September 2003

1) Attack The Messenger: Instead of addressing the argument that has been made, people using this method attack the person making it instead.

2) The Bait & Switch: When a claim is made and your opponent refutes it, don’t try to respond, simply change the subject.

3) The Blitzkrieg: The goal here is blast your opponent with so many accusations that they can’t possibly respond….It doesn’t matter if all — or even any — of the accusations are true, relevant, or make any sense. The goal is just to get them out there. Making an accusation takes a few seconds, refuting one takes much longer. So an opponent confronted with these accusations will never actually have time to respond.

4) Enter The Strawman: Tremendously exaggerating your opponent’s position and then claiming to fight against a position they don’t hold is always a great way to dodge the issues…Eventually some people start to take them seriously and build on them.

5) History Will Be Kind To Me For I Intend To Write It: The technique is similar to using strawmen in some respects. What you try to do is to rewrite history, to claim that a debate in a previous time was different than it actually was…The build-up to Iraq war has been treated in a similar fashion by the anti-war crowd. Before the war there were complaints that Bush wouldn’t stick to one reason for invading, now there are claims that it was only about WMD. There was almost no debate on Capitol Hill between Dems & the GOP about whether Iraq actually had WMD until after the war when it became apparent that none were going to be quickly be found. Throwaway lines that were hardly noticed before the war (like the controversial yet true 16 words in the State of the Union speech) have been treated as if they were core arguments made by the Bush administration after the fact. It’s all just a way to rewrite history.

6) I’m Not Hearing You — La La La: Just totally ignoring what your opponent has to say and going on to something else…

7) Motives Matter, Results Don’t: …start questioning the motives of their opponents…they just claim that there are impure motives afoot…When the real issues are too tough to deal with, it’s all too easy to just pretend something else is what you’re really upset about.

8) That Context Is On A Need To Know Basis: Strip[] away the context…It’s very easy to make someone look like a bad guy if you simply don’t include every detail that doesn’t support your case.

9) That’s Mean, Mean, Mean! …claim that certain policy proposals are “mean”. Once you say that, results, logic, how expensive the project is, etc, etc, goes out the window and the argument becomes over whether someone is “mean” or not. MORE


An Interview With Milton Friedman [RWN]

by Limbic on September 30, 2003

John Hawkins: Let me ask you about this — what do you say to people who claim that free trade will eventually lead to high unemployment in the US as large numbers of jobs move to cheaper labor markets overseas?

Milton Friedman: Well, they only consider half of the problem. If you move jobs overseas, it creates incomes and dollars overseas. What do they do with that dollar income? Sooner or later it will be used to purchase US goods and that produces jobs in the United States.

In fact, all of the progress that the US has made over the last couple of centuries has come from unemployment. It has come from figuring out how to produce more goods with fewer workers, thereby releasing labor to be more productive in other areas. It has never come about through permanent unemployment, but temporary unemployment, in the process of shifting people from one area to another.

When the United States was formed in 1776, it took 19 people on the farm to produce enough food for 20 people. So most of the people had to spend their time and efforts on growing food. Today, it’s down to 1% or 2% to produce that food. Now just consider the vast amount of supposed unemployment that was produced by that. But there wasn’t really any unemployment produced. What happened was that people who had formerly been tied up working in agriculture were freed by technological developments and improvements to do something else. That enabled us to have a better standard of living and a more extensive range of products.

The same thing is happening around the world. China has been growing very rapidly in recent years. That’s because they shifted from a very inefficient method of agricultural production to something that comes close to the equivalent of private ownership of the land and agriculture. As a result, they’ve been able to produce a lot more with many fewer workers and that has released workers who have come into the cities and have been able to work in industry and other areas and China has been having a very rapid increase in income. MORE


Required reading is this Salon article [ Welcome to the machine? ]on Automation and the socio-economic consequences of millions of jobs either been taken by robots or outsourced to India or China.

A superb book which analyses this problem as well as the recent stock market bubble, the coming bonds and property crashes as well is “Money for Nothing” by Roger Bootle. The following is from the publishers site:

The world is at a critical juncture, poised between a surge in wealth and descent into outright slump. Now Roger Bootle embraces controversy again with a fascinating and frightening book which analyses the prospect of both deflation and depression after the great illusion of the bubble – ‘money for nothing’.

Yet Bootle argues that if we can avoid the twin perils of protectionism and a deflationary slump, there is a positive prospect for a global leap in real wealth in the future through an acceleration in the new, intangible economy – money for nothing. The old economic obsession with tangible things such as land or machines has been replaced by a new economy of ‘non things’ such as intellect and ideas.

The world is on the brink of another leap forward in productive capacity and wealth which is the equivalent of the transformation which took place in our lives with the industrial revolution and the discovery of North America rolled into one – and collapsed into a couple of decades. The results may be a change in our circumstances which will make our lives today every bit as incongruous to the next generation as those of two hundred years ago are to us.

In The Death of Inflation Roger Bootle rocked the economic establishment with his predictions and was proved right. Now he embraces controversy again with this fascinating book.

Roger Bootle is one of the City of London’s best-known economists. Formerly Group Chief Economist at HSBC, he is now Managing Director of Capital Economics, an independent economic consultancy, and Economic Advisor to Deloitte & Touche. He is a regular columnist on the Sunday Telegraph and a well-known broadcaster on radio and television. His previous book, The Death of Inflation, was also published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing and became an international bestseller.

Another book I spotted which looks interesting is “So Shall We Reap” by Colin Tudge. This is from the Penguin site:

At the start of the twenty-first century, food in the West is cheaper, more convenient and more plentiful than ever – but at what cost? Who is really in control of what we eat? What effect will the way we currently produce food have on our future?

So Shall We Reap exposes the real price we have paid for the food on our table: the relentless drive for maximum production at minimum cost that has led to the erosion of rural communities worldwide; mounting concern over Foot and Mouth disease, BSE, pesticides and GM foods – and rates of obesity soaring, while other nations starve as they are forced to export goods in a cut-throat global marketplace.

But does it really have to be this way? This powerful, life-changing book shows that we can make a difference. By following the principles of enlightened agriculture – an approach grounded in sound biology, modern nutritional theory and fundamental human values – it is possible not only to reverse the damage to our health and environment, but to feed the whole world to the highest possible standards for tens of thousands of years to come.

Colin Tudge looks at the past, present and future of food production, and concludes that today’s globalized, corporatized approach has misappropriated science, regarded farming purely as a business like any other and lost touch with what it was intended for: feeding the people. We must get back to seeing ourselves as a species and the world as our habitat, reawaken traditional, regional cuisines and re-root processes in the biological and physical realities of the land. Only then can we take back control of our food from industrialists and financiers – and ultimately ensure the survival of humanity


Some Roger Scruton resources…

by Limbic on September 26, 2003

Bring Back Stigma

t is now orthodox to regard social stigma as a form of oppression, to be discarded on our collective quest for inner freedom. But the political philosophers and novelists of former times would have been horrified by such a view. In almost all matters that touched upon the core requirements of social order, they believed that the genial pressure of manners, morals, and customs—enforced by the various forms of disapproval, stigma, shame, and reproach—was a more powerful guarantor of civilized and lawful behavior than the laws themselves. Inner sanctions, they argued, more dependably maintain society than such external ones as policemen and courts. That is why the moralists of the eighteenth century, for example, rarely touched upon murder, theft, rape, or criminal deception; instead, they were passionately interested in the small-scale mores on which social order depends and which, properly adhered to, make such crimes unthinkable.

Stigma has evaporated in our era, and along with it much of the constant, small-scale self-regulation of the community, which depends on each individual’s respect for, and fear of, other people’s judgment. In consequence, the laws have expanded, both in extent and complexity, to fill the void. Yet as sanctions have been expropriated from society by the state, people feel far more free to follow their own inclinations, to disregard proprieties, and to ignore the effect of their behavior on others and on the common good. MORE

The West and the Rest: On terrorism and globalization.

It is thanks to Western prosperity, Western legal systems, Western forms of banking, and Western communications that human initiatives now reach so easily across frontiers to affect the lives and aspirations of people all over the globe. However, Western civilization depends on an idea of citizenship that is not global at all, but rooted in territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty. MORE


The UK government announces a half measure. They now acknowledge that false rape accusations are a problem and can destroy lives, so their response is to allow men to have “their identity concealed up until the time they are charged”.

This is no good. This still means that mean falsely accused and charged will be hurt. The only measure is complete anonymity removed only if the accused is convicted of rape.


Lawyer: Too many women cry rape [Redux]

by Limbic on September 26, 2003

“A leading barrister today sparked a storm of controversy by claiming too many young women are crying rape.

Jonathan Davies, who also sits as a Crown Court recorder, spoke out as an increasingly high number of rape trials end with the suspect walking free.” Whoa!

He said: “The offence of rape is being downgraded and acquittals are increasing. Young women should be told the truth: juries will not convict when the complaint is, ‘Yes we went to bed but he wouldn’t stop’.

“Juries will go on thinking this no matter how much campaigners inveigh against the unfairness of the system to women. It is a truth that is producing acquittal after acquittal. Yet the Crown Prosecution Service and the police are still afraid of saying, ‘This case will never succeed’.

“Instead, they pass it on to the person up the decision chain until an individual decision becomes entwined with a policy of prosecuting and complaint, however ridiculous.”

Mr Davies, who is writing a novel The Bird Table about a date-rape trial, said his comments did not mean “if a woman wears a short skirt, she is asking for it”.


“Women don’t have the right stuff for the front line, veteran war reporter Kate Adie tells Margarette Driscoll”


Here is letter I sent to Spiked today:

I read with dismay today in the Evening Standard that the Metropolitan police is “to target wife beaters they fear could become killers…officers will look for clues in a suspect’s behaviour or situation which could identify him as a potential murderer.

Police could then prosecute even if the victim opposes this.” (1)

The Evening Standard continues to say that “Suspects considered at risk of going on to commit murder will be recorded in a database of violent offenders.”

Can this be true? Are the lies and propaganda about domestic violence so successful that we will accept the idea of future guilt “Minority Report” style? What would the police do with such a database?

Perhaps the Met’s séance division has arrange for Lombroso to have another go at setting crime policy?

I note that on the very day the Met has announced this loopy and sexist plan, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the Family Division of the High Court has told a conference that “One in six men will be the victim of domestic violence at some time in his life” (2)

Do you think the Met Pre-Crime division will make room for all this husband-beaters too?

When will this relentless anti-male propaganda stop? We keep hearing about the “One in four women abused in a lifetime” and the “Two women a week killed”, but the strong evidence that that men are more victimized by domestic violence is ignored. We have had growing number of cases where the criminal courts are being lenient to alleged female victims. This had become so routine that even cases from the past are being reopened so that they can be exonerated by the corrective 21st century Politically Correct abuse excuse [Battered wife syndrome is rapidly becoming the number one defence for female murderers] . The courts went first, then we had legislative reform legitimizing females murdering men they merely accuse of domestic violence. Today we have the police announcing an project that not only violates the civil liberties of men but is blatantly sexist and downright insane: men (note, NOT people, MEN) involved in domestic violence cases can be treated like murders or rapists regardless of the severity of the incident based on the police determining that they are at risk of being a future murderer!

Who is setting the frame here? Why are we focusing on these bogus issues when far more pressing matters demand urgent attention? We enact legislation specifically designed to secure more rape convictions (note, NOT prevent rapes) whilst ignoring the massive problem of false rape accusations. We focus on breast cancer whilst prostate cancers kills roughly the same number of men. We focus on miserable teenage girls yet ignore the fact that males kill themselves at six times the rate of females.

As I wrote to my MP recently

Political interference in the law is extremely dangerous and I am appalled and scared by the governments zeal to interfere in matters like rape and domestic abuse with clear anti-male objectives (more convictions) heedless of presumptions of innocence or facts like the vast majority of rape accusations are found to be false and many downright malicious and that most domestic and child abuse is carried out by women.

Expect worse to come lads. Much worse.

Also see:

  1. One man in six ‘a victim of domestic violence’” – Independent, 24 September 2003
  2. The law and the ‘one in four‘” by Jon Holbrook
  3. Domestic violence more likely from women – report” Irish Times, 14 June 2001.
  4. Women to get away with murder – literally” – Jonathan Davis, 17 June 2003
  5. 4am puddles of blood” – Jonathan Davis, 15 August 2003
  6. Domestic Abuse and Violence – The anti-Orthodox view emerges roaring” – Jonathan Davis, 14 February 2003.
  7. Treating women like children” by Barbara Hewson
  8. Domestic Abusers doubleplusungood” – Jonathan Davis, 24 October 2002
  9. Death by fire killer honoured” – Usenet post, 12 Sep 2001.
  10. The common practice of hubby beating gets aired – Guardian
  11. Man stabbed by partner for washing dishes too slowly” –


What to do if activists come after your company…

by Limbic on September 24, 2003

“You may not enjoy being targeted by a non-governmental organization, but you better learn how to manage that relationship.”


Teaching Critical Thinking [PDF]

by Limbic on September 24, 2003

Lessons from Cognitive Science by Tim van Gelder