Higher Criticism

67 years ago today, the Japanese naval air force launched a bombing attack against Darwin. I guess Japan’s creationists are even more fervent than ours.

28 Responses to Higher Criticism

  1. Sergio Méndez February 19, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    ????

  2. Sergio Méndez February 19, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Ah..you mean the Darwin islands?

  3. Anon73 February 19, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    So Roderick, what would YOU do with a time machine?

  4. Mark L February 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    He already did it.

  5. Soviet Onion February 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    I know what I’d do. Head back to 1786 and start dishing out AK-47’s to all the right people: members of Shay’s rebellion, slaves all across the South and to the natives in the West. I don’t it think it’ll create too much of a screw up over the long term, because once the ammo runs out they’ll be useless.

  6. Anon73 February 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    How… inspiring S.O. I suppose next John Zerzan will post saying he would go back and stop agriculture from being adopted, hence heading off the development of writing, cities, and the state.

    • Soviet Onion February 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

      Anon73,

      I guess if it isn’t coated in sixteen layers of Gandhi and actively pandering to Establishment middle class respectability, it’s not your revolution.

      Maybe instead I’ll go back and persuade the colonists to forget about rum running, attacking tax collectors, constructing guns in underground workshops and forming militias, and instead persuade them to “work within the system” by petitioning Parliament for another ten years.

  7. David Gordon February 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    They had in mind a follow-up attack on the Isles of Langerhans.

  8. Brandon February 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    I would use a time machine to clear up many questions about human history, both modern and ancient. For instance, was there really a Jeebus?
    I sure wouldn’t use it to pass out machine guns.

  9. Aster February 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm #

    Soviet Onion-

    Unfortunately, I suspect that the result would be that all of these groups would learn the false lesson of the efficacy of violence. Not to mention that some bright young man willing to make munitions for the powers-that-be in exchange for personal space and privilege would reverse-engineer the guns. Somehow a sudden advance of two centuries in weaponry without the equivalent advance in spiritual development sounds like a bad idea. Of course, in some ways we’ve regressed spiritually since that time, so then again….

    My suggestion would be to go back with a portable generator and a few laptop computers containing the sum of modern political, aesthetic, scientific, medical, etc., progress. Give it to a few exceptionally liberal and well-positioned people with as wide a cultural distribution is possible (American picks might be Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine). Stress the part of the lesson about how using technological advances to efficiently kill large number of people and applying rational principles only to the established group doesn’t work out so well in the long run for anyone.

    Oh, and do the ‘take advantage of compound interest’ thing, of course.

    Have you by any chance read any of Harry Turtledove’s books?

    • Soviet Onion February 22, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

      Aster,

      Admittedly my comment was a little tongue in cheek. Consider it a self-deprecating attempt at national pride in my mother country, since Kalashnikovs are our number one export. Next comes vodka, caviar and politically eccentric novelists.

      I’m also well aware of what happens these things flood into parts of the world that have been kept closed and impoverished, and into the hands of petty tyrants intent on exploiting irrational tensions for their own power, further entrenching the bigotries and barriers of that society and their power base upon them. We don’t need to speculate on an 18th century “what if?”, because that’s exactly what’s been happening in many areas of the world since 1991.

      I do like the idea of Matrix-jacking 200 years of intellectual advancement and hindsight into the heads of liberal geniuses and seeing what blooms, but why stop there? If it’s closed societies allow most kinds of cultural malaise to carve out a stable existence, then the cure lies in throwing them open to world.

      What I’d really do is skip forward a few years to after we’ve invented WiFi technology able to covering the entire planet in a mesh network, with cheap solar panels to power them and charge batteries for the laptops. Put everyone in the world in contact with everyone else.

      After 200 years of watching the global economic monoculture (as anti-globablist Greens bemoan it in their quest to protect “the community” from individuals with access to choices and information outside the traditional bounds of the community) pull the rug out from under every kind of societal oppression and normative trap, and foster unmediated empathy between humans of different backgrounds and appearances, it won’t matter that all of us own AK’s. We can fire them into the air in peace.

      That said, I wouldn’t wait to abolish slavery, and doing so would also eliminate one of the major motivations behind Westward expansion.

      I actually haven’t read any of Turtledove’s books. The cover designs gave me the impression that they were gimmicky stories, and the opinions of people I know who’ve read them tend to be mixed.

  10. Anon73 February 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    I intend to read some of his books now. Apparently the “go back and hand out AK-47s” was explored in one of Turtledove’s books, except it was white supremacists handing them out to the Confederacy. 🙁

    • Roderick February 21, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

      Though in Turtledove’s story (Guns of the South), after Robert E. Lee becomes president of a victorious Confederacy, he abolishes slavery, to the horror of his erstwhile benefactors. (I think this is an overly optimistic assessment of what Lee would have been likely to do, based on taking some apparently antislavery comments of Lee out of context; but it makes a satisfying ending.)

  11. Neil February 21, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    I think the ramifications of any actual time travel seem to outweigh the risk involved in actually endeavoring to do it (assuming that one actually could). Holodecks seem like a much safer solution to practicing the possible scenarios that could occur. Yet the universe could be one giant holodeck.

    • Roderick February 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

      Yet the universe could be one giant holodeck.

      I don’t actually think it could be. The concept of simulation requires a contrast.

  12. Mark February 22, 2009 at 5:15 am #

    Ooooh… Simulation Theory reference.

  13. Anon73 February 23, 2009 at 12:27 am #

    Perhaps he meant the observable universe, as in the movie “The Matrix”?

    • Roderick February 23, 2009 at 1:48 am #

      Even so, in order to form the concept of “simulation” I think we’d have to have experienced/observed something other than simulations. Or to put it another way, our concept of what counts as non-simulation is constrained by what our experience enables us to refer to.

  14. Anon73 February 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    In the past you said language allows us to refer to things about which we might not directly know (e.g. if you say superman can fly, you’ve thereby said clark kent can fly). So if by “universe” you mean “everything”, that would include the real universe that is running the hypothetical simulation we are a part of.

    • Roderick February 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

      But what would be meant by calling it a simulation?

  15. Neil February 23, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    It’s not like we couldn’t have some comparison. Perhaps this is a universe inside of a universe. The holographic projection is very much as real as the real universe. It’s comparable to running an operating system on a virtual machine in a host operating system.

  16. Anon73 February 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    Well it’s kind of like “The Matrix”. The people plugged in are experiencing an elaborate simulation, and when Neo wakes up he finds out robots are running things. The laws of physics seem to be the same in both worlds though, so in a sense the people in the computer simulation have some experience of what the non-simulation real world is like.

    What does Wittgenstein say about solipsism?

    • Roderick February 23, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

      The people plugged in are experiencing an elaborate simulation

      But again, why call it a simulation? Words like “reality” and “simulation” are formed via interaction with certain sorts of phenomena. Yes, we can certainly refer to phenomena we haven’t experienced; but our ability to do is an extension from usage closer to home.

      What does Wittgenstein say about solipsism?

      He thinks it’s incoherent.

    • Neil February 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

      What about the individuals who constitute a part of the hologram, e.g., their very existence is composed of holographic projection? How does one ethically treat a self-actualized holographic projection?

  17. Anon73 February 24, 2009 at 1:37 am #

    But again, why call it a simulation? Words like “reality” and “simulation” are formed via interaction with certain sorts of phenomena.

    I guess in order to work the movie assumes that the experiences of the people in the matrix are virtually identical to experiences they could have in the real world. Like suppose the people in the matrix experience living in vats of water with icky life-support tubes, exactly as in the real world. Then it seems obvious to call it a simulation.

    • Roderick February 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

      I don’t see it. Of course your description builds in the assumption by using phrases like “the real world,” but once you take those out, how do you get from the premise “What you experience in Situation X is just like what you could experience in Situation Y” to the conclusion “Situation X is a simulation of Situation Y”? The coffee I have in Auburn tastes just like coffee I could have in Opelika, but does that make Auburn a simulation of Opelika?

  18. Tony Hollick March 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Hmmm…

    “My suggestion would be to go back with a portable generator and a few laptop computers containing the sum of modern political, aesthetic, scientific, medical, etc., progress. Give it to a few exceptionally liberal and well-positioned people with as wide a cultural distribution is possible (American picks might be Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine). Stress the part of the lesson about how using technological advances to efficiently kill large number of people and applying rational principles only to the established group doesn’t work out so well in the long run for anyone.”

    It occurs to me, that 200 years ago…

    Political thought (Locke, Adam Smith, Jefferson, Tom Paine, etc. etc.:

    Aesthetics (from Ancient Greece though to the great Romantic and Landscape painters, sculpture, literature, poetry, plays, music etc. etc.);

    Science (Newton, the Particle Theory of Light; Galilean Relativity, rigorous dimensional analysis; Cosmology — “Infinite in All Directions”; the exposition by Nicolas of Cusa, Cardinal in 1440 advancing the theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun; that the Sun was just another star in an infinite Universe, with other stars having planets — some of them inhabited by living intelligent beings much like ourselves; the Commonsense (Tarskian) Correspondence Truth principle; no incalcubly toxic chemical cocktails floating around everywhere, the Enlightenment triumphing; the beginnings of Critical Rationalism; the beginnings of the age of mass-production; optimism towards the future (absent Malthus and a few others); a reasonably clear and intelligible Common Law, with a comprehensive core of basic principles and deductive applicability; no Marxism; no reductionist materialism to speak of; the list goes on…)

    Medical advances:

    Well, yes, but we also have Big Pharma, the all-powerful medical cartels which block evidence-based medicine, and escalate a stupefying increase in costs, often accompanied by iatrogenic “medicine”… )

    It’s not so clear that people would, in fact, be much better off.

    Positivism and “The Impossibility of Knowledge” rules NOT-OK; crazily unscientific “Singularities” cosmologies, so that near-on every physicist has a different Cosmology now, with disastrous consequences for unstable people seeking ‘ultimate foundations’ in modern (pseudo-) sciences such as Darwinism, Special and General Relatvity (‘Born Refuted’ by Absolute Rotation and discarded by Einstein); “Quantum-Mechanical” absurdities (reifying a formalism, an approximation method — I ask you!!!), Neo-Classical Economics (Austrian School, Chicago School — see Wiki on top-flight philosophers of science Imre Lakatos and Spiro Latsis blowing both clear out of the water as incapable of novel pedictions, this untestable… the list goes on

    Sure, we now have some wonderful _technologies_…

    Time Travel is physically impossible anyway, because the same atoms cannot be in different space-time co-ordinates at the same time; and Absolute Time is available again with accurate predictive and retrodictive corrections for the time delays in light-signals…

    And everywhere, Omnipotent Government is organizing ‘false-flag’ exercises like “9/11”, the “Strategy of Tension” in Italy, and the Madrid and London bombings — all provable as cruel hoaxes…

    If they had known this would be their future, they might have given the laptops back (smiles)

    Tony

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