Friday, May 28, 2010

Stupid Things Democrats Say: Here's Your Chance Democrat Haters

For all of you splitting at the sides at my policy of not allowing tit-for-tat partisan political comments, this post is for you. Here's your chance to make good your boasts that the Democrats are just as stupid as the Republicans. Think my posts are biased against the GOP because its stupidity gets highlighted more than that from the Democrats? Now's put-up-or-shut-up time. To maintain focus and avoid the tactics of obfuscation (which is one of the main bases for my policy), here are the ground rules:

1) Give an exact quote by a Democrat with either a primary source, or a respected non-Rupert-Murdock-owned secondary source. No paraphrasing, no "watch this link", no "Ann Coulter said so", no "Some people say".

2) Describe what changes would need to be made to the statement to make it correct, and if it is a scientific subject, source your answer to some widely respected authority on the matter (ie a scientific organization or representative of its view). We can't measure how wide of the mark an idiotic statement is if we don't know what a true statement would be, and differing with GOP orthodoxy does not idiocy make.

3) Tell me what statement by a GOPer is comparable. Be sure to keep in mind #2, as well as how respected the speaker is on his side of the aisle, and how large an audience he has. It's hardly reasonable to compare something said by a Gaia tree-hugger whose group meets in a phone booth with something Sarah Palin said.

Failing to conform to this criteria will result in noninclusion. This is not an opportunity to toss as much shit against the wall as you can in an effort to see what sticks.

My contention, as made evident by my many blog postings on this subject, is that the "breathtaking inanity" (Bush-appointed Judge Jones' description of the Intelligent Design crowd) expressed by GOP politicians and supporters dwarfs that of Democrats by orders of magnitude, both in wideness of the reality mark, and the audience and respect such views get. It's never been my contention that there are NO stupid crazy democrats. But democrats who say things every bit as crazy as what creationists say are mostly laughed at by other Democrats, or hidden in the attic. They don't nominate them for Vice President. They don't make their views part of the party platform. The GOP does.

On every issue where there is a clear scientific consensus, and the two parties differ, it is the GOP on the ignorant side of the aisle. Whether it is evolution, global warming, stem cell research, abstinence-only birth control, and a host of other issues, it's the democrats that side closest to the best science we have. The Republicans pay lip service to science, and try desperately to give the impression that their ideology is supported by it, but in the end when science clashes with their ideology, ideology wins. That goes for overtly religious subjects like evolution, to more secular religious views like supply-side economics and pure capitalism. The Laffer curve is every bit as religious, and evidence-free, as a 6,000 year-old-earth is, as is the notion that government ruins everything. Ever hear of WWII, the moon landing, or the interstate highway system? Government programs all.

Again, that's not to say the Democrats are above criticism. On too many subjects, they deviate from clear science and mathematics (the drug war, gun control, social security, etc.) It's just small potatoes compared to what Republicans do, and is usually a lesser level of error. I'd compare the Republicans and Democrats to two doctors presented with our sick society. The Democrats want to bleed it with leeches. The Republicans want to pray for its recovery. While both solutions are clearly flawed, the Democrats are epistemologically eons ahead. At least their proposal understands that there are physical forces at work here, that they are part of the body politic, and curing what ails it means changing that physicality somehow. The Republican method doesn't even seem comfortable with objective reality, and is essentially relying on magic. The Democrats flaws can be changed with data. The GOP is stuck where it is forever, because to them, what seems true in their gut, or their mind, makes scientific evidence-gathering irrelevant. Republicans are, in every way that matters, still living in the 18th century. They never went through the scientific renaissance. They are still Aristotelian.

Think I'm wrong? Here's your chance to prove it.


David said...

What is the point of replying to you?

[SA: To back your claims that Democrats are just as stupid as Republicans. You and others keep insisting it is so, here's your chance to demonstrate it.]

You are obviously close minded.

[SA: You are making shit up (MSU). Until a couple of years ago, I was a Republican. I changed because of the evidence I found. You claim you have counter-evidence. Put up or shut up.]

There is no evidence that you would accept so it is not worth raising to the challenge.

[SA: What cowardly, dishonest bullshit. I laid out exactly what evidence I would accept. That you ignore that reality reveals much about your mindset, and the weakness of your case. Watch how easy this is:

Sarah Palin claimed this video that the proximity of Alaska to Russia and Canada translated into foreign policy experience for her, a claim without a shred of logic or evidence. Further, at about the 1:18 mark she says "our next door neighbors are foreign countries, they're in the state that I'm the executive of". Get that? She said Russia and Canada are IN Alaska. A slip of the tongue no doubt, and not representative of what she believes, but since GOPers are fond of bringing up Obama's "57 states" slip, I thought I'd note that Palin's slip was even dumber.

See? It's not hard at all, if you have the goods. You guys don't, and you know it, so you whine about irrelevancies.]

It is amusing that you limit debate in such a way - "I will only accept this..." that you are sure to win.

[SA: All I did was take away dishonest debating tactics: MSU, constantly changing the subject, making innapropriate comparisons, and backing up your claims by quoting each other. If that makes me sure to win, then you've proven my point that conservatives cannot support their claims honestly and with actual evidence.]

By your rules, of course you will never get a reply. No one will bother.

[SA: That would simply prove my point that conservatives are just all-talk-no-walk pussies who are so used to having debates biased in their favor that they perceive a level playing field as rigged against them, and that they can't make logical, evidence-based, consistent arguments.]

Anonymous said...

Wow, Dave. What an absolutely beautiful non-rebuttal. Why WOULD you argue with him? Obviously, except for inane slips, you don't have a leg to stand on. After all, by making a few ground rules he's disqualified your most time honored traditions of rhetoric and obfuscation. He asks for evidence and there is little (not none, Dems routinely say stupid things but compared to the stupidity of Reps they obviously pale.) so he is obviously "close minded". (Which does not mean what I think you think it means- because here you used "close" as an adjective rather than a verb, implying his mind was close (near) to something rather than closed (shut).) (I love it when people display ignorance while affecting condescension. But like God, I am far too fond of irony.)

The bottom line is that your answer to his challenge is to say you can't win so you won't play. In a rational person this would necessitate a reexamination of your viewpoint. At this point I have to score one for SA and ask you if you'd like to volley again.

Alex said...

This is pretty stupid:

“In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed,” Obama told a crowd of 500 in Richmond on Tuesday.

Actual death toll of the 2007 tornado: 12.

ScienceAvenger said...

A slip of the tongue, and on a bit of minutia. Apparently he meant to say "at least 10". I'd compare this to Palin's slip I mention above.

Slips of the tongue are the weakest kind of example one could give in a discussion like this, since they don't reflect an actual belief, so they can't indicate basic stupidity, or general ignorance of an important subject (like, say, anything Palin says about evolution). One might as well pick on people who stutter.

When people use the term "gotcha" questions or quotes, this is what it appropriately refers to.

George said...

How about a lie? Does that count as stupid?

ScienceAvenger said...

No. Lies are moral issues, and also very hard to establish, since it requires knowing what the speaker actually believes, to distinguish it from a simple mistake.

What I'm after here are indications of a basic lack of intelligence or scientific understanding of an issue. As I allude to above, I'm not interested in gotcha moments or political parsing of language. We're after clear unambiguous stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I liken your challenge to asking a YEC or ID advocate to provide positive supporting evidence for their position that does not consist of bashing evolution, and almost without fail, even given the constraints, you will get 'radiometric dating is flawed', 'no transitional fossils', etc.

Birds of an ideological feather, I suppose.

George said...

You're a coward, SA for not posting my awesome, and well-documented, example of ... lying.

[SA: I'm a coward for not letting you circumvent the rules and do exactly what they were designed to prevent, ie, changing the subject? I guess I need to add "coward" to the list of words you guys have conveniently redefined]

ScienceAvenger said...

Juniper submitted a political event and asked: How's this example?

It was awful, exactly the sort of thing I made the rules to exclude. Once I take out all the detail and partisan rhetoric (to keep the discussion on track), all it amounts to is "Democrats supported someone who criticized a state law, which wasn't as bad as those the critic has in his own country, and which was meant to address a problem the critic caused."

Everything in there is subjective, and interpreted through a political ideology. When I said "differing with GOP orthodoxy does not idiocy make", this is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about.

Even if I'm generous and take your claim at face value (despite the lack of evidence it even happened), the worst charge you can levy is "supporting an irresponsible hypocrite", not remotely in the same category as claiming the earth is 6,000 years old, or that the Constitution is based on the 10 Commandments, or that the definition of marriage hasn't changed in 1,000 years. You are off both in category, and order of magnitude of error.

One of my themes over the last couple of years is that Republicans don't seem to understand that ideology and speculation are not on the same epistemological level as evidence and scientific theory. You guys are proving my point better than I ever dreamed possible.

Juniper said...

"all it amounts to is "Democrats supported someone who criticized a state law, which wasn't as bad as those the critic has in his own country, and which was meant to address a problem the critic caused."

Supported? No, SA, not "supported." Rather, cheered.

Someone? No, SA, not "someone". Rather, the leader of a foreign country.

Play Twister much?

ScienceAvenger said...

Oh yeah, that makes all the difference. Does the word "pedanticism" mean anything to you? So they cheered a hypocrite leader. And that changes...nothing. It still only amounts to a conflict with GOP ideology, and that doesn't qualify as an error of the scientific and intellectual variety. Once again we see you guys understand the form of debate, but none of the substance, and don't seem to understand the difference between opinions and facts.

Just keep digging that hole.

Alex said...

I think your posts are biased against the GOP because its stupidity gets more than that from the Democrats by an infinite percentage, or at least 50 to 1. Maybe it is indeed time to put up. Put up some more examples of Democrat stupidity. It would mean a whole lot more coming from you than coming from a reader.

ScienceAvenger said...

Ah, the old GOP standby - never accept the burden of proof, always insist your opponent do your work for you.

Sorry dude, my homework results in what I post here, with the exception of recent flaming stupidity from the likes of Palin and Bachman Posting more on them has reached the point of redundancy - if you don't know they are flaming ignorant loons by now, you never will.

You claim the Democrats reach that same level of stupidity. That makes it your job to show it, and no one else's.

Alex said...

> "my homework results in what I post here"

You mean, "my selective homework results in what I post here"

ScienceAvenger said...

Sorry Alex, whining "Nu-uh!" isn't going to cut it. Given your pathetic response to my challenge, an objective observer would conclude that my homework is no more selective than yours is. Neither of us writes about absurdly stupid comments by prominent Democrats because there aren't many, if any.

Now go be a grown up and stop sending me childish, contentless posts, and spend that time doing some actual research so you can back your claims with evidence. Simply making the same baseless assertions over and over again isn't going to convince anyone of anything, except that you're an ideologue who can't admit there's no there there to his beliefs.

Rolando said...

"Failing to conform to this criteria will result in noninclusion."

I do not want to be excluded, so here goes:

Following your rule #1:

Exact quote:

OBAMA: How many people are getting’ insurance through their jobs right now? Raise your hands? A’right. Well, a lot of those folks, your employer, it’s estimated, would see premiums fall by as much as 3,000%, which means they could give you a RAISE!

Primary Source:
Transcript and video:

The link is probably a right wing loon site, but it doesn't matter, since they have the original video anyway.

Rule #2:
"What would be needed to be changed to make it correct?"

Maybe change "percent" to "dollars"? Or change "3000" to "30"? Or perhaps change "3000% decrease" to "97% decrease." (I suggest this because perhaps he was thinking about the price difference in reverse.)

"source your answer to some widely respected authority on the matter"

My 9th grade math teacher is no authority, but he did say that you can't reduce anything by more than 100%. I think I can bypass the authority requirement on this one.

Rule #3

"Tell me what statement by a GOPer is comparable."

Maybe this one by John Boehner, R, of Ohio, on March 31:

"Anyone who has the audacity to flip on a light switch will be forced to pay higher energy bills thanks to this new tax increase, which will cost every American family up to $3100 per year in higher energy prices."
(See "Republican math- $31 _ $3_100" at youtube: Keith Olbermann show.)

"how respected the speaker is on his side of the aisle, and how large an audience he has."

Bohner is pretty respected, I suppose. Of course, you wanted to make sure we weren't comparing a Democrat nobody with a Republican bigwig. By choosing Obama, I avoided that.

Rolando said...

Instead of calling this "stupid," I'd be just as happy calling it "hilarious""
It's from Hank Johnson, Democrat from Georgia.

ScienceAvenger said...

Congrats Rolando! While I find your your 3000% example just a mere slip of the tongue (up there with "57 states" and (paraphrasing) "Russia and Canada are in Alaska", Hank Johnson being concerned that Guam might tip over is weapons grade stupidity, easily worthy of inclusion in the same category as the idiotic GOP comments I've chronicled so often.

Major Kudos! Despite all the bluster from the conservatives, yours is the first legitimate example of the kind of stupidity I was looking for that anyone has offerred.

Rolando said...

Here's one about Democrat voters, not Democrat leaders. I hope that's ok. It's from Jon Stewart.

Rolando said...

Have you heard of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat from Texas?
In this video, she says that North and South Vietnam are living in peace, side by side.

The following is a bit older news: "The Congressional bonehead award goes to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who, on a visit to JPL, asked if Mars Pathfinder had taken an image of the flag planted there in 1969 by Neil Armstrong! Quipped Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) to the Washington Times: “We just don’t teach enough science.” Worse, Jackson Lee, who represents Houston, is a member of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee. Perhaps some committee reassignments are in order…”"

ScienceAvenger said...

Oh yeah, she's a major idiot, worthy of sitting next to Joe "what plate techtonics?" Barton.

Rolando said...

Not such a great find, but here goes anyway...

Obama noted ‘there’s still a reptilian side of our brain’ that leads people to not trust others ‘if somebody sounds different or looks different.’ ”

Given that the president’s academic background is in Constitutional law and not evolutionary biology, we can forgive him if he’s unaware that the neuroscientist Paul McLean’s triune brain theory, which popularized the idea that the basal ganglia was a “reptile brain” constantly driving mankind toward his basest instincts, has long fallen out of scientific favor.

Rolando said...

Here's another video of Alvin Green, democrat from S.C. It'll be a classic, I'm sure:

Anonymous said...

I don't think the "reptilian brain" comment counts. It's slightly out of date as far as public understanding of science, nowhere near Palin-league.