrope.

    In fact we caught you out here dissembling on this once, KG!

  178. 178
    Nick Gotts

    clastrum3,

    You’re a barefaced liar as well as a bigot and a fool. I have never once dissembled with regard to population, and you will be unable to show any instance where I have done so – I notice you have not attempted to do so in making your false accusation. What I have done is object to people who do not know the actual facts about population growth – that the proportional rate of growth peaked in the early 1960s, has halved since, and is still falling in most countries – pontificating about it, and claiming that there is a “taboo” against discussing it, generally in the middle of a discussion of it. Nor is the importance of population growth in general dismissed on the left, although there are exceptions; what the left in general objects to is its use by right-wing and racist scumbags using the issue of population growth to cast the blame for environmental crisis on the poor and on non-whites, when most of it belongs to the rich.

  179. 179
    Jadehawk

    I’m sorry, but since when is the left the folks who are having a hard time facing the realities of overpopulation? Last I checked, “demographic winter”, “be fruitful and multiply”, and a general hatred for family planning are right-wing obsessions.

  180. 180
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Turd, that’s the funniest Goddamn thing I have ever seen you write.

    Ah, but you didn’t refute it, so you tacitly agree with it…Prejudices are for RWA’s liberturds, and other scum of the Earth.

  181. 181
    clastum3

    KG #176 : are you denying that you once posted this on pharyngula?:

    …it is not true that halting or even reversing growth would solve problems such as anthropogenic climate change or resource depletion.

    I despair of ever being able to do a decent web search: if anyone could find the thread where it was posted, and tell me how they did it, I’d be eternally grateful. That’s before I get to conspiracy theories about posts from the wrong sort of people (bigots aka non-left wingers) being suppressed from the archives.

  182. 182
    Jadehawk

    clastrum, are you stupid or something? stopping population growth won’t solve the problem of AGW or resource depletion. That’s not the same as it not being a major contributing factor to current problems.

    So that quote you produced, if real, cannot possibly be called “dissembling”.

  183. 183
    ericatkinson

    Ah, but you didn’t refute it, so you tacitly agree with it…Prejudices are for RWA’s liberturds, and other scum of the Earth.

    Turd, you refut that statement every time you make a post.

    Anytime,anyone states they are without prejudices or bias, they are FUCKING LIARS!

    Like Turd.

  184. 184
    ericatkinson

    Personally, I think Turd learned his “bull baiting” skills down in Clearwater, Florida.

  185. 185
    Nick Gotts

    clastrum3,

    No, I don’t deny that I said that, because it is, of course, true. As jadehawk says, population growth contributes to increasing resource use and pollution, but since resource use and pollution per capita is also increasing, halting or even reversing population growth would not solve those problems.

    How the fuck do you remember to open your mouth when you want to eat, you cack-brained lackwit?

  186. 186
    Lynna, OM

    Mitt Romney, a cipher in many ways, may be known by the company he keeps. And the company for which he pimps. Tea Party whack jobs being one.

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered enthusiastic support Saturday for Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s tea party-backed nominee for the U.S. Senate, urging patrons at a barbecue restaurant to send their state treasurer to Washington….

    “This is a man who I want to see in Washington to make sure that we cannot just talk about changing things but actually have the votes to get things changed.”

    For those who’ve forgotten, Mourdock has positioned himself as one of the most extreme statewide candidates in the country. Two weeks ago, the guy equated the successful rescue of the American automotive industry with slavery. On health care, Mourdock has said he’s entirely comfortable with employers denying coverage to employees with cancer in order to “keep their health care costs down.” On entitlements, he supports deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, both of which he considers unconstitutional.

    …Mourdock told multiple news outlets, “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”

  187. 187
    Gaebolga

    Jadehawk wrote:

    clastrum, are you stupid or something?

    I think it’s pretty clear we can rule out “or something.”

  188. 188
    Lynna, OM

    More coverage on Mitt Romney blatantly lying when he claims that President Obama is trying to “undermine” the ability of American troops to vote: Link.

    After spending the last several months paying attention to Mitt Romney’s habitual dishonesty at a granular level, I’ve become largely inured to his more routine, casual lies. Some of the deliberate falsehoods are just too common to get upset about.

    But once in a while, Romney tells a lie so blatant and offensive that it raises questions anew about the candidate’s character and what standards of decency he’s prepared to abandon to advance his ambitions….

    …President Obama’s campaign filed a lawsuit a few weeks ago, asking a federal court to “restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day.” Three weeks later, Romney came up with a new response to the lawsuit, posting this message to Facebook:

    President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.

    Got that? Obama wants all eligible Ohio voters, including servicemen and women, to have the same ability to vote, which Romney says, in writing, means Obama is trying to “undermine” the troops’ ability to vote.

    Joseph Jesus fucking Smith Christ, Mr. Romney.

    This is as loathsome a lie as Romney has told all year — and given his record, that’s not an easy threshold to meet.

    It’s important to realize that this isn’t a matter of opinion. CNN’s headline over the weekend said, “Romney campaign jabs at Obama over voting rights suit.” The headline on the Politico homepage yesterday said, “Obama, Mitt camps spar on military voting.”

    No. Wrong. No one is “jabbing” or “sparring.” One candidate lied and got caught. Full stop.

    … Yesterday, the Republican presidential campaign said the Obama campaign’s lawsuit calling for equal voting rights is “despicable.”

    It’s as if words no longer have any meaning, and Americans politics has become so blisteringly stupid, candidates believe they can say literally anything and get away with it.

  189. 189
    Nick Gotts

    No, I don’t deny that I said that, because it is, of course, true. – Me

    To clarify, I wouldn’t have automatically denied it if it were not true; but since I have no specific memory of saying it, if it had been something I consider false, I’d have demanded a link showing that I did say it, and the context in which I said it.

  190. 190
    Lynna, OM

    It’s unfair to say, as some might, that Mitt Romney believes in nothing except his own ambition. He believes, with shining certainty, in his own success, and, more broadly, in the American Gospel of Wealth that lies behind it: the idea that rich people got rich by being good, that the riches are a sign of their virtue, and that they should therefore be allowed to rule.

    The excerpt above is from an article written by Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker.

    Mormonism’s History and Meanings is available in full online.

  191. 191
    tyroneslothrop

    The problem with Diamond, as numerous actual anthropologists have pointed out, is that his books aren’t terribly good with the basic facts (see, for example, Questioning Collapse). His books are not scholarly books and, to be honest, Rommey comes pretty close to actually getting the essential argument undergirding Diamond’s work. Others have blogged about this elsewhere (see, for example, Living Anthropologically). But Diamond is a bit more complicated a read then many seem to be arguing here.

    Anyway, if I am going to use a big non-scholarly book in one of my classes, it’ll be Charles Mann’s 1491 or his 1493. For a scholarly book, Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History is still essential reading. And here I absolutely agree with Jason Antrosio at Living Anthropologically.

    But I put Diamond’s book in the same rubbish heap that I’ve tossed Dawkins (God Delusion) and Pinker (The Better Angels, The Language Instinct, The Stuff of Thought, and The Blank Slate). Lousy books the lot and they make serious scholarship look bad by implication (people assume these are serious scholars, they are as serious as David Brooks or Thomas Friedman).

    On the other hand, and to end on a positive, I very much enjoyed Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter.

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