Pharyngula

The name Satoshi Kanazawa wasn’t familiar to me until I read Cosma Shalizi’s lovely needlework on the guy, but then I remembered … I have his book, Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, on my shelf. It has a wonderfully provocative title, so I even skimmed a couple of chapters, which sent multiple wtf signals bouncing around in my brain — the premise of the title is the product of statistical shenanigans, and I don’t think the authors would recognize a mechanism if it advanced menacingly on them and threatened them with physical dismantlement — so I set it aside and allowed it gather dust.

Now I learn that Kanazawa has a blog, like everyone does nowadays, and he calls himself the “Scientific Fundamentalist”. I wish I could say that finally we have a target for all those people who complain about fundamentalist atheists and fundamentalist scientism and fundamentalist whatever-they-hateists, but no, Kanazawa does as much violence to the word “fundamentalism” as he does to biology. He’s more like an amoral, principle-free, unconscious reactionary, which isn’t really a fundamentalist mindset. How bad is he? Well, he argues that Americans need to hate a little more.

Here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost.

Yes, we need a woman in the White House, but not the one who’s running.

Whoa.

That’s an argument that carries reductionism well past over-simplification, beyond stupid, and deep into the territory of bug-eyed crazy. That’s not a thought experiment, it’s a right-wing masturbation fantasy. Kanazawa must be looking for a gig writing for WingNutDaily.

I have to go take a shower right now, so I’ll leave you with this most excellent rebuttal.

The above, to be sure, is somewhat ambiguous. It could be that what he’s saying is that, were Coulter president, she would have hated her new-found enemies appropriately, nuked the Middle East and thus “won” the war on terror in a day. But it could be that Kanazawa doesn’t think that would have been a good idea, it could be that he’s simply arguing hypothetically without endorsing that course of action. And yet… it really doesn’t read that way. The tone, the context, and the register all suggest to me that Kanazawa would have approved of a nuclear response to 9/11. And this, I submit, is a little extreme. Forget for the moment that killing millions of innocent people is a Bad Thing, forget that the Middle East contains a good proportion of the world’s oil, forget that America’s democratic ally Israel is in the Middle East, forget that the fall-out would do extensive damage to other parts of the world, forget that there are tens of thousands of Americans (and far more other foreigners) living in the area, forget that the environmental damage would be enormous, forget that the Middle East contains innumerable priceless cultural artifacts, forget that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims living outside the Middle East (India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.), and forget that 9/11 was planned from Afghanistan, outside the Middle East. Have you forgotten all of these factors (and any others you came up with for yourself)? Good. Now it’s a good idea to nuke the entire Middle East. Now only does it make any sense whatsoever to call the hypothetical nuclear destruction of the entire Middle East a “victory” for America.

Comments

  1. #1 gg
    March 18, 2008

    You also have to ‘forget’ that lots of Americans have relatives and friends who live in those ‘nuked’ countries, that plenty of foreigners live in the U.S. who would react somewhat unfavorably to the action, and that plenty of our nuclear-armed allies would consider us monsters for doing such a thing. In other words, such a monstrous, inhumane action would create plenty of internal enemies of the U.S. and make allies into enemies, which would be as great a threat if not a greater threat than a bunch of people plotting in caves.

    Kanazawa: What an a-hole.

  2. #2 kid bitzer
    March 18, 2008

    strange. a fan of coulter’s who is a bloodthirsty, simple-minded reactionary.

  3. #3 True Bob
    March 18, 2008

    That guy isn’t even wrong. His base premise requires a single war on terra. But guess what? All these rebellious and insurgent groups are not unified into a single agenda nor a single theatre. Same BS fallacy the shrubco inc regime perpetuates – there’s a bunch of evil-doers, and they hate our freedom.

  4. #4 An
    March 18, 2008

    Geez pZ…too many brain damaging entries….we need more brain stimulating ones to compensate!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5 Glen Davidson
    March 18, 2008

    If you’re an anti-evolutionist like Ann, you don’t need evidence. And since killing off enough of “the other” should actually work, well, that’s good enough for some people.

    It’s just all those snotty elitists who think that targeting the right persons, using evidence, and being against genocide, that keeps this world from being a paradise for the shoot-em-all-up types. We ought to just frag you all, and be done with it.

    Happiness is a radioactive crater, nitwits, and the sooner you learn that, the better.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  6. #6 True Bob
    March 18, 2008

    raven,

    I’m just glad he’s not an engineer…

  7. #7 Sinbad
    March 18, 2008

    How bad is he? Well, he argues that Americans need to hate a little more.

    In 1978 I heard Kurt Vonnegut speak and he made that very claim, although he didn’t qualify it with the “little.” He said that the problem with my (younger than he) generation was that we didn’t hate enough.

  8. #8 Wyatt Roberts
    March 18, 2008

    PZ:

    That’s weird. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and it seems to me that, when it comes to hate, you could give Kanazawa a pretty good run for his money. I was under the distinct impression you hated Christians.

    It’s ironic that you would criticize someone for hatred, yet that seems to be the impetus for much of what you say on this site. Now, you might say something like: “Yes, I call them #%&*, #@%!wads, and even *$@-*%$s, but I don’t actually hate Christians,” but that kind of thing would seem to undermine the very point you’re trying to make.

    Am I off-base here? Don’t you hate Christians?

  9. #9 J
    March 18, 2008

    This song is particularly appropriate.

  10. #10 Michelle
    March 18, 2008

    …That w? guy that posts in comments always strikes me with a WTF too.

    Anyway, I’ve always been a big proponent of the good ol’ Parkingstan idea… You know, nuking all middle east flat but not Israel. Why? Because when the radiation is gone years from now, we’ll have a sweet parking for our flying cars and spaceships (which we will access with teleporters) and we need lots of people to manage the said parking (s’why we keep Israel)…

    …But only as a slightly (Or absolutely offensive to some/lots of folks) distasteful joke. This is a retarded way to solve problems. What’s wrong with that dumbass?

  11. #11 kid bitzer
    March 18, 2008

    vonnegut said weird shit sometimes. he wrote a good novel, once, but i don’t feel called upon to defend his cranky old man views.

    but here’s the thing: vonnegut never pretended to be a *scientist*.

  12. #12 Brownian, OM
    March 18, 2008

    In 1978 I heard Kurt Vonnegut speak and he made that very claim, although he didn’t qualify it with the “little.” He said that the problem with my (younger than he) generation was that we didn’t hate enough.

    That actually does sound like something Vonnegut might say. Do you remember any of the context or reasons for this claim, Sinbad?

  13. #13 Sinbad
    March 18, 2008

    I must have missed a few entries, Wyatt. Could you direct me to the posts in which PZ advocates for the killing or nuking of Christians?

    Since when is the advocacy of “killing or nuking” a prerequisite for hate?

  14. #14 Sarcastro
    March 18, 2008

    I don’t hate Christians, I just feel better when they’re not around.

    He’s more like an amoral, principle-free, unconscious reactionary, which isn’t really a fundamentalist mindset.

    Since when!?

  15. #15 Wyatt Roberts
    March 18, 2008

    Brownian:

    Thanks. No, I didn’t claim PZ advocates “killing or nuking Christians,” only that I was under the impression he hated Christians and asked if that were true.

    I wasn’t trying to get in a debate about it. I was asking. I know that PZ has a great love for Science. However, a lot of what he posts on the site doesn’t seem to relate that that, but seems to reflect a deep hostility toward Christians in general.

  16. #16 Michelle
    March 18, 2008

    He hates christians? Isn’t that discriminatory? Discimination is bad.

    I mean, he should also hate jews and muslims and hindus and raelians and buddhists and so on… I mean, they’re all stupid to me.

    I know I hate ‘em all.

  17. #17 kid bitzer
    March 18, 2008

    yeah, back to kanazawa–he does seem to have forgotten this small thing called “indonesia”, a.k.a. the world’s most populous islamic nation, not really located in the middle east. so maybe not all of our “actual and potential enemies” would have been so easily addressed by kanazawa’s kunning final solution.

    which is just to say–this guy doesn’t even have a geographic compass, much less a moral one.

  18. #18 mas528
    March 18, 2008

    Wow. What Brilliance!

    The oil embargoes of the past would be nothing compared to the uselessness of radioactive crude oil!

    I haven’t read him, but it doesn’t sound like he can think from A to B to C. Or maybe he doesn’t understand consequences.

  19. #19 jeh
    March 18, 2008

    Victory! All your base are belong to us …
    …..

    Seriously they don’t need our “help.” If we get through this century with just onenuclear exchange between neighbors in the Middle East we will be doing well.

    And given the number of civilians that would be killed, how would we be better than Al Queda? I guess it’s: “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.”

    And even of more importance to people of this mindset: You idiots! You nuked “your” oil!

  20. #20 Form&Function
    March 18, 2008

    Am I off-base here? Don’t you hate Christians?

    Christianity, maybe. Maybe. Or more generally the attack on reason promulgated by woo-purveyors, one subset of whom are Christians. But not Christians en masse. Try to think a little more clearly, Wyatt.

  21. #21 Brownian, OM
    March 18, 2008

    I think his view was that big-time hate was necessary to spark and sustain real change.

    Ah. Again, sounds like Vonnegut to me.

  22. #22 kid bitzer
    March 18, 2008

    yeah, back to kanazawa–he also seems to have forgotten this small thing called “indonesia”, a.k.a. the world’s most populous islamic nation, not really located in the middle east. so maybe not all of our “actual and potential enemies” would have been so easily addressed by kanazawa’s cunning final solution.

    which is just to say–this guy doesn’t even have a geographic compass, much less a moral one.

  23. #23 AL
    March 18, 2008

    “Now, you might say something like: “Yes, I call them #%&*, #@%!wads, and even *$@-*%$s, but I don’t actually hate Christians,” but that kind of thing would seem to undermine the very point you’re trying to make.”

    You mean “demented fuckwits?” Yes, PZ calls some people that, usually in the context of pointing out that they in fact have engaged in demented fuckwitticisms. This is a far cry from advocating they be killed, nuked, jailed, etc. But I’m afraid if you’re going to equivocate the advocacy of murder with pointing out that stupid people are stupid by lumping both of these things under the label of “hate,” then you are simply making the point by example that there are stupid people who are stupid.

  24. #24 True Bob
    March 18, 2008

    Hate? With only a few exceptions, I have to personally know someone to hate them. Exceptions all relate to actions taken and motives displayed.

  25. #25 Norm
    March 18, 2008

    Wyatt, not “hostility towards Christians in general”, more like “hostility towards stupid Christians in particular”. And we’re talking about the willfully stupid kind.

  26. #26 Dahan
    March 18, 2008

    @14,

    “I was under the distinct impression you hated Christians.”

    Please, don’t insult the intelligence of those who read here. We are all aware that PZ believes that religion (not just christianity) is something that the world would be better off without. Yes, he (like many of us) wishes that fewer of the populace made their daily decisions on how to live on a fallacy. But where is the hate you speak of?

    Unless, of course, you speak of his hate of the indoctrinization of children and such. How does this relate to wishing to kill millions of innocent people? Are you really so out of touch with reality that you can’t see the difference?

    I hate racism. I hate misogyny. I hate intolerance. I hate ignorance. Apparently, to you, this puts me in the same league as those who wish to innocents because they’ve been wronged by someone else.

    Seriously, you need to try to visit reality once in a while.

    Sorry, PZ, if I spoke out of line for you…

  27. #27 Dahan
    March 18, 2008

    wish to KILL innocents… sorry

  28. #28 Sinbad
    March 18, 2008

    Ah. Again, sounds like Vonnegut to me.

    Of course, I think he’s mistaken. Hate in this context strikes me as being analogous to trying to motivate people by fear. It’s very effective in the short term but almost impossible to sustain over the long haul.

  29. #29 rpenner
    March 18, 2008

    I saw the book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters for the first time this weekend. I immediately pegged it as an unreasonable waste of time because the claim was at once outlandish and trivial. (I mean, honestly, just how many people do you know who are beautiful. I once met a woman who looked just like Walter Matthau.)

  30. #30 Wyatt Roberts
    March 18, 2008

    GG:

    You point to a post where PZ says he despises someone, but doesn’t “hate” them. It seems to me that that’s just another word for “hate,” but then you may be seeing some kind of a nuanced difference that I’m just not familiar with.

    But listen, I wasn’t trying to rain on anybody’s parade here. It just struck me as ironic that PZ can criticizes someone who believes we “need to hate a little more,” while so much of what he seems to say here seems to be inspire people toward to that very thing.

  31. #31 Kadath
    March 18, 2008

    This song is particularly appropriate.

    Posted by: J | March 18, 2008 12:10 PM

    The song that immediately popped into my head was this one. (Just ignore the video; I picked it because it was the one with the best sound quality.)

  32. #32 MartinM
    March 18, 2008

    It just struck me as ironic that PZ can criticizes someone who believes we “need to hate a little more,” while so much of what he seems to say here seems to be inspire people toward to that very thing.

    I think it’s pretty damn obvious that ‘hate a little more’ is something of an understatement, and that PZ is criticizing this fellow for considerably more than that.

    But then, actually reading for comprehension wouldn’t allow you to pretend that PZ was being hypocritical.

  33. #33 Dunc
    March 18, 2008

    You also need to forget that the Russians still have a whole bunch of cold-war era ICBMs aimed at the US, on hair triggers, but without much in the way of functioning command-and-control systems. There is still a significant chance that a multiple US launch would trigger a significant retaliatory strike, even if the Russians weren’t actually the targets… Although they’re close enough to the Middle East that the distinction may be lost on them anyway.

    Why are so many psychologists obviously nuts?

  34. #34 Dave Eaton
    March 18, 2008

    Dictionary.com lists despise, loathe and hate as synonyms, though not in the same entry. But again, that was a feeling towards an individual. Individual hate based on actions is not the same as wholesale hatred based on prejudice.

    Whether hatred of individuals is similarly corrosive and unhelpful is another discussion.

    I don’t find progressives unwilling to hate individuals or en masse, and while I don’t think PZ is doing this, to suggest that Wyatt is somehow beyond the pale or insulting for asking is silly. Read dailykos for examples, including hopes for the demise of political rivals, dark imaginings of immolation of the US and/or western society, etc. Unthinking hatred is a human thing, not a conservative, progressive or religious thing.

  35. #35 Matt Penfold
    March 18, 2008

    “One of his theories is that scientists slow down and lose productivity with age. Unlike the rest of the population that works full tilt until they suddenly drop dead at 75.”

    Is he the idiot who who published something to that effect a few years ago and got demolished by John Maynard Smith who pointed out that those who were still doing science into middle age and beyond were 1) likely to be involved in admin of their departments and 2) would often rather their younger colleagues took credit for they collaborated on as they needed the kudos and the older scientists had already made or broken their reputations.

  36. #36 eewolf
    March 18, 2008

    Wyatt and Sinbad,
    This post is about a nutbag who happens to be a scientist. He apparently believes murdering hundreds of millions of people is a proper response to terrorism. He specifically says that hate is what is called for. PZ disagrees with prejudice.

    Why are you here discussing whether PZ hates Christians or Kurt Vonnegut (WTF) thinks you should hate people?

    Answer: You are fucking trolls. And stupid.

    I hate trolls.

  37. #37 Dunc
    March 18, 2008

    Shorter Wyatt Roberts: “Look at me! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!”

    It’s understandable (if annoying) when toddlers do it, but seriously… Not everything is about you. Now, if you don’t mind, the grown-ups are trying to talk.

  38. #38 Rey Fox
    March 18, 2008

    This is all just a big distraction from the question on everyone’s mind: Does PZ hate pants?

  39. #39 Wyatt Roberts
    March 18, 2008

    MartinM and kmarissa:

    No, I am not conflating nuclear annihilation with hatred. Aside from his suggestion that I’m being intellectually dishonest, MartinM rightly point out that PZ’s description of this as “hate” is an understatement. However, by definition, the point made in an understatement is always greater than the form in which it is made. Therefore, it seems to me that in addition to viewing murder as wrong, he must believe also believe that hatred is wrong. And all I’m saying is that that sounds strange to me, given a lot of what he says and posts on this site. That’s all.

  40. #40 Dahan
    March 18, 2008

    @45,

    It insults my, and other’s intelligences because it implies that, although most of us read this blog regularly, we may not be aware of PZ’s beliefs or have been in some way confounded by their complexities, leaving you to enlightening us on this matter.

  41. #41 SteveM
    March 18, 2008

    But listen, I wasn’t trying to rain on anybody’s parade here. It just struck me as ironic that PZ can criticizes someone who believes we “need to hate a little more,” while so much of what he seems to say here seems to be inspire people toward to that very thing.

    Yes you are trying to play little semantic gotcha games. If you had bothered to read the actual article instead of stopping at the headline you would realize that that he is criticizing him not for “hating a little more” but for advocating mass murder. Which is what everyone else has been trying to explain to you and you keep pleading “just asking”. That is the definition of “concern troll”.

  42. #42 Dunc
    March 18, 2008

    Therefore, it seems to me that in addition to viewing murder as wrong, he must believe also believe that hatred is wrong. And all I’m saying is that that sounds strange to me, given a lot of what he says and posts on this site.

    OK you execrable moron, I’ll bite… Most people are capable of appreciating the fine distinctions between things like dislike, disrespect, despite, robust criticism, ridicule, etc, etc, and actual outright hatred. Most people. Evidently not you.

    I do not believe that PZ hates Christians, as a group. I’d be rather surprised if he actually hates anyone. You are using the term “hate” in a manner not entirely in agreement with its usual connotational meanings in this culture at this time.

  43. #43 Janine, ID
    March 18, 2008

    Being against a way of thinking verses advocating an action that will instantly kill millions of people that had nothing to do with a terrorist action, devastate the world’s ecosystem, destroy habitation for thousands of years and cause potential allies to turn away in horror. The only place where this is comparable is in christianity where one’s thoughts of sin not acted on is equivalent to sinful action.

    BTW, this teaching of Jesus is but one of many reasons why I rejected christianity.

  44. #44 PZ Myers
    March 18, 2008

    Hrrrm. Well. I always thought my mom and my sisters, who are regular, ordinary Christians (definitely not the fundie type, though) were good people and that I liked them. Please don’t tell them that I actually hate them — it would make my visits very uncomfortable.

    Oh, and dang…several of my colleagues at UMM go to church regularly. This is going to make faculty meetings tense.

    Just wait until my flying fists of fury go into action at the local church-owned coffee shop, too. Oh, wait — fists are so passe. Nukes! I have to go blow up all of the churches in town! It is a small place, so maybe just one large hydrogen bomb would take ‘em all out at once.

  45. #45 Damian
    March 18, 2008

    I see, Sinbad, that you believe that PZ, Sam Harris, Dawkins and Austin Cline are all “Fundamentalists”, based on what you describe – wrongly, in my opinion – as their “easy certainty”, and based on one example from each. Ironically, you are chastising them for their opinions, based on one example, also.

    My question is, does that also make you a fundamentalist? If not, can you show me that you have based your opinion on more evidence than the people that you chastise? If not, does that make you a hypocrite?

    Thanks

  46. #46 TheMonkeyMan
    March 18, 2008

    If you think that is crazy, look up what he says about I.Q. and intelligence of “races”.

    The guy is bonkers. And clearly likes to see his name in the media.

  47. #47 Sinbad
    March 18, 2008

    I see, Sinbad, that you believe that PZ, Sam Harris, Dawkins and Austin Cline are all “Fundamentalists”, based on what you describe – wrongly, in my opinion – as their “easy certainty”, and based on one example from each. Ironically, you are chastising them for their opinions, based on one example, also.

    Actually, I describe them as “fundamatheists” and I’m careful to define the term (if you care to look). Further, although the post to which you refer contains one example each, many more are provided elsewhere. Moreover, “easy certainty” is only one element of the charge.

    My question is, does that also make you a fundamentalist?

    No.

    If not, can you show me that you have based your opinion on more evidence than the people that you chastise?

    Yes. Read what I wrote.

    Thanks.

    You’re welcome.

  48. #48 Rey Fox
    March 18, 2008

    Pants, Dr. Myers. Don’t avoid the subject.

  49. #49 Simon G
    March 18, 2008

    Kanazawa is the biggest crank in Evolutionary Psychology today (and THAT is saying something). My friend Fiona Jordan just had a paper out that attacked another work of his. She cites another TEN PUBLISHED criticisms of his recent work.

    –Simon

  50. #50 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 18, 2008

    PZ: Another candidate for the ‘independent thinking’ tag, for future reference when needed. I’m just saying.

  51. #51 Stanton
    March 18, 2008

    And when I say “intense heat,” I refer to the firestorm that inevitably results at Ground Zero when a nuclear device is detonated.

  52. #52 Don
    March 18, 2008

    @Kadath #44

    Hey, Alabama 3! Great band. And of course the voice-over is the Reverend Jim Jones. How can you go wrong?

  53. #53 Damian
    March 18, 2008

    This is how you describe people such as PZ, Sinbad:

    In my view, all fundamentalisms share a very narrow epistemology. Christian fundamentalism is based upon the idea that the Bible + common sense = readily ascertainable truth. Fundamatheism is a similarly narrow epistemology whereby science + reason = readily ascertainable truth. In each case, the emphasis is on the readily ascertainable part, with the Truth so obvious that those who disagree aren’t just in error, they’re evil or damned or irrational or delusional or mentally ill or or or. Both fundamentalist and fundamatheist have a base-level arrogance. The fundy mindset isn’t at all humble and rejects the idea that being wrong is even a remote possibility. Moreover and most (a-hem) fundamentally, those who disagree are inferior — and that idea is incredibly dangerous and not terribly constructive, as history makes ever so clear.

    I’d be interested to hear your ideas about how else we can ascertain the rightness or wrongness of a proposition, apart from the use of science and reason (the more broad definition of science), and how you would know that it is right or wrong?

    It is safe to say that I think that you are wrong and that you are simply playing the same us-vs-them game that you accuse others of, but don’t allow that to stop you.

    By the way, you still haven’t shown that this even applies to those who you chastise, remembering that you have set a pretty strict definition.

    Do you have those quotes where PZ, Sam Harris, Dawkins and Austin Cline specifically claim that “science + reason = readily ascertainable truth [...] with the Truth so obvious that those who disagree aren’t just in error, they’re evil or damned or irrational or delusional or mentally ill or or or?”

    I might even agree with you if you could provide those.

  54. #54 craig
    March 18, 2008

    “I must have missed a few entries, Wyatt. Could you direct me to the posts in which PZ advocates for the killing or nuking of Christians?”

    “Nuke The Christians” would make for a fun t-shirt, though.

  55. #55 Ichthyic
    March 18, 2008

    Geez pZ…too many brain damaging entries….we need more brain stimulating ones to compensate!!!!!!!!!

    seconded

    It’s also a good way to make trolls lose interest.

  56. #56 Brian W.
    March 18, 2008

    I hate cancer. I don’t hate people that have cancer.

  57. #57 Will Von Wizzlepig
    March 18, 2008

    Ha! “Fukuyaming”, saying something so blatantly and obviously false that people can’t help but write about how false it is, and thus, make the sayer famous… the literary world contemporary of the newsgroup/forum troll.

  58. #58 MAJeff, OM
    March 18, 2008

    I hate cancer. I don’t hate people that have cancer.

    I hate war. I hate warmongers even more.

  59. #59 jimvj
    March 18, 2008

    If Coulter (spit! spit!) had been president on April 19, 1995, she would have done the Kanazawa bombing on April 20, 1995; and, bingo! no 9/11!! Hah!

    We should remember that there are a lot of people right here in the USA who would have done what the 9/11 schmucks did, if they had thought of it. And you do not need a base in a distant country to plan and carry out a 9/11. All you need is an arrogant nation, so confident in its invulnerability that it allowed pilots in passenger planes to keep cockpit doors wide open and parade among the passengers! That and a few hours of basic pilot training (would Microsoft Flight Simulator do?).

  60. #60 Dave
    March 18, 2008

    Whoa. Both the original article AND the rebuttal are the products of dangerously small and ignorant minds. 9/11 was the work of a small band of criminals that were in Afganistan mostly because they were run out of MidEastern muslim countries after criminal acts there. And let’s not forget that the U.S. was happy to support ‘Ur-Qaeda’ there while they were fighting an insurgency against a Soviet-installed puppet government (sound familiar?). Muslims in general are not and never were ‘terrorists’, and if you actually read the history behind Al-Qaeda, you’ll see that highly Muslim MidEastern countries were very harsh on Bin Laden, Zarqawi, et al until they ran off to the mountains of Afganistan.

    Forget the stupid ignorant stuff in that rebuttal, which was not excellent at all and the fact that Dr. Myers endorsed it is sort of frightening. The MidEast is a historical treasure, but that’s not the reason to not bomb it. Bombing the MidEast would be like nuking all of New York State because Timothy McVeigh grew up near Buffalo (Let’s not forget that the second worst act of terrorism in US history was done by a couple home-grown boys). There are innocent people there! Not only that, but they are actually traditional allies in the ‘war on terror’, and major financiers of the U.S. economy.

    I continue to be shocked by the ignorance that even ‘liberal’ Americans display regarding MidEast culture and politics, and continue to be scared by the fact that the U.S. has turned a criminal act into an excuse for a cultural war. The cultural war, of course, is an excuse for long-term military presence in an economically critical region. Which I think was the point all along. Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al are not stupid; their lies are just not all that convincing.

  61. #61 HadasS
    March 18, 2008

    A Coulter fan. That really says it all, doesn’t it?

  62. #62 Rey Fox
    March 18, 2008

    Dave:
    “that rebuttal, which was not excellent at all”
    “There are innocent people there!”

    Perhaps you missed this part of the aforementioned rebuttal:
    “Forget for the moment that killing millions of innocent people is a Bad Thing,”

  63. #63 Kseniya
    March 18, 2008

    I hate war. I hate warmongers even more.

    Don’t be silly, Jeff! It’s not the warmongers’ fault – they’re just following the bellicose imperatives of their ape-genes! The blame likes squarely on the furtively slumping shoulders of Atheistic Scientists who put the WMD’s into the hands of those apes in the first place!

    Life is simple when you just stop thinking to think about it.

  64. #64 Mold
    March 18, 2008

    Wasn’t there a biochemist with wondrous ideas within his field of study and really odd ones outside? We all have strange and ludicrous notions. Thank Dagon for the Intertubes, where like-minded folk can get together and discuss the latest troll.

    Do any of you know if the scientist has mil experience? It has been much to my dismay to discover that chickenhawks are the ones most eager to war.

  65. #65 Dave
    March 18, 2008

    In response to comments #91 & #92: Fair enough. I agree, the rebuttal did point out that innocent people would be killed, and I unfairly summarized the opinion in a way that neglected that. So probably the rebuttal author and I do indeed agree. It seems to me nonetheless that there is a weird sort of undertone to the piece that suggests that although the author thinks a nuclear response to 9/11 would be a tad extreme, he neverthless sort of buys into the myth that Middle Eastern cultures or Muslims are particularly anti-American or supportive of terrorism. I think a better rebuttal would have emphasized the general wrongness of blaming 9/11 on the MidEast or muslims in general rather than a teeny minority of criminals who historically had been run out of most MidEast countries until the U.S. began supporting them during the Afghan insurgency. Remember that Al Qaeda’s beef all along was for foreigners to stay out of ‘Muslim lands’ (ironic considering that Afghans and Pakistanis generally resent Al Qaeda as ‘foreign fighters’). Go back and read Bin Laden’s justifcation for 9/11: He thinks the U.S. should not have stuck around in the MidEast after Gulf War I. So Al Qaeda’s complaints were basically the same, and their tactics generally consistent. The annoying foreign invader simply switched from the Soviet union to the U.S. The historical turning point after 9/11 was when the U.S. administration decided to treat the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an act of war rather than a violent international crime. An act of war implies a fight against a country or culture or large group of people. None of those things were responsible for 9/11. It was a criminal act, and personally I think the U.S. would have enjoyed the world’s sympathy and respect longer had it treated the 9/11 conspirators as a small band of unpopular criminals (which they were), instead of stereotyping them as a general Muslim/MidEast political entity. The advantage, as I mentioned, of portraying 9/11 as symptomatic of general anti-US sentiment in the MidEast is that it provided a pretense for Iraq and a continued strong military presence in the MidEast. Western powers have wanted excuses to control the MidEast since WWI, and increasingly since WWII. Things were going fairly well economically until the collapse of the Soviet Union destabilized some old relationships and fostered a need for further meddling in this area of undeniably economic interest. The only problem was (and continues to be) coming up with excuses to meddle.

  66. #66 kmarissa
    March 18, 2008

    Thanks for the clarification, Dave. I do appreciate it.

  67. #67 Sinbad
    March 18, 2008

    It seems to me nonetheless that there is a weird sort of undertone to the piece that suggests that although the author thinks a nuclear response to 9/11 would be a tad extreme, he neverthless sort of buys into the myth that Middle Eastern cultures or Muslims are particularly anti-American or supportive of terrorism.

    [Cough] Sam Harris [cough].

  68. #68 Will K.
    March 18, 2008

    SteveM @ 100:

    My point wasn’t actually about racism at all. I was using the racism against Japanese-Americans during World War II as an example (one I felt was more personally relevant to Kanazawa) of how punishing an entire population set (be it geographical, religious, racial, or otherwise) for the actions of a very small amount of individuals who happen to be a part of that set is a very flawed and extreme kind of action to take. I was not, as you seem to be interpreting it, implying that incarceration and nuclear attack were equally devastating actions, but rather that both are examples of how over-generalizing “the enemy” is a fruitless, discriminatory effort.

    I don’t know how much Kanazawa subscribes to the viewpoint, or what his intentions were behind posting what he did, but implying that nuking the Middle East into oblivion the day after 9/11 would have been sensible, moral, or even merely “won the war” is borderline insane.

  69. #69 Skwee
    March 18, 2008

    PZ, could you figure out who this w? person is? He always shows up & never comments.

    “[Cough] Sam Harris [cough].”
    Not every atheist agrees with everything he says, you know. Which proves that we aren’t “fundamatheists”- we debate & disagree.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/butthere_will_be_no_atheist_ap.php#comments

    Unlike you, I back up my accusations with links.

  70. #70 Stanton
    March 18, 2008

    Science and reason provide us with a means for ascertaining facts and a means for interpreting those facts, but can’t ultimately establish conclusions based thereon. Such conclusions necessarily rely upon unevidenced underlying assumptions. For example, in politics, freedom and equality are both great goals, I’m sure most would agree. But they inevitably conflict and exist in constant tension. How do we determine how each should yield and in what measure when those conflicts arise? Reason provides a process but doesn’t provide anything like a certain or readily ascertainable conclusion.

    You refuse to realize that Science is about drawing conclusions from relevant evidence and data gathered. Once enough data and evidence have been gathered and interpreted, scientists can form conclusions, and unless or until someone else can come up with evidence and data that points to a different conclusion, the conclusions reached are regarded as definitive. Saying that scientific conclusions are “unevidenced assumptions” is pure bullshit. In Science, evidence literally and figuratively supports everything! The typical scientist dares not make conclusions when the evidence does not support it, as to do is to risk obliterating one’s own career. Furthermore, Politics is not a Natural Science, and this is the reason why people who engage in Politics for a living are called “politicians,” and not “scientists.”

  71. #71 tim gueguen
    March 18, 2008

    Actually what would have happened if Coulter was President would be more something like this:

    “She wants to nuke half the Middle East. What do we do about that, Dick?”

    He sighed. “I’ll go see if I can get my hands on ‘the football.’ You go and get Johnson and Kaminsky. They’re in charge of the straitjacket in case a President goes nuts. Tell them it’s a code ultra green situation.”

    (‘the football’-slang for the bag containing equipment allowing the US Pres to authorise a nuclear attack)

  72. #72 MAJeff, OM
    March 18, 2008

    PZ, could you figure out who this w? person is? He always shows up & never comments.

    S/He’s been a fixture on liberal blogs for a couple years now advancing the cause of booby-awareness.

  73. #73 Ichthyic
    March 18, 2008

    If you think so, you haven’t done your homework aren’t projecting enough.

    fixed.

  74. #74 Janine, ID
    March 18, 2008

    PZ, could you figure out who this w? person is? He always shows up & never comments.

    Posted by: Skwee

    Ask John A Davidson if he wants to deal with w? again?

    A while back PZ gave his answer; “He stays.”

  75. #75 SmellyTerror
    March 18, 2008

    Why the focus on Muslims, even in the rebuttal (eg what about Indonesia)? Muslims aren’t the only terrorists on earth, or the only enemies of the US. If America did anything like nuking a whole country, a pretty significant proportion of the planet’s population would become your mortal enemies. Hell, I’m certain a lot of Americans would do pretty much anything to murder a President who gave such an order.

    That’s the main issue with “overwhelming response” scenarios. It makes more enemies. Killing those new enemies make more enemies again. If you start, logically you may as well nuke everyone on earth apart from the other members of your cult, because eventually everyone will be trying to stop you.

  76. #76 Stanton
    March 18, 2008

    Why the focus on Muslims, even in the rebuttal (eg what about Indonesia)? Muslims aren’t the only terrorists on earth, or the only enemies of the US. If America did anything like nuking a whole country, a pretty significant proportion of the planet’s population would become your mortal enemies. Hell, I’m certain a lot of Americans would do pretty much anything to murder a President who gave such an order.

    That’s the main issue with “overwhelming response” scenarios. It makes more enemies. Killing those new enemies make more enemies again. If you start, logically you may as well nuke everyone on earth apart from the other members of your cult, because eventually everyone will be trying to stop you.

    Please do realize, Mr Terror, that people like Dr Kanazawa and Ann Coulter are dimwitted idiots who get payed by sympathetic dimwits to flap their sassholes. Idiots like them lack both the necessary intelligence and the senses of human decency and compassion to realize, or even care that nuking people and places willy-nilly will solve no problems, and create many many more new problems.

  77. #77 Kadath
    March 18, 2008

    Hey, Alabama 3! Great band. And of course the voice-over is the Reverend Jim Jones. How can you go wrong?
    Posted by: Don | March 18, 2008 2:42 PM

    You can’t!

    I am a loyal member of the Reverend D-Wayne Love’s flock, and I think it is blasphemous that house never caught on in the US. I am clearly being discriminated against for my religious beliefs.

  78. #78 Bride of Shrek
    March 18, 2008

    I quite like w00′s boobies. Long live the wOO.

  79. #79 Carmelita Tropicana
    March 19, 2008

    This Kanazawa dude is a joke. Does anyone else find it hilarious that he used the “Japs” epithet in his laughable rant? Although he is too young to have been in an internment camp himself, I wonder whether his parents are Japanese American, and if so whether they were shipped to a “Relocation Center”?

  80. #80 Ichthyic
    March 19, 2008

    I used to leave a number of links here, but gave up when my posts get being delayed in spam-edit limbo.

    or you could have paid attention to the many times its been posted that you can’t post more than 2 links per post if you don’t wish your posts to be held up.

    but paying attention isn’t your strong suit, so it’s not surprising you missed it.

    Which proves nothing. You ain’t seen disagreement ’til you’ve seen fundamentalists disagree.

    which of course proves nothing, since you have never actually seen scientists disagree on the methods or results of any given piece of work, either.

    but that doesn’t deal with situations where the evidence can be read in different ways or where the interpretation of the evidence varies based upon the underlying assumptions.

    actually, yes it does. Whenever there are challenges to the underlying assumptions used in the construction of a model or experiment, these have to be resolved (or at least addressed) via peer review, and any disagreements that cannot be resolved in the immediate sense are often added on as “notes”, label depending on the journal.

    If the results (you can read as “evidence” if you wish, but that’s more conclusion than data) of any given experiment can be interpreted in multiple ways, it is the author’s job to note the ways it can be done so. Again, challenges to conclusions based on results are usually made during the peer-review process, if the author themselves did not manage to do a complete enough job themselves.

    In the instances where there is insufficient data, still, to resolve whether one conclusion or the other best explains the results, this leaves the issue open to further experimentation.

    this is the way science works, and it’s knowledge of this process that you so obviously lack.

    now, feel free to ignore this and get back to your inane yakking.

  81. #81 Dave Eaton
    March 19, 2008

    Just wait until my flying fists of fury go into action at the local church-owned coffee shop, too.

    This might explain why I have never seen Chuck Norris and PZ at the same time. PZ is the anti-Chuck Norris, and they would dissolve in a burst of photons, destroying the universe in the process.

    Mutations in fruit flies are caused when PZ points his hate at them. When he despises them, the mutations are lethal. If he ever loathes them, drosophila will go extinct.

  82. #82 Ichthyic
    March 19, 2008

    btw, just to be an annoying pedant to morons like Sinbad who continually refuse to understand the correct usage of ad-hominem…

    THIS is an ad-hominem:

    Sinbad is a Martian (you aren’t, are you?), so there is no reason at all to read anything he posts.

    that’s an ad-hominem.

    if i say:

    Sinbad is a fucking git.

    that’s an insult (accurate or not), not an ad-hominem.

    If i say:

    There is little reason to read what Sinbad thinks of the scientific process, based on his gross misunderstanding of it demonstrated in multiple posts.

    That is also NOT an ad-hominem, as it is based on a readily observable fact, and not a falsehood as would be required for it to be an ad-hominem.

    If you’re trying to make yourself sound intelligent, it doesn’t do well to constantly misuse even simple terms.

    or was that all too literal for you?

    I don’t know what moron it was that got you all started on applying “ad-hominem” when you mean “insult” or “invective”, but seriously, it’s become more than tiresome.

  83. #83 Ichthyic
    March 19, 2008

    The obvious response: Support the charge or retract it.

    the obvious response:

    you haven’t shown any indication that you know anything about how science works, or the peer review process, so you saying it without support makes you a liar to claim otherwise.

    you could have provided proof, but you don’t like to do that. Two links is just not enough room for you to operate, right?

    phht. that’s pretty pathetically transparent on your part.

    so:

    liar.

    you can prove me wrong any time you wish.

    You can’t, Icky. But I appreciate the effort, lame though it is.

    yup, i certainly can’t compare to your irrelevancy and ignorance, that’s for damn sure. However, that’s just repeating the same thing I said before.

    hey, if you want to prove to me you actually know something about the peer review process, why not show me a paper you have published that required you to go through it yourself?

    I know you can’t. nobody who has ever gone through it would say the bullshit you spout on a regular basis.

    However, I can actually prove I know the process well:

    A Test of the Function of Juvenile Color Patterns in the Pomacentrid Fish Hypsypops rubicundus.

    Pac. Sci., 47, 3: 240-247.

    your turn.

    I’ll be sure to raise your concerns at the next Board of Trustees meeting, or perhaps to Dick Broadhead next week-end in Phoenix.

    ROFLMAO.

    yeah, why don’t you just do that.

    I’ll voice your concerns of ad-hominem attacks as a note in Nature.

    not only are you wrong and a liar, but a whiny baby too.

    awwww.

    you’d never survive a month in academia, before you’d claim they were all picking on you and run home to mommy.

  84. #84 Kseniya
    March 19, 2008

    Would you boys like some milk and cookies?

  85. #85 Ichthyic
    March 20, 2008

    Would you boys like some milk and cookies?

    sorry, I have no tolerance for frauds, and even less for frauds who pretend to knowledge.

    …and yes, I would like some milk and cookies.

    I can help myself, though, ’cause I’m a big boy now.

  86. #86 Ichthyic
    March 20, 2008

    Ich, did you just leak your secret identity?

    heh, since I converted the paper I referenced to an online version on my website years ago, I don’t think it would have been too hard to figure out. Plus, there’s all the times i reference the grad work I did at Berkeley, the fact I was there at the same time as Wells, etc. Moreover, if someone actually goes to the trouble of looking up a paper i published in a journal as obscure as Pac Sci, they deserve to at least have my real name.

    If so, how come you’re not an ASIH member?

    I was. also ABS, Sigma Xi, AAAS, several others I’ve forgotten now.

    meh, I let all my memberships lapse when I’m doing other things, then bring them current again when I’m working on research again. Saves cash. So long as I still have access to the journal articles, that’s all i really need, and you can get that without having to pay the dues (you can go to all the conferences too). Yeah, yeah, I’m evil not to pay dues to good organizations, and they are all good organizations.

    At the moment, I’m doing things totally unrelated to my work with fish/sharks, so I haven’t bothered renewing them. don’t even think I’ve glanced at Copeia for a while now. I mostly spend time reading articles specific to whatever I happen to be interested in, and don’t even bother to regularly check the major journals anymore.

    How far back does it go? It should show my membership as an Ichyherper from when I was at Berkeley, and earlier at UCSB. try going back to around 1991 if it lets you do that. It should be there.

    There’s no way the information is current, though.

  87. #87 Ichthyic
    March 20, 2008

    Ichthyic, thank you for your spirited defense of the ad hominem art form.

    you’re quite welcome, but IIRC, it was a previous posting of yours that educated me as to its proper usage, so I guess the real credit belongs to you.

  88. #88 Ichthyic
    March 20, 2008

    My point, which you have never addressed, relates not to the mechanics of how science works, but rather to science’s inability to demonstrate ought from is.

    bullshit.

    plain and simple.

    bullshit.

    there, addressed succinctly and accurately.

    happy now?

    My field wasn’t science, however.

    shocker.

    I simply don’t care about your criticisms and accusations

    LOL

    yeah, sure.

    face it, you haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about, 90% of the time you post here.

    stop pretending you know anything about science, and I’ll stop calling you a liar.

    simple.

  89. #89 Ichthyic
    March 20, 2008

    Take your time.

    hold your breath?

    while you do that, move your goalposts some more.

  90. #90 Sinbad
    March 20, 2008

    Same goalposts; same spot. From my post #101: “Science and reason provide us with a means for ascertaining facts and a means for interpreting those facts, but can’t ultimately establish conclusions based thereon.” In many cases it can suggest answers (where the evidence is very strong), but even then the answers are tentative. Moreover, it can’t (in effect) demand answers to many different kinds of problems. It’s fabulous, but limited. To reach a conclusion in areas of morals, ethics, the social sciences and the like, we are forced to interpret the facts we ascertain (via the scientific method) in light of our underlying (and unevidenced) assumptions. As per the example I used long up-thread, science can’t tell us how to weigh and value freedom vis a’ vis equality when they inevitably conflict. Moreover, reasonable people can and will disagree as to both the underlying unevidenced assumptions and the way the ascertained facts are interpreted.

  91. #91 Will K.
    March 20, 2008

    Not to interrupt the copy-paste war, but Peter Ashby @ 125 brought up a point that made me think of something. This might be a stupid question, because I know shit all about nuclear bombs, but if we did drop a nuke and there happened to be a much more powerful nuclear device in it’s blast range, would the explosion set it off? Or is there a specific mechanism a nuclear bomb has to go through to detonate that wouldn’t happen if it were caught in another bomb’s destruction?

  92. #92 Will K.
    March 21, 2008

    So another point against blanket-bombing an entire region without taking into account what’s there.
    Thank you, Jaycubed.

  93. #93 andrew
    April 4, 2008

    yes guys, now where have your guts for critics suddenly gone?? Your mumbling about fallouts and other mental plays of a nuclear war by the USA in the Middle East is hilarious. The guy’s mental play is nothing but logical in his approach and entirely in the American tradition of destroying foreign countries in the name of something GOD-like, as in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Natural enough to include now the whole of the Middle East that harbour so many bad Muslim fundamentalists; and to do it by nuclear weapons is nothing else from what your defence minister indicated when he would not exclude the use of nuclear weapons in a (the next?)war with Iran. The guy is just a realist.

  94. #94 Damian
    April 4, 2008

    Er, Andrew, pretty much everyone who frequents this blog is utterly opposed to the wars fought in the name of their country (I am not an American). They are arguing with a few people who thought that it might be a good idea to nuke the Middle East, not agreeing with it.

    Are you really that stupid? How on earth can you blame people who are opposed to war for the actions of those that support it? Piss off.

  95. #95 JOhn
    March 25, 2009

    Oh please.

    If this guy was a communist or a radical anarchist you’d think: “Oh how quaint. How charming!”

    And if he believed that “9/11 was an inside job” you’d probably say nothing at all.

    But I guess that’s your kind of “wingnut” (as opposed to the “bad” kind–i.e. “conservative–so it deserves an entire post.

    But I think this post was necessary for you for another reason. His book presents a few problems for deeply cherished parts of your political world view–for example what it says about the myth of the “pay gap” between men and women.
    So I imagine you were just itching for some sort of (non)rebuttal like: “Oh well; he’s a Republican.”

    Now you have your “proof” feel free to disregard any conclusion in his book that shows up some of your long-cherished Orthodox Leftist views to be unscientific (something you previously liked to reserve for creationists and people who oppose embryonic stem cell research as well as “global warming”–you know: your political opponents).

  96. #96 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 25, 2009

    JOhn, we just love comments from the idiot gallery. You fit the bill. You said nothing of interest or of cogency. Just BLAH BLAH BLAH.