False equivalencyon September 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm
Guest post up today.
So a short time ago I was looking at David Brin’s take on Atlas Shrugged, the book and movie.
Having briefly flirted with Ayn Rand (I know, shudder) and having some experience with the…enthusiasm…of Randian Libertarians, I knew he was in for a glut of comments.
As I scrolled through with interest as Brin defended his interpretation, I came across this:
Ubiq, I can tell that you were never trained in science or any of the related arts of logic. To say that that absolute mess of an article “debunked” anything, let along Steven Pinker, is incredible. A mishmash of broad assertions and absolutely weird, illogical meta statements.
Fact: during WWII we know thousands died every day. And thousands of US servicemen per week.
In the Korean war each figure dropped by an order of magnitude. In Vietnam another order of magnitude.
“War” today is horrifically expensive but the rates of actual death are still declining at a steady pace.
Anecdotes about a few aristocratic nuns “prove” that women were EQUAL TO MEN IN THE MIDDLE AGES? Do you listen to yourself?
You are clutching at straws in a desperate effort to deny the palpable existence of human-wrought progress. Why? Is that possibility so desperately terrifying to you? It is what good men and women wanted for thousands of years. If it might be coming true at last, why are you angry?
Hay-zeus! Who the heck spoke up for Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists? Did you hear me defend those savagely hate-filled religious zealots?
Dawkins and the new atheists are hate-filled religious zealots? Implying that being angry at religious irrationality, bigotry, and the unwarranted respect it’s afforded makes us just as bad as the bigots and fanatics?
It’s an example of the sort of false equivalency I disparage, and that too many in the mainstream seem to adopt. Perhaps it was a ploy on Brin’s part, to distance himself from a presumed extreme to make his own views more palatable to his opponent. But that only feeds a misconception, one that we must now continue to correct.
In either case, I still enjoy his opinion pieces and science fiction novels, but he really dropped the ball on this one. Badly done, Dr. Brin. Badly done.
However, I still recommend his work, and he had an interesting takedown of Frank Miller, 300, and Miller’s anti-Occupy Wall Street stance. The link is in the introduction to the Atlas Shrugged essay.