28 Responses to So a Sexist, an Idiot, and a Little Kid Walk Onto a Stage ….

  1. Anon73 August 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    In the defense of sexism, I must say that her hotness makes up for any lack of geographical or geopolitical knowledge. Unfortunately it can’t make up for that accent….

    • anon September 6, 2009 at 3:07 am #

      I did not find any of his statements to be that sexist at all. Especially considering the underlying truth of experience in them. I think most men on the dating scene would agree… and I think that the truth underlying those snide comments to her really are themselves caused by some sexism in gender roles and expectations

  2. Brandon August 19, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    The sexism thing is just a part of Foxworthy’s comedy act. There have been more offensive comedy acts in the past, and there will be in the future as well.
    That woman’s an American, so obviously she knows nothing about the strange, frightening world outside America’s border patrols, nor anything about the evil terrorists who dwell therein.
    Santa Cruz City Council Testimony May 2008:

    • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 11:14 am #

      Well, at least those were mostly coherent grammatical sentences, and some of them were even true. It beats this:

      • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 11:16 am #

        To all such things this remains the ideal reply:

        • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

          Brandon — earlier, I could view the video you posted, but I can’t now (on Firefox anyway; I can view it ok on Explorer).

        • Brandon August 21, 2009 at 8:48 am #

          It still works. It’s just a flash video. Do the other videos work? Try clearing your FF browser cache. In fact, if you’re on a high-bandwidth connection, ie. not dial-up, it isn’t necessary to use a cache at all. Caching pages is an idea that was useful when it took a long time for pages to load.

        • Roderick August 21, 2009 at 11:20 am #

          Oh, I see the problem: it works at home but not at work. Because my software at work won’t let me upgrade my browser without “administrator approval,” grrr.

  3. Anon73 August 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    The only thing I really got from that is that non-union states are practicing “slavery”. And something about farming food in local areas.

  4. Daniel August 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm #


  5. Briggs August 19, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    what does she do in order to earn money?

    I think the worst part about it is that this dumb ass has a chance to win a considerable sum of money and doesn’t have shit for brains; yet the people on Jeopardy go home with pocket change by comparison.

    • Micha Ghertner August 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

      Briggs asked:

      what does she do in order to earn money?

      Kellie Pickler is an American country music artist and television personality. She gained fame as a contestant on the fifth season of the FOX reality show American Idol, eventually finishing in sixth place.”

      Ms. Pickler does not strike me as an idiot nor a dumb ass. She may be poorly educated and unworldly, but she is highly intelligent in other ways. Part of her appeal, such as it is, is playing up the image of the sweet, naive southern gal, unapologetically so. This has always been her shtick, ever since she first appeared on American Idol. It is clear to me, at least, that she knowingly plays up her ignorance of what most people consider common knowledge.

      Whether she is genuinely ignorant or is merely cynically pretending to be so is besides the point; either way, she is intelligent enough to recognize that the image she creates is popular and attracts fans. Part of her popularity, I submit, lies in her lack of arrogance. Like Socrates, Pickler knows that she does not know. A less intelligent, and less likable/popular pseudo-celebrity would not so readily admit and celebrate her own ignorance, but would instead arrogantly feign intelligence.

      • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

        But as Socrates points out, the main point of recognising your own ignorance is so that you can then be moved to amend it.

        • Anon73 August 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

          Clearly Socrates never got the chance to compete for fame and glory on American Idol, however.

        • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

          Actually, it’s a little-known fact, but Socrates’ trial was actually an episode of American Idol. Here’s how he got the hemlock:

        • Micha Ghertner August 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

          True, and that’s why I mentioned the cynical interpretation of Pickler: Perhaps, like a Sacha Baron Cohen character, she is not as ignorant as she appears to be, but pretends to be ignorant in order to entertain the crowd.

          As a consequentialist, I have to say that Pickler’s response to her own ignorance — turning it into fame and fortune — seems to have led to better results than Socrates’ response to his own ignorance – sticking to his guns and receiving a death sentence.

          On the other hand, we are still talking about Socrates 2400+ years after his death, whereas I doubt people will still be talking about Pickler in the year 4409.

          Maybe Socrates just had a very low time preference? But he had sex with other men, so, according to Hoppe, this would mean he had a high time preference, just like that dastardly bisexual economist, John Maynard Keynes.

        • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

          I have to say that Pickler’s response to her own ignorance — turning it into fame and fortune — seems to have led to better results than Socrates’ response to his own ignorance – sticking to his guns and receiving a death sentence.

          Well, it depends what counts as a good consequence. Socrates held that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” so he would regard his own violently truncated life as containing more value than comfier but less examined lives.

          But he had sex with other men

          It’s not clear that he did. At least when the handsomest youth in Athens tried to get in Socrates’ pants, he had no luck.

  6. Micha Ghertner August 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    The “unexamined life is not worth living” claim always struck me as highly suspect, in precisely the same way and for the same reasons that Nozick’s “experience machine” thought experiment strikes me as extremely fishy. What’s so great about authenticity, anyway? And why the bias against satisfied pigs?

    To paraphrase Hillel: If I am not for inauthentic, shallow, delightfully happy, flourishing fools, who will be?

    When the Singularity comes, will the guardians of authenticity opt not to upload themselves into transhumanist Highlander bodies because of some Kassian “wisdom of repugnance”? I, for one, welcome our new brain-in-a-vat overlords.

    • Roderick August 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

      And why the bias against satisfied pigs?

      Well, if Socrates doesn’t want to be one, on what basis can you declare him wrong? His position has an argument against yours, but yours doesn’t seem to have the resources for one against his.

      • Micha Ghertner August 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm #

        True, one (tiny) problem with the satisfied-but-ignorant pig is that he can’t defend his own position against the “elitist” (Republican sneer!), self-examined, wise, shorter-lived-than-could-have-been Socrates.

        But that’s what we have lawyers for! And we all know what they say about the man who represents himself in court (he has a fool for a client). So if you are already a fool to begin with, a fortiori you should have a non-fool represent you. The fact that the position cannot be defended internally does not mean it cannot be defended externally. Tu quoque, and all that.

        I don’t have any basis to declare Socrates wrong for not wanting to live an unexamined life. But to claim that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is not merely a claim of personal preference, but a claim against those who wish to (or just happen to) live an unexamined life. If a satisfied pig doesn’t want to live a cultured, educated, intellectual existence, on what basis can we declare him wrong?

        Mill’s argument, contra Bentham, was that those who have experienced both higher and lower order pleasures always or almost always prefer the higher order pleasures, and that no one (or almost no one) who has experienced the life of the mind would consent to regression back to the life of the beast.

        I see at least four problems with Mill’s argument:

        1. Argumentum ad populum
        2. Exceptions: Diogenes and the Cynics, Rousseau, Zerzan, the traitorous mustachioed dude in the first Matrix movie, certain kinds of recreational drug users, certain kinds of MMORPG players, etc.
        3. Signaling bias: It’s socially acceptable to prefer opera to American Idol, at least among some portion of the population. But maybe American Idol is really a guilty pleasure, to be enjoyed in the privacy of one’s own home and kept secret from one’s respectable colleagues, while opera is really just boring and unpleasant, but we pretend to enjoy it to maintain or achieve status.
        4. The unidirectionality problem: even if no intelligent/authentic person would willingly choose to become a beast/plug into the experience machine, that doesn’t mean some of us wouldn’t be happier, all things considered, if we were never given the choice and remained blissfully ignorant of other possible ways of being.

        Examining life may bring us many pleasures, but also much pain. And once we examine life, even if we don’t like what we see, it’s difficult if not impossible to go back and forget what we learned. Whereas the blissfully ignorant don’t even know what they’re missing.

        Returning to Socrates’ choice to drink the hemlock, and going by Wikipedia (it’s been a while since I read the Apology), Socrates’ reasons for choosing to accept execution seem pretty weak:

        Escape would indicate fear of death? Why should Socrates care what other people (wrongly) believe about his motivations? He could issue a public notice post-escape indicating that he is not afraid of death’s inevitability; to the contrary, accepting an unjust execution when escape is possible is just futile martyrdom.

        His teaching would fare no better in another country? Perhaps not, but escape would buy him some more time to spread subversive ideas further and wider until the next kangaroo court caught up with him.

        Fleeing conviction would violate the implicit social contract? As a learned philosopher once told me, as I sat at his feet and basked in his wisdom:

        Now suppose that you’re at home having dinner, and I’m your next-door-neighbor, and I come and knock on your door. You open the door, and I come in and I say, “You have to wear the funny hat.” And you say, “Why is this?” And I say, “Well, you moved in next door to me, didn’t you? By doing that, you sort of agreed.” And you say, “Well, wait a second! When did I agree to this?”

        Now, dying a martyr’s death had some legitimate advantages. It allowed him to commit assisted suicide to “circumvent the rigors of old age”. It also may have increased his posthumous notoriety, though I doubt by much. Perhaps, had he lived a few years longer, he might have engaged in additional dialogues, for which he would have gained even more notoriety than a “principled” martyrdom.

        • Anon73 August 20, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

          I don’t think Zerzan lives like a “beast”…

        • Roderick August 21, 2009 at 11:09 am #

          Well, first, re Nozick: Nozick’s experience machine argument isn’t primarily out to convince us that we should care about more than our subjective experiences; its aim is mainly to convince us that we (or at any rate most people) already do (and then to suggest some explanations as to why we do).

          So what is it you find fishy — the claim that most people wouldn’t plug in? or the explanations as to why? or both? (And ditto for the life insurance case: why would you buy a $100 life insurance policy, as opposed to a $50 magic pill that would make you believe you’d bought life insurance, if all you value is the subjective experience of thinking your loved ones will do well (as opposed to valuing their actually doing well)?)

          As for Socrates: when I said that “his position has an argument against yours, but yours doesn’t seem to have the resources for one against his,” I didn’t mean that pigs can’t argue without the help of lawyers; I meant that from his standpoint, according to which subjectivity matters, there’s a basis for criticising your position, according to which it doesn’t, whereas from your position, that only subjectivity matters, there’s no basis for criticising those who subjectively prefer objectivity.

          Moreover, the Socratic position isn’t offered as a merely external criticism, some sort of standard to be imposed from without. Socrates’ point is that those who claim to reject the objective position can always be shown to be committed to it in actuality by the totality of things they believe. (The experience machine argument being an example.) As always in philosophy, the answer to “who’s to say …?” is “YOU.”

          In the remainder of your comments you’ve switched from fighting against Socrates to fighting against Mill; but of course Mill was trying to churn Socratic conclusions out of a basically subjectivist framework, so sure, I’ll grant you that his approach fails.

          As for Socrates’ arguments in the Crito — I agree that they’re crap. But I was talking about his arguments in the Apology for preferring death to giving up philosophy, not his arguments in the Crito for preferring death to breaking the law. (The arguments you cite are all from the Crito, not the Apology.) (Which is not to say there aren’t some bad arguments in the Apology too. But I think there are also some good ones, especially when read in light of the Gorgias.)

        • Micha Ghertner August 23, 2009 at 11:28 am #

          Suppose we already do care about more than subjective experience. Perhaps we are wrong to care? Nozick seems to be arguing that this widely shared intuition is justified; I am skeptical.

          The life insurance observation is actually one of the strongest arguments in support of Nozick’s position. On the other hand, the $100 vs. the $50 policy runs into the unidirectionality problem mentioned earlier: Certainly we would be subjectively happier if we believed we bought life insurance and we were also $50 richer, but if the purpose (or one of the purposes) of purchasing life insurance is to make us feel better about ourselves for protecting the interests of our family after we have died, then obviously no one would knowingly purchase the $50 magic pill policy, since it would not serve this purpose (at least not until after we have swallowed it).

          Also, related to the life insurance argument is the case of the atheist who promises her dying grandfather that she will visit her grandfather’s grave every year to say a prayer. She may make this promise to comfort her grandfather on his deathbed, but once he has died, it seems puzzling to me why she would keep her promise. If she doesn’t believe that God or her dead grandfather’s spirit is aware of what’s going on, the only relevant remaining party is herself. I suppose one could argue that she has an obligation or a duty to herself to keep the promise, but what if she didn’t intend to keep the promise from the moment she made it, and only said it for the purpose of comforting the ill? Was it wrong for her to lie? I’m not sure.

        • Anon73 August 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

          Whatever happened to “The ends justify the means”…?

        • Laura J. August 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

          Micha Ghertner,

          Well, as far as human motivations go, it would perhaps be somewhat strange for the atheist to make that promise, but if she did decide to follow through with it, it could well be a meaningful ritual for her in commemoration of a lost loved one, even if she is not interested in the content of the prayer itself or the deity it is supposed to be addressed to.

    • Aster August 23, 2009 at 8:36 pm #

      I just stepped outside and found my neighbour’s cat, Leume, sunning herself in the warm, probably half-dreaming of torturing small animals to death. She is clearly happier than most humans; she’s certainly not at war with herself. I doubt it would bother her greatly to know that she cannot justify herself to Socrates- who is, in any case, already dead.

      If cats could talk, would they? I doubt the world would make them happier for it.

      • Roderick August 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

        Well, Socrates’ full quote is “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.”

  7. Ndugu August 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    I always suspected that Kellie Pickler was a show, using her supposed stupidity to gain attention. I think Paris Hilton is much the same way. They both are probably fairly ignorant of simple things – many people are. However, they both probably exaggerate it in a way to gain fame and fortune (although Paris already has that fortune thing).

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