William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Page 4 of 707

Trump As Speed Bump (And Debate Notes)


If Trump wins, his effect on the accelerating downward slide of our culture will be as a speed bump, perhaps a small series of speed bumps. If Hillary wins, she might cast the order “Bomb Putin!”, which will create a much bigger bump. Besides, she has as a list of clients those who donated to the Clinton Foundation to service before the rest of us. Don’t forget her call—and “dream”!—of open borders. Trump will be more receptive. How much?

Not too much. Trump is one man (or one team), and the bureaucracy, Congress, the media, universities, and entertainers will be against him. That’s five against one; it’s not a fair fight, and can’t be. Actually, strike that. It’s more like 0.5 against 5.5, because nobody expects Trump will consistently uphold Tradition and Reality.

A Trump election will only delay the inevitable. Most will say that’s a good thing, because any pause allows time to breathe. A respite will give room for soldiers of Tradition and Reality time to regroup after so many years of defeat.

That’s to one side. To the other is the idea that if it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly. Rip the bandage off! The fight (many against the few) is coming, let each declare his allegiance and let’s get on with it. Yet a Trump residency on the people’s throne will give progressives time to regather, too, and given there are so many more of them, they’ll be able to do more. Why not light the fuse now and get it over with?

Ah, all democracies end the same way. There’s good and bad whichever way the election goes. Might as well take what comfort you can.

Debate notes (mostly modified tweets)

Trump can be nervous. Sniff, sniff. Good to know if you play poker with him. Hillary’s tell is her open-mouthed maniacal grin.

Hillary is good at debating. She doesn’t answer, she attacks. That’s the right thing to do in democratic political debates. Not philosophical debates, where presumably there is interest in finding the truth, but certainly in a democracy where the public must be convinced.

Trump, after waffling around for ten minutes, finally came to that idea.

Hillary: “I’m glad Trump isn’t in charge of the law.”

Trump: “Because you’d be in jail.”

Trump lost on the bathroom banter (as he should and as was expected), but beat back the waves by calling out Bill’s rapes and Hillary’s attacks on Bill’s victims. Hillary’s only answer to the emails was (in effect) “It’s all lies.”

Each and every disaster about Obamacare was predicted before it was passed. How much more are you (yes, you) paying?

Radical Islamic terror. Go ahead and said it, you Islamophobe. Or is it Islamaphobe? Spelling counts.

Who’s up for a nuclear holocaust with Russia? Hillary: Me! Me!

Most imaginative charge so far: Hillary’s claim that Trump’s campaign is causing terrorism. Hey. Some people will believe it.

Hillary: Putin and the Kremlin hacked my emails on my unsecured server. Wait’ll I’m president, boy. Release the drones!

Who wins against lowering (Trump) versus raising (Hillary) taxes?

Dr Hillary helped pass a law that allowed for better dosing for children. If you don’t remember anything else tonight, remember that.

Who’s up for a nuclear holocaust with Russia? Hillary: Me! Me! Oh, wait. Did we already do that one? Well, Hillary did it twice, too.

Trump: Syria is fighting ISIS, Russia is fighting ISIS. The implication is “Let’s not have war with Russia.” That’s the right answer. But I say as one of the irredeemable basket of deplorables.

Hillary: When I said Trump’s supporters were irredeemable deplorables, I meant I didn’t like Trump.

Trump: She has tremendous hatred in her. When she said deplorables, she meant it. (And then out came the maniacal grin!)

The audience questions surely helped Trump over Hillary.

Hillary: Did I forget to answer the question about special interests funding my campaign and Clinton Foundation?

And the winner is…Trump on a TKO.

All tied 1 – 1.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Souls Survive The Body: Plan Accordingly

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Once again, our great saint is blisteringly clear in his proofs the intellect is incorruptible. Next week we learn how intellects unite with our bodies. Don’t miss it!

Chapter 55 That intellectual substances are incorruptible (alternate translation) We are using the alternate translation this week; the primary is down.

1 Now, from what has just been said it is clearly shown that every intellectual substance is incorruptible.

2 For all corruption occurs through the separation of form from matter; absolute corruption, through the separation of the substantial form; relative corruption, through the separation of an accidental form. For, so long as the form remains, the thing must exist, since by the form the substance is made the proper recipient of the act of being. Now, where there is no composition of matter and form, there can be no separation of them; neither, then, can there be corruption. It has been shown, however, that no intellectual substance is composed of matter and form. Therefore, no intellectual substance is corruptible.

Notes Quod erat demonstratum, baby. Plan accordingly.

3 Moreover, that which belongs to a thing through itself is necessarily in it always and inseparably—thus, roundness is in a circle through itself, but is by accident in a coin; so that the existence of a non-round coin is possible; whereas it is impossible for a circle not to be round. Now, being is consequent upon form through itself; for by through itself we mean according as that thing is such; and each and every thing has being according as it has form. Therefore, substances which are not themselves forms can be deprived of being, so far as they lose form, even as a coin is deprived of roundness as a result of ceasing to be circular. But substances which are themselves forms can never be deprived of being; thus, if a substance were a circle, it could never be non-round. Now, we have already shown that intellectual substances are themselves subsisting forms. Hence, they cannot possibly cease to be, and therefore they are incorruptible.

4 In every instance of corruption, furthermore, potentiality remains after the removal of act. For when a thing is corrupted it does not dissolve into absolute non-entity, any more than a thing is generated from absolute non-entity. But, as we have proved, in intellectual substances the act is being itself, while the substance is as potentiality. Therefore, if an intellectual substance is corrupted, it will remain after its corruption; which is simply impossibility. Therefore, every intellectual substance is incorruptible.

Notes Recall, from Book 1, that potentiality is a kind of existence.

5 Likewise, in every thing which is corrupted there must be potentiality to non-being. Hence, if there be a thing in which there is no potentiality to non-being, such a thing cannot be corruptible. Now, in the intellectual substance there is no potentiality to non-being. For it is clear from what we have said that the complete substance is the proper recipient of being itself. But the proper recipient of an act is related to that act as potentiality, in such fashion that it is in no way in potentiality to the opposite; thus, the relationship of fire to heat is such that fire is in no way in potentiality to cold. Hence, neither in the case of corruptible substances is there potentiality to non-being in the complete substance itself, except by reason of the matter. But there is no matter in intellectual substances, for they are themselves complete simple substances. Consequently, there is no potentiality to not-being in them. Therefore, they are incorruptible.

6 Then, too, in whatever things there is composition of potentiality and act, that which holds the place of first potentiality, or of first subject, is incorruptible; so that even in corruptible substances prime matter is incorruptible. But, with intellectual substances, that which holds the place of first potentiality and subject is itself the complete substance of those things. Hence, the substance itself is incorruptible. But nothing is corruptible except by the fact that its substance is corruptible. Therefore, all intellectual natures are incorruptible.

7 Moreover, whatever is corrupted is corrupted either through itself or by accident. Now, intellectual substances cannot be corrupted through themselves, because all corruption is by a contrary. For the agent, since it acts according as it is a being in act, always by its acting brings something into actual being, so that if a thing is corrupted by its ceasing to be in act, this must result from the mutual contrariety of the terms involved; since things are contrary which exclude one another.

And on this account whatever is corrupted through itself must either have a contrary or be composed of contraries. Yet neither the one nor the other is true of intellectual substances; and a sign of this is that in the intellect things even of contrary nature cease to be contraries. Thus, white and black are not contraries in the intellect, since they do not exclude one another; rather, they are co-implicative, since by grasping the one we understand the other. Therefore, intellectual substances are not corruptible through themselves. Likewise, neither are they corruptible by accident, for in this manner are accidents and non-subsistent forms corrupted. Now, it was shown above that intellectual substances are subsistent. Therefore, they are altogether incorruptible.

8 Again, corruption is a kind of change, and change must be the terminal point of a movement, as is proved in the Physics [V, 1]. Hence, whatever is corrupted must be moved. Now, it is shown in natural philosophy that whatever is moved is a body. Hence, whatever is corrupted must be a body, if it is corrupted through itself, or a form or power of a body depending thereon, if it be corrupted by accident. Now, intellectual substances are not bodies, nor powers or forms dependent on a body. Consequently, they are corrupted neither through themselves nor by accident. They are, then, utterly incorruptible.

Notes Be careful with this one. Intellects change, as yours is changing now by reading these words. Intellects can also be corrupted, by (say) reading the New York Times. But Aquinas means corruption in the sense that the substance itself disappears. And this bad pun is made even funnier when you consider the next argument where the first form of corruption is called perfection. Point is: beware as ever for the fallacy of equivocation.

9 And again. Whatever is corrupted is corrupted through being passive to something, for to be corrupted is itself to be passive in a certain way. Now, no intellectual substance can be passive in such a way as will lead to its corruption. For passivity is a kind of receptivity, and what is received into an intellectual substance must be received in it in a manner consonant with its mode, namely, intelligibly. What is thus received into an intellectual substance, however, perfects that substance and does not corrupt it, for the intelligible is the perfection of the intelligent. Therefore, an intelligent substance is incorruptible.

10 Furthermore, just as the sensible is the object of sense, so the intelligible is the object of intellect. But sense is not corrupted by a corruption proper to itself except on account of the exceedingly high intensity of its object; thus, is sight corrupted by very brilliant objects, hearing by very loud sounds, etc. Now, I say by corruption proper to the thing itself because the sense is corrupted also accidentally through its subject being corrupted. But this mode of corruption cannot happen to the intellect, since it is not the act of any body, as depending thereon, as we have shown above. And clearly it is not corrupted by the exceeding loftiness of its object, because he who understands very intelligible things understands things less intelligible not less but more. Therefore, the intellect is in no way corruptible…

13 A further argument. It is impossible for natural desire to be in vain, “since nature does nothing in vain.” But every intelligent being naturally desires to be forever; and to be forever not only in its species but also in the individual. This point is made clear as follows.

Natural appetite is present in some things as the result of apprehension; the wolf naturally desires the killing of the animals on which it feeds, and man naturally desires happiness. But in some other things natural desires results without apprehension from the sole inclination of natural principles, and this inclination, in some, is called natural appetite; thus, a heavy body desires to be down.

Now, in both ways there is in things a natural desire for being; and a sign of this is that not only things devoid of knowledge resist, according to the power of their natural principles, whatever is corruptive of them, but also things possessed of knowledge resist the same according to the mode of their knowledge. Hence, those things lacking knowledge, in whose principles there is a power of keeping themselves in existence forever so that they remain always the same numerically, naturally desire to exist everlastingly even in their numerical self-identity.

But things whose principles have not the power to do this, but only the power of perpetuating their existence in the same species, also naturally desire to be perpetuated in this manner. Hence, this same difference must be found also in those things in which there is desire for being, together with knowledge, so that those things which have no knowledge of being except as now desire to be as now, but not to be always, because they do not apprehend everlasting being. Yet they desire the perpetual existence of the species, though without knowledge, because the generative power, which conduces to this effect, is a forerunner and not a subject of knowledge. Hence, those things which know and apprehend perpetual being desire it with natural desire. And this is true of all intelligent substances. Consequently, all intelligent substances, by their natural appetite, desire to be always. That they should cease to be is, therefore, impossible.

Notes Don’t misunderstand desires in the second paragraph. Aquinas is not saying rocks think. In any case, this will strike readers as the weakest argument because of the premise “intelligent being naturally desires to be forever”.

14 Furthermore, all things that begin to be and cease to be do so in virtue of the same potency, for the same potency regards being and non-being. Now, intelligent substances could not begin to be except by the potency of the first agent, since, as we have shown, they are not made out of a matter that could have existed antecedently to them. Hence, there is no potency with respect to their non-being except in the first agent, inasmuch as it lies within His power not to pour being into them.

But nothing can be said to be corruptible with respect to this potency alone; and for two reasons: because things are said to be necessary and contingent according to a potentiality that is in them, and not according to the power of God, as we have already shown, and also because God, who is the Author of nature, does not take from things that which is proper to their natures; and we have just shown that it is proper to intellectual natures to exist forever, and that is why God will not take this property from them. Therefore, intellectual substances are in every way incorruptible.

Notes Here is an excellent brief definition of contingency and necessity: “things are said to be necessary and contingent according to a potentiality that is in them”.

Stream: EPA Issues 57-State Climate Warning!

The EPA. Like a Kungfu Ninja.

The EPA. Like a Kungfu Ninja.

Today’s post is at the Stream: EPA Issues 57-State Climate Warning!

Strike that. It’s a 50-State warning. That 57 came from elsewhere in the Obama administration.

Well, 50 is less than 57, so the warning is not as dire as you might have thought. Yet it’s still serious. Everybody knows that our beneficent government knows best and that all its cautions should be heeded. This is why you should listen to its bureaucratic experts, who are saying “climate change” will have “impacts.”


Very real impacts,” says the EPA. And what is real is not a fantasy. So get ready to rumble, weather wise. But before thinking about that, we have to understand what “climate change” is.

Here is a scientific fact. In 1936, a typical year, the climate of the earth was perfect. Every afternoon everywhere was sunny and a clement 78 degrees on Mister Fahrenheit’s scale, even in winter. The rain fell in amounts sufficient to water every crop, fill every stream, and extinguish every forest fire—and then it stopped. Floods didn’t happen. There was just enough wind to loft every kite, and no more.

Of course, it’s true that an anomalous heatwave killed over 12,000 Americans in 1936. But still, since there was quite a lot less carbon dioxide in the air then than now, the climate was necessarily better.

The climate was also better in 1886, long before people were burning gasoline on their commutes to work. It was better because there was less atmospheric carbon dioxide, even less than in 1936. And it was better even though the USA was hit by seven hurricanes, the most since records began to be kept (which wasn’t that long ago).

The climate continued to be better than it is now, right up through the 1960s and 1970s when the consensus was that global cooling was going to kill many people. Good thing it never happened (the government had not yet reached its current state of perfection)…

Go there to read how much your government really cares.

Is Homosexuality A Disability?



Guy’s walking along, innocent like, when, lo, he has his “nuts bit off by a Laplander“.

Perhaps needless to say, his young wife is distressed over the incident. What goes through the poor man’s mind, as you men out there will understand, is easy to guess. But, more importantly, can we say the man now has a disability?

You bet we can.

Suppose instead that, from before birth, a genetic anomaly, the feared Lapinkoira Suomenlapinkoira syndrome, causes the man to be born without the extremities so enticing to the aforementioned hound. He still have a disability?

Yes, and the same one.

And would it also be a disability if the syndrome did its number on only the first of the pair of pertinents? Yes. Not firing on all cylinders is a disability. Not all disabilities are as disabling as others: disabilities have gradations.

Now suppose another man, by whatever method, by choice or by biochemical means as yet undiscovered, despite an intense search and lack of plausible mechanism, acts exclusively on his self-declared same-sex attraction. He have a disability?

He does. It is effectively the same disability as the man who met the dog. The second man cannot reproduce, and, with trivial and known qualifications, not being able to reproduce is a disability.

But wait. This is the modern world, and what was trivial and obvious to our ancestors is hidden and difficult for many of us. A prepubescent male is unable to reproduce, but his inability is not a disability, because—and be careful agreeing with me here, for that will have deep consequences—it is not in the nature of prepubescents to be able to reproduce.

Being stuck on a desert isle—or in a Womyn’s Studies Department, which is a near equivalent—is also a bar to reproduction, but it is obvious that it is not a disability, just the lack of chance for an ability.

Choosing not to reproduce is also not a disability, but the refusal to use an ability. The man who has same-sex attraction is only refusing to use his ability to reproduce in the most trifling sense. It is exactly the same sense when a normal man refuses to use his ability on any but his own wife: he could, but he chooses not to (“desert-isle” circumstance may prevent him even if he chooses to).

No. We are told, and supporters are adamant, that same-sex attraction is not a choice. It is therefore a disability, because the lack of the ability to reproduce is a disability. And this is so because it is in the nature of men to reproduce. Ask your father for verification.

The only possible objection to this is to deny the nature of man. If you do that, you also deny the nature of prepubescent males. You must even deny the difference between males and females, for to recognize any distinction is to recognize human nature, and if you recognize human nature the only questions left are what characteristics are proper to man’s nature and which are accidents. But if you insist same-sex attraction is not a disability, then you are are left arguing that reproduction is not natural, which is absurd.

The conclusion is that (exclusive) same-sex attraction is a disability, and a major one. Of course, lacking a foot or having congestive heart failure are also disabilities, not necessarily to reproduction, but to health in general. Having a disability is not therefore in itself a judgment on a person’s morality. Acts are always reason for a judgment on a person’s morality. And there we leave it.

This is but an introduction to the real story, which is this: Christian Organization Apologizes After Keynote Speaker Argues That Homosexuality Is a Disability.

Michael Rea, president of the Society of Christian Philosophers, apologized Saturday to anyone who may have been offended by a recent presentation by leading Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne at the 2016 Midwest Society of Christian Philosophers in which Swinburne said homosexuality could be considered a disability.

More about it here: ‘Shut Up, Bigot!’ The Philosophers Argued. Another attendee, one Hackett, said, “My response was mixture of abhorrence and overwhelming anger”, which only proves he doesn’t get out of the house enough—or that he is willing to use hyperbole to advance a fallacy.

Rea’s and Hackett’s conclusion is that a (most mild-mannered) Christian speaking of the historic and accurate interpretation of Christianity at a Christian philosophy conference now requires apology.

Reportedly, Swinburne also said same-sex attraction is “incurable”, a mistake and false in fact. There have been many men who reported prior exclusive same-sex attraction but who were able to lose their disability.

Regular readers will recall the prediction that the time is soon coming where the culture will demand not only that you not disavow homosexual acts, and not only that you not just tolerate them, but where you will you be required to say they are in some sense superior to heterosexual acts. Claiming, what is true, that homosexuality is a disability will be classed as “hate speech”, and will be proscribed.

Bonus A Georgetown University academic philosopher says Swinburne and his supporters, whom she labels “douche tankards”, can, she says, “suck my giant queer [go and find out which learned word she used].”

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