Pharyngula

Oh, crap. Tristero throws me into despair with this sad quote.

Science is a gift of God to all of us and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, arguing for the bill’s passage. “And that is the embryonic stem cell research.”

And here I’ve got a “Pelosi ’07” bumper sticker on my car. How could she say something so idiotic? None of the Democrats are meeting my minimal standards for competence so far.

I know we have a fair number of nerds here, so I thought one way to illustrate the situation in American politics is to use the D&D alignment system. This is a two axis scheme for describing the ethical worldview of the characters. They can play along the continuum from good to evil, which is obvious; there is also a second axis from lawful to chaotic, which describes a character as a “by-the-book” kind of person or “by any means possible” type.

I think we need a third dimension, from intelligent to stupid. Will the character think before acting and try to follow the most intelligent, sensible path to achieve his ends, or will he stupidly bumble along from minute to minute, with no consideration of long term consequences? We can use this new alignment scheme to determine the alignment of our political parties.

I’ve left out the lawful/chaotic axis because it would be too hard to draw, but I think they’re all pretty much in the self-serving category on that axis, with the Democrats maybe leaning towards lawful and the Republican aspiring to chaos. Otherwise, though, this table reveals the lack of balance in our political game.

GOOD NEUTRAL EVIL
INTELLIGENT N.A. N.A. N.A.
MEDIOCRE N.A. N.A. Libertarians
STUPID Greens Democrats Republicans

Our whole problem is the complete absence of Intelligent players in the game; the process of running our country looks a bit like Monty Python’s Upper-Class Twit of the Year competition in progress. I can almost sympathize with the popularity of the Republicans, because I remember from those late weekend nights years ago that the evil characters were particularly fun to play. Adding the Intelligent/Stupid axis changes everything, though: who would want to play the bumbling, sloppy Igor instead of the cold, cruel, cunning arch-mage who wants to rule the world, even if he has to reduce it to a wasteland to do it? We’ve got a president who set out to conquer an empire and tripped over his shoelaces on the way out the door. Boring!

I’m so tired of going to the polls to choose between blue stupid and red stupid. Can we please get an Intelligent Good party? Something where candidates are smart and educated and wonky and secular, and also committed to doing the right thing not just for the country now, but for our long term position in the world? If nothing else, getting the diametric opposite of the current Stupid Evil party would make for political battles that would mean something.

Comments

  1. #1 Ichthyic
    June 11, 2007

    Gerard will be ecstatic.

  2. #2 RickD
    June 11, 2007

    I tried to address the comment over at Hullaballoo, and was informed that it was “insulting” to say “most scientists are atheists”. Of course, the same guy (apparently a scientist himself) then went down the usual tired path of saying that atheism is itself a religion. (That makes about as much sense as saying that the biology department I work in is a baseball team.)

    I replied with a citation to the NAS study that polled its members, half of whom responded, 70% of whom identified themselves as godless and 7% of whom identified themselves as religious. That led to a neener-neener type of comment to the effect that he was a scientist and he had discussed the issue with his friends.

    Always nice to see personal anecdotes trump hard data!

    I’m not a big fan of the Dawkins-identified “belittle the opposition” approach to debate, but what else is there to do when somebody repeates one fallacious argument after another?

  3. #3 Ichthyic
    June 11, 2007

    You do know there is already a “Lawful Stupid” alignment, right? I refer, of course, to the Paladin variant of Lawful Good.

    very high charisma, though.

    ;)

  4. #4 David Marjanovi?
    June 11, 2007

    No, things would just be Russia.

    Well put, except I still don’t understand why Putin keeps getting upset at NMD. Hasn’t he noticed that it doesn’t work and is nothing but a waste of US tax money?

    Most people here don’t vote for the candidates as persons at all, they vote for the party.

    Eh, that’s because we can. In order to get a new government, we elect a new parliament by voting for a party. Americans have to vote for president to get a new parliament. Presidents in Europe are elected on personality issues, too, but most of them are just too powerless to turn their elections into emotional battles.

    And frankly, here no-one cares whether a candidate is pious or godless, has had several wifes/husbands or none at all. And of course nobody cares whether the candidate is gay or straight.

    There are such people, just fewer. But nobody expects a candidate to mention in public how pious or not they are. Religion is a private affair. It’s not something you talk about without having been asked, and it’s not a polite thing to ask either.

    I would suggest that, if we did away with “heavy government interference” in corporate matters, we would have heavy corporate interference in our lives (we already do, but we are not always aware of it). Either one is objectionable, but at the very least the government is supposed to be accountable and its actions transparent; I would choose that over market-controlled corporations any day of the week.

    Very well said.

    It is my opinion, that on pretty much every issue, Libertarians have the best interest of the people in mind much more than Greens do

    I, too, don’t know enough about Greens outside Europe, but libertarians have their own best interest in mind. The good ones believe that this is everyone’s best interest (“invisible hand”); the evil ones don’t care; the outcome would be the same. If the US Greens are as leftist as I read in this thread, they certainly have everyone’s, not just their own, best interest in mind, though of course they might still be mistaken on just what that is.

    No, “heavy government interference” goes way beyond just economics. Where I live, the city regulates the shade of brown you can paint your house. There’s an unnecessarily heavy government interference. Certain firearms are banned because they simply look scary (I’m serious).

    Hmmm…

    You know, when we here read things like this, it just reinforces our latent antiamericanism. It doesn’t lead us to yell out “stupid socialists”, somehow.

    Is it Calvinism, or why are such stupidities concentrated in the USA???

    I’d put the Libertarians, and their mirror image the Socialists, in the Intelligent/Evil slot. Both groups spin wonderful fairy stories about how wonderful the world would be if it wasn’t all full of nasty old Humans. Both have impeccably reasoned arguments from laughably false bases.

    You mean communists, not socialists. Though, few communists today are really evil; most simply believe in the laughably false bases.

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?
    June 11, 2007

    No, things would just be Russia.

    Well put, except I still don’t understand why Putin keeps getting upset at NMD. Hasn’t he noticed that it doesn’t work and is nothing but a waste of US tax money?

    Most people here don’t vote for the candidates as persons at all, they vote for the party.

    Eh, that’s because we can. In order to get a new government, we elect a new parliament by voting for a party. Americans have to vote for president to get a new parliament. Presidents in Europe are elected on personality issues, too, but most of them are just too powerless to turn their elections into emotional battles.

    And frankly, here no-one cares whether a candidate is pious or godless, has had several wifes/husbands or none at all. And of course nobody cares whether the candidate is gay or straight.

    There are such people, just fewer. But nobody expects a candidate to mention in public how pious or not they are. Religion is a private affair. It’s not something you talk about without having been asked, and it’s not a polite thing to ask either.

    I would suggest that, if we did away with “heavy government interference” in corporate matters, we would have heavy corporate interference in our lives (we already do, but we are not always aware of it). Either one is objectionable, but at the very least the government is supposed to be accountable and its actions transparent; I would choose that over market-controlled corporations any day of the week.

    Very well said.

    It is my opinion, that on pretty much every issue, Libertarians have the best interest of the people in mind much more than Greens do

    I, too, don’t know enough about Greens outside Europe, but libertarians have their own best interest in mind. The good ones believe that this is everyone’s best interest (“invisible hand”); the evil ones don’t care; the outcome would be the same. If the US Greens are as leftist as I read in this thread, they certainly have everyone’s, not just their own, best interest in mind, though of course they might still be mistaken on just what that is.

    No, “heavy government interference” goes way beyond just economics. Where I live, the city regulates the shade of brown you can paint your house. There’s an unnecessarily heavy government interference. Certain firearms are banned because they simply look scary (I’m serious).

    Hmmm…

    You know, when we here read things like this, it just reinforces our latent antiamericanism. It doesn’t lead us to yell out “stupid socialists”, somehow.

    Is it Calvinism, or why are such stupidities concentrated in the USA???

    I’d put the Libertarians, and their mirror image the Socialists, in the Intelligent/Evil slot. Both groups spin wonderful fairy stories about how wonderful the world would be if it wasn’t all full of nasty old Humans. Both have impeccably reasoned arguments from laughably false bases.

    You mean communists, not socialists. Though, few communists today are really evil; most simply believe in the laughably false bases.

  6. #6 David Marjanovi?
    June 11, 2007

    And what’s with calling the Libertarians evil? They’re generally in favor of liberty (hence the name). Surely you don’t have a problem with liberty?

    I, for one, have a problem with a) a pathological lack of empathy (“I got mine, fuck you”), b) a refusal to consider one’s own best long-term interest, and c) the belief that competition doesn’t stop (leading to monopolies) if you leave it alone.

  7. #7 David Marjanovi?
    June 11, 2007

    And what’s with calling the Libertarians evil? They’re generally in favor of liberty (hence the name). Surely you don’t have a problem with liberty?

    I, for one, have a problem with a) a pathological lack of empathy (“I got mine, fuck you”), b) a refusal to consider one’s own best long-term interest, and c) the belief that competition doesn’t stop (leading to monopolies) if you leave it alone.

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    June 11, 2007

    I just have to laugh. So much time is spent bashing Republicans for their belief in their invisible friend, and it turns out that invisible friend belief is prevalent on both sides of the aisle. Tee-hee!

    unfortunately for this argument, in your glee to assume that the devil favors both sides, you forget to take it to the next step, and ask yourself which political party actually ends up producing religious propaganda as bill material.

    I got a clue for ya:

    it ain’t the dems.

    who started the “moral majority” political movement?

    not the dems.

    who tried to add religious riders to the NCLB act?

    not the dems.

    why not try tracking the actual legislation introduced, and THEN see where the religious ideology lies, eh?

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