Waiting for our wits to grow sharper? Could be a looong time.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts, unattributed internet sources (via Freedom From Religion Foundation).

Looks like the universe is going to have to wait one hell of a long time.

The Cognitive Bias Codex, 2016 is a collaboration between Buster Benson, who recategorized Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases, and John Manoogian III, who transformed Benson’s work into this stunning image:

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And it’s not even my birthday!

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny including slurs, racism, violence against logic, incoherence, banality, Nazis, sex toys.]

I had almost forgotten about this, what with all my squirrel monitoring duties and sofa painting and suchlike. But buried in my inbox was a gift from the WordPress gods in the form of two consecutive auto-moderated comments, written in response to a post I wrote back in July about the harms of benevolent sexism, and purporting to offer “an opposing viewpoint.”

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Ask Iris: How is Sam Harris wrong? Part 1.

A friend and Loyal Reader™ forwarded me a recent screed by Sam Harris. He asked if I would be willing to indulge him in letting him know what in it, if anything, I think is “objectionable, disagree with or find otherwise ill-advised.” Harris’s post, entitled “What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the ‘War on Terror,’” is written in the form of a proposed speech that he would like for the Democratic nominee for president to give before the November election. “Its purpose,” Harris says, “is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern.”

I did a debunking of Harris almost two years ago on this very topic. It was a tedious exercise, mainly because like all right-wing conservatives and reactionaries, he bases his irrational, evidence-free, simplistic, black-&-white views and arguments, such as they are, on falsehoods and factual inaccuracies that are a cakewalk to disprove. The task was all the more unbearable because I’ve always found Harris an unoriginal and uninteresting thinker and a witless and dull writer, so much so that I’m genuinely amazed he is not a regular op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

That said, he is certainly an incendiary polemicist. Or he tries to be anyway, but for me he comes off as smug and comically uninformed as any ordinary Fox News host. Except for a few items that popped up in my feeds, Harris had largely dropped off my radar. Those sure were a couple of doozies, though. Last year he made his jaw-dropping claim that far-right fabulist and then-presidential candidate Ben Carson is “one of the best people” on the subject of Islam and terrorism, even as Carson’s “own advisers admit [he] struggles with grasping basic facts surrounding international conflicts.” Before that, Noam Chomsky—who is the farthest thing from an unoriginal and uninteresting thinker or a witless and dull writer—ate him for lunch. Oh, and then there was that one time I made a bobblehead of Sam Harris for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

harrisbobblehead

Researching for today’s post, however, I came across many more Harris grotesqueries that I was fortunate enough to miss, ignore or block from memory: support for racial profiling, torture, preemptive nuclear war, demanding that the US government admit that it is and ought to be “at war with Islam” and that “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”

Sensible fascists. Jeezus.

A decade ago, Harris wrote that Muslim immigrants to Europe exploit the Western values of their host countries by “demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques.” He is inexplicably unaware that, in accordance with his much-touted “Western values,” his fellow US citizens not only demand “tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques churches“—and also happens to be the foundational principle upon which US “civilization” is and has always been based—they fucking receive it. He’s also unaware that immigrant populations assimilate to their host culture within a few generations—well, at least if they’re treated decently, for instance by having their host country not declare war on their religion or its presidential candidates threatening and demonizing them.

I honestly don’t know why I am undertaking this task again. Maybe because I find it troubling that anyone but a Fox News viewer would take the guy seriously on this issue, when conducting a cursory investigation into the facts and evidence for yourself will reveal how completely and utterly wrong he is about a unique nexus between Islamic religious ideas and terrorism (and misogyny), as well as how unethical, irrational, irresponsible and dangerous it is to promote such falsehoods. Maybe I’m doing this because I have some unhealthy masochistic tendencies I really should bring up in therapy. Maybe it’s because I like honoring the 1940s-era pianist and comedian Oscar Levant who said, “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

Well, regardless, now I’ve gone and done it. My comments and edits to Harris’s latest…whatever it is are in blue.

SPOILER ALERT: Sam Harris is still wanking all over the same, tired hobbyhorse. He has learned nothing. And he likely never will.

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GUEST POST: All Olympians Are Great Athletes; A Few, However, Are Not Yet Good Role Models for Rational Decision-Making.

This is a post by my improbable dear friend Don Ardell. I say improbable because Don is, among other things, a seventy-something year old world champion triathlete and duathlete, while I on the other hand can barely drag my ass to the gym a few measly times a week, muttering and groaning and complaining bitterly before, during and after every single fucking workout. He is also a pioneer in wellness (no, not the fun kind at the day spa—the REAL deal) and author/co-author of several books on the subject, the latest of which (with Grant Donovan) is Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy.

wellnessorgasms

Don also has a fantastic sense of humor: one day he asked me to be on the advisory board of his newsletter publication, the Ardell Wellness Report. Hahaha! I almost choked on my chocolate marshmallow vodka breakfast smoothie! But then I remembered a deeply moving and powerful quote by the author Carroll Bryant: “Everyone in life has a purpose, even if it’s to serve as a bad example.” And so I told Don I would be honored and happy to serve.

As long as I could do it from a superluxe day spa that offers full bar service to the massage rooms. OBVIOUSLY.

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