Thursday, July 9th 2015

Politics in a few simple steps.

Create an exaggerated, simplistic version of the other persons' position to attack. As you do it:

  • blame your predecessor (if you have one), otherwise blame the "status quo";
  • mistake correlation for causation;
  • cite authority as the basis for aspects of your argument - because a person at a certain position in a hierarchy says X is right then X must be right;
  • cite popularity as another basis for your argument - if X is popular is must be correct;
  • if an aspect of your argument is not easily found, dress up your argument as the thoughts of some sort of "silent majority", the result of collective stupidity, selfishness or self-indulgence ... or simply say: "if people knew what I knew they'd agree with me!"
  • ideally, make the argument circular: Y is so because of X, X is so because of Y.
  • claim that if X happens, Y will inevitably follow;
  • cherry-pick statistics, ignore subtleties in statistical methods and variations in interpretation;
  • claim some natural basis for your argument that means all your proceeding logic is inevitable, claim you are "being realistic";
  • reduce the argument to a simple choice between two options: both of which you create and one of which is obviously ridiculous;
  • make illogical claims such as: "it has four legs therefore it is a dog!",
  • use experience or anecdote to support your argument rather than statistically valid evidence;
  • stir up emotions, use metaphors, memes, anecdotes and catch phrases that trigger atavistic responses -- they only have to be tenuously related to the topic at hand;
  • become emotionally attached to ideas, regardless of evidence;
  • only listen to people who are similar to you in appearance, behaviour and ideology -- be dismissive of other points of view;
  • assume other people do things because of their character but people like you do things because of their circumstances;
  • assume that because your opponent's argument contains an error that the whole argument must be wrong ... emphasise that error;
  • answer criticism with criticism, particularly with accusations of hypocrisy -- never actually respond to the initial critique;
  • if you don't understand the argument, ignore it or claim that it can't be true -- don't ask questions or try and work out what the argument is, simply claim "I'm no expert but ..."
  • if you have some fact or statistic make sure you use it, no matter how irrelevant;
  • say X must be true because there is no proof X is false;
  • use lexical ambiguity to avoid meaningful discussion, don't try and find out what the words actually mean in context, just shift them to mean what suits you; the verbal equivalent of the "straw man";
  • always claim the higher ground morally -- either by sheer emotional force or by claiming you can't indulge in emotional thinking and have to be realistic, perfect the utilitarianism of the bureaucrat - it depends on the case you're making;
  • make plenty of category errors and divide the world up into categories of your choosing -- patriotism, insider-outsider structures and appeals to racism work here;
  • Along the way, make sure you make plenty of "no true Scotsman" arguments.
  • "A scotsman always wears a kilt!" "But I am Scottish and I don't wear a kilt!" "Aha! But you're not a true Scotsman!"
  • use plenty of slogans and catchphrases;
  • keep repeating the same things over and over again -- sheer repetition will make them feel true;
  • Appeal to moralistic patriotism as a disguise for sectional or self-interest.
  • Answer questions with your own question or ask yourself a new question and then answer it;
  • Use wit or humour to deflect genuine criticism, entertain rather than argue honestly.
  • Bully people emotionally or intellectually;
  • Make sure you are beholden to plenty of cognitive biases.

When a claim you make is still proven false or becomes untenable, claim you didn't mean what you said. Clarify your position by making it less clear; add new information, get more specific ("we need to be more specific about ...") or more general ("I can't talk about specific cases", "I'm not sure of the specifics") depending on what allows you to shift your argument to safer ground. Repeat the steps above.

If all that fails, try taking exception to your opponent's character, appearance, background, and so on. Claim they are a danger to society. Make claims about who said made the argument and dismiss the argument based on who has made it, not the merits of the argument itself. Ask some loaded questions: "How long ave you been beating your wife?"

If all else fails: start making some spurious claim on "national security" grounds. Resort to the naked application of power. Start locking up people who disagree with you or start gathering some "useful idiots" around you to start an insurrection ...

Wow Signal

Wednesday, July 8th 2015

The Angry Button and the 15 Minutes of Hate

Tuesday, July 7th 2015

The way online outrage explodes and dissipates over everything from various apocryphal Emmanuel Goldstein-type notions reminds me of Orwell's "two minutes of hate".

But you really need to combine it with Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame.

And then add a button. Everything needs a button.

The result is something that sounds like a punk band:

The Angry Button and the 15 Minutes of Hate.


Monday, July 6th 2015



Saturday, July 4th 2015


Zandy 2

Friday, July 3rd 2015

Zandy 2

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