Skip to content
November 5, 2018 | 12 Comments

An Illustration Of Type I Scientism

Regular readers will recall there are two Types of Scientism. Type I is belief that Science is needed to verify commonplace truths. Type II is the belief that only Science can provide truth.

Both are false. Type II Scientism leads to empiricism, atheism, and similar mental maladies. These are all bad, but it’s still not clear if Type II is the worst form of Scientism. For you usually arrive at Type II through the gateway of Type I.

A Type I headline might be “Men Stronger Than Woman On Average, Study Finds.” The study was not necessary, or at least it wasn’t throughout all of human history. Studies like this (and there are some) highlight another science error, which is Fantasist or Willed Science. Fantasists will say “Women are as strong as men”, and so will need scientific evidence (of Type I) to prove to them it is not so. That some will not believe this evidence is an error opposite of scientism. Even scientists themselves commit this fantastical error, usually because they are in love with a Theory (as the Fantasists are). I do not pursue this here.

You and I, dear readers, have dissected many Type I papers over the years. From this “research”—I mean ours, not the papers—we have discovered that a leading cause of Type I Scientism is the need to publish. Forcing scientists to speak when they have nothing interesting to say causes lousy work to be artificially elevated. It clogs journals.

Scientists have some pride, even then they know what they are made to push is weak and is better left unsaid. To cover their shame, they write badly, hoping a blizzard of jargon and bloated sentences will make their piles of words look shiny (this may not be consciously planned). And so journals, like port-a-potties after Grateful Dead concert, fester.

Even this would be okay, except for the Expansion Effect. The Expansion Effect is the flooding of the system of sub-par talent (“Every child should go to college”). This further bloats content, causing a drag on the system as separating the metal from ore takes more and more time.

The worst part of Type I Scientism is false advertising and the subsequent encouragement of non-scientists to view scientists with more esteem than they deserve. That leads to Type II Scientism, which itself leads to utilitarianism and a host of other sins.

Enough of that. Here’s the headline: Growing up in a house full of books is major boost to literacy and numeracy, study finds.

While the average number of books in a home library differed from country to country — from 27 in Turkey to 143 in the UK and 218 in Estonia — “the total effects of home library size on literacy are large everywhere”, write Sikora and her colleagues in the paper, titled Scholarly Culture: How Books in Adolescence Enhance Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Technology Skills in 31 Societies. The paper has just been published in the journal Social Science Research.

“Adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies spanning literacy, numeracy and ICT skills,” they write. “Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education or own educational or occupational attainment.”

This is Type I all the way. Kids given books are more likely to read than kids not given books is not a subject of worthy research. Especially when it must be obvious that the parents who own the books are smarter, on average, than those that don’t. And that means the kids are smarter, on somewhat less of an average, given the partial heritability of intelligence.

What do the authors say? In their conclusion they ask:

Now that we have established that scholarly culture as indicated by the size of home libraries, confers enduring cognitive skills in literacy, numeracy, and technology, the next burning question becomes: “How does this come about?”

“Role modelling”, they say, “Children emulate parents who read.”

Then comes the jargon and Expansion Effect:

Acquisition of specific strategies proposed by significant others or discovered in books themselves: children build “toolkits” of strategies that they apply in multiple situations (Swidler, 1986). Stimulation of cognitive skills through family social practices: books are interwoven with positive affect, specific mental activities, know-how, and motivational states (Reckwitz, 2002). Storytelling, imaginative play, charades, and vocabulary development come to mind (Evans, et al., 2010). We suggest that scholarly culture is a way of life rather than concerted cultivation (Lareau, 2011).

Good grief.

November 4, 2018 | 2 Comments

Summary Against Modern Thought: Limits Of Our Knowledge Of God

Previous post.

There are limits to how well we can know God.


1 However, since the type of action appropriate to any agent depends on the efficacy of its active principle, and thus a thing whose heat is stronger performs the act of heating more intensely, then it must be that the manner of knowing depends on the efficacy of the principle of the act of knowing.

2 Now, the aforementioned light is a certain principle of divine knowledge, because the created intellect is elevated by it to the seeing of the divine substance. Therefore, the mode of the divine vision must be commensurate with the power of this light. Of course, the aforementioned light, in its power, falls far short of the clarity of the divine intellect. So, it is impossible for the divine substance to be seen as perfectly by means of this kind of light, as it is seen by the divine intellect itself.

Indeed, the divine intellect sees its substance as perfectly as its perfect capacity to be seen permits. In fact, the truth of the divine substance and the clarity of the divine intellect are equal, or, better, they are but one.

So, it is impossible for a created intellect, by means of the aforesaid light, to see the divine substance as perfectly as its perfect capacity to be seen permits. Now, everything that is comprehended by a knower is known by him in as perfect a way as the knowable object permits. For instance, a person who knows that a triangle has three angles equal to two right angles, but merely as a matter of opinion on the basis of probable reasoning, since it is said to be so by wise men, does not yet comprehend it; but only the man who knows this as a definite knowable object, by means of whatever is its cause. It is impossible, then, for the created intellect to comprehend the divine substance.

Notes All teachers will appreciate that analogy! That “probable reasoning” is what I elsewhere called “local truths”, and is obviously a good use of the argument by authority. The conclusion is not necessarily true, but probably true.

3 Again, a finite power in its, operation cannot be on a par with an infinite object. But the divine substance is something infinite in relation to every created intellect, since every created intellect is limited under a definite species. So, it is impossible for any created intellect’s vision to be equal to the seeing of the divine substance; that is to say, to seeing it as perfectly as its capacity to be seen permits. Therefore, no created intellect may comprehend it.

4 Besides, every agent acts perfectly to the extent that it participates in the form which is the principle of its operation. Now, the intelligible form, by which the divine substance is seen, is the divine essence itself, and, though it becomes the intelligible form of the created intellect, the created intellect does not grasp it according to its entire capacity. So, it does not see it as perfectly as its capacity to be seen permits. Therefore, it is not comprehended by the created intellect.

Notes A point which, when grasped, should produce a deep humility. The most fundamental and important stuff we know is given to us. We at best figure out tiny intellectual puzzles.

5 Furthermore, no object of comprehension exceeds the limitations of the one who comprehends. Thus, if the created intellect were to comprehend the divine substance, the divine substance would not exceed the limits of the created intellect. But this is impossible. Therefore, it is not possible for a created intellect to comprehend the divine substance.

6 Now, this statement that the divine substance is seen by the created intellect, yet not comprehended, does not mean that part of it is seen and part not seen, because the divine substance is entirely simple. Rather, it means that it is not seen as perfectly by the created intellect as its visibility would permit. In the same way, a man who has an opinion regarding a demonstrative conclusion is said to know it but not to comprehend it, since he does not know it perfectly, that is, in a scientific way, though there is no part of it that he does not know.

Notes I like to call this “owning the fact”. Students can memorize a fact, and repeat it, but their incomprehension (for the most part) about the fact does not make it false. The fact is held largely on authority, which is weak because any little thing can disturb it. Think of the premises built up about a fact, or rather from which a fact is deduced, as a sort of wall. Authority is one brick, easily assailed. But as premises (knowledge) increase, so does the strength of the wall. Losing one premise won’t make the conclusion fall.

November 3, 2018 | 6 Comments

Insanity & Doom Update LXV

Item The Future of American Sexuality and Family: Five Key Trends

How many Americans have entered into civil same-sex marriages? It’s hard to say, since same-sex households themselves have never been simple to count. The Treasury Department, leaning on tax returns, identified about 250,000 same-sex marriages (filing jointly) in 2015, a figure that characterizes just under one-half of one percent of married tax filers in the United States…

Will same-sex marriage rates increase? As I wrote in Cheap Sex, I doubt it. Gallup data reveals a modest uptick in Americans reporting being married to someone of the same sex–six-tenths of one percentage point–between the first and second years after Obergefell. That’s not exactly the outcome you’d expect from pent-up demand…

So just how many transgender minors are there? It’s a moving target. The Williams Institute thinks it’s 0.7 percent, but a new study in the journal Pediatrics reveals a statewide survey in Minnesota estimates it at just under 3 percent…The teens’ parents tended to note that [rapid onset of gender dysphoria ] occurred in groups of friends and alongside a surge in the kids’ internet or social media use…

The share of the population that reports at least one partner of the same-sex has grown from 3.6 to 8.7 percent of women and from 4.5 to 8.2 percent of men [in the past 25 years]…

Marriage will not disappear, of course, but it may well become a minority practice.

These are from Mark Regnerus. What struck me most was the doubling of sodomy—by those who do not consider themselves homosexual. Sexual “fluidity”, as Regnerus and others call it, is on the rise. It will only increase because refusing a same-sex “partner” will be increasingly painted as “bigoted.” That plus the indoctrination in schools. And the media. And the bureaucracy.

Item Is An Asteroid Coming? NASA’s ‘Planetary Defense Coordination Office’ Budget Suddenly Spikes To $150 Million

“The Trump administration has proposed increasing the budget for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office by three-fold — from some $60 million to $150 million — amid growing concerns that humanity is utterly unprepared for the unlikely but still unthinkable: an asteroid strike of calamitous proportions.”

First of all, why spend 90 million dollars that we don’t have if there is nothing to be concerned about?

Secondly, why issue a brand new plan that is “intended to energize a host of agencies who could contribute to potential ways to prevent such as a disaster” if there is no disaster looming for the foreseeable future?

Something doesn’t smell right about all of this…

The truth is that the next time we get hit, there will probably be little to no warning, and if the asteroid is big enough millions of people could die.

My theory is that we never have far to seek for a reason of government rewarding itself with more money without the need to invoke deep theory. On the other hand, in conjunction with that doubling of sexual “fluidity” comes the idea of the Great Chastisement. If it happens, we can’t say we haven’t been warned. Repeatedly.

For instance: NASA asteroid WARNING: Giant 2,600-foot Asteroid FP118 to skim Earth TODAY (3 September 2018).

For instance: NASA Basically Missed a Huge Asteroid That Passed Unnervingly Close to Earth (17 April 2018).

Speaking of chastisement-worthy behavior, our last item.

Item Women in the U.S. Can Now Get Safe Abortions by Mail

For years, an organization called Women on Web has given women a way to perform their own medication-induced abortions at home. The organization would remotely do online consultations, fill prescriptions, and ship pills that trigger miscarriages to women who live in countries where abortion is illegal. Several studies have shown that the service is safe.

She said ship pills that trigger miscarriages. Yes, “ship pills that trigger miscarriages”. That’s what I read. “Ship pills that trigger miscarriages”. And after she said that, she said—you can see it as well as I—“Several studies have shown that the service is safe.”

Not safe for the baby. Which is killed.

…Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, told me that “it doesn’t appear that women are having serious complications” from self-inducing abortions using pills. [Except for the death of the children.] However, if women using these regimens experience heavy bleeding or some other complication—as about 3 percent of women have—they are generally advised to go to a hospital and say they had a miscarriage.

A chemically induced on purpose miscarriage.

Item PD: 2 Satan-worshiping girls planned to kill middle school classmates, drink victims’ blood (Thanks to Kent Clizbe for the tip.)

Police say two middle school girls, who worship Satan, armed themselves with knives in a foiled plot to violently kill classmates and drink their blood at school on Tuesday.

I’m not sure whether to classify this under Freedom of Religion or Sexual Orientation. Ideas?

November 2, 2018 | 10 Comments

Black Coffee Drinkers Are Sadistic Psychos: It’s Science!

Headline New study says you might be a psychopath if you like black coffee

A new study from the University of Innsbruck in Austria says that people who drink their coffee black often have psychopathic or sadistic traits…

The people behind the report surveyed more than 1,000 adults about their taste preferences with foods and drinks that are bitter. To get answers, the adults in the study took four different personality tests that examined traits like narcissism, aggression, sadism and psychopathy.

Interestingly, the study found that people who tend to like bitter foods such as black coffee or tonic water also had personality traits that could be seen as bitter and unpleasant.

“The results of both studies confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are 39 positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday 40 sadism and psychopathy,” the study says.

The peer-reviewed paper is “Individual differences in bitter taste preferences are associated with antisocial personality traits” by Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer in Appetite.

Regular readers can stop here, for this is yet another sorry tale of wee p-values and attempts to quantify the unquantifiable. If only somebody wrote a book exposing these pernicious methods, and offered a way of escape, then we would not be in this mess.

The paper opens with this stunning announcement: “Eating and drinking are universal social phenomena.”

From there we soar into the stratosphere: “The sense of taste is innately hedonic and biased.”

Who knew?

Skip it. Here is their main question: “Could it be that the extent to which people learn to relish bitter substances is related to their personality?” The obvious answer did not suggest itself to our authors, hence they conducted a survey. They asked a bunch of questions to people recruited on line (which they elevated to “studies”), and paid them sixty cents.

The questions were quantified, as is usual, but wrongheaded. It is believed by many that emotions and thought can be given unique numbers, which is bizarre—and false. How much do you agree with that sentiment on a scale of 42,000 to 1 googol?

One of the questions, to which we can be sure everybody answered absolutely honestly, knowing they were bring tracked, on a scale of 1 to 5, was “I have threatened people I know.”

They went from that to the so-called Dark Triade, which we have met before. “I tend to manipulate others to get my way”, “I tend to be callous or insensitive”, etc.

Many, many, many other pseudo-quantified questions followed. Then came the “bivariate correlations and multiple regression analyses”—and wee p-values. None of it done in a predictive sense, of course; everything was parametric.

Their “betas” (recalling the numerical scale ranges) were small, even trivial, meaning the differences in traits was not worth writing home about, but the “betas” did expose their wee p-values, which excited the authors. (Large sample sizes almost always give wee ps, which is one of the major failings of p-vlaues.)

You can feel their excitement (an 8.2 on a scale of -4 to 12) when they wrote “The present results provide the first empirical evidence for the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are linked to malevolent personality traits.”

And “Particularly robust associations were found for everyday sadism, which was significantly predicted by general bitter taste preferences when controlling for third variables across both studies.”

Control? “Drinking coffee with sugar and milk, for example, successfully masks most of its bitterness. Similar adjustments in preparation can lead to a number of items losing its original bitter taste.”

It wasn’t all lattes and soy milk flavorings, no, sir. There were some problems.

Further inconsistencies between the general and food specific measure arose. First, only the general taste preference measure was associated with less agreeableness. This raises questions as to which specific connotation of the general measure produced this correlation. We can only speculate about an answer.

Allow me to speculate. Scientists are so harassed into publishing anything that nonsense often results, because if they don’t publish, they lose their jobs.

“Also, in preferring bitter tasting foods more than less sadistic people, everyday sadists may perceive them as positive due to their potential to cause distaste, that is, to cause a negative experience in other people.”

How can you take this stuff seriously?