Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
It made a big impression on me last night as I participated in two simultaneous dialogues over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging and I realized I was seeing two simultaneous demonstrations of the same class of event. Demonstration one: A conversation ensued underneath a link to the latest poll results at Unskewed Polls which currently have Romney/Ryan at 55% and Obama/Biden at 42%. And the conversation was: Stop linking to unskewed polls!
I don’t mean to imply that the complainant did not know what he was talking about. I for one am perfectly willing to listen to reason to a math-based argument that says Mitt Romney is not, when all’s said and done, ahead by thirteen points. And the argument was based on math, in the sense that the complainant did mention the word “math.” But I found his syllogism overly simplistic:
1. The more orthodox polls say something different,
2. Blah blah blah blah blah,
3. Therefore, they’re right and unskewed polls is wrong.
Moreover, I found the arguing style to be deceptive. When I said something to the effect of, I do believe there is an effort to misrepresent Obama’s prospects for re-election in order to depress Republican turnout, he came back with “So all the major polls are push polls, all designed to hurt Republicans, all working together to make Republicans lose?” This doesn’t do much to convince me. If the other person’s position is an all-or-nothing and mine is a sometimes-maybe, and the opposition has to rephrase my position into a hardline stance in order to attack it, it just shows they can’t present a compelling case by continuing to define the disagreement as it actually exists.
So I replied this morning, in a way I think nicely summarizes what took place last night…
I think the country is so polarized right now, and this election is so close, and the history of polling is sufficiently filled with debacles in which a democrat victory or a tie was a sure thing but it ended up with a decisive Republican victory — [the polling is] pretty much a waste of time unless steps are taken to ensure the Republican/democrat/independent sampling is aligned with the expected turnout. Also, the profession of polling is partially flawed the same way other professions are flawed, in the sense that when the professionals turn out to be wrong they don’t pay any kind of meaningful price.
They’ve somehow hit on the idea that they can sample a bunch of…whatever, it don’t matta. And if anybody criticizes this practice then the critics must not know what they’re talking about.
No matter how you cut it, it doesn’t make sense to oversample democrats by some number of points when they’re expected, for logical, scientific and history-based reasons, to be under- sampled in the actual turnout. I don’t even see why we’re having an argument about this.
Demonstration two: A commenter here who I’ll allow to name himself only at his own option, replayed a conversation he was having with a more senior gentleman, father of an acquaintance of his, who surprised him with a great big bushel of left-wing propaganda nonsense about Joe Biden having won the debate on Thursday, the only reason he was laughing and snickering like that was because of Paul Ryan’s lies, George Bush invaded Iraq as a revenge move against an assassination attempt on his daddy, all that stuff. This economy was so busted in ’08 that no president could’ve fixed it, we went into Iraq because Bush cherry-picked the intel, stimulus didn’t work because it wasn’t big enough, blah blah blah. Where examples would have been expected, they weren’t offered. Just a bunch of high-level reverberated talking points. But this was a highly, highly intelligent man which made it such a surprise that he’d be jabbering away with such foolishness.
I wonder how it is you think he was intelligent.
I have this theory that, starting in school, we measure “intelligence” in our society by means of: Repeating information the listener is likely to have heard in lots of other places, nevermind whether it’s correct or not, and doing so with great verbal confidence. In this way, I think our schools tend to declare “copying from your neighbor” to be against the rules, and then encourage the heck out of it. To such an extent that our cultural definition of high intelligence amounts to…copying stuff.
I’ve noticed this in a lot of smart, smart people: They don’t seem to have a learning curve anywhere. They become acquainted with a new field of study, and bam, two days later they know just as much as anybody else. Except there’s no originality in any of it. It’s like their “learning curve” is replaced with a “Everything I know I know from somebody else” curve.
Which ties in with that other conversation. The smart, smart guy’s argument essentially boiled down to this: I’m believing the more orthodox polling exercises uncritically, and you should too. He talked a lot about “math” but he really didn’t have anything to say besides just that. I directly attacked the sampling methods, and directly stated what exactly my problems with those methods were; anybody even casually acquainted with statistics should immediately recognize how this is a real problem. But my opposition in that conversation can’t, or won’t, even directly address the counterpoint to provide a rebuttal with some meat to it.
These are not isolated examples.
Over and over again we see people who can, and do, provide some good solid evidence that they aren’t dummies, but only by way of generalities like: use of extended vocabulary, maybe even using Latin phrases, personal reputation, business accomplishments, academic achievements, et al. But when it comes to the subject actually under discussion they can’t bring anything.
Of course, this fits in with my years-in-the-making sense of dread that we’re headed toward an early Idiocracy, a dystopian future in which everything worth using “was built by some really smart guy who lived a long time ago” and nobody knows, or cares, how the damn thing works. Just give it a good kick when it acts up, that usually gets things working again. “Intelligence” seems to have been re-defined to be — the ability to convincingly mimic others. It might have taken place quite awhile back. I remember some four decades ago my first-grade or second-grade teacher paired me up with one of these social-butterfly kids, at the top of the social structure as well as the grade curve, to balance out my various shortcomings. In fact this wasn’t any one particular experience, it happened a few times: Social-butterfly kid would oh so eloquently repeat the lecture of which I was apparently ignorant, and I’d present the difficulty I’d had in applying that to some specific situation…and social-butterfly-kid would simply repeat what he or she already said. It completely blew my mind first time it happened, and the second time as well. Now that I’m a grown-up and it’s still happening, I must confess it still discombobulates me to this very day. Perhaps I’m not alone.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.