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Oh good grief…

Yes, I know I wrote an article tentatively supporting Ron Paul, but please, someone, tell me this clip in which Dr. Ron Paul rejects the theory of evolution has been edited to remove the full context of the remark.

208 comments to Oh good grief…

  • RAB

    I say! Cripes oh lor!

    That is an R101
    moment for me…

  • I’ve watched it. (1) there is a very very large amount of background interfenrecne and you canot really hear what he says, and (2) it’s cut off where he says he doesn’t think we’re at a point where “there is absolute proof on either side”.

    Don’t worry; he’s just covering his arse against the pre-barbarian creationists. I, as a scientist, believe absolutely in God and the reality of His creation, in which we yet today take part and which is unfolding, for God exists in All Time and everywhere. but rhe creationist myth of 6 days and 600 years ago or whatever is just bunk.

  • SORRY….I meant 6,000 years! DD

  • Raph

    Some parts of the video are cut off. Why, if not to give a certain impression that is not true?

    And even if it is really what ron paul means, so what? Does it suddenly make all of what he thinks wrong?

  • Andy

    *Sigh*

    The it’s just a theory line has been tremendously popular with people who don’t actually know what a ‘theory’ is.

    The guy still comes across to me as almost trustworthy (I know horrible word to use about a politician) but terribly naive.

    I’d like him more if he could just concede his own ignorance on this (and other) issues.

    On the other hand when it comes to actual policy on this, as with most everything else I expect he’d advocate local control.

  • Andy

    Or as David suggested he could just be covering his arse, I somewhat suspect him of this on the immigration issue.

  • Ian B

    The central issue anyway is perhaps that Paul doesn’t believe science is anything to do with the presidency (the first thing he says). Yes, if he’s a creationist that’s sad from a pro-science perspective, but we have to remember he specifically rebuts the statist idea that getting the presidency is just a reason to hand out patronage to your friends, as all his republican and all his democratic opponents basically believe. Considering the abject mess the scientific/academic community have made of western society and politics since they decided about a century ago they should tell everbody how to run society on a “scientific” basis, a creationist libertarian is small potatoes by comparison.

    As an obvious example, if the “science based” global warming fanatics win, our grandchildren will sit in their unlit, unheated hovels surveying their whithering fields of turnips and wish to Gaia they’d elected the goddamned creationist.

  • Ian B

    -should be “wish to Gaia that their grandparents had elected the goddamned creationist”.

  • fooltomery

    All one needs to know about Ron Paul is that he believes that radical Islamism is a product of American foreign policy decisions.

    Fruitcake’s not just for Christmas anymore…

  • Enoch

    Since when is Evolution (meaning, the Darwinian theory of it) an irrefutable truth that one HAS to believe in?

    Knee jerk reaction to positions on this topic are utterly ridiculous, and show how far we’ve moved from a society where it was possible to hold a variety of complex opinions to one where it is not possible to articulate a complex case. sad really.

  • Tedd McHenry

    I don’t think there’s any point speculating on this matter until we know what’s in the part of the clip that’s been cut out. There’s a huge middle ground between evolutionary absolutism and creationist literalism (something the extremists on both sides misunderstand), and in all likelihood Paul lies somewhere in that middle ground. But we have no way of knowing where without knowing what was clipped from his answer.

  • chuck

    What! Has a slight sliver of doubt manifested itself in the midst of this budding romance? Begone, say I. Who with good conscience would thwart the course of love in this unhappy age?

  • Kevin B

    Well as I’ve often said, I have trouble with the whole chemistry turning into biology thing myself.

    No, my problems with Ron Paul are not with his religious or philosophical beliefs, but with a few points in his campaign.

    For me, the major problem is with his failure to totally repudiate the ‘trooferism’ that has become associated with his run.

    By not standing up on a very public platform and stating unequivocally that the US goverment was not involved in the 9/11 atrocity and that the US government knew nothing about that specific incident and did not stand by and let it happen for nefarious reasons of its own, he disqualifies himself from any government office. (As does any other politician or aspiring politician who plays along with the troofers.)

    In the unlikely event that Mr Paul becomes president, he will have to work with the FBI, the intelligence community, the judiciary and the legislature, all of whom have conducted extensive inquiries into 9/11, and none of which has produced the slightest evidence that the Executive either connived in, encouraged, or ignored the plot.

    I’ll repeat myself. By encouraging this level of distrust between the people and their govenment, any politician rules him/herself unsuitable for office.

    A healthy distrust of government is one thing. Believing ones government capable of murder on this scale – without a shred of proof – is another, and pandering to a paranoid minority in order to secure cash and votes is a whole other kettle of stinking fish.

  • Alice


    Believing ones government capable of murder on this scale – without a shred of proof – is another, and pandering to a paranoid minority in order to secure cash and votes is a whole other kettle of stinking fish.

    Goodness gracious! Let’s not indict the whole Democrat establishment. Next thing you know, politicians who voted for the removal of Saddam Hussein will be condemning “George Bush’s War” and trying to cut off funds for troops in combat. That really would create a high “level of distrust between the people and their govenment”.

  • Does it suddenly make all of what he thinks wrong?

    No, but I already think his approach to foreign policy is entirely wrong and I am onlu holding my nose and supporting him because… ah screw it, if you really want to know, just read this rather than me lay it all out again.

  • Ian B

    Kevin B-

    Evolution isn’t “chemistry turning into biology”. Evolution has nothing to say about that. It’s a theory about what happens over time when you already have some biology.

    The book was called On The Origin of Species not On The Origin Of Life

    Perry-

    If I were USAian I too would be considering voting for him despite his military policy. I said on a USAian conservative blog the other day, where they were all discusisng the candidates, that it’s the devil and the deep blue sea; he’s the only chance to pull America back from the statist brink, but militarily (from a hawkish POV) he’s a moonbat. The other candidates are satisfyingly hawkish, but their home policies are a disastrous continuation of the Statist lemming march, flinging patronage left and right as they stride towards the abyss waving their pissy little flags.

    I agreed with your article on the subject. I think it’d better for America to have a Paul presidency then pick up the pieces beyond their shores, than e.g. the Putinesque Giulani or demented Huckabee, for instance, let alone comrade Shrillary.

    But I’d be wishing there were a libertarian with more militarily proactive views to vote for, TBH.

  • chuck

    Evolution isn’t “chemistry turning into biology”.

    Why shouldn’t chemicals evolve? You just need variation, selection, and replication to have evolution. I would guess the first step is selection for replication, and it is all downhill from there.

  • Enoch: “complex opinions”?

  • dre

    “Yes, I know I wrote an article tentatively supporting Ron Paul”

    When are you going to write about the Paul blimp? Or is that Dale Amon’s area of expertise?

  • Andrew Roocroft

    This is, unfortunately, the worst possible answer he could have given. Tars him, as the poster points out, with the typical Christian-Republican tag, ignorant of science and a theological dogmatist.

    He should have stuck with his gut instincts – this is an inappropriate question. The gradual nature of evolutionary change is such that it is wholly irrelevant to suitability for public office – one can hardly imagine his being publicly hounded for refusing to enter into scientific debate in which he has no formal training. This will, no doubt, distract people from the principles of his campaign in the same way that the white-supremacist donation and his stupidly public comments on the Civil War with Tim Russert allows him to be dubbed a conspiracy theorist, much as described by Kevin B above:

    In the unlikely event that Mr Paul becomes president, he will have to work with the FBI, the intelligence community, the judiciary and the legislature, all of whom have conducted extensive inquiries into 9/11, and none of which has produced the slightest evidence that the Executive either connived in, encouraged, or ignored the plot.

    I’ll repeat myself. By encouraging this level of distrust between the people and their govenment, any politician rules him/herself unsuitable for office.

    A healthy distrust of government is one thing. Believing ones government capable of murder on this scale – without a shred of proof – is another, and pandering to a paranoid minority in order to secure cash and votes is a whole other kettle of stinking fish.


    This impression is, of course, totally false
    . For further evidence, see here, here (2:20) and here.

    The final, concise, word on this subject is emerged in an interview with Reason(Link):

    “Reason: The position of the Student Scholars is that 9/11 was executed by the U.S. government. Do you agree or disagree with that?

    Paul: I’d say there’s no evidence of that.

    The idea that Ron Paul is a 9/11 truther is utter bullshit, but, as you can see from these resources, something which the mainstream media insists on trying to associate him with, along with a host of other irrational ideologies.

    When, however, he makes such stupid faux-pas as pontificating on ethereal design, he essentially does their job for them. A grassroots campaign can only go so far; now he has the money, it’s time to get some professional PR to start refuting the smears and advising him how to dodge questions which make him look crazy.

  • kevin

    Paul states

    1. The theory of evolution is just a theory

    2. That conclusive proof one way or the other does not exist

    Of course the theory of evolution is just a theory, that is why it is called the theory of evolution! And of course if conclusive proof (one way or the other) had been found it would no longer be a theory.

  • kevin

    Paul states

    1. The theory of evolution is just a theory

    2. That conclusive proof one way or the other does not exist

    Of course the theory of evolution is just a theory, that is why it is called the theory of evolution! And of course if conclusive proof (one way or the other) had been found it would no longer be a theory.

  • countingcats

    It’s a theory about what happens over time when you already have some biology.

    No it isn’t. It is a theory about what happens with self-replicating (systems, entities) over time.

    Even non-biological systems are capable of being selected on a Darwinian basis. How do you think biological systems arose in the first place? Chance? God? [snigger] Intelligent Design? [/snigger]

    See Graham Cairns-Smith’s excellent book – “Genetic Takeover”.

  • Gabriel

    So the fact that he’s a barking moonbat who fraternises with Nazis, draws much of his operational support from the radical Left, refuses to dissociate himself from 9/11 conspiracy theorists, regurgitates Chomsky and makes regular weird noises about the youknowwho lobby does not render him unsuitable for the presidency, but his views on the origin of the species do?

    Why, what difference does it make how life developed, who gives a shit?

  • countingcats

    Smitten!!!!

    A comment in support of Darwinism, and I am smitted.

    Oh, woe, oh woe.

    I shall indulge in the lamentations of Job.

  • countingcats

    And of course if conclusive proof (one way or the other) had been found it would no longer be a theory.

    Sigh, I know this is getting off topic, but do they teach any science in schools these days?

    Are students taught what evidence needs to presented before a hypothesis gets elevated to the lofty heights of theorydom?

    Kevni – Go read a book, find out what constitutes a theory in scientific parlance, compare this with the use of the word in general speech, then look up the word ‘hypothesis’.

  • Ian B

    So the fact that he’s a barking moonbat who fraternises with Nazis, draws much of his operational support from the radical Left,

    Bit of a contradiction in the mudslinging there isn’t there?

    to dissociate himself from 9/11 conspiracy theorists

    He went on Alex Jones’ radio show. I listened to it, nothing about conspiracies was discussed. They discussed small government, the constitution etc. When Paul has been asked about the Conspiracy Theories, he has stated he doesn’t agree with them and his criticisms regarding 9/11 are that the intelligence services and government were incompetent (just as e.g. he’s argued that FEMA’s response to Katrina was incompetent).

    regurgitates Chomsky

    Has he quoted Chomsky? Chomsky’s lunatic leftism has a certain libertarian flavour on occasion (standin’ up for th’ little guy) so may it not be that Paul has sometimes expressed views which Chomsky may also have expressed, e.g. regarding the corporate state? I dunno. Got an example?

    regular weird noises about the youknowwho lobby

    Who are the youknowwho lobby?

  • I didn’t say it made him unsuitable for the presidency, Gabriel (barking moonbats in the White House are hardly anything new).

    Just so long as he gives it his damnedest to move the Republican party towards the position of cutting back the size of the state, I do not care if he is a flat earther who believes in the tooth fairy, but it certainly increases the existential angst I feel supporting him.

  • Dale Amon

    If he were a statist I’d be more upset. I am somewhat annoyed by it, but he did start off “It is not the job of a president to decide a scientific issue”. A Hillary or a Rudy wants power so they can expend our money to bring us around to their opinion. A Paul presidency would eliminate the Department of Education and pretty much all Federal influence on education.

    So in that sense I do not much care about his personal beliefs as I would in other cases. Ron doesn’t wish to ram his beliefs down my throat using my money. The others do.

  • Gabriel

    Bit of a contradiction in the mudslinging there isn’t there?

    No, a bit of a contradiction in Ron Paul’s behaviour, perhaps, but only if you assume him to be a halfway reputable human being.

    He went on Alex Jones’ radio show. I listened to it

    Oh, good for you. What he should have said to Alex Jones is “After appearing on your radio show the first time I looked at your website and discovered you to be seriously deranged, consequently I must decline your invitation to come on again (and again and again and again). Also, don’t touch me, I already showered today.”

    Has he quoted Chomsky? Chomsky’s lunatic leftism has a certain libertarian flavour on occasion (standin’ up for th’ little guy) so may it not be that Paul has sometimes expressed views which Chomsky may also have expressed, e.g. regarding the corporate state? I dunno. Got an example?

    Statements such as “we gave him the gas” and claims that Ahmedinejab is angry about the overthrow of Mossadeq are classic Chomsky. Next week he’ll probably be mouthing off about Allende or the United Fruit Company. Perhaps he got his junk straight from Chomsky’s works, or perhaps from some other thinkers of the New Left, I’m not sure that it matters. The point is that Ron Pauls’ pronouncements on America’s role in the world sound a lot more like Chomksy than, say, Senator Taft.

    Who are the youknowwho lobby?

    Ohyou know. I mean, as the man says, it’s hardly a top secret.

  • chuck

    So in that sense I do not much care about his personal beliefs as I would in other cases. Ron doesn’t wish to ram his beliefs down my throat using my money. The others do.

    Good in bed trumps sane, eh. Now if only he was good in bed.

    I don’t mind libertarian ideas getting out there, but I sure as H*ll don’t want a crazy uncle in the oval office.

  • Gabriel – so they’re not actually quotes? I don’t disagree with Chomsky on EVERY position he takes – does that mean that when I – quite innocently – happen to agree with Chomsky on something, I’m quoting him? Perhaps chatting with loons like Alex Jones doesn’t do much for Paul’s credibility. By the same token, claiming that the man’s quoting Chomsky when he clearly isn’t doesn’t do much for yours.

    Incidentally, I’m not a big fan of the Jewish lobby (or any powerful lobby group that currently exists on Capitol Hill). And I gather that Paul isn’t, either.

  • What a bunch of tossers most of you are!

    A copy of Popper’s ‘Open society…’ at the top of the blog and you complain Ron Paul said evolution is ‘a theory’. Why don’t you try reading the book, you might learn something.

    If you want big government don’t vote for him. If you are Libertarians, and believe in the US Constitution, then support him. His view of God and evolution is just that – his personal view. It’s irrelevant to a President who wants to follow the Constitution.

    Ron Paul associates with nazis? No, you are a liar.

  • Ian B

    Gabriel:

    Criticising the ridiculously ill-considered overthrow of Mossadegh isn’t “Chomsky”, it’s just about everybody. That one really *was* all about oil. If we hadn’t put the odious Shah back into absolute power, there’d have been no revolution and no Khomeini. What there would have been, we don’t know. But there wouldn’t have been that.

    The West acting in its own selfish interest is one thing. The West acting idiotically to no useful purpose out of sheer hissiness (see also Suez) is quite another.

  • Ian B

    Maybe it’s also worth mentioning that evolution isn’t really a theory. It’s an observed process which is explained by some theories (Natural Selection, Sexual Selection etc).

    Similar to: the earth orbits the sun. That’s not a theory. Newton’s Laws, Relativity, they’re theories that explain the preceding fact.

    We could also add in another distinction: often things which are called theories, or hypotheses, are just predictions; indeed much of science these days is really in the ball-gazing business. Example: in evolution, might be “in the future, polar bears will evolve to become aquatic”. Another good example would be that the theory of Quantum Mechanics explains the observed fact that carbon dioxide has a particular absorption/emission spectrum leading to a prediction that large quantities in the atmosphere may make the Earth warmer. And yet scientists seem to talk about Global Warming as a theory. Which it clearly isn’t :)

  • chuck

    That one really *was* all about oil.

    Iran was divided between the USSR and Britain during WWII in order to insure a supply line into Russia. Naturally, at the end of the war Russia tried to leverage its occupation, as it did in China when I armed Mao’s communists during the withdrawal.

    At the war’s end Britain withdrew but Soviet troops stationed in northwestern Iran not only refused to withdraw but backed revolts that established short-lived, pro-Soviet separatist regimes in the northern provinces of Iran Iranian Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan and the Kurdish People’s Republic in late 1945, both effective Soviet puppet states. Soviet troops did not withdraw from Iran proper until May, 1946 after receiving a promise of oil concessions. The Soviet republics in the north were soon overthrown and the oil concessions were revoked.

    Emphasis mine. It wasn’t just Britain who found the oil attractive. As to the rest of the details, I am no scholar of Iran, but Mossadegh wasn’t exactly a democratic saint, and his rule ended in a power grab in what had been a constitutional monarchy. Nor was the institution of collective farming any more successful or popular in Iran than elsewhere.

    I knew a number of Iranian students at the time of the 1979 revolution. They were pretty evenly split between the parties, as the Iranian people seem to have been when Mossadegh was brought down, and there were fist fights and campus demonstrations. The young left wing idealists were soon disappointed, but we did gain a number of good people who stayed here and have given us the benefit of their talents. My own feeling is that if the Embassy hadn’t been taken over, no one would have cared about Iran. BTW, the fundamentalist unrest in Iran goes back before 1953.

  • Ian B

    Doesn’t really alter the fact that Iran’s constitutional affairs were no business of Britain. Paul’s view, as with many libertarians, is to simply not get involved. If Mossadegh was crap, fine, let the Iranians deal with their own leaders.

    I’m not an isolationist. I think the situation as is now needs active policy. I also think that the history of the region suggests that we’d probably be facing an Islamic threat now anyway, since the Muslim Brotherhood etc goes back before WWII. But we really don’t know that.

    One could argue that had we not meddled, the Islamists would have at least had less of a pretext, and the pro-muslim left in the west would have less of a pretext for their agitations too.

    We should also remember that the Muslim Brotherhood were actively supported by the Attlee administration as an attempt to prevent an Israeli state. Western dealings in the region have been murky, to say the least.

  • chuck

    Doesn’t really alter the fact that Iran’s constitutional affairs were no business of Britain.

    At the time, pretty much everyone was the business of Britain, Russia, and the US. Such was the cold war. Such times don’t leave too much room for the play of international libertarian ideals. But who knows, Mossadegh had had a falling out with the Islamists and perhaps it should have been left to them to remove him rather than the Persian Army. Such a situation would probably have brought in the Russians as Mossadegh sought outside support, and the whole bloody mess would have been fought to a conclusion long ago.

  • Kim du Toit

    Laughing my ass off here, Boss.

    And to think: this is one of Ron Paul’s more considered statements…

    You libertarians ought to lose the blinders, and quit supporting a fruitcake just because he’s a libertarian (in some respects).

    Save the respect for a decent, qualified libertarian candidate… just don’t hold your breath waiting for one to come along.

  • To me Andrew Roocroft comment makes the most sense. Paul may not be holding all of these nutty views he is accused of, but if so, he is doing a very poor job of making his real views known. This is not a good sign in itself, as being able to articulate one’s views is very important for a president. And call me crazy, but I also expect a president to have clear opinions on some issues other than the size of government.

  • Trooper Thompson wrote, while quoting Popper:

    His view of God and evolution is just that – his personal view. It’s irrelevant to a President who wants to follow the Constitution.

    The singular for “God and evolution” is interesting. Personally I find these are two substantially independent issues.

    Though I’ve only read another Popper (“The Logic of Scientific Discovery”, the later revised English version), I feel that TT has it wrong; that is if he is relying on Popper’s theory of falsifiability. That says nothing on the existence or not of God, beyond viewing the question as unanswerable by said theory. However, the theory of evolution does fall within the remit of falsifiability.

    It seems it is also worth restating here that, according to Popper, no theory is ever proved right. At best it is found applicable in all cases seen during diligent search for falsifying evidence, and hence is believed to apply to unseen cases of adequate similarity. Thus it is useful for systematic prediction of what should happen (or is most likely to happen) in certain circumstances and also for general understanding of the applicable scientific field.

    Returning to Ron Paul, I see that his religion should be no bar to his being an acceptable USA President, providing he is tolerant of the religious beliefs of others and sticks by the Constitution. However, if he goes against the (so far) unfalsified theory of evolution and acts on that, he is likely to make mistakes of judgement in the governance of the USA (especially with respect to healthcare and science in general, and perhaps on social policy). This would make him a less worthy candidate for the Presidency.

    Best regards

  • John Quiggin

    At least Paul is consistent in letting wishful thinking trump science. Lots of people outside the US (and quite a few in the comments thread above) cringe at creationism then use the same arguments to reject scientific evidence on global warming, simply because they don’t like its poltiical implications. Whenever we get an anti-AGW zealot turning up at Wikipedia, it’s odds on that they’re politically libertarian (not that many orthodox Republicans edit Wikipedia I guess).

  • Except creationism is not a scientific theory, it is religion. And when someone can explain why the Martian polar icecaps are melting, I will consider stopping thinking AGW is also not just religion.

  • then use the same arguments to reject scientific evidence on global warming

    And what arguments would those be, John?

  • Dale Amon

    Perry, I’d be very cautious of attributing a common cause to any observed Martian changes.

    However, if we are really, really lucky, the asteroid which has a 1:75 chance of hitting Mars in a couple months will be full of volatiles and smack the pole. Then you would see some real climate change!

  • Gabriel

    Incidentally, I’m not a big fan of the Jewish lobby

    Good for you. Perry: this is the kind of people you’re attracting here.

    Ron Paul associates with nazis? No, you are a liar.

    No, you are a liar.

    Criticising the ridiculously ill-considered overthrow of Mossadegh isn’t “Chomsky”, it’s just about everybody. That one really *was* all about oil.

    Yes specifically, it was about Mossadeq stealing oil refineries that belonged to American and British companies and citizens. The intervention was 100% justified as was Suez (the biggest mistake the U.S. ever made bar none.).
    In any case, Paul did not argue that it was a mistake, but that it was the case of Islamic hatred of the west, which is
    a) complete BS
    b) an argument first made by Chomsky.

    One could argue that had we not meddled, the Islamists would have at least had less of a pretext, and the pro-muslim left in the west would have less of a pretext for their agitations too.

    But that is not what Paul is arguing because for all intents and purposes he has become part of the pro Muslim Left.

  • Gabriel

    And to think, we know all these bad things about Ron Paul despite the fact that the MSM are covering up for him because they think he is a useful tool to damage the Republican Party (plus his views on foreign policy are just a more extreme version of their’s ).

    Of course, despite the easy ride Paul’s been given (just compare him to Tancredo) by everyone except Fox, the delusional Paulians still have an underdog complex.

  • Ian B

    “Yes specifically, it was about Mossadeq stealing oil refineries that belonged to American and British companies and citizens”

    By a British Government who had stolen its coal industry, steel industry, railways, electricity, gas, water, telephones, telegraph, car manufacturing… from their private owners. Nationalisation was all the rage back then. And by an American government who had not so long before stolen all its citizens’ gold…

    “The intervention was 100% justified as was Suez (the biggest mistake the U.S. ever made bar none.)”

    Yes, it was so justified the British, French and Israelis had to concoct a bizarre pretend invasion to justify it.

    In any case, Paul did not argue that it was a mistake, but that it was the case of Islamic hatred of the west, which is a) complete BS b) an argument first made by Chomsky

    You seem to be giving an awful lot of credit to Chomsky here. Had nobody else considered that intervention a bad idea before Chomsky? Really?

    But that is not what Paul is arguing because for all intents and purposes he has become part of the pro Muslim Left.

    I think you’ll find Libertarians in general oppose use of military force in such a situation. Check out the platform of the Libertarian Party candidate, who apparently would order the US army to run from the battlefield dropping their weapons behind them like little girls. That doesn’t mean libertarians are “part of the pro muslim left”.

  • Ian B

    Whenever we get an anti-AGW zealot turning up at Wikipedia, it’s odds on that they’re politically libertarian (not that many orthodox Republicans edit Wikipedia I guess)

    Hmm. It depends on what you see as the default rational position. As such you can characterise it as “only libertarians and conservatives deny it” or as “only internationalist socialists believe in it”.

    It’s probably fair to say that libertarians are less likely to follow “the consensus” on it, because libertarians tend to be very politically aware (a self selecting group, basically, because they have had to do enough thinking about and have enough interest in politics to have rejected the mainstream left/right consensus already) and are thus more alert to a blatant power grab by a particular political class when they see one.

    You can say “only the right deny it” or you can say “only the left believe in it”. There’s a pretty strong correlation between how internationalist socialist a person is, and how fanatical they are about global warming and environmentalism. There’s also a strong correlation between belief in global warming and belief in homeopathy, feng shui, herbalism, “earth energies”, rectal jetwashing etc and global warming, which doesn’t inspire much confidence either.

  • Save the respect for a decent, qualified libertarian candidate… just don’t hold your breath waiting for one to come along.

    That’s the rub. Paul isn’t the last, best hope for a libertarian surge, but unforunately someone spun three lemons and he’s the only hope for the time being. The LP has been somewhat ineffective at getting the message out. The best chance for more pull in national politics seems to be a libertarian-minded Republican sabotaging his party’s chances for election victory – i.e. exactly what’s happening. We don’t need Paul to win the presidency, we just need him to (a) help the libertarian wing of the Republican party realize it has bargaining chips and (b) help the RNC understand that same point. In some ways it almost helps if Paul is a loon: the longer libertarians are content to wait around for the perfect candidate, the longer the major parties know they can ignore them.

  • Gabriel Martindale

    Yes, it was so justified the British, French and Israelis had to concoct a bizarre pretend invasion to justify it.

    The buzarre pusilaninimity of the respective governments is not at issue.

    You seem to be giving an awful lot of credit to Chomsky here. Had nobody else considered that intervention a bad idea before Chomsky? Really?

    Lot’s of people did. No-one, to my knowledge, has tried to explain Islamic fundamentalism and its hatred of the west by it before him.

    I think you’ll find Libertarians in general oppose use of military force in such a situation. Check out the platform of the Libertarian Party candidate, who apparently would order the US army to run from the battlefield dropping their weapons behind them like little girls. That doesn’t mean libertarians are “part of the pro muslim left”.

    Let’s be clear. I’m not arguing that isolationists or anti-war-libertarians of paleo-cons are part of the Left, objectively or otherwise. Nor am I arguing that their position is untenable (though it is wrong).
    I am arguing that over the course of the past few years Ron Paul has moved from a paleo-con anti-interventionist stance, akin to that of a Taft, to a very different ideological viewpoint more in keeping with the Left. (The same thing happened, as is well known, to many Libertarians in the 1960s.)

    If you can’t tell the differnece between “screw the world” and “screw America” and you can’t recognise that Paul used to say one and now says the other, then you are a fool. If Ron Paul was merely an isolationist, I would support him, though disagreeing with him. However, now that he sings out of the ANSWER hymsheet, I oppose him more strongly than any candidate except Kucinich.

  • ragingnick

    as someone else said here its not so much Ron Pauls belief in creationism that bothers me than it is the fact that he is a jew hating, blame America first moonbat.

    I would chhose a dem over a lunatic like RP and thats saying something

  • Ian B

    Sorry to bang on about this but, regarding the issue of whether arab governments had the right to nationalise assets such as oil fields or canals, and whether this is such an affront to British and American values, we must remember the state of our own countries. As a British subject (but the same apples all over the western world) the guvmint has absolute power to compel me to hand over any of the property I may naively view as my own. It takes my money, under threat of imprisonment. If the government wants my land for their own purposes, or to award to a friend, they can simply take it. In America, “land of the free”, there’s an exciting new idea that if old people can’t afford to pay tribute to the government for the land they supposedly own, they can be forced to work for the government under threat of their property’s confiscation.

    Paul would seek to end such things. All the other presidential candidates would support them; indeed they’re all falling over each other right now to brag about how much they’d steal from private owners of health care industry, or how much they’d cartelise it, etc. Apparently property ownership is only supported if it’s foreigners taking the property. And let’s face it here, British Petroleum could better cope with losing their Iranian oil concessions than an old lady can cope with having her house confiscated.

    Where’s the consistency?

  • However, if he goes against the (so far) unfalsified theory of evolution and acts on that, he is likely to make mistakes of judgement in the governance of the USA (especially with respect to healthcare and science in general, and perhaps on social policy).

    “Unfalsified” isn’t the criterion of believability in science, “predictive power” is. To the best of my knowledge, no one has taken the trouble to falsify tarot cards, and yet I don’t believe in them. That a theory can be falsified (i.e. we know under which circumstances it would prove false) is one of Popper’s prerequisites for calling it “scientific,” but that isn’t at all the same thing as making a practice of accepting all theories that have yet to be falsified.

    What makes us believe in a theory is that it squares well with the present evidence and, more importantly, that it is consistently able to explain new evidence that has come to light since it was proposed.

    I find Dr. Paul’s religious views offputting, but then I find the whole “do-you-believe-in-evolution” test for the presidency offputting. No policy decisions that I can see will depend on a president’s acceptance of that particular scientific framework – except possibly what to put in textbooks. But since Paul advocates eliminating the Department of Education and fully returning curriculum creation to the states, it’s a fair bet he isn’t going to be imposing his wilful rejection of this framework on anyone else.

    As for whether this says anything about Dr. Paul’s ability to respect scientific evidence, I don’t think he’s doing any worse than any of the other candidates there. Certainly he’s not as goofy as Huckabee or Romney on religion, and the major Democratic candidates have scientific faith issues of their own. Hillary Clinton, for example, believes that video games reliably turn people into cold-blooded killers despite the (to her) mysterious fact that this doesn’t happen in the overwhelming majority of cases of people who play them. She also believes that homosexuality is all nature no nurture, even though this is a long way from having been decided scientifically. If a candidate is going to get a science issue “wrong,” in other words, then evolution is far from the worst they could do, especially if, as Dr. Paul does, the candidate in question believes government has no business meddling in science or the school system to begin with.

  • guy herbert

    Assuming Ron Paul, or any other candidate were a creationist, then I wouldn’t have a problem with voting for him PROVIDED he did not propose to use the power of the state to advocate creationism or impose it on anyone’s curriculum. Has he?

    My problem is with candidates who ride popular prejudice and make policies out of it (e.g. Giuliani) and technocrats who think they know better than other people how those other people should live for their own good (e.g. Clinton II). In a democracy which is more dangerous is not constant.

  • Andrew Roocroft

    Guy Herbert:

    Assuming Ron Paul, or any other candidate were a creationist, then I wouldn’t have a problem with voting for him PROVIDED he did not propose to use the power of the state to advocate creationism or impose it on anyone’s curriculum. Has he?

    Paul wants to abolish the only federal institution which could ever have the power to impose universal curricula across the states, the Department of Education. Far from wanting to impose any particular educational viewpoint, he is wholly in favour of home schooling and “will veto any legislation that creates national standards or national testing for home school parents or students.” Similarly, he believes that the “federal government has no constitutional authority to fund or control schools.”

    Joshua;

    If a candidate is going to get a science issue “wrong,” in other words, then evolution is far from the worst they could do, especially if, as Dr. Paul does, the candidate in question believes government has no business meddling in science or the school system to begin with.

    Agree entirely.

    And on the subject of “getting science wrong,” Paul is a perfect advocate of the synthesis of libertarianism and science in a relevant scientific concern – that of stem cell research. See this, from Lew Rockwell’s site;

    While I certainly sympathize with those who understandably hope such research will lead to cures for terrible diseases, I object to forcing taxpayers who believe harvesting embryos is immoral to pay for it…

    Medical advancements often result from radical ideas and approaches that are scoffed at initially by the establishment. When scientists become dependent on government funds, however, they quickly learn not to rock the boat and stick to accepted areas of inquiry. Federal funds thus distort the natural market for scientific research.

    Answering scientific questions thusly is much better than pronouncing God-given dictates like Mike Huckabee, and much more in line with a political strategy for the revival of libertarianism which needn’t alienate people based on irrelevant differences on non-political issues.

  • Perry, I’d be very cautious of attributing a common cause to any observed Martian changes.

    At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious: solar activity?

  • Nick M

    I am an erstwhile computational astrophysical fluid dynamicist (I therefore have form in the field) and I can tell ya that AGW is hooey.

    Evolution is a theory. That’s the whole sodding point. That’s what science does – produce theories. If you want hard “facts” then I advise you to consult the book of Genesis. That evolution by natural selection is more defensible than 6-dayism is beside the point. There is no way whatsoever the ID or Creation “Science” ought to be taught in science lessons anywhere because whilst I’m prepared to entertain the idea that the Beardy Guy made the whole shooting match in six days I am not prepared to consider that as being science and I’m sorry but the only donkey in the (science) paddock is Darwinism (possibly modified – see Lynn Margullis) and whilst it is coherent to say “that’s all bollocks, God did it in a week” it is bat-shit mentalist to regard that as a scientific insight. Science is not an established body of facts, it’s a process. I have known (sometimes Biblically) a great many biologists and the idea that Darwinism is some sort of conspiracy between them is absurd. There is nothing that builds a career in science like iconoclasm. Just ask the shade of Einstein. There is not a single student of the biological sciences that hasn’t dreamed of standing in front of a bunch of the emminent and refuting Darwin and sodding well proving it!

    Well, there is an error in the preceeding paragraph. It isn’t that I only knew semi-Biblically a Biophysicst (that was mere rhetorical hyperbole) but the conspiracy idea… There does, within science exist one and it’s AGW. Some truly believe, some are sceptics but their job hangs on it and others… Well others just know that they’ll get a grant vastly more easily if they stick “Global Warming” into the title. “Changes in the migration patterns of squirrels” – Rejected. “Changes in the migration patterns of squirrels caused by global warming” – Accepted. It is that simple.

    Our civilization is fragile (our planet isn’t) and for the majority of my life the one thing keeping the Fenris Wolf at bay has been science. I am terrified that that could change and I feel the AGW mob are doing that. They have perversified science beyond comprehension. They have put ethics into science (“ethical” living), they have portrayed computer models as the real thing (I was a computational astrophysicist and I didn’t do that) and have declared the debate prematurely “over”.

    So forget Ron Paul, forget the ID crowd, forget Young Earth creationists who say that the Grand Canyon was carved out in a fortnight if you want a real enemy of science because our little camp has been infiltrated for the best part of two decades. Our real enemy is within and when the walls come tumbling and science dies then it’s time to run to the hills with a shotgun because there is only a sliver between us and chaos.

    Do you remember a couple of years ago there was a big earthquake in Pakistan? Well, Brits and Yanks and the usual suspects pitched in and got to work rebuilding primary schools and such. The BBC interviewed a tribal elder (a twinkly old bugger with a beard you could lose a badger in) and he was saying it was great all these folks were coming over to help and as a good muslim he would be an accomadating host. All fine, so far… Then he said that they’d best rebuild the school along Islamic lines (just for boys and only what they need to know – the Qu’ran – and none of that mathematics and science) otherwise these Western helpers would be killed and the school burnt down. Note: it wasn’t evolution he objected to, just science in general.

    He’s the same sex and species as me. He is a contemporary of me (though somewhat older) and he reminds me that we are all just apes (with slightly less hair than normal – though not in his case) and that this brief, precious, wonderful period called the Enlightenment could just wink off and it’s back to the cave. Greens, religious loons, Polly Toynbee* and all the rest could end it all. This whole glorious experiment in freedom and progress (I’m stealing that one back) and science could just end.

    *Who at least is so consistently wrong she’s useful.

  • Joshua wrote (WRT by comment of Dec 27 at 10:07 AM):

    … but that isn’t at all the same thing as making a practice of accepting all theories that have yet to be falsified.

    Quite right; as was I when I wrote “At best [a hypothesised theory] is found applicable in all cases seen during diligent search for falsifying evidence, and hence is believed to apply to unseen cases of adequate similarity.”

    And Joshua wrote:

    No policy decisions that I can see will depend on a president’s acceptance of that particular scientific framework – except possibly what to put in textbooks.

    Though it is not my technical field, I understand that some infectious diseases (eg MRSA and Clostridium difficile) are likely to have been caused by evolution in an environment heavy with conventional antibiotics. Denying the theory of evolution presumably denies this cause of these sorts of disease, thus ruling out potential benefit from restraint in prescription of antibiotics. Likewise, there are implications for cross-species infections arising through mutation (eg new strains of human flu from mutation of bird flu, which itself arises from mutation of existing types of bird flu). Here a major implication is the need to prevent or reduce the chances of species jump of the infection, or at least delay it until a sufficiency of vaccinations have been given. There are, I suspect, other and perhaps better examples.

    So not believing in evolution does, perhaps (as with refutation of each and every useful scientific explanation), have potential to cause problems in government.

    Best regards

  • You libertarians ought to lose the blinders, and quit supporting a fruitcake just because he’s a libertarian (in some respects).

    Yeah Kim! Libbos should support statist big government tax and spend candidates instead, because that would be more coherent, right?

  • JohnnyL

    “A grassroots campaign can only go so far; now he has the money, it’s time to get some professional PR to start refuting the smears and advising him how to dodge questions which make him look crazy.”

    Doesn’t this assume that he is crazy? Reminds me of one of the best lines in Miracle on 34th Street. To paraphrase “Maybe he’s just a little crazy, like artists, painters or those men in Washington.”

    At least when he answers truthfully we can spot the loon. Now its just a question of weeding out the other crackpots and I can think of nothing better than how they handle questions like this and attempt to explain the thinking behind how they arrived at their personal views. You can’t assume that the nonsense most of them are spouting regarding policy positions just spontaneously generated.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Of course the theory of evolution is just a theory, that is why it is called the theory of evolution!

    “X is a theory” is not identical in meaning to “X is just a theory.” Compare, oh, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a woman” and “Ayaan Hirsi Ali is just a woman”: the second has a denigratory overtone that the first lacks. Treating the two phrasings as equivalent misrepresents the issue.

    Moreover, the people who say that “evolution is just a theory” are almost always doing so with a specific intent: to invite the inference “and therefore there is no solid epistemological basis for accepting or rejecting it.” Which is not a sound inference. Not just in the case of evolution; by the time any scientific idea is called a “theory” there is a mass of evidence for it that makes accepting it the way to bet, at a minimum.

    I mean, for example, if an atheist were to say, “the existence of God is just a theory,” I suspect a lot of Christians would be seriously bothered by it, even though God’s existence is certainly at least as debatable on rational grounds as evolution by natural selection.

  • Kim du Toit

    Albion,

    Apart from being simplistic, your argument presupposes that Libertarians in general (and Ron Paul in this particular case) have a monopoly on “small government” desires and, for that matter, credentials.

    Not so. The difference between Libertarians and small “r” republicans like myself is that Libertarians start off with “If only we could [insert choice] abolish all income taxes / eliminate all government control / blahblahblah, then we’d all be happy.”

    Small “r” republicans start off with actual reality, ie. “This has gone far enough; it’s time to rein in government here, and there, and there….”

    Sure, gradualism is tough, and sometimes it looks like its only likely outcome is failure — but revolution doesn’t have that wonderful a track record either, lest we forget.

    So while libertairians (and Libertarians) are bleating their mantras from their ivory towers and wasting time on a fucking loony like Ron Paul, the rest of us are trying to undo the most egregious excesses by the State, without the support of the Idealists, who don’t want to get their hands dirty, and who eschew any kind of meaningful participation lest they be tarred as “supporting statism” by simplistic arguments such as yours.

    And while the Idealists are bleating, the baleful legions of socialists keep advancing their poxy agenda.

  • Ian B

    “I am terrified that that could change and I feel the AGW mob are doing that. They have perversified science beyond comprehension.”

    Nick M, while I agree with you I think your analysis is too narrow. I’d argue that the AGW mob are the shock troops of a much broader perversion of science and academia in general; a very broad movement who seek to create a (hmm, what terminology to use here?) collectivist/statist technocracy. We see the same in medicine for instance, in the “soclal medicine” movement who are now gaining enormous success. It’s not just AGW; although if AGW can somehow be successfully defeated it may expose the rest of this movement for what they are.

    I think science, and western society, are genuinely on the brink of a most terrible disaster. We’re beyond the stage now of simply a debate between different ideologies (classical liberalism/socialism/conservatism) etc. The collectivists are not winning; to all intents and purposes they have won, while their opponents (classical liberals or libertarians and even conservatives) are hanging around outside the tend shouting complaints while those inside just jam their fingers in their ears and la la la. It’s not a question of whether science is being subverted; it’s about the fact that it already has been and whether there is anything at all that can be done to get it back.

  • Ian B

    Kim, not all libertarians are “abolish the state” purists, in fact many “libertarians” I know are pragmatists who just want more freedom, not infinite amounts of it.

    But the problem with the gradualist approach is that it doesn’t work either. If you creep into government and try to just shut down, or reduce, or trim down, one department, it’ll just pop up somewhere else. It’s like a manic game of whack-a-mole. You’re up against an opponent who is extremely well organised; every attempt to reduce government faces a fierce well organised backlash and campaign “babies and puppies will die!” You may get to reduce one bit of government but somewhere else it’ll be more than compensated by some whole new bureaucracy springing up.

    “Small government conservatives” have not, in the past century, achieved a single step towards reduce governmental size or power. The trend is entirely upwards. You may say “oh, we abolished these price controls” or “we got rid of this regulation” but the truth is the size of western governments over the past century is a, heh, hockey stick.

    So maybe libertarians are unrealistic; but small government pragmatists are unrealistic too. You strategy does not work.

    It may be too late for the non-left to fight back, to get anywhere at all. We may be gripped by an historical tide that is simply unstoppable. But if we’re going to at least try, we need to be entirely pragmatic and realistic and try to think of some strategies that will actually work and perhaps the first on the agenda must be to get the entire non-left into some kind of rainbow coalition which synergises on what we all agree on, as the collectivists have been so successful at doing.

  • Though it is not my technical field, I understand that some infectious diseases (eg MRSA and Clostridium difficile) are likely to have been caused by evolution in an environment heavy with conventional antibiotics. Denying the theory of evolution presumably denies this cause of these sorts of disease, thus ruling out potential benefit from restraint in prescription of antibiotics. Likewise, there are implications for cross-species infections arising through mutation (eg new strains of human flu from mutation of bird flu, which itself arises from mutation of existing types of bird flu). Here a major implication is the need to prevent or reduce the chances of species jump of the infection, or at least delay it until a sufficiency of vaccinations have been given.

    Good example, and point taken.

    However, as a political issue evolution is usually not concerned with these kinds of things (certainly the people asking the “Do you believe in evolution?” question are not) – usually it’s about religious types being hypersensitive about what they see as “teaching atheism” in school.

    Paul’s answer to the question on video includes bits about how the Bible doesn’t get specific about the method behind God’s Creation – and that indicates to me that he can separate out issues of overprescribing antibiotics from philosophical questions of where man comes from. He’s an MD, after all – he didn’t get where he is today by wholesale denial of science. So I am not too personally worried that his (admittedly goofy) belief that evolution is “just” a theory will get in the way of making scientifically-founded public heath decisions. I can, however, see why other people might.

    My question to them would be – what makes you think that any of the other candidates are any more devoted to scientific orthodoxy on issues where their personal beliefs get in the way of what science actually says?

  • William H. Stoddard wrote:

    … even though God’s existence is certainly at least as debatable on rational grounds as evolution by natural selection.

    Oh dear. Still, I suppose one must allow at least a little rope on this:

    (i) What is meant by “rational grounds”? [Some brevity might be appropriate.]

    (ii) Is “evolution by natural selection” standing by itself as a special case, or as proxy for each and every scientific theory?

    And I am arguing this one as I do think it matters.

    Best regards

  • Dr No

    Ian B, you have it right. The true gradualists are the extremists: Ask for the moon and settle for a small rock. Do that enough times and that’s a pretty sizable pile of rocks you have before too long. The gradualists ask for a small rock, and then turn around to see their property has been turned into a quarry.

    The gradualists are on a date with the statists and believe them when they say they’ll “only put it in a little bit”. I say kick em in the nuts and send em home crying.

  • Ian B

    The discussion about MRSA or C. Difficile doesn’t really apply here anyway since creationists accept “microevolution” within “kinds” so accept mutation of diseases and their vectors. They accept that a single-celled organism can evolve resistance. They just don’t believe it can evolve into a siberian tiger.

  • R C Dean

    The thing to remember is that Ron Paul doesn’t think the federal government should do anything whatsoever based on the status of the theory of evolution.

    He gets asked this in part because his district is chock full of hardcore fundamentalists. This is just his rather innocuous way of not pissing them off over an issue that is entirely irrelevant to his vision of what needs to be done by either (a) the Congress or (b) the Presidency.

    As you suspect, Perry, this is “gotcha” politics that has nothing to do with the merits of the candidate.

  • Ian B wrote:

    … since creationists accept “microevolution” within “kinds” so accept mutation of diseases and their vectors. They accept that a single-celled organism can evolve resistance. They just don’t believe it can evolve into a siberian tiger.

    Ian is obviously closer to the thought processes of creationists than I am. And I’ll admit to doubts about MRSA evolving into Siberian Tiger: there are at least 2 reasons why (but let’s not get bogged down in too many side issues).

    Anyway, it seems creationists accept mutation. Perhaps as it has been observed, they also accept that the beak size of birds can change through natural selection. Combine a few of things together (mutation, selection, repetition, eons) …

    Is not the stated creationist view rather like accepting that arithmetic works for numbers small enough to be written on a piece of paper and manipulated by hand, but not that it works for bigger numbers or longer calculations?

    My case here remains that there is a difference between (moderate) religious belief and refuting or rejecting well-established science (and its teaching). I believe that the latter is far less tolerable in our political leaders than is the former.

    [Note: I also commented at 16:11, and was smitten. That comment has now appeared, with that time stamp.]

    Best regards

  • Apart from being simplistic, your argument presupposes that Libertarians in general (and Ron Paul in this particular case) have a monopoly on “small government” desires and, for that matter, credentials.

    Trouble is you “small r republicans” eventually end up still supporting for the likes of Bush or whoever else ends up wearing the Republican mantle, while claiming to want a smaller state and that’s why the mainstream politicians know they can safely ignore you.

    So it seems to me that when it comes to demanding “ideological purity” (a change so often levelled at supporters on non-mainstream people), it’s folks like you who actually are the problem in expecting too much. It’s people like Perry who are being pragmatic in supporting Ron Paul (clearly he does not like the man) whereas you seem to require a perfect candidate before you will support anyone who is actually serious about shrinking the state.

  • Ian B

    Nigel, I’m just the messenger. You can lower that gun :D

    I agree that the distinction between micro and macro-evolution perceived by creationists is nonsensical. But that’s what most of them believe, so even a zealous statist creationist in the Whitehouse wouldn’t feel obligated to deny the observed reality of the evolution of antibiotic resistance, so even in that case the medical example given earlier wouldn’t be an issue.

    I’m not in any way defending creationism. If I understand something about what they believe, it’s because I’ve had quite a lot of arguments with creationists over the years on the internets.

  • Alice

    the distinction between micro and macro-evolution perceived by creationists is nonsensical.

    That is a bit of a straw-man argument. We all (at least, I hope we all) accept that natural selection within a population can affect the population average. That should be uncontroversial, because it is what farmers have been doing for thousands of years with “unnatural selection” — selective breeding. But no matter how assiduously the breeder works, he is not going to turn a cow into an elephant, let alone a sequoia.

    Darwin’s insight about natural selection was important, but it is not a complete theory of evolution. There is clearly more to come, and the missing pieces are likely to come from a serious effort to address the sorts of questions raised by those who are skeptical about “natural selection as simplistic evolution” (whatever the reason for their skepticism).

    The broader issue though is the one raised by Ian B — “The collectivists are not winning; to all intents and purposes they have won“.

    It is a small step from confusing natural selection with a complete theory of evolution to treating a rather poor correlation between dubious temperature data and selected CO2 data as proof positive of anthropogenic global warming. We in the West are under-educated — and therefore easy prey for neo-Stalinists and their useful idiots.

    But don’t worry about the future of the human race. The modern liberal touting AGW is in the same position as the Plains indian dancing the ghost dance in the late 1800s — there are other people competing assiduously to replace them. Natural selection applies to civilizations with as much vigor as it does to species.

  • Dr No

    There’s also the distinction between evolution as a process and evolution as a historical fact.

    This is an important distinction. It’s possible to agree to disagree on the latter whilst the former can still be used by all sides if it can be accepted that it provides a sufficiently accurate model of the real world (the goal of science).

    After all, an omnipotent god could just have easily created the world last Tuesday after Eastenders and appears to be quite happy to allow other scientifically modelable processes to present evidence that the universe may be a lot older than (may be) suggested in scriptural record. It’s not a huge leap from accepting that to accepting that evolution provides an acceptable description of how God wants us to view the world. If it wasn’t important, he wouldn’t have left it there for us to find after all.

    On a related note, if you ever get the chance, take a visit to the Creation Science Museum in Portsmouth. But try not to laugh too loud.

  • Ian B

    But no matter how assiduously the breeder works, he is not going to turn a cow into an elephant, let alone a sequoia.

    Cow–> sequoia would be grossly unlikely as they diverged from their common ancestor a very long way back and, in particular, their cellular chemistry is entirely different, so even if we accept the thought experiment of trying to turn one species into another by selection, there’s no easily conceivable chain of intermediary forms I can imagine to get from cow to sequoia.

    I can however quite easily imagine how, given sufficient time, cows could evolve into a form similar to elephants. They’re broadly the same, with the same organs in slightly different configurations, and a few extra muscles and so on. Assiduous selection over a long period of time, combined with some fortuitous mutations (there’s a considerable random element to evolution, remember) could well get us a very large cow with a trunk and big ears.

    There are lots of examples of convergent evolution producing similar forms from different beginnings. There was a marsupial wolf-like creature for instance, and a marsupial saber-toothed cat type creature. They’re extinct now, but they did evolve. Evolution can only work with what it’s got. The chances of a flying horse with eight legs are remote, but it’d be possible for cows to get a trunk and big ears*.

    *If they can sneak past Noddy.

  • Alice


    I can however quite easily imagine how, given sufficient time, cows could evolve into a form similar to elephants.

    Science begins in the human mind, with imagination. Then it proceeds to observation & evidence & quantitative theories. Imagining a cow evolving into an elephant does not make it so. And try not to be so literal!

    Selective breeding, which is an accelerated form of natural selection, has been successful in developing distinct breeds within an existing species, but has failed totally at developing new species. Therefore, evolution is more than natural selection — and Darwin did not tell us what that “more” is.

    There is no logical distinction between “believing” in simplistic evolution and “believing” in a Deity. None!

    If we persist in unchallengeable “beliefs” such as simplistic evolution or anthropogenic global warming, we are throwing away the basis of modern civilization and replacing it with mere superstitions. But that, unfortunately, is what is happening. Thank goodness that natural selection will ultimately eliminate those civilizations that fall prey to political correctness.

  • Ian B

    Selective breeding, which is an accelerated form of natural selection, has been successful in developing distinct breeds within an existing species, but has failed totally at developing new species.

    It hasn’t failed to do so, it hasn’t tried to do so. Farmers are interested in better cows, not elephant cows.

    If you consider dogs, however, even that becomes questionable. You may say “all breeds of dog are still dogs” and indeed they are, but that’s for two reasons. Firstly, because you already know they are all dogs in the first place, and secondly because they’re not reproductively isolated (one wonders about that with a great dane and a chihuahua…). But look at the range of dogs. If a naive alien scientist arrived on earth and saw a great dane and a chihuahua, she’d probably think they’re different species. The differences are *immense*. If they had evolved to those different forms in the wild, one would at least think they were well on their way to speciation.

    Put a population of great danes in one place, a population of chihuahas in another, and over time they’d develop different prey, different hunting strategies, different social structures, there’d be pressure on them to evolve into quite different niches. For instance the great danes might choose large prey brought down by pack cooperation, whereas the chihuahuas would exclusively hunt ankles.

    Currently, those dogs aren’t under real selective pressures, since they don’t have to survive unaided. In the wild, their divergence would probably be quite rapid.

    Therefore, evolution is more than natural selection — and Darwin did not tell us what that “more” is.

    The “therefore” doesn’t follow. That humans haven’t forcibly evolved different species in their limited selective breeding, it doesn’t have any bearing on what can occur over vast time spans in natural circumstances.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    … he’s the only chance to pull America back from the statist brink, …

    Every time I see something like this, I wonder “is this person under 30 and therefore has only been politically aware since the Clinton administration, or is this person more or less completely ignorant of the political history of the late 20th century?”

    The answer, generally, is “yes”.

    Look, you want “statist brink”, go read up on FDR, J Edgar Hoover, Truman’s attempt to nationalize the steel industry, Nixon’s wage and price controls, Comstock and Hayes, and read Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. We have to be on guard against statism at all times, but the notion that we’re at a particularly more statist stage now is just stoooopid.

  • Dr No

    Speciation occurs when breeds cease to be genetically able to “breed”. The examples I’ve seen given tend to occur when physical barriers to breeding occur leading to genetic drift. The genetic drift can lead to further physical barriers (physiological differences) or social barriers which both keep the gene pools separate and allow the split to increase. Eventually enough drift can occur that the recombination leads to no or unviable offspring.

    The mechanisms are there. I find it hard to understand how anyone can really argue that we don’t at least have a broad sketch of what’s going on with evolution.

  • Dr No

    Currently, those dogs aren’t under real selective pressures

    Ian B, not quite. Great Danes and Chihuahuas are under intense selective pressure to not diverge much from what they are right now. I believe the Kennel Club has quite exacting standards and any divergence which might otherwise be a useful adaptation to the local environment will actually be frowned upon and artificially removed by either not allowing the subject to breed or, in many cases, not allowing the subject to live.

  • Ian B

    Charlie, maybe “statist brink” was the wrong term as of course the west is far beyond the brink now, perhaps “reverse the statist trend” would be a better term. But I’m quite aware of US history. Statism is a directionality.

    We’re in a crucial historical period now because of the immense pressure for not just national statism but international statism; the abandonment of national sovereignty to transnational statist bodies (trade blocs, the UN, etc). Paul is the only candidate with any desire to avoid that. That’s the point I was making.

    Dr No-

    I meant that dogs aren’t under natural selective pressures for survival. The pressures upon their evolution are arbitrary based on human tastes.

  • Dr No

    Ian B, I know. I was merely pointing out that instead of selective pressure to diverge, rather than there being no selective pressure, there is actually selective pressure not to diverge in the case of pedigree dogs. This, of course, makes dogs an even worse place to look for speciation. Hard to get a fork in an evolutionary tree when someone is trimming the offshoots.

  • steve_roberts

    I am disappointedly surprised at the number of samizdatarians who are ready to cast abuse at Ron Paul, who is the only candidate in the race for the US presidency who will reduce the government, cut taxes, and stop armed meddling in the affairs of other countries. And for this he is called ‘crazy’ by people who would, presumably, prefer Giuliani in the White House [shakes head].

    Paul is not insane, he is a lot more normal than any of his rivals, having earned his living dealing with ordinary people every day and even undergone conscription into the military.

    Paul is not a troofer, he actually cites the CIA’s reports that state that US interventions over decades in the Middle East have ‘blowback’.

    Paul is not ignorant of science. He is a doctor, and while doctoring is not science per se, it owes its efficacy to a century or two of scientific work, and every doctor knows this.

    You can disagree with his policy of pulling US troops out of foreign countries, but it’s definitely arguable that the US military presence in Germany, or Britain, or South Korea, or Japan, or [list another 100 countries] is a burden rather than a boon to both the US and the host countries.

    And finally, Paul is not so much a libertarian as a constitutionalist, which means that he accepts there should be a US government, but he demands that it obeys the basic law, and if that law has defects, that it is amended by due process, rather than openly flouted by officeholders who have sworn to uphold it.

    If all that makes him crazy, its a far better kind of crazy than the others in the race is all I can say

    [rant ends]

  • Sunfish

    Steve_roberts

    I am disappointedly surprised at the number of samizdatarians who are ready to cast abuse at Ron Paul, who is the only candidate in the race for the US presidency who will reduce the government, cut taxes, and stop armed meddling in the affairs of other countries

    He also said “we gave them the gas.” His exact words.

    WHY DID HE LIE?

  • lucklucky

    For Ron Paul wouldnt matter that communist would have taken all Europe, in the current times the problem is that Islamists will take Arab Governments and what he will do in case China threatens Taiwan? Do he thinks that loosing allies doesnt affect the wealth and freedom in USA? How he thinks to fight al-qaeda? Outside borders or inside borders? he doesnt thinks that 5-10 terror attacks in USA soil will damage much more freedoms in a Ron Paul administration than 911 in Bush one.

    I am not confortable with nukes in his hands because the shock of reality and pressure will make him react. I am even less with what will be his team…

  • lucklucky

    Adding further, binary ON-OFF(“we dont have anything to do with in Pakistan”) candidates like Ron Paul will have only two ways:

    Option 1- He is thuthfull and his presidency will have to kill to show how USA will work from now on, so much that the Bush Presidency will be considered peacefull. He will have a couple declarations of war approved by congress…

    Option 2-He will be manipulative and a liar and start to call every deal in the interests of USA.

    A Question to Ron Paul Supporters , imagine that Ron Paul was the President in 911 how would he react?

  • Russ

    @ Kim:

    You know, I’ve been theorizing that the Reagan coalition has been dead for a long time… your posts go a long way to prove that. And I’m a guy who has never pulled a lever for a Democrat.

    There are no “lower-case-r” Republicans. The Republicans are just a tribe. It is not equatable with libertarian thought, because the libertarian ideas are just that… ideas. What is Republican political theory, and how does McCain-Feingold fit into it?

    Well, here’s a heads-up for you: libertarians are why Republicans get elected. And yet another round of “you should hold your nose and vote for our statists because they’re better than their statists” is going to get you exactly as far as it got you in 2006… and the idea that Republicans should argue *against* the libertarians who make up the majority-giving chunk their own political coalition is not only moronic, it is electoral suicide.

    The answer to the “where ya gonna go” strategy is “out to dinner, chump.” Statist Republicans make great minority parties.

  • William H. Stoddard

    (i) What is meant by “rational grounds”? [Some brevity might be appropriate.]

    (ii) Is “evolution by natural selection” standing by itself as a special case, or as proxy for each and every scientific theory?

    I’m not trying to put forth a comprehensive theory of knowledge. What I have in mind is that you can find philosophers who are theists and try to make a reasoned case for theism; there are philosophers who are atheists and try to make a reasoned case for atheism; neither side’s adherents have convinced adherent of the other side, at least not so far that all the theists or all the atheists are gone; but you will still find some people in each group who are putting forth arguments for their own position, and critiquing the arguments for the other position. That is, they are debating it, and they are endeavoring to make a reasoned case for accepting their views. That looks like what “debatable” means to me.

    And the comparison was specifically with the theory of evolution, because that’s the only theory that has a large number of people saying “only a theory” about it. You don’t see many people going around saying that, for example, the heliocentric theory is “only a theory,” or the theory of relativity. That they are theories, yes, but not that they are “only theories,” because there is no large group that wants to deny either of these and that therefore wants to use the equation of “a theory” with “only a theory” as a rhetorical strategy for doing so.

    To carry through the comparison: Theism is a theory (presumably a metaphysical rather than a scientific one). To say so is to make a simple statement of fact. (Yes, there are people who believe in theism as a simple act of faith, not as a theory. But there are also people who believe, as the deists did, that the existence of God can rationally be concluded from reason and evidence. As I understand it, the Catholic Church holds that God’s existence is a truth of reason and not a dogma of faith.) But to say that theism is “only a theory” is to say that it’s a claim without solidity—and theists would be within their rights to object if an atheist did that in a debate, because that sort of labelling is pulling a fast one. And I expect that the antievolutionists in the United States would take it amiss if I told them, “God is only a theory.” So it would be more creditable if they did not do to other theories what they would not have done to their own.

  • William H. Stoddard

    I meant that dogs aren’t under natural selective pressures for survival. The pressures upon their evolution are arbitrary based on human tastes.

    Of course, when Darwin came up with his theory, the process of selective breeding by human owners was already long established and entirely familiar to everyone. The term “natural selection” was making the daring conceptual leap of saying that selective breeding took place even with no breeder capable of intentionality—which was not intuitively obvious to everyone. So it’s a bid odd, now, to see someone saying that the process that produces dachshunds is not “selection” because it is deliberately carried out by breeders and thus is not “natural selection.” If what was once not merely a peripheral example of the concept but outside its boundaries entirely is now the prototypical example, Darwinism has revolutionized human thought far more profoundly than I had supposed.

  • Andrew Roocroft

    luckylucky;

    For Ron Paul wouldnt matter that communist would have taken all Europe, in the current times the problem is that Islamists will take Arab Governments and what he will do in case China threatens Taiwan?

    Were it the case that Islamist takeover of Arab governments were the biggest threat to American security, then the US has done a very poor job of realising so; they have overthrown the most secular of Arab leaders, allowing religious figures to re-emerge and dominate political life in Iraq. Meanwhile, their neighbours, whose political elite sponsored the only hostile attack on US soil since Pearl Harbour, are the most Islamist regime in the world, governing through religious courts and employing a network of over 3,500 religious spies to impose Sharia law, killing proselytes, homosexuals and prostitutes, unwaveringly.

    It might be retorted, of course, that the US deposed an Islamist regime in Kabul. But the mere existence of that regime was largely a product of the interventionist foreign policy followed by the US during the Cold War, to prevent Afghanistan being Communist. Had the US not subsidised the activity of the Mujahideen, arming them and employing their common Islamic heritage to form a coalition against the Soviets, then the nascent Taliban warlords would have been wiped out in the early 80s, and Osama bin Laden, far from directing his extreme interpretation of Islam against the US, would find the Communists to be his enemies.

    On China-Taiwan, it’s a border issue, and doesn’t affect the defence of the USA. Indeed, it would be rather hypocritical of the US to instruct the PRC on the right of self-determination and secession of groups within their borders, given that its existence is solely due to Honest Abe’s “protecting the union” from Southern secessionism.

    Do he thinks that loosing allies doesnt affect the wealth and freedom in USA?

    When allies are similarly capable on the military front, the US might find some benefit for their defence by joining with them, much as they did with the Soviet Union during WWII. When, however, they have to pay a substantial cost in blood and treasure to sustain foreign regimes, such as those in Pakistan, Israel and post-Saddam Iraq, whose tangible contributions to US defence is minimal, and whose alliance with the US encourages domestic and neighbouring opponents of the regime to also oppose the US, the benefit of entangling alliances is difficult to perceive, through all the rhetoric about ‘strategic interest’ and ‘solidarity.’

    How he thinks to fight al-qaeda? Outside borders or inside borders?

    A Question to Ron Paul Supporters , imagine that Ron Paul was the President in 911 how would he react?

    He endorses the use of force against people that attack, or actively engage in preparations for attack, against the United States. He proposed this resolution, HR 3076, to permit the President to offer a bounty for members of al Qaeda, regardless of his geographical location;

    The President of the United States is authorized and requested to commission, under officially issued letters of marque and reprisal, so many of privately armed and equipped persons and entities as, in his judgment, the service may require, with suitable instructions to the leaders thereof, to employ all means reasonably necessary to seize outside the geographic boundaries of the United States and its territories the person and property of Osama bin Laden, of any al Qaeda co-conspirator, and of any conspirator with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda who are responsible for the air piratical aggressions and depredations perpetrated upon the United States of America on September 11, 2001, and for any planned future air piratical aggressions and depredations or other acts of war upon the United States of America and her people.

    This strategy, of employing private contractors to fight responsible individuals, was a proportionate response to the size of al Qaeda prior to 9/11. There existed a private threat to the US, without a country or geographical power base on which war could be declared, and therefore private means – as authorised in Art I, Sec 8, of the Constitution – or covert government operations were the only alternatives to invasion, deposition and installation of puppets, which action would, and has, further enlarged the pool of anti-American Muslims – as predicted by Ron Paul:-

    Letters of marque and reprisal resolve one of the most vexing problems facing the country: how do we obtain retribution against the perpetrators of the attacks without inflicting massive damage on the Middle East which could drive moderate Arabs into an allegiance with bin Laden and other terrorists. This is because using letters of marque and reprisal shows the people of the region that we are serious when we say our quarrel is not with them but with Osama bin Laden and all others who would dare commit terrorist acts against the United States.

    Paul endorsed the use of force against bin Laden, not the country of Afghanistan, in retaliation to the attack, thereby minimising the cost to the United States, in lives and money, and reducing the chance of growth of support for al Qaeda. In both respects, his approach – essentially following Ross Perot’s in 1979 – would have been better for the United States than what has transpired as a result of the policy of “nation-building.”

  • It might be retorted, of course, that the US deposed an Islamist regime in Kabul. But the mere existence of that regime was largely a product of the interventionist foreign policy followed by the US during the Cold War, to prevent Afghanistan being Communist.

    And here, ladies and gents, is the arrogant and parochial common thread that runs with all Americocentric views of the world, shared by many on the left and right and everything in between, and not just held exclusively by Americans.

    Nothing happens in the world that does not revolve around the USA. To the left, paleo-cons and moonbat wing of libertarianism, that is always perforce a bad thing, to the neo-cons and centrists, that is a good thing, but neither form of non-Copernican reality can imagine that the solar system does not revolve around Pennsylvania Avenue.

    In their world, Islamic Fundamentalism, Injustice, Tribalism, Loud Trousers and Bland Cheese do not exist before 1776 (in fact nothing really exists before 1776). The war in Bosnia and Croatia was ended by the token bombing of the USN/USAF rather than the coordinated offensives of the Bosnian and Croatian armies. The fact Putin runs Russia like the KGB thug he is a consequence of post-Cold War US behaviour rather than the fact he is a KGB thug, and so on and so forth.

    So “Paul authorised the use of force against Bin Laden, not Afghanistan”. How very Lordly. Except the only way to move effectively against bin Laden was to intervene in the already on-going stalemated Afghan civil war, by giving one side the use of an airforce. Remember the so called ‘Northern Alliance’? You know, the guys who provided 99% of the ground troops to topple the Taliban? Could they have done that without US help? Probably not. Could the USA have crushed the Taliban and ejected them from most of Afghanistan without the Northern Alliance? Probably not. But the notion the USA is the prime driver of world affairs verges in delusional. The war in Afghanistan was just one in a series of wars to occur there and thinking allowing the Soviet Union a free pass there would have prevented the Taliban (just one of the Afghan factions) or perhaps even 9/11 indicates a strange assumption of God-like powers in which history can be managed with the occasional frown of displeasure and occasional kick in the head because Washington always has everyone rapt attention. Yet in most places the USA is a bit part player compared to local interests. That means problems will happen even if the USA is not involved, they will just take a somewhat different form. But as long as the USA remains the pre-eminent global trading nation, global problems will find the USA regardless.

    I am all for the USA disengaging from many places because it makes little sense due to history moving on, but disengaging everywhere will neither make the world a better place nor (more importantly to nationalists) make the USA a safer place.

  • Ian B

    The question here is, is American military policy more important (for Americans) than American domestic policy? Is America being a “world power” more important than America being a free country?

  • Kurmudge

    It almost certainly is taken out of context and reduced to a bumper sticker, as is virtually every reference to any person who doesn’t jump wholeheartedly onto the Dawkins bandwagon, complete with the total package of acerbic and other-denigrating atheism. The arrogance of the militant naturalists in this area is one step beyond the arrogance of the CO2-causes-global-warming crowd.

    As evidence. look at this quote above (Andrew at 11:46 PM on 12/26)- “Tars him, as the poster points out, with the typical Christian-Republican tag, ignorant of science and a theological dogmatist.”

    There. Anyone who doesn’t sound like Pharyngula or Dawkins is “ignorant of science and a theological dogmatist” and put into a box that spells out the incantation of “abra-cadabra” by a guy with a white beard 6,000 years ago making everything happen. Everyone who considers that there might be a higher power of some sort to explain things like the inexplicable development of information separate from physical development. Freeman Dyson, you are a moron as well.

    That means that around 70% of the population consists of such “ignorant of science” people. I would direct you all to Richard Lewontin, who was at least honest about the subject, acknowledging where science actually stops and belief begins.

  • If you think Ron Paul is correct that the Iraq War and 9/11 were only driven by a bungling foreign policy then you should read my book in which I expose the captured Iraqi and al Qaeda documents that show they most definately were working together to attack us.

    Both In One Trench: Saddam’s Secret Terror Documents

    http://www.bothinonetrench.com(Link)

  • steve_roberts

    luckylucky:

    For Ron Paul wouldnt matter that communist would have taken all Europe, in the current times the problem is that Islamists will take Arab Governments and what he will do in case China threatens Taiwan?

    >> Eastern Europe freed itself without a major war. There is an excellent book (A Force More Powerful) which documents how a number of oppressive regimes have been overthrown without the use of violence. My own view is that CNN, Walt Disney, and L’Oreal will undermine Islamist governments much more effectively than USMC and B52s

    Do he thinks that loosing allies doesnt affect the wealth and freedom in USA?

    >> As the world’s largest economy and strongest military power the US has no shortage of potential allies, regardless of whether it stations troops on their teritory, or sends its taxpayers money to fund their governments. The challenge for the US is to avoid weakening itself by getting entangled in matters which are best sorted out by the nationals of the countries concerned. You would think the officers of a federal nation would understand that, but apparently the US isn’t very federal these days.

    he doesnt thinks that 5-10 terror attacks in USA soil will damage much more freedoms in a Ron Paul administration than 911 in Bush one.

    >> I speak as a Brit who has lived through the IRA campaigns. I can tell you that it is not the attacks themselves that are the worst problem, it is the clumsy political response. I can’t see RP reacting – overreacting – in the way GWB has.

  • Albion wrote:
    >Perry, I’d be very cautious of attributing a common cause to any observed Martian changes.

    At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious: solar activity?

    A great theory, but unfortunately ruled out by the facts.

    “No solar hiding place for greenhouse sceptics,” Nature, Vol. 448, No. 9149 (5 July 2007), pp. 8-9:

    “A study has confirmed that there are no grounds to blame the Sun for recent global warming.  The analysis shows that global warming since 1985 has been caused neither by an increase in solar radiation nor by a decrease in the flux of galactic cosmic rays (M. Lockwood and C. Fröhlich Proc. R. Soc. A […]).”

    “Together with Claus Frohlich of the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland, Lockwood brought together solar data for the past 100 years.  The two researchers averaged out the 11-year solar cycles and looked for correlation between solar variation and global mean temperatures.  Solar activity peaked between 1985 and 1987.  Since then, trends in solar irradiance, sunspot number and cosmic-ray intensity have all been in the opposite direction to that required to explain global warming.”

  • R C Dean

    Had the US not subsidised the activity of the Mujahideen, arming them and employing their common Islamic heritage to form a coalition against the Soviets, then the nascent Taliban warlords would have been wiped out in the early 80s, and Osama bin Laden, far from directing his extreme interpretation of Islam against the US, would find the Communists to be his enemies.

    Of course, because of the interventionist foreign policy of the United States, there are no more Soviet Communists. On the whole, I think the tradeoff is a good one.

    The question here is, is American military policy more important (for Americans) than American domestic policy? Is America being a “world power” more important than America being a free country?

    Not to be too reductive, but there are basically two responses available to attacks on the US. There is the defensive hunker, which I posit is likely to be more corrosive in the long run to domestic liberties as more and more internal “security” measures are ramped up, and there is overseas engagement, which at least has the possibility of eliminating the root causes and minimizing the attacks that fuel the erosion of domestic liberties. Whatever the flaws in execution of the forward engagement policy by Bush, I think he made the right strategic decision.

  • Ian B.:

    The question here is, is American military policy more important (for Americans) than American domestic policy? Is America being a “world power” more important than America being a free country?

    mu. The two are not related. We are a world power because we are a world power. Whether we are free or not has no impact upon that. The USSR was certainly not free, yet they were a world power.

    Concerning Ron Paul –
    The point that nobody seems to get is that even if Ron Paul isn’t crazy, and even if he manages to win the White House, how, precisely, is he expected to abolish the income tax and the Department of Education? Unless the Paulites are willing to advocate for an imperial president who rules by decree there’s 535 people that he has to consult before he can get rid of such things.

    And if you think that any member of Congress is going to give up the ability to influence the behavior of the unwashed masses without a fight, you’re dreaming.

    You’re going to have to get used to reality, guys. Freedom lost. Not enough people actually want to be free for it to actually survive long term. They’d rather be ruled by semi-benign kleptocracies that will buy their allegiance by stealing the fruits of the labor of others.

    The shit of it is, there’s no place left on Earth for people who desire freedom to move to and start over. The statists can and will follow anywhere we go.

  • I’m not one of his supporters, but: What did he say that was so crazy? He said it’s a theory, and it is. And he said we don’t know the whole truth about the origin and development of life, which we don’t. To call something a “theory” is high praise in science. That matter consists of atoms is a theory, i.e., we’ll hold it as long as it explains our observations, or until it’s disproven or dislodged by a better theory. You know, like Newtonian physics.
    Darwin didn’t know there ws such a thing as DNA or “genes.” But you really think he had it all figured out, regardless? And how does Darwinian theory explain the origin of life itself. What Darwinian advantage did some inert matter have over other inert matter? Those who view Darwin as The Oracle can’t tell you. And have you ever actually read The Origin of Species or The Descent of Man? If you believe everything you read in those two tomes, you believe some seriously wacky crap.
    So please, knock off the faux certitude. Didn’t we learn anything from that unfortunate incident with Galileo a few years ago?

  • Ian B

    Michael McNeil-

    Unfortunately that paper is far from a last word on the matter. The author himself (Lockwood) boasted that it was entirely motivated by his need to debunk a popular science program (The Great Global Warming Swindle) which should raise eyebrows in itself. There are a zillion different things one can measure when seeking to show, or to not show, a correlation, and a zillion ways to massage the data statistically. The paper even makes the bizarre claim that the sun used to force the climate, but doesn’t any more!

    We note that when the preferred hypothesis (CO2) fails to demonstrate the correct correlations, there is a mad scramble to show some other factor that causes that failure (e.g. the cooling during the 1940s-1970s is explained away by aerosols). When some other hypothesis is suggested, no such epicycles are allowed. Global Warmers are happy to promote any single paper (such as Lockwood and Frohlich) as the last word on a matter.

    For the past decade (as for 1940s-70s) there has been no correlation at all between global temperature and CO2 concentrations. Worried?

    The harsh reality here is that it appears to be pathological science. The signal being sought is swamped by the noise. Anecdotal weather observations suggest that there has indeed been a warming, at least in some parts of the world since the Little Ice Age. But whether the rickety measurement network, which only produces useful data after vast amounts of statistical massaging, is really showing anything useful about the global metric is itself debatable. We don’t really even know whether there is a real global effect to explain, or whether we’re just seeing various regional climate changes due to a multitude of factors.

    I reiterate that Global Warming isn’t a theory. It’s a hypothetical prediction. That’s a huge difference.

  • Gabriel, you haven’t really thought very deeply about this, have you?

    (me) Incidentally, I’m not a big fan of the Jewish lobby

    (Gabriel) Good for you. Perry: this is the kind of people you’re attracting here.

    So I’m not a big fan of the DC Jewish lobby. I doubt most libertarians are. What, you’re trying to make me out as anti-semitic because of that? Idiot.

    (Trooper Thomson) Ron Paul associates with nazis? No, you are a liar.

    (Gabriel) No, you are a liar.

    Oh please, that’s such a cheap slime. So what, RP is in a photo with some neo-Nazi. How many people have their photos taken with presidential candidates at rallies? Are the candidates supposed to know the background of each and every person they pose with? If there was actually some substance to that shot – ie. it constituted proof that RP associates with neo-Nazis – don’t you think FOX would have flogged the bejeezus out of it? Now go away and leave the big people talk to the grownups, Gabriel.

  • Ian B

    Freedom lost. […] The shit of it is, there’s no place left on Earth for people who desire freedom to move to and start over. The statists can and will follow anywhere we go.

    This is what fucks me off too, to be honest. I scout around the web looking for some glimmer in the darkness, something I can believe may turn the tide, and debate and argue and rant on the Telegraph comments sections and blogs and whatnot, and really it’s all pointless. I don’t believe for a second there’s any real hope of a reversal. This may sound harsh, but libertarianism is pretty much at the stage of a handful of sparts clutching copies of Socialist Worker, clustered around a pub table sipping halves of snakebite and planning the revolution and subsequent utopia that will never come.

    I don’t believe I can do anything, because there simply isn’t any sign that anyone can. There’s no organisation to speak of. There are a few groups and parties, none have any significant influence and none ever will. Libertarianism has virtually no grass roots base, and no significant means of recruitment. Even among “libertarians” or “small government conservatives” or whatever there’s no real agreement about what anyone wants other than “not what we have now”.

    I’m tired of arguing and getting nowhere and getting old and living in a country where I can’t have a fag in the boozer any more. If there were some country called Freedomia I’d pack me bags and go there, but there isn’t.

    Maybe it’s time for a “libertarian zionism”. Maybe we should collect some money and buy half a country off somewhere skint in the Third World and go live there. Not that we’d manage to organise that either, and for free marketeers let’s face it, libertarianism isn’t much good at generating funds is it?

    HAS ANYBODY GOT A PLAN OUT THERE? ANYBODY?

    :oD

  • Qwinn

    On the evolution point, and the difference between micro and macro evolution, and the apparently common view that macro is just an exaggerated form of micro, or as the analogy above, arithmetic works with small numbers but not with big ones: Wow, and you claim you have a grasp of science?

    Have you ever seen what a human that mutates into a 24th chromosome pair looks like? Most don’t survive. Those that do usually don’t have very good dating prospects. Of those, even fewer aren’t totally sterile. Of those that aren’t totally sterile, even fewer would be able to mate with a normal 23-chromosomed-paired human and give offspring that would keep the 24th chromosome. This is true of nearly all species.

    Most species on earth have widely differing number of chromosomes. Explain to me how that possibly came about through evolution. How exactly do you realisitically envision the number of chromosome pairs in a species to change, and wildly, and so many times as to explain how so many species have a distinct number of them?

    Continually changing the specifications of the blueprint itself – not what the blueprint contains but the actual nature of the blueprint – isn’t “just like” changing the size of a beak, only more so.

    And by the way, I’m an agnostic that was raised Catholic – neither one compels me to be for or against evolution. But to claim that if you don’t buy evolution, and that you wonder why there aren’t millions of transitional forms on Earth -right now- when evolutionary theory absolutely requires that there be, you therefore must be a six-day creationist as MANY people have said on this thread is so mind boggingly stupid and asinine that such people have absolutely no room to complain about the supposed stupidity of six-day creationists, thanks much.

    Qwinn

  • The thing I noticed off the bat is that he doesn’t think this question really has anything to do with the job of president. To him, the president’s job is not to dictate educational standards or rule in on matters of science vs. faith. In that context, it doesn’t really matter what he believes.

  • dougf

    Well I’m sorry but no sympathy from me on this one. Even tentatively supporting Ron Paul should and I am guessing has set you up for one of life’s most embarrassing moments.

    He is a NUT-CASE. He’s always been a nut-case, and likely will die as a nut-case. Even his ‘sane’ ‘libertarian’ ideas are largely impractical and unworkable in any modern social environment. There are reasons why ‘Libertarianism’ has always been a ‘fringe’ movement. Guys like Paul are merely the public face of those reasons.

    That this guy could be anywhere near the Republican nomination (and by near I mean in the same State as the others), speaks more to the decay in the Party than it does for any merits he might have. Paul and the Paul-bots —- made for each other.

  • Ian B

    Even his ‘sane’ ‘libertarian’ ideas are largely impractical and unworkable in any modern social environment

    It’s insane to want to be something other than the subject of an all-encompassing tyrannical autocracy is it?

    Just as well those Enlightenment guys didn’t think that, isn’t it?

  • John Lynch

    Ron Paul is not a libertarian! He’s a far- right Bircher! I don’t know why so many people don’t recognize his ideas as nothing more than a compilation of all the paranoid right-wing detritus that’s built up since the 1930s.

    Let’s see,

    -abolishing the Fed
    -gold standard
    -isolationism
    -rejecting large parts of the government
    -rejection of civil rights laws
    -warnings that we’re dooooooomed if their candidate doesn’t win. Fascism is just around the corner!
    -conspiracy theories (9/11, North American Union, etc.)

    What does this sound like? It’s a far-right fringe campaign peopled by extremists. It’s closer to Lyndon LaRouche than Ronald Reagan. The conspiracy theories should be a warning.

    Why does Ron Paul get so much support from people who should know better? Why do they suspend their normal curiosity and inquisitiveness and see only what they want to see? It only takes a cursory examination to uncover all the far-right nonsense. I think that people are so disgusted with government that they’ll buy into anything. That’s not a good sign. But the current system is still better than a nutball.

  • Ian B

    Ron Paul is not a libertarian[…]
    -abolishing the Fed

    Standard libertarian argument against government backed fiat money and inflationary expansion.

    -gold standard

    Standard libertarian argument in favour of sound currency. Also, Paul has said he wouldn’t go back to the Gold Standard, merely allow sound non-government currencies to circulate.

    -isolationism

    Standard libertarian argument against state agression. “The Far Right” normally are in favour of wars.

    -rejecting large parts of the government

    Standard libertarian argument against statism.

    -rejection of civil rights laws

    Standard libertarian argument against compulsion. Also, like most libertarians he would oppose any state discrimination (e.g. Jim Crow Laws).

    -warnings that we’re dooooooomed if their candidate doesn’t win. Fascism is just around the corner!

    I’m not sure he says that. His supporters might, but then supporters of every political faction say that, even fascist ones like Hillaryites.

    -conspiracy theories (9/11, North American Union, etc.)

    The 9/11 thing has already been debunked. He isn’t a Troofer. As to the NAU, you only have to look across the pond towards the EU to see why it is indeed a grave threat to liberty.

  • Sunfish

    I can’t believe this. I can’t believe that I’m about to say something in defense of that delusional egomaniacal lying sack of crap from Texas who I probably wouldn’t vote for in any case. Did the sun rise in the west this morning?

    John Lynch:

    -abolishing the Fed

    I’m sorry, but the Constitution gives Uncle Sucker the right to open a bank where, again?

    -rejecting large parts of the government

    And the Constitution authorizes the various programs of DofEd, HUD, HHS, Energy, Agriculture, and most of DHS where, exactly? And what do those departments do? Do they improve liberty and the health of society? Do they make us safer? Do they perform those roles assigned to DC by the Constitution? How? Take all the screens you need.

    -rejection of civil rights laws

    Which ones, again? The ones purporting to restrict the private interactions of private people?

    -warnings that we’re dooooooomed if their candidate doesn’t win. Fascism is just around the corner!

    ..because there’s nothing to fear from Hillary Clinton with a compliant Congress.

    -conspiracy theories (9/11, North American Union, etc.)

    I seem to remember that he specifically disclaimed the 9-11 trooferism. He hasn’t returned the Stormfront money yet or told the troofers to stay away from him, but at least he hasn’t gone into the 9-11 conspiracy crap.

  • tdh

    If humans had created a new species — and it is not clear that this hasn’t happened — it wouldn’t necessarily be possible, with current technology, to prove or disprove it. Members, perhaps multiple, of the original species would have to co-exist with members of the altered species, and there would have to be a concerted effort to interbreed them.

    Try interbreeding an aurochs with something.

    The theory of evolution, as currently understood, and not restricted to originating new species, is corroborated on such a daily basis, and to such a degree in the geological record, that it would be moronic to deny its validity. It isn’t invalidated by epigenetic adaptation, by the emergence or vanishing of ecological niches, by chance, or by subjective interpretations (even if realized via breeding) as to what constitutes fitness.

    It is disturbing that Ron Paul would use weasel wording to avoid offending creation pseudoscientists. But this is a fairly minor infidelity to the truth, especially when compared with the actions of that colossal fraud, Mitt Romney.

  • That RP even acknowledges Alex Jones and the troofers without telling them to get back on their meds and get a job is bad.

    You are judged by the company you keep. And if you treat a dishonest prat like Alex Jones as a credible partner in debate, then you completely remove any claim you have to being a reasonable person.

    And can someone please explain to me how a gold standard or any other currency for that matter is, in any meaningful way, NOT a fiat currency? I mean, gold has no more intrinsic value than a dollar. It’s worth what someone else is willing to give for it. The fact that the value of gold changes every 15 milliseconds ought to put the lie to the stability of gold as a store of value.

    And since everyone seems to think that a compliant Congress is a prerequisite for the Lizard Queen to implement her agenda, is there anyone here who believes that Ron Paul or any other serial devolver of federal power would find even one sympathetic voice in the Congress?

    So while a Ron Paul presidency wouldn’t accomplish a single thing that his acolytes want to see, it wouldn’t get anything else done either.

  • Ian B

    “That RP even acknowledges Alex Jones and the troofers without telling them to get back on their meds and get a job is bad.”

    Rubbish. He went on a radio show. That’s waht politicians have to do to get the message out. Is every politician who goes on the BBC endorsing their rabid anti-Israeli stance or their left wing bias?

    “And can someone please explain to me how a gold standard or any other currency for that matter is, in any meaningful way, NOT a fiat currency? I mean, gold has no more intrinsic value than a dollar. It’s worth what someone else is willing to give for it. The fact that the value of gold changes every 15 milliseconds ought to put the lie to the stability of gold as a store of value.”

    You need to understand some economics to understand that. For instance, the definition of “fiat” is a currency not tied to the value of some real world good. So by definition gold-backed currency isn’t fiat.

    You can base a currency on anything. You could trade in potatoes, or certificates representing potatoes, if you like, but that wouldn’t be wise as individual potatoes lose their value rather rapidly and the global supply is rather variable; and people could cause massive inflation by just growing more and more potatoes. Precious metals are a good choice because they are, by definition, precious. The supply increases only slowly, and they don’t degrade. If you put potatoes in the bank, you’d end up with a safety deposit box full of a stinky mulch, whereas gold would still be there after a thousand years.

    A massive gold strike would inflate the gold currency but that’s containable. A truly massive influx of gold (e.g. steering a gold laden asteroid into earth orbit) might wreck the currrency but that’s enormously unlikely at present.

    So, a gold backed currency is more stable since it’s limited by the supply of gold. The value may fluctuate by a small amount on a day by day basis but stays pretty stable. By contrast a fiat currency is limited only by how much paper and ink you have, or how big a number you can store in your computer, so it just inflates and inflates and inflates.

  • Kim du Toit: your first political principle is “We, The People”. The whole problem with your politics is in the obviously demonstrable fact that you, sir, are not “The People”. “The People” are those who are voting your ass into abject slavery every goddamned chance they get. And all you know about American politics is craven stipulation to their premises.

    I think a great deal of you, but I can’t feel sorry for you. You deserve them.

    “The difference between Libertarians and small ‘r’ republicans like myself is that Libertarians start off with ‘If only we could [insert choice] abolish all income taxes / eliminate all government control / blahblahblah, then we’d all be happy’.”

    Bullshit. That’s what you say, but I’d like to see you substantiate it with references. Like me, for instance: I could throw a dart at your blog blindfolded and hit what I assert in my first sentence, above.

  • Ian – I think there’s a big difference between the BBC, which is staffed by career bigots, and Alex Jones, the author of one of the worst “documentaries” ever produced in an effort to peddle a looney conspiracy theory. The audiences served by the BBC are large and diverse. The audience served by Alex Jones belongs exclusively in rooms with mattresses on the walls.

  • (to separate two disparate topics)

    Ian – So what you’re saying is that a currency that is backed by a metal is better because it prevents the growth of wealth by fixing the amount of wealth in the world?

    What happens to the value of gold once rap stars and rich women don’t want to wear it around their necks? If nobody wants it, then its value drops. Therefore, it is no better an indicator of value than bits on a hard drive.

    I’m quite amused that people think that an education in economics will allow me to understand something that violates the very first rule of Econ 101: “A thing is worth what a man will give for it.”

    Here’s something for you to ponder – I stopped a “petrodollar” argument in its tracks and sent a gold-standard type into a fit of cognitive dissonance with it. The forms of currency presently in use have no intrinsic value. A dollar is worth a dollar. Nothing more. And making it worth some fixed amount of a resource will do nothing to remove inflation. As long as people want more than they can afford, the cost of labor will increase, forcing the cost of goods to increase.

    All that a gold standard accomplishes is the devaluing of gold.

  • but rhe creationist myth of 6 days and 600 years ago or whatever is just bunk.

    Not really. Context:
    God is held to be a timeless being, having existed before the concept of time, even. What is the definition of ‘a day’ in this context?

    Oh.. lest I forget… God making a universe would tend to create a big bang, no?

  • I haven’t bothered to read through all the comments, but in case someone else hasn’t pointed it out, the unedited copy of the video (almost twice as long) can be found here(Link).

    Not quite as damning as the cut version, which is obviously why it got cut.

  • Ian B

    Ian – So what you’re saying is that a currency that is backed by a metal is better because it prevents the growth of wealth by fixing the amount of wealth in the world?

    No, I’m not saying that and I’m not sure why you think I am. A fixed value currency doesn’t prevent the growth of wealth because wealth isn’t intrinsically tied to money. A barter economy without money would still have wealth- the amount of goods within the economy. You can grow wealthier by producing more stuff. If we are the only two people in the world, and I have a pig and you have gold piece, then the total value of the economy is 1 pig + 1gp.

    Money is just another good which everyone agrees is a good means of exchange since they know other people will also exchange it with them. That’s all. Anything can act as money. Cigarettes in prison, for instance. One island used big, rare rocks, until a westerner arrived with a boat that could ferry the rare rocks from another island, the currency inflated and collapsed.

    What happens to the value of gold once rap stars and rich women don’t want to wear it around their necks? If nobody wants it, then its value drops. Therefore, it is no better an indicator of value than bits on a hard drive.

    Not so. The intrinsic utility of the money good is largely irrelevant- you could use something with no practical use for currency, were there such a thing. All that matters is that people in general agree to use it as a medium of exchange, based on their knowledge that other people will accept it from them. To take an example, if you were in a famine and had lots of gold, you might find it useless because a man with a tin of beans would prefer to eat his beans than get some useless gold, because he can’t eat it and nobody else can either, so it’s useless to him. If he thinks he can swap gold for more food, you may be able to do a deal.

    So gold is good for the reasons I stated in the previous post, plus the general agreement in most societies that people will use it for money. But it doesn’t have to have an intrinsic value for jewellery etc (we may add here that the primary purpose of jewellery is to brag about your wealth, so it probably always will have).

    But there’s nothing magical about gold and its value. It’s simply a good choice because history assures us that it will remain a good choice as a medium of exchange, since it always has been. Since the supply is fixed the value tends to be pretty reliable. Bits of printed paper, OTOH, can be replicated at will and are thus prone to lose their value.

    Here’s something for you to ponder – I stopped a “petrodollar” argument in its tracks and sent a gold-standard type into a fit of cognitive dissonance with it. The forms of currency presently in use have no intrinsic value. A dollar is worth a dollar. Nothing more. And making it worth some fixed amount of a resource will do nothing to remove inflation. As long as people want more than they can afford, the cost of labor will increase, forcing the cost of goods to increase.

    Strange, because your conclusion doesn’t follow from your argument. We agree that dollars are fiat currency and have no value as a result.

    The cost of labour is held down by the market. People can only get what their work is worth to an employer. It’s not arbitrary. People can ask for more, they can even apply pressure to get it, but across the economy as a whole the amount that can be spent on labour is only the amount available to pay for labour. As a result, for instance, pushing up labour rates in one part of the economy without a comparable raise in productivity causes wage depression and unemployment in other parts (and may destroy the businesses the higher wage earners work for, e.g. post WWII Britain). The only way to actually increase pay across the economy sustainably is to increase productivity. If productivity increases, the economy expands and can (and should) pay higher wages since it has more stuff to pay them with. The more productive workers are now worth more pay since they are producing more. That will ultimately deflate the currency, which is nice since if you’ve got some of it it starts being worth more instead of less, as with inflating fiat currencies.

    All that a gold standard accomplishes is the devaluing of gold

    That doesn’t follow either. In an expanding economy (expanding faster than the gold supply), the value of an ounce of gold will rise, as said above.

  • Ian B

    A different way of answering might be this. At a theoretical level there’s nothing wrong with an intrinsically valueless currency (fiat) if it were truly reliably managed. The argument against it is that that will never happen; governments and central banks can’t resist printing more of the stuff for political reasons (and the central banking system is arguably based on sustaining a kind of fraud so can’t be trusted) and so the fiat currency inherently becomes unreliable.

    The argument in favour of gold is a practical one; you can’t turn on a printing press and print more gold. Politicians and bankers in a true gold currency situation are stymied and denied the chance to cause inflation for short term gain. For instance the recent concerted flooding of the markets with paper in a vain attempt to sustain the credit bubble and prevent the crash which is shortly to descend upon us couldn’t happen. A true gold currency can’t be manipulated, a fiat currency can be.

  • Thomass

    Ron Paul is a conspiracy theorist libertarian (re: he reduces complex subjects to simplistic ‘who benefits’ arguments that suppose a poorly defined / shadowy interest group is behind his opposition)… this gives him much in common with the left (and what’s left of the old right)… he is a nutter… even if he agrees with us / libertarians most of the time.

  • Tom O'Reilly

    Ron Paul is an M.D. Edit or no edit, there is no excuse for this type of stupidity.

  • William H. Stoddard

    I’m not one of his supporters, but: What did he say that was so crazy? He said it’s a theory, and it is. And he said we don’t know the whole truth about the origin and development of life, which we don’t. To call something a “theory” is high praise in science. That matter consists of atoms is a theory, i.e., we’ll hold it as long as it explains our observations, or until it’s disproven or dislodged by a better theory. You know, like Newtonian physics.

    To repeat, since you didn’t seem to notice the point the last time I posted it, there is a difference in meaning between “an X” and “just an X.” If I say, “you are an Internet poster,” it’s a factual description; if I say, “you are just an Internet poster,” it carries some heavy baggage of denigration of the worth of your statements. The same applies to “a theory” and “just a theory.” Scientists, as you note, respect theory highly, and therefore no scientist ever says that something is “just a theory,” and therefore someone who does, does not understand science, and is seeking to denigrate it.

    In this particular case, the only substantial group of people who say that evolution is “just a theory” is made up of people with a religious objection to Darwinism. Scientists who have doubts or questions don’t talk that way.

    I don’t think Ron Paul’s position on evolution would lead in any obvious way to major harm; I find his position on Roe v. Wade much more likely to do so, and sufficient reason to refrain from supporting him. But it does not inspire my confidence to find him using the language of the scientifically ignorant; whether he is scientifically ignorant himself, or simply pandering to the ignorance of the voters, it makes it hard to have confidence in him.

  • Ian B

    I find his position on Roe v. Wade much more likely to do so, and sufficient reason to refrain from supporting him

    That’ll be the “I disapprove of statist interference except when it’s in my favour” argument then…

  • Ian – I fail to see how an economy can grow if you cap the sum total of wealth at some fixed value.

    If the value of gold appreciates, how is that not inflation?

    And if inflation of the value of gold is allowed by “growth”, then who is defining the value of the gold?

    The same people defining the value of the dollar – the markets that trade in the currency.

    So, either gold as a currency will result in a complete cessation of growth (as there are no longer any nations that we can plunder for their gold to increase our wealth as has always been the case historically), or gold is a fiat currency no better or worse than the Dollar or the Euro.

    I suspect that your revulsion to government management of anything is what makes you think that the Federal Reserve is really in charge of manipulating the value of the dollar. All they can really do in terms of money supply is allow for more or less of it to be available than anyone wants, and the market already dictates what the Fed does there. And the same thing could be accomplished by hoarding gold and later dumping it into the market.

    No, the real problem with the Fed is not that they control the money supply, the problem is that they control the interest rates, and the Fed responds too slowly to conditions on the ground in a futile effort to stave off crises.

    Case in point – in order to “save” people from losing houses they never should have bought in the first place, the Fed is willing to risk triggering inflation in order to keep interest rates low. Of course, this screws the lenders over because they made all their calculations based upon rising rates, which I guess they figured unicorns would pay. Instead of calculating a bailout to save one small sector of the economy, they instead need to let those people be foreclosed upon, let the mortgage industry take it in the shorts, and maybe there will be a little more fiscal discipline all round.

  • Ian B

    Because wealth isn’t just money. As I said, a society without money can still have wealth, which is why e.g. the bible will talk about a rich man in terms of how many camels and goats he has. Gold is simply another good that can be bought and sold, in exchange for goats and camels. If you can grow more goats, you can increase in wealth since you have more goats to swap for other goods. If you’re only using gold as “money” and the supply is entirely fixed, the value of an ounce of gold will increase. Last year, a camel was worth 1 gold piece, now it’s 2 camels to the gp. But that’s okay because these are real goods we’re talking about. The deflation there was caused by a real expansion in the overall wealth of society, rather than being assigned by fiat. It’s no different to a change in the camel/goat exchange ratio due to a sudden glut of goats. They’re all real physical goods we’re talking about, so price fluctuations represent real supply and demand.

    The problem with fiat money is that the value of it is entirely at the whim of bankers and governments. They pump more of it into the market and it creates the illusion of wealth, but no actual extra goods which it represents.

    An appreciation in the goods-value of gold would be deflation, not inflation (inflation is a drop in the currency’s real value).

    The problem is, we measure the value of the society (e.g. GDP) in money, then try to fit the money supply to that, and the whole thing is entirely circular. If GDP has risen it might be because there are more real goods in circulation, or because the imaginary good (fiat money) has been increased. We’re trying to measure an elastic ruler with itself. There are a billion groats’ worth of camels in the country, but the value of the groat has dropped, because there are more groats in the country, so what is the real value of the economy?

    Dunno.

    Off the point. The point is, you’re using “fiat” to mean any good whose price can vary due to market forces, and any good can do that. But fiat specifically means currencies whose values are set arbitrarily. Your government can lower the value of the groat just by printing more, and more, and more. THey can’t do that with gold, because they can only issue what actually exists. That’s the difference.

    A gold standard in which a government arbitrarily pegs a value of the groat to the gold ounce is, indeed, effectively a fiat currency, since the government can then just print more groats (i.e. gold certificates) which aren’t representative of actual real lumps of gold- which is why the various formulations of the gold standard collapsed.

    As to the fed and other central banks, the fundamental problem is that they support the fractional reserve system beyond its means (until it crashes every now and again, as it always does). It supports a deliberate confusion between banking (a safe place to store your money) and loan brokering (the bank borrows your money and lends it to someone else). There’s nothing wrong with loan brokering if people are aware that lending their money to the loan broker puts it at risk. But most people think their money is in a bank when it’s actually been lent to a loan broker. If they all go and try to get it back out (Northern Rock) the bank collapses. As it should.

    Central banking acts as a system to shore up those loan brokers who can then fool people into giving them their money for “safe banking”. It’s tantamount to fraud.

  • Ian – I think I understand the point of a standard. I don’t agree with it, but I comprehend it.

    I also don’t believe that there ever has been, or ever can be such a system. Unless you do away with the entire concept of fractional reserve banking — which will severely limit upward mobility by reducing the amount of money available for things like buying homes and starting small businesses — there’s always going to be a central bank, and therefore some manipulation in the value of money.

    I think the only thing for it is transparency and a willingness to let people suffer their own stupidity. So long as everything that the Fed does is transparent (and I don’t know that it is), and we don’t have them manipulating the money supply, and we don’t have the Congress stealing from the prudent folk to bail out the spendthrifts, we should be OK.

    I’m far more concerned with the various bailouts that have happened, and will certainly continue to happen. It’s not the end of the world if 5% of the houses sold in the past 5 years of a vastly overheated housing market get foreclosed upon and a few loan brokers lose their shirts.

  • A clarification: “and we don’t have them manipulating the money supply by dropping interest rates for no reason other than to support bad lending choices

  • Ian B

    Unlike Rothbardians :) I don’t have a problem with fractional reserve per se. The problem is the confusion between “banking” and “loan borkering”. Those people queueing at Northern Rock thought their money was “in the bank” and it wasn’t- and unless they’d studied banking to some degree they wouldn’t realise that. What they had actually done was lent their money to Northern Rock, who had lent most of it to other people- and overextended itself in the process.

    I would rather see it clearly stated that you can either put your money in the bank, in which case it’s safe, or you can let the bank lend it out; in which case it’ll make you a profit but you may lose it. It would then be down to individuals to choose how much money they want to risk in return for interest. Without the central banks, the individual banks would have to exercise greater diligence in their loan brokering operations or face collapse without a bailout. That’s all I want.

    When you’ve reached the point where a government is announcing it will guarantee EVERY loan in EVERY bank- which it couldn’t possibly do, then it shows how awry the system is.

    There’d still be loan brokering (Factional Reserve) and money available for loans and investment. But it’d have to be done on a sounder footing. The current system IMV is a bit like somebody who is wildly overextended on their credit cards just being given another credit card to keep paying the interest with. In the end, they run out of credit anyway. We disapprove of individuals doing that- but we have a central bank system which effectively does the same at the institutional level.

  • steve-roberts

    Brian:
    Ian – I fail to see how an economy can grow if you cap the sum total of wealth at some fixed value.

    > Gold is not wealth. ‘Wealth’ is everything tradeable in the economy.

    If the value of gold appreciates, how is that not inflation?

    > A specific quantity of wealth will buy more of other goods. When gold is money, this is the opposite of inflation, which is when a specific quantity of money buys less goods.

    And if inflation of the value of gold is allowed by “growth”, then who is defining the value of the gold?

    > The relative value of gold against other goods is determined in the market

    The same people defining the value of the dollar – the markets that trade in the currency.

    > For a fiat currency, it is the government that determines the quantity available, and this has a strong effect of the value of money in terms of goods. For gold, it is the balance between inflow (mostly mining) and outflow (mostly industrial use), which is usually roughly +1% and -1% per year of the total stock, which determines the amount, which is therefore quite stable year-on-year.

    So, either gold as a currency will result in a complete cessation of growth (as there are no longer any nations that we can plunder for their gold to increase our wealth as has always been the case historically), or gold is a fiat currency no better or worse than the Dollar or the Euro.

    > Gold was used as a currency, alongside silver, copper and a number of other commodities for thousands of years before the dollar was made a fiat currency in the 1930s. There was a lot of economic growth during that period. The sky would not fall if we returned to ‘hard’ money.

    I suspect that your revulsion to government management of anything is what makes you think that the Federal Reserve is really in charge of manipulating the value of the dollar. All they can really do in terms of money supply is allow for more or less of it to be available than anyone wants, and the market already dictates what the Fed does there. And the same thing could be accomplished by hoarding gold and later dumping it into the market.

    No, the real problem with the Fed is not that they control the money supply, the problem is that they control the interest rates, and the Fed responds too slowly to conditions on the ground in a futile effort to stave off crises.

    > The Fed’s control of interest rates is the other side of the coin of controlling the amount of money in circulation. Keeping rates down means increasing the amount of money.

  • William H. Stoddard

    That’ll be the “I disapprove of statist interference except when it’s in my favour” argument then…

    I don’t get the “statist interference.” If you are an anarchist, then presumably you would regard any enforcement of any rights by the state as “statist interference” and want it abolish in favor of private action of some sort. (If you’re an anarchist, supporting anyone’s presidential candidacy seems odd, but never mind.) But I’m not an anarchist. I want individual rights to be enforced by a constitutional government.

    Now, if we had slavery in some states, and the federal government stepped in to do away with slavery, would that be “statist interference”? Or would it be putting a stop to statist interference, the statist interference being the state governments maintaining the institution of slavery? I think the latter is true. I think that when the United States federal government stepped in to make the southern states give up legally enforced segregation and legal toleration of lynchings, this was a pro-freedom measure, because what those states were doing was clearly anti-freedom.

    In the same way, a woman maintaining control of her own body by terminating an unwanted pregnancy is exercising and preserving her own freedom. A state government that prevents her from doing so is depriving her of an important basic right. If the federal government forces state governments to recognize that right, it’s acting in favor of freedom; if it steps back and starts letting them deny that right, it’s giving up the protection of freedom. This is all covered by Amendment XIV, if you want a constitutional aspect to it—but my judgments as to what’s good or bad are not based solely on the Constitution: the income tax is clearly constitutional, but is a bad thing, and Roe v. Wade is debatably constitutional, but is a good thing.

  • Ian B

    The problem with the slavery argument is that the state stepping in to stop slavery would be the state (rightly) stopping aggression by one human against another. The issue with abortion isn’t so much about what a woman has the right to do with her body, as with what right she has to do with somebody else’s (the unborn child).

    I’m pro abortion, but frankly I can’t think of a single coherent argument in favour of it beyond pragmatism (women will do it anyway, may as well be legal). In libertarian terms, the conflict of rights between the woman and her womb’s tenant doesn’t automatically endorse killing it, especially considering that in the vast majority of cases she voluntarily consented to its tenancy.

    So like I said, I’m pro abortion. But there’s no libertarian argument that really drives one to that position. Indeed, for a libertarian to be pro abortion they can only rationalise that by declaring enwombed babies not human, since the right to life is about as fundamentalist libertarian as there is. Whether an enwombed baby isn’t human… well, ask any couple who’ve suffered a miscarriage. On that level, Roe vs. Wade was a statist declaration that some people are exempt from the right to life.

  • ElCerdo

    Ron Paul is a twit regardless of his opinion on evolution, taxes, or what flavor of soda he prefers.
    Look at the sum of his remarks and his public record a clear picture develops: a barking moonbat.
    Evolution in certain aspects has some support in the fossil record. But is mainly microevolution, or the modification of already existing species rather than the development of entirely new ones. If you don’t believe it just pour some amino acids into a beaker and just wait for the 1st strand of DNA to form. It never will. It never ceases to amaze me that those who mock my faith in GOD will readily believe in something that basic science proves cannot happen: the generation of life from dead matter. Seems to me that a fellow name Pasteur had something to say on that.

  • If you don’t believe it just pour some amino acids into a beaker and just wait for the 1st strand of DNA to form. It never will.

    Really? Never? What if you waited, say a couple of billion years? Careful with “never”, friend — the Earth has been around for a really, really long time.

  • Math_Mage

    Kevin:
    “1. The theory of evolution is just a theory

    2. That conclusive proof one way or the other does not exist

    Of course the theory of evolution is just a theory, that is why it is called the theory of evolution! And of course if conclusive proof (one way or the other) had been found it would no longer be a theory.”

    Actually, no. Paul goes on to say that “it’s just a theory, AND I DON’T ACCEPT IT.”

    An M.D. should know better…it doesn’t affect my vote (which wasn’t going to him anyway), but it does lower my opinion of the man.

    By the way…those on the linked site who’ve seen the uncut video say it’s just Paul explaining that he doesn’t think his position on evolution is relevant anyway.

  • William H. Stoddard

    in the vast majority of cases she voluntarily consented to its tenancy.

    “Voluntarily consented”?

    I walk into a dark alley holding a fat wallet. I know that doing this risks being the target of a mugging. Have I voluntarily consented to hand over my money to a gentleman with a knife? Have I forfeited my right to defend myself, or to have the other party tracked down and arrested?

    I go away from my house, leaving the doors unlocked, and stay away for a couple of months. I know that there are potential squatters in the area. Have I voluntarily consented to let them in rent free, or forfeited my right to evict them?

    A woman engages in sexual intercourse, knowing that pregnancy can result. Has she voluntarily consented to become pregnant, or forfeited her right to terminate the pregnancy? The case seems exactly parallel. Failure to take measures to prevent an undesired transaction with a third party does not grant the third party a right to engage in those transactions.

    And what if the woman has done the equivalent of locking and bolting her doors? What if she has used contraceptive measures, and had them fail, as they sometimes do? All the evidence seems to say that she is doing her best to refuse to form a relationship with a fetus. If she finds that she has fallen into one despite those efforts, that doesn’t look like consent to me. You might as well say that a business that posts “no smoking” signs at every entrance, clearly displayed, has consented to let people smoke if they light up on the premises before being stopped. This concept of “voluntary consent” just will not do.

    I will grant that if we had a technology that allowed termination of a pregnancy without killing the fetus, at lower cost than abortion, at less risk to the mother, and with less discomfort, it would make abortion a dubious act. (Though it might not be proper even then to ban it. What if a pregnant woman discovers that her unborn child has grave genetic defects, and does not want to give birth to it? Is some other woman to be forced to do so, or are taxpayers going to have to pay for ectogenesis for it? Is someone going to be compelled to raise the child that results?) But we don’t live in such a world. Abortion is justified by necessity—it’s the only way to preserve a woman’s control of her own body, which is the most basic of all rights.

  • Alice

    Ian B asked:
    “Maybe it’s time for a “libertarian zionism”. Maybe we should collect some money and buy half a country off somewhere … HAS ANYBODY GOT A PLAN OUT THERE? ANYBODY?”

    Perhaps this tale is apocryphal — the story goes that, back in the fun-loving 60s, a few hippies sobered up long enough to notice that the State of Wyoming has a ridiculously low population. They realized that if they & a reasonable number of their hippy buddies all moved to Wyoming, they could vote themselves into office and run the place along good hippie lines. And so the word went out over the jungle telegraph, and hippies started migrating towards Wyoming.

    Nice place to be a hippie in the summer time, Wyoming. Not much fun for the unprepared once winter sets in. The fable of the grasshopper & the ant probably comes to mind. Exit hippies, heading south.

    But libertarians are made of sterner stuff. Maybe the Wyoming Opportunity still stands?

  • Ian B

    I walk into a dark alley holding a fat wallet. I know that doing this risks being the target of a mugging. Have I voluntarily consented to hand over my money to a gentleman with a knife? Have I forfeited my right to defend myself, or to have the other party tracked down and arrested?

    No, because you live in a society where mugging is generally considered and legally enforced to be against the law. You are not consenting to be mugged.

    I go away from my house, leaving the doors unlocked, and stay away for a couple of months. I know that there are potential squatters in the area. Have I voluntarily consented to let them in rent free, or forfeited my right to evict them?

    Your action is foolhardy, but hurts nobody but yourself. If squatting is legal in your area, then yes, you have consented to be squatted. If not, you have every right to evict them.

    A woman engages in sexual intercourse, knowing that pregnancy can result. Has she voluntarily consented to become pregnant, or forfeited her right to terminate the pregnancy? The case seems exactly parallel.

    She has voluntarily consented to the risk of pregnancy, just as if I drink two bottle of wine then fall down stairs and break my leg, I’ve nobody to blame but myself. If she chose not to take action to prevent pregnancy, whose fault is it? Nobody forced her to have sex. As such she bears responsibility for the pregnancy. It wasn’t an act of aggression as with the mugging, for instance.

    Failure to take measures to prevent an undesired transaction with a third party does not grant the third party a right to engage in those transactions.

    The difference is, the third party here is a baby who has no choice in engaging in the transaction. The baby has been obligated by the woman’s actions to reside in her womb; this does not give her a right to use aggression against it to evict it.

    And what if the woman has done the equivalent of locking and bolting her doors? What if she has used contraceptive measures, and had them fail, as they sometimes do? All the evidence seems to say that she is doing her best to refuse to form a relationship with a fetus. If she finds that she has fallen into one despite those efforts, that doesn’t look like consent to me. You might as well say that a business that posts “no smoking” signs at every entrance, clearly displayed, has consented to let people smoke if they light up on the premises before being stopped. This concept of “voluntary consent” just will not do.

    You end up here with the same problem. The baby has no choice but to smoke, to stretch the analogy to breaking point. Your argument is partial, because it only takes the consent of one party into account. The woman who used contraception has more responsibility for the unfortunate state of affairs than the baby; since it had no choice in the matter at all.

    Let’s use another analogy. If a woman sets up an archery range in her back garden which abutts a school, she takes precautions to prevent arrows landing in the schoolyard, but one does anyway and hits a child, one could say she’d done her best to prevent the situation but one can equally say that she bears responsibility for choosing archery practice in a location which endangered the children unnecessarily. People would blame her, reasonably, for firing arrows near children at all, even if she’s taken precautions.

    The failure rate of contraceptives is known; everyone indulging in sex knowingly risks creating a child. The child created has no volition in entering into a tenancy agreement with the mother. She had volition in choosing or not choosing to have sex.

    I’m not making a moral judgement here. I’m using this argument to demonstrate that while the mother has made *some* choice, the baby has made none at all; but is required to bear the full responsibility and accept death as the punishment for being forced into a womb tenancy. On what basis is that fair?

    All of your analogies use an example of a woman being aggressed against despite taking various precautions. In the case of the pregnancy, the baby is not an aggressor. It is an unwilling dependent.

  • Thanks, Ian B…..and that’s why Libertarians for Life exists. You can find them at: http://www.l4l.org/

  • anon

    Yea, Ronnie Paulnuts is nuts. Bonkers. A raving nutjob.

    He “doesn’t accept” the theory of evolution. LOL!

    Between his imbecilic Neville Chamberlain-esque foreign policy and his rejection of evolution, I think we can safely conclude that he’s not a viable candidate.

    Oh, and don’t forget his consorting with Stormfront neo-Nazis like Don Black. Which makes him a douche on top of being generally clueless.

  • Jonesy

    Paul would be the best friend the ID movement ever had, because he would nominate judges to the courts that would allow public schools to teach creationism and ban evolution if they wanted to. Its true that Paul probably wouldnt advocate for teaching creationism in science classes as president, but he would be for making it possible that it can be done at the state level, and without being prohibited from doing so by judges enforcing the 1st Amend (and sep of church and state) many of them would. Thats all they (the religious right) really want anyhow, they want to fight it out one state at a time, just like they want to do with abortion. This is a debate about what the 14th Amend means and whether you think the Bill of Rights (and sep of church and state) should be enforced on the whole country. I do; Paul doesnt. Thats what I dont like about his kind of “libertarianism”.

    The idea that he’s just trying to appeal to religious constituents in his district or that he doesnt want to turn off the base of his party I think is ridiculous. He made pretty clear what he believes. And I dont think this is just a case of someone believing in God, but then thinking evolution happened too. I dont think he believes in evolution at all, except “micro-evolution” or whatever ideas the ID movement is pushing. Paul is a conservative christian, this shouldnt be surprising to anyone at all. I wish someone would ask him to clarify though, but I bet Im right.

  • spidly

    I don’t know if this should even make a list of deal breakers. Paul is a kook of the first order. The list is long.

  • Andrew:

    When, however, they have to pay a substantial cost in blood and treasure to sustain foreign regimes, such as those in Pakistan, Israel and post-Saddam Iraq…

    Re Israel: no blood, just treasure. Unless you are one of those people who think that Bush invaded Iraq to please the Jewish Lobby.

    Kurmudge:

    That means that around 70% of the population consists of such “ignorant of science” people.

    Aside from the topic at hand, and to the point of science education in general: 70% sounds about right.

  • I’m using this argument to demonstrate that while the mother has made *some* choice, the baby has made none at all; but is required to bear the full responsibility and accept death as the punishment for being forced into a womb tenancy. On what basis is that fair?

    Where was it living before it “took up residence” in the womb, then, to continue with the analogy? It is absurd to talk about “forcing” something that didn’t exist before it lived at its current address to “take up residence” anywhere.

    Saying that the mother “forced” the child to live in her womb implies that the child could have chosen otherwise but had its choice preempted by force. That is so baldly NOT what’s going on in the case of pregnancy that’s it’s silly to even talk this way. Pregnancy happens when a lucky one of millions of candidate sperm cells fertilizes an egg … and then a thousand other potential setbacks fail to happen and the fertilized egg actually attaches and begins to grow. And this is not to mention that fertilization is hugely unlikely on any given day in the first place – even if nothing goes wrong. It isn’t as though there are babies floating about in the aether and mother just grabs the one she likes and sticks it in her. Any given baby’s existence depends entirely on the chance event of its mother and its father having sex in the time/place/manner they did. Any “lack of choice” it has in the bargain is just how things work – not unlike the way an acorn doesn’t get to decide what patch of ground it falls on. It is NOT the same “lack of choice” that, say, a kidnapping victim has.

    All of which is to say that you shouldn’t continue with analogies after you’ve demonstrated they don’t work. It’s fine to tell Stoddard that his analogy doesn’t fit and ask him to choose another one. It’s disingenuous to show his analogy doesn’t work and then argue about “fairness” based on that same flawed analogy. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • Ian B

    Where was it living before it “took up residence” in the womb, then, to continue with the analogy? It is absurd to talk about “forcing” something that didn’t exist before it lived at its current address to “take up residence” anywhere.

    I cannot see any validity to this argument. The use of the term “took up residence” is inexact but is fit for purpose, I think, since pregnancy is a unique situation without any other real analogues in life. But I really don’t see that the issue of a previous “residence” has any signficance. When I was a baby, I was forced (or perhaps a better word is obligated) to live in a particular house (my parents’ house). I had not previously lived at any other address, but I fail to see how that implies that there was no obligation on my part to live in that house. You seem to be using a somewhat anachronistic interpretation of “force”, designed to support your belief.

    Saying that the mother “forced” the child to live in her womb implies that the child could have chosen otherwise but had its choice preempted by force.

    No. Consider a child of slaves. It is forced to be a slave too- the property of the slaves’ master. It never had any choice to be otherwise; its slavery is entirely a consequence of the actions of others. I’d like to see the libertarian argument that it is not nonetheless a victim of force, since I think it would require some considerable logical convolutions.

    Pregnancy happens when a lucky one of millions of candidate sperm cells fertilizes an egg … and then a thousand other potential setbacks fail to happen and the fertilized egg actually attaches and begins to grow. And this is not to mention that fertilization is hugely unlikely on any given day in the first place – even if nothing goes wrong.

    This doesn’t seem relevant. Winning the lottery is unlikely, but one can’t use that to argue that a person buying a lottery ticket didn’t choose to become wealthy, should they win.

    It isn’t as though there are babies floating about in the aether and mother just grabs the one she likes and sticks it in her.

    Well notionally you can consider it that way, pretty much, though it’s not very useful perhaps. She hasn’t deliberately grabbed one, but she has knowingly accepted the possibility of one floating in. If I leave a car’s sunroof open overnight and find it full of snow the next morning, that may not be my intention but it was my choice to leave the sunroof open, knowingly taking a risk that it may snow.

    Any given baby’s existence depends entirely on the chance event of its mother and its father having sex in the time/place/manner they did.

    But here I think you’re indulging in misdirection. The misdirection here is the use of “chance event”. The volition occurred when the parents chose to have sex. Whether that produces an actual baby is probabilistic but the having of sex wasn’t, unless you’re arguing that humans are incapable of resisting their sexual urges- in which case, you may as well abandon the laws on rape since presumably rapists would not be responsible for their actions.

    ny “lack of choice” it has in the bargain is just how things work – not unlike the way an acorn doesn’t get to decide what patch of ground it falls on. It is NOT the same “lack of choice” that, say, a kidnapping victim has.

    Again, I don’t think your argument supports the conclusion. Oak trees don’t have any volition, nor do acorns. The second sentence simply doesn’t follow from the first in any coherent sense. Your whole argument seems to be based on a flawed contention that babies arise at random. If that were the case; if babies spontaneously generated in the womb without any action on the part of women, then there’s a stronger case for abortion, since the women would then be entirely the victim of circumstance- though even then one must take the view that it would only be an equality of circumstance, since even in that case the babies haven’t chosen to trespass. But that isn’t the case, is it? Babies occur because people choose to have sex- so my original contention holds that the mother has a greater degree of responsibility for the situation than the baby (which has none).

    To use another analogy here to illustrate a somewhat different point; if I inadequately secure my property and a young child without malicious intent wanders into my garden, then on libertarian principles I have a right to evict them. But I’d be intensely reluctant to harm them, and most people would consider me something of a monster if I used deadly force against them (even if they have some malicious intent such as scrumping apples). Even if you argue that the enwombed baby is trespassing, one cannot accuse it of doing so with deliberate malicious intent, and regardless one is left with the practical moral position that the use of deadly force against it is disproportionate.

  • Ian B

    Sorry to go on, but I want to address this one a bit more thoroughly-

    Pregnancy happens when a lucky one of millions of candidate sperm cells fertilizes an egg … and then a thousand other potential setbacks fail to happen and the fertilized egg actually attaches and begins to grow. And this is not to mention that fertilization is hugely unlikely on any given day in the first place – even if nothing goes wrong.

    This presents pregnancy as a very unlikely event. Effectively you’re trying to disconnect pregnancy from the act of intercourse, as if it’s some rare chance event like being struck by a meteorite while gardening. I think that’s invalid. Firstly, sexuality evolved directly to cause pregnancy and babies. It has other reasons too- social bonding and so forth, but nobody can deny that sex is a baby making system. Many couples have sex deliberately to make babies and become disheartened if one doesn’t occur reasonably promptly. Many young women have discovered to their woe that a single sexual act can cause a pregnancy. It’s not a remote possibility as you seem to be trying to imply. It’s a very likely possibility. Anyone who has unprotected sex believing a baby to be very unlikely is being very unwise. There is a direct connection between sex and babies, whereas there isn’t one between gardening and death from the skies.

    You seem to be trying to disconnect sex and babies, as if pregnancy really were an entirely random act of gawd. That contention doesn’t bear scrutiny.

  • Ian B, you need to use better formatting to make your comments more readable. Use the provided ” ” blockquote option, not just italics.

  • You seem to be trying to disconnect sex and babies, as if pregnancy really were an entirely random act of gawd. That contention doesn’t bear scrutiny.

    I am doing no such thing. I am simply demonstrating that you are being disingenuous in continuing to use William H. Stoddard’s flawed analogy as a basis for argument after having demonstrated that it’s flawed. You may choose to show the flaws in an analogy and reject it on that basis, or you may continue an analogy to its logical conclusion and show that it supports an argument other than what its original proponent intended – but you may not do both.

    You are attempting to do both. You are attempting to first show that Stoddard’s analogy doesn’t work and then argue on the basis of that analogy that abortion is unfair to the child. It’s absurd for the reasons I’ve laid out: because you want to talk about unborn children as though they have any choice in the matter long enough to consider them exploited, but then turn around and use the fact that they cannot possibly have any choice in the matter as the basis for saying they’ve been wronged. It won’t – and doesn’t – work.

    I’d like to see the libertarian argument that [a child of slaves] is not nonetheless a victim of force, since I think it would require some considerable logical convolutions.

    A child of slaves is a victim of force in the same way its parents are: because it is a slave. Because it has had its choices denied to it. Because its life could have been otherwise and is not owing to unjust outside force. Because as a human being it is owed certain rights which are being violated.

    How does this have anything to do with a foetus? Since no one has a right to decide in which womb they’re gestated (the very notion is absurd – a person cannot make decisions before they exist!), it cannot be “force” that puts a particular child in a particular womb. Talking in this way is absurd. Talking about the injustice of slavery is not absurd – because the situation could have and should have been otherwise. I really don’t see what’s difficult to understand about this.

    Winning the lottery is unlikely, but one can’t use that to argue that a person buying a lottery ticket didn’t choose to become wealthy, should they win.

    Nor would the winner: they would claim their winnings, which is what they’re trying to do. Getting wealthy is not an “associated risk” of playing the lottery – it’s the whole motivation. Some people who have sex are trying to produce a child – but these people are unlikely to consider aboritions, so we’re not really talking about them. Most people who have sex are most of the time just trying to achieve sexual gratification. For these people, pregnancy is an “associated risk,” not an “unlikely but eagerly sought benefit.” So your analogy here couldn’t possibly be more inappropriate. You’ve taken the exact opposite of the situation you’re trying to characterize and used that as an analogy, rather than something appropriate.

    Here’s a better one. Riding in a car entails the risk of injury, but no one riding in a car intends to get hurt. When, as sometimes happens, they do get hurt, are they or are they not entitled to take steps to recover from their injury? After all, they knew that injury was a possible result, right? Does living with the consequences of their choices require that they not go to a hospital and receive treatment for their broken limbs? Only the truly delusional or Christian Scientists (but I repeat myself) would argue that it did.

    Now, you can well say that the child isn’t the same kind of consequence, since it is a human too. But that would be ignoring that the circumstances of its existence are completely dependent upon the exploitation of another’s body for viability. This is not a circumstance under which I recognize an unqualified “right to life.” The foetus has a right to life only so long as the mother grants it. It is, after all, her body on which it depends – and the right to bodily integrity is, as Stoddard pointed out, the most basic of all rights. Here we have two inalienable rights to bodily integrity, one of which depends on the other’s body and one of which does not. Clearly, the independent right (the mother’s) wins.

    But here I think you’re indulging in misdirection. The misdirection here is the use of “chance event”. The volition occurred when the parents chose to have sex.

    I am not indulging in misdirection. I was talking about the baby’s (nonexistent) “volition” when I brought this up. From the baby’s perspective, its conception is entirely a chance event. Much the way that when someone runs in front of my car their volition was involved but not mine. From my point of view, it is a chance event. You are the one indulging in misdirection by deliberately inverting my analogies and then pretending that your interpretation is what I had intended by them.

  • This is a debate about what the 14th Amend means and whether you think the Bill of Rights (and sep of church and state) should be enforced on the whole country. I do; Paul doesnt. Thats what I dont like about his kind of “libertarianism”.

    Then I think you misunderstand where a whole lot of RP supporters really want this to end up… sure, let creationism be taught in schools, it already is… in private schools. So the solution to the whole debate is to make all schools private and get the state the hell out of the education business, thereby making this what it always should have been, a NON POLITICAL debate.

    I regard creationism as idiocy on stilts, but I do not give a damn who believes in such a thing really just as long as the state is not the one pushing it.

    Same thing applies to Keynesian economics, the surplus value theory of labour and all manner of other ideas that are vastly more dangerous that the absurdity of creationism. Make all schools private and let the market sort it out. Ron Paul cannot kill that sacred cow with the wave of a pen but he sure as hell can start moving things in that direction by setting the reduction in the size of the state at the centre of the political struggle. All he has to do is keep saying the unthinkable and shifting the terms of the debate.

  • Perry –

    He can say it all he wants. The fact still remains that the majority of Americans are disinclined to listen. The fact that the man is batshit loco doesn’t help his case any.

    Reagan managed to connect with the American people at a visceral level. How much success did he have with shrinking the government?

    The only way you’re shrinking the government is with a revolution. But given the number of Americans willing to endure such a thing, and the fact that the government is far more well armed, that’s not really got a chance either.

    At this point, all one can do is pull up a chaise, pop a beer, and watch civilization spiral down the hole. Or, ignore it, get on with your life, and hope you don’t live to see the end of it. Not having children makes it more palatable.

  • Ian B

    I am doing no such thing. I am simply demonstrating that you are being disingenuous in continuing to use William H. Stoddard’s flawed analogy as a basis for argument after having demonstrated that it’s flawed. You may choose to show the flaws in an analogy and reject it on that basis, or you may continue an analogy to its logical conclusion and show that it supports an argument other than what its original proponent intended – but you may not do both.

    Well you can contend that but I think you’re just flat wrong. I took the situations proposed by Stoddard and then drew different conclusions from them, showing why they don’t lead to the conclusions he (and you) draw from them.

    I think you’re trying to drag a discussion about actualities into a discussion about semantics. If we can be pushed into arguing about specific definitons of “force” and “choice” we can be misdirected from the main issue.

    How does this have anything to do with a foetus? Since no one has a right to decide in which womb they’re gestated (the very notion is absurd – a person cannot make decisions before they exist!), it cannot be “force” that puts a particular child in a particular womb. Talking in this way is absurd. Talking about the injustice of slavery is not absurd – because the situation could have and should have been otherwise. I really don’t see what’s difficult to understand about this.

    I find this argument bizarre. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that anyone who is in a situation in which they had no choice may have any force used against them. We’re talking about not whether they “forced” their way in, but whether somebody else can use force against them to force them out, effectively.

    There are many situations in which persons have made no choice. A mentally retarded person may make no choices at all. They may be entirely incapable of it, or even understanding where they are. But we don’t blame them for the situation they are in. We don’t blame the retarded child for forcing their way into their parent’s lives and allow them to be murdered.

    I really think you’re trying to exclude babies from your definition of human beings who have a right to life- which all libertarians are supposed to believe in as a fundamental. You’re saying that because the baby didn’t choose to be in the womb, it has forfeited any rights, and that is simply incomprehensible. The lack of choice in fact creates a duty of care in most current moral systems.

    How does this have anything to do with a foetus? Since no one has a right to decide in which womb they’re gestated (the very notion is absurd – a person cannot make decisions before they exist!), it cannot be “force” that puts a particular child in a particular womb.

    I think I’ve consistently discussed “force” in terms of what force can be used against the foetus, not in terms of the bay forcing anything. The baby had no choice in the matter. The only force in that regard is that the parents forced it to reside in the woman’s womb. So it is indeed force. The baby has found itself in a particular situation for which it is not responsible; but for which other person are- and then it is obligated to pay the punishment for that situation! How is that consistent with libertarian principles?

    If a person makes an unwise decision which negatively affects somebody else, it is that person who bears the responsibility, not the unwitting victim.

    Now, you can well say that the child isn’t the same kind of consequence, since it is a human too. But that would be ignoring that the circumstances of its existence are completely dependent upon the exploitation of another’s body for viability. This is not a circumstance under which I recognize an unqualified “right to life.” The foetus has a right to life only so long as the mother grants it. It is, after all, her body on which it depends – and the right to bodily integrity is, as Stoddard pointed out, the most basic of all rights. Here we have two inalienable rights to bodily integrity, one of which depends on the other’s body and one of which does not. Clearly, the independent right (the mother’s) wins.

    There’s no “clearly” about it. That paragraph leaps from assertion to assertion without logically supporting each assertion.

    You talked earlier about oaks and acorns and said “that’s just the way things work”. The same applies to the baby’s parasitic dependence on the mother’s body. A baby is parasitic on the mother after birth too. Does it therefore have no rights? If she denies it milk and it starves to death, is that morally acceptable? The post-birth baby is dependent on violating the mother’s bodily integrity every time it suckles (we’ll ignore the existence of formula for now, as many mothers e.g. in the poor world may not have access to non-breast feeding, but still have babies).

    So, you say there are two rights to bodily integrity here and the mother “wins” because the baby is parasitic. But we come back to the fact that the mother chose to enter into this relationship with the baby by her actions and there’s no way to get around that. The baby is dependent on her due to the way biology works. That’s just the way it is and we have to work within the paradigm evolution presented us with. The mother created the situation, not the child. As such the baby’s right trumps the mother’s.

    The bodily parasitism makes pregnancy a unique situation so any analogies we use will ultimately fail us. But we can recognise that there are numerous situations in which human beings become subject to a duty of care. Once a baby is born, parents have a duty of care to the child even if they regret having it. Many people will have a duty of care to their elderly parents (I and my sister for instance recently nursed our mother throught terminal cancer). These are situations which arise due to circumstance but that doesn’t affect the obligations involved.

    So you continually portray the baby as some kind of aggressor imposing itself on the mother and violating her bodily integrity. But pregnancy is the way life is, and if a woman acts in such a way as to become pregnant she has, unfortunately, effectively violated her own bodily integrity. There is nobody else to blame for this. She can’t blame the baby since she put it there. It is no more “exploiting” her than a newborn baby is, or a mentally retarded adult is exploiting its parents by needing their care.

    The baby’s lack of choice as to the situation does not reduce its rights; it increases them. If it had chosen to be in the womb, one could reasonably argue that it is using force against the mother and she can evict it. But the opposite is true. It was put there without the chance to exercise any choice by the volitional negligence of its mother, and thus she is the one with the lesser rights.

    The right to bodily integrity is not “the most basic of rights”. It is one right. The right to not be aggressed against is another one. In this case, as already discussed, the baby is not an aggressor, but the woman who chooses to abort is.

    It’s down to whether you can kill another human being if their presence is simply inconvenient to you. Surely the answer to that is no. If you try to balance 9 months of inconvenience against killing another human being, surely a libertarian must argue that the murder is the greater evil. A permanent loss of life is a greater loss of rights than a time-limited loss of “bodily integrity”, especially as the said loss of bodily integrity is due to a conscious choice by its sufferer. Don’t libertarians generally argue for people being responsible for their actions? Why not in this case?

  • Midwesterner

    Fucking is Russian roulette with a baby’s life.

    If you don’t want to drop the hammer on a live round, don’t pull the fuckin’ trigger! How obvious is that?

    Sheesh.

  • Ian, Mw –

    It comes down to the distinction between libertarian and libertine.

    The libertine wishes to enjoy life with no consequences, and will casually define away any. By calling a fetus a non-human entity, it no longer deserves rights. Therefore, consensual sex is consequence free.

    See how easy life becomes when we simply define other people out of existence? It’s the same way we allowed slavery to continue for so long. And it is wrong.

  • I find this argument bizarre. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that anyone who is in a situation in which they had no choice may have any force used against them. We’re talking about not whether they “forced” their way in, but whether somebody else can use force against them to force them out, effectively.

    You do not understand me correctly. I am saying that a baby doesn’t even exist before it’s in the situation in question, therefore it is absurd to talk about its having been “forced” into it. I am saying that there is a difference between, on the one hand, having a choice a priori but having it taken away by force and, on the other hand, having no choice by the very definition of the situation. Trying to compare these things, as you are trying to do, is misleading.

    That was what I was talking about earlier when I said that a foetus’ “lack of choice” about which womb it ends up in is not the same as a kidnap victim’s “lack of choice” about being kidnapped. You are trying to talk about them as though they are the same thing, but they are not. You may call this “semantics” if you like, but your failure to grasp this “semantic” distinction is distorting your ability to perceive actualities.

    My argument that the woman has a right to abort is independent of how the child got in her womb. If it is parasitic on her body for its existence, then her right to have it removed take precedence over its right to life. I have said no such thing as “anyone who is in a situation in which they had no choice may have any force used against them,” as you well know. The only reason I am talking about how the child got in the womb is to demonstrate that you are confounding concepts.

    A baby is parasitic on the mother after birth too. Does it therefore have no rights? If she denies it milk and it starves to death, is that morally acceptable?

    No – because there are ways to avoid this situation that do not violate her bodily integrity. Once the baby is born, the two rights to bodily integrity are no longer in conflict. If this particular mother is no longer willing to take care of it, another can be found who is. Now, to play fair, I will go ahead and answer what I assume is your next question: what if no other willing mother can be found for it?

    In my (absolutist) book, then the baby dies. However, for practical reasons I would support a system of laws that said that failure to abort before the pregnancy came to term constituted implied consent to be a mother in the case that no adoptive mother can be found.

    That paragraph leaps from assertion to assertion without logically supporting each assertion.

    Most of the people commenting here understand the basis for each assertion. If there are any that you find difficult, I will be happy to explain them. We are commenting on a blog, not exchanging involved letters, so I take shortcuts, which I am entitled to do. If you have specific questions about that paragraph, please state them. Hand-waving dismissals do nothing to bolster your case.

    But we come back to the fact that the mother chose to enter into this relationship with the baby by her actions and there’s no way to get around that.

    The mother did no such thing. She chose to have sex, and the baby resulted as an unintended consequence. The way to get around this consequence is a medical procedure called “abortion.”

    The baby is dependent on her due to the way biology works. That’s just the way it is and we have to work within the paradigm evolution presented us with.

    I am working within this paradigm. I talk about a child’s rights once it is born – i.e. once it is no longer completely dependent on its mother. Not before. Before it is born, I recognize that the biological reality of the situation requires it to be parasitic on another individual to survive. I then apply my system of rights in a way consistent with that situation when the mother wants to abort: since the nature of the situation makes the baby parasitic, and since I do not recognize unqualified parasitic rights to life, the mother’s right wins.

    You are the one not working withing the paradigm as you repeatedly talk about children as though they exist before they, in reality, do.

    Here’s an example from your earlier comment:

    Well notionally you can consider it that way, pretty much, though it’s not very useful perhaps. She hasn’t deliberately grabbed one, but she has knowingly accepted the possibility of one floating in.

    Babies don’t “float in.” They grow there. When they start, they are no more than a collision of cells. There is no baby before this growth occurs, and so talking about it as though it existed is folly.

    The baby’s lack of choice as to the situation does not reduce its rights; it increases them. If it had chosen to be in the womb, one could reasonably argue that it is using force against the mother and she can evict it. But the opposite is true. It was put there without the chance to exercise any choice by the volitional negligence of its mother, and thus she is the one with the lesser rights.

    Again – babies are not “put there.” They don’t even exist before they’re there. This is a crucial point that you’re deliberately ignoring.

    You’re talking as though the baby has been denied a choice, but you cannot deny something that which it never had. So long as it is in the mother’s womb, it is parasitic on the mother. It exists there by her consent. If she decides to remove it, you may well disapprove of her decision, but that is her right.

    I should add here that I think this discussion has probably gotten pointless, and here’s why:

    The right to bodily integrity is not “the most basic of rights”. It is one right.

    To me, it is “the most basic of rights,” and I don’t think I can be persuaded to your view unless you convince me otherwise. Maybe you can do it, but I suspect that the limited space of a blog comments section will make it exceedingly difficult. I am certain that I cannot persuade you that it is the most basic of rights in this kind of forum.

    So to throw in a bone at least obliquely consistent with the thread topic, let me just say that Ron Paul’s stance on abortion is one of the things that comes close to being a dealbreaker for me. I agree with him that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and want it overturned. But after that I would strongly support a national law legalizing abortion in all states. He wants it decided on a state-by-state basis, and has stated that he would vote against legal abortion in his own state. So I can get along with him on abortion as president, but I couldn’t as one of his constituents.

    In response to your last question, which I think is fair:

    A permanent loss of life is a greater loss of rights than a time-limited loss of “bodily integrity”, especially as the said loss of bodily integrity is due to a conscious choice by its sufferer. Don’t libertarians generally argue for people being responsible for their actions? Why not in this case?

    You’ll find that libertarians agree to disagree about abortion. Ron Paul is pro-life, for example. The latest LP candidate for House here in Indiana was also pro-life (and so I didn’t vote in that election). I think a lot of libertarians are persuaded by your portrayal of the situation here – that it’s “murder” vs. “9 months inconvenience.”

    My own brand of llibertarianism is more Kantian, I suppose – or at least strongly anti-utilitarian. Libertarians agree that people should take consequences for their actions, but they also take the position that bodily integrity is sacrosanct. I recognize a right to life, but not a parasitic one. What to do about a born child is not clear, but I would agree with a system of laws that made it the responsibility of the mother who carried it long enough to bear it. She had her opt-out period, and she declined to take it, ergo… Now, you will rightly ask what is different about this than the decision to have sex – and I will say that I have already answered that. In one phase the baby is strictly parasitic on this particular mother, in the other phase it is not (though it will still be parasitic on someone, of course). To me that makes all the difference. But this gets us back to whether or not “bodily integrity” is a fundamental right…

    The other point I would raise here is that the person destroying the life is the person who gave it in the first place. At this stage in its gestation, a baby doesn’t have an unqualified life. Its life is completely dependent on its mother. That’s quite a different thing from murdering a random individual with a gun. The life wouldn’t be there if she hadn’t had sex. While its growing in the womb, the life is not wholly the baby’s own.

  • He can say it all he wants. The fact still remains that the majority of Americans are disinclined to listen.

    So what? The majority never decides anything, activists do. You think the statists of the new left have succeeded by becoming a majority? I think not.

    I see this as The Long Game. It starts (or re-starts more accurately) by shifting the axioms (changing the ‘meta-context) within which what people think is ‘realistic’ gets debated. At the moment it is a given that the state does all the things it does. They way you change that is by saying the unthinkable year after year and not caring who thinks you are a kook. If all you do it fight on ground of the enemy’s choosing, you will lose and lose and lose.

    Ron Paul is not going to win the nomination, let alone the presidency, and one of the Big Government Regulatory Statists from either party will win the White House. What Ron Paul’s job involves (from my perspective) is to make it impossible to just pretend the views he represents, namely that of a *much* smaller state and a return to constitutionally limited government, no longer matters.

    I would rather see the truly wicked Hillary Clinton win and wreak the havoc she will wreak than another Big Government Republican win and see the USA move incrementally in the wrong direction yet again… and having the Ron Paul (and Tancredo and Thompson) supporters stay home in disgust would be a powerful signal to the Republican party (which in many states are as crapulous ideologically as the British Tory party) that always backing Big State ‘solutions’ and rejecting the Classical Liberal ‘Goldwater’ wing of the party will lose you elections. And in order for that to get through certain thick skulls, some elections probably DO need to get lost. War is hell.

    There is simply NO point in supporting a Republican Party that puts the likes of Big Government Statists like George Bush (either one) in the White House. The Republican Party will never be a ‘libertarian’ party but at the moment they are dominated by people not materially different in their world view of the role of the state than the Democrats. Ron Paul can change that without winning anything, just by making a good enough showing (and we may not know if he has succeeded for many years).

  • William H. Stoddard

    No, because you live in a society where mugging is generally considered and legally enforced to be against the law. You are not consenting to be mugged.

    So then, if a woman lives in a society where it is generally considered that she has a right to terminate a pregnancy, she may be engaging in sexual intercourse on the assumption that she will be able to terminate a pregnancy if one occurs. That does not seem to constitute consent to pregnancy.

    There is also the case of the woman who is raped and impregnated, who does not seem to have consented to anything whatever. The appeal to “consent” is being used much too broadly.

    More generally:

    (a) I don’t consider the claim that a fetus is a human being to be a neutral matter of fact. There is a strong statistical association of the belief in a fetus’s humanity with certain religious viewpoints, and also with support for the ethic of chastity; there is an equally strong association of the denial of that belief with different religious viewpoints (including secularism) and with support for the ethic of informed consent. The statement “a fetus is a human being” is a matter of legal definition, not of biological fact.

    (b) Consider the case of ectopic pregnancy: the implantation of a fertilized ovum in a Fallopian tube or (more rarely) in an ovary or in the abdominal cavity. If such a pregnancy is allowed to continue, the mother dies and so does the fetus. Such pregnancies are routinely terminated; they are, in fact, the only case where the Catholic Church considers abortion justified. But as a general matter of law, from the proposition “A is going to die in the near future,” we do not infer the proposition “it’s legitimate to kill A now to save B’s life” (for example, to harvest a heart for transplant from a person who is not yet dead). That this inference is made about killing fetuses shows that on this widely accepted view, either a fetus does not have the same right to life as a human being with independent biological existence, or that right can be set aside for some reason peculiar to fetuses—and the fetus’s “innocent” status does not prevent this.

    (c) Stipulating the theory that a fetus is a human being, lack of intent on the fetus’s part does not seem to be a relevant issue. Intent is important for criminal trials, where we are deciding whether to punish someone for a wrongful act. But if your car’s brakes fail, through no fault of yours, and it rolls downhill at high speed, I have the right to stop it from rolling onto my property, even if I can only do so by destroying the car—not to punish you, but to protect myself. If your tiger gets out of its cage, and endangers me or someone else, I have the right to kill it. If your property damages or interferes with my property, my rights are being violated, even if you did not intend the violation, and even if you are incapable of intent.

    Unchosen pregnancy is to chosen pregnancy as unchosen sex is to chosen sex. It is a relationship with another human being that the pregnant woman did not consent to have and must not be forced to have.

  • Alice


    See how easy life becomes when we simply define other people out of existence? It’s the same way we allowed slavery to continue for so long. And it is wrong.

    Brian, like so many others, you misunderstand the nature of slavery. Slavery was in fact the very first form of “Renewable Energy”. Slavery was green! And, what is even better, slavery was sustainable — it lasted for thousands of years, until the ability to use fossil fuels gave us the liberty to feel bad about it.

    Whenever someone waxes eloquent about “Renewable Energy”, think slavery. Because that is where wishful thinking is taking us.

  • Unchosen pregnancy is to chosen pregnancy as unchosen sex is to chosen sex. It is a relationship with another human being that the pregnant woman did not consent to have and must not be forced to have.

    That is a very powerful way of putting it. I have always had difficulty with this issue and that is a thought provoking argument.

  • Midwesterner

    Perry,

    In the case of rape, yes. And if the rape results in a pregnancy, then the rapist needs to be additionally charged with wrongful death or child support depending on the choice of the unconsenting female.

    In other cases, see Russian roulette comment, above.

  • Ian B

    Shortish answer for once- :)

    Unchosen pregnancy is to chosen pregnancy as unchosen sex is to chosen sex. It is a relationship with another human being that the pregnant woman did not consent to have and must not be forced to have.

    That is a very powerful way of putting it. I have always had difficulty with this issue and that is a thought provoking argument.

    The homology as presented is flawed. In the first case, the woman is acting selfishly for her own benefit (the enjoyment of sex) at the expense of another person (the baby she will abort should one arise). In the second case, the rapist is acting selfishly for his own benefit (whatever reason he wanted to commit the rape) at the expense of another person (the rape victim).

    Consequentially, the example creates an unfortunate conclusion that the pregnant woman is most akin to the rapist. Ooer.

    As I said, I’m pragmatically in favour of legal abortion. But I object to the concept that only one set of rights matters (the mother’s) and that the foetus is something inhuman and thus no rights apply to it. That is fundamentally dishonest. I find William’s assertion of this-

    I don’t consider the claim that a fetus is a human being to be a neutral matter of fact. There is a strong statistical association of the belief in a fetus’s humanity with certain religious viewpoints, and also with support for the ethic of chastity; there is an equally strong association of the denial of that belief with different religious viewpoints (including secularism) and with support for the ethic of informed consent. The statement “a fetus is a human being” is a matter of legal definition, not of biological fact.

    Frankly mindbending. We don’t need to seek answers in religion here, or to claim that anti-abortionists or anyone else must be religion driven. We can argue the point from basic biology. If we seek some magic moment when the non-human foetus becomes a human, there isn’t one. It’s the same being at different stages of development. One may as well argue that nobody is a human until they are 18, or some other arbitrary age, or until they reach puberty, or some other developmental milestone.

    You can only argue that the unborn have no rights if you deny their humanity. I find that argument somewhat flawed and frankly rather chilling.

    In the case of an ectopic pregancy; since the foetus will die anyway, as will the mother, there’s clearly a case for making the best of a bad situation (abortion).

  • The homology as presented is flawed. In the first case, the woman is acting selfishly for her own benefit (the enjoyment of sex) at the expense of another person (the baby she will abort should one arise). In the second case, the rapist is acting selfishly for his own benefit (whatever reason he wanted to commit the rape) at the expense of another person (the rape victim).

    The crucial differences that are being overlooked in this summary include:

    (1)In the case of rape the enjoyment requires that there be a victim, whereas in the case of consensual sex for pleasure the enjoyment is maximized if there is no conception. Consensual sex as an act is victimless. The “victim” only comes in the unlikely event that the woman conceives and then decides to abort – which brings us to the next item…

    (2)Sex brings into existence the person you are describing as a “victim,” and that victim is parasitic on its “attacker.” There is no sense in which a rapist calls his victim into existence, and of course any notion that a rape victim is parasitic on her attacker for survival is all kinds of backward, to say the least.

    I buy Stoddard’s analogy (this time). A woman engaged in casual sex does not intend to get pregnant, knows it is unlikely, and has, in most cases, taken steps to prevent it. Pregnancy is not the purpose of her sexual intercourse, and she should not be forced to continue a pregnancy she doesn’t want.

  • Ian B

    Consensual sex as an act is victimless.

    Consensual sex, particularly unprotected sex, has considerable recognised risk of creating a victim.

    The “victim” only comes in the unlikely event that the woman conceives and then decides to abort

    Babies are a likely consequence of sex. Sex is a baby-making system. It’s simply wrong to describe babies as an “unlikely” consequence of sex.

    Sex brings into existence the person you are describing as a “victim,” and that victim is parasitic on its “attacker.” There is no sense in which a rapist calls his victim into existence, and of course any notion that a rape victim is parasitic on her attacker for survival is all kinds of backward, to say the least.

    I cannot comprehend where you’re going with this (and I don’t mean I’m too stupid to get it). Where the victim comes from just isn’t relevant. If a rapist could call his victim into permanent existence (maybe he’s a magician) you’d still be left with a suffering victim afterwards. The magically conjured girl would gain rights the second she materialised, surely?

    As to parasitism, as I’ve discussed it’s a consequence of biology. Babies are parasitic on their parents after birth. You’ve argued that this isn’t relevant because if the parents don’t want the child they could find some other human to look after it. But that may not be the case. Maybe they’re marooned on a desert island, maybe nobody wants to take the baby off them, maybe there’s no welfare and no charity. Can they abrogate its right to life? They’re stuck with the duty of care until they can pass the baby to someone else on whom it can parasitise. This is unavoidable because babies (like the infirm, the elderly, the disabled, the retarded etc) all have to parasitise to survive. Maybe they have no right to do that. Hey, soylent green is people!

    So, we’re stuck with a class of parasitic humans who can’t fend for themselves. We can kill them, or accept a duty of care. I can’t prove a case for either on purist grounds. But if parasitism abrogates the human rights of a person, then you must accept the killing of the elderly, the disabled, the retarded, the sick and so on. Is that where libertarianism really leads us? We were all parasites once, even you.

  • Perry – We are judged by the company we keep. Our ideas are judged on the basis of whom we share them with. That said, having Ron Paul as a representative of the benefits of small government is a bad idea because he is, as I mentioned before, batshit fucking loco. Which means to J. Random Voter, the idea of shrinking the government is inherently suspect.

    And your argument about letting Hillary! win to “teach the Republicans a lesson” will backfire, just as it has in the past. We taught them a lesson in 1992, didn’t we? We put Clinton in the White House. What did the Republicans do? Go Left, young man. We wound up with the 1994 so-called “Republican Revolution” being dismantle from within in less than 2 years, and in 2000 we got George W. Bush, who is about as conservative as Karl Marx.

    There is one, and only one, way to move the Republican party to the right – and that starts with the states, and the nominating conventions. When we no longer send people like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Chris Shays to represent us, then we will have change. The office of the President is as useful as a screen door on a submarine. So long as the Congress is sufficiently statist, they will eventually increase the power and scope of government, no matter how many veto pens the President wears out.

    Nominating, or even validating Ron Paul only serves to justify the left’s opinion of Republicans as lunatics not worthy of consideration. If Ron Paul makes a good showing in the primaries, it will virtually guarantee Democratic dominance for a decade or more.

    The Republicans will not move rightward in response to defeat – they will interpret the victory of Democrats as a desire for more statism and respond accordingly. The only way they will move rightward is if we force them to by challenging the statists in every single primary election for every elected office at every level. Most of the time, our senators and representatives go unchallenged for their party nomination. That needs to change first. Only then can we even attempt a roll-back.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Perry de Havilland wrote:

    It might be retorted, of course, that the US deposed an Islamist regime in Kabul. But the mere existence of that regime was largely a product of the interventionist foreign policy followed by the US during the Cold War, to prevent Afghanistan being Communist.

    And here, ladies and gents, is the arrogant and parochial common thread that runs with all Americocentric views of the world, shared by many on the left and right and everything in between, and not just held exclusively by Americans.

    Nothing happens in the world that does not revolve around the USA. To the left, paleo-cons and moonbat wing of libertarianism, that is always perforce a bad thing, to the neo-cons and centrists, that is a good thing, but neither form of non-Copernican reality can imagine that the solar system does not revolve around Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Thank you for encapsulating what is pretty much my problem with Ron Paul and the LP. One of the things that really drives me up a wall is what looks to me like exceedingly contorted logic. I’ve always been ambivalent about the war in Iraq, and can understand why folks like Paul Marks opposed it back in 2003. But the situation was much more complicated than most people want to portray it. But the war in Afghanistan was an entirely different matter, since it was fairly clear that the Taliban were providing aid and comfort to al-Qaeda. But usually, if I scratch the surface of an LP type, I’ll eventually hit the nerve that leads to the incoherent “zionazi neocon jooooooooooooooo!” argument with respect to the war in Afghanistan, too.

    We supposedly brought 9/11 on ourselves because it’s little more than so-called “blowback”. And yet, if we helped the mujahedin defeat the Godless Commies, shouldn’t the “blowback” from that have been that they liked us more than before?

    Not only that, but if the mujahedin, who after all were ideologically related to groups like al-Qaeda, were willing to work with us in the short term for tactical reasons, doesn’t that put pay to the lie that they would never have worked with Saddam Hussein, because he was a secular Muslim?

  • The Republicans will not move rightward in response to defeat

    But they will not stop moving statist-ward if people vote for statist Republicans. Voting for a very statist Republican tells the Republican party that being a statist is okay with you. Ergo if a very statist Republican gets the nomination, voting for him just confirms that you want a statist Republican party regardless of utterances to the contrary. They do not care what you say, just how you vote.

  • Ian B

    But they will not stop moving statist-ward if people vote for statist Republicans. Voting for a very statist Republican tells the Republican party that being a statist is okay with you. Ergo if a very statist Republican gets the nomination, voting for him just confirms that you want a statist Republican party regardless of utterances to the contrary. They do not care what you say, just how you vote.

    Precisely. It seems many people take the view “this guy’s only 60% what I want so screw him, I’ll vote for the guy’s who’s only 10% what I want” kind of thing.

    I also wonder if electorates are somewhat institutionalised, even those who talk about radicalism. Are they really prepared to vote for it when push comes to shove? Or is a fear of too much change what drives some people to declare the radical who apparently represents much of what they want to be a “nutball” since change is really too scary?

    I wonder if some declared “libertarian” voters are much like inhabitants of an institution who’ve dreamed of walking free- then a new doctor arrives who opens the door and says “Okay then off you go. You’re free!” And they peer outside at those big scary open spaces, and think how they won’t get three square meals a day, and they’ll have to find a place to live on their own and wonder what they’ll do without the order and routine… and they creep quietly back to bed…

  • Dr No

    Ian B, I just wanted to say that you are spot-on in your arguments and are following the logic through perfectly.

    There may be unintended consequences to our actions but if they are reasonably foreseeable we must bear responsibility for them. When they affect others, that may create obligations for us.

    The bodily integrity argument is hogwash of the purest order. It appears to have been invented purely to support a pro-choice-for-the-mother position. Such is only really the right of those who have not performed actions which negate that right. That those who support this supposed right in supporting abortion are, in doings so, denying that right to another is somewhat dissonant.

    In the end though, whilst I think abortion after consensual sex is wrong, it is one of the few things I will be pragmatic about and would not (personally) make any move to ban or outlaw. I think it’s important to recognize it as what it is though.

  • But they will not stop moving statist-ward if people vote for statist Republicans. Voting for a very statist Republican tells the Republican party that being a statist is okay with you. Ergo if a very statist Republican gets the nomination, voting for him just confirms that you want a statist Republican party regardless of utterances to the contrary. They do not care what you say, just how you vote.

    You’re not getting my point, are you. No matter which member of the present candidate/incumbent base wins election, they will move to the left.

    Therefore, the answer is not to cast a waste vote on someone like Ron Paul who will, as presidential candidate, be capable of accomplishing nothing of your goals except to earn them more ridicule and scorn. And given that a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil, then voting for either of the major party candidates is unacceptable.

    The proper choice is to not cast a vote in presidential elections until a worthy candidate is presented. Voting “no” is the only way to send the message that neither major party has presented a man worthy of the office. While seeking ideological purity is a fool’s errand, having the choice between two persons who do not represent you in any way is no choice at all.

    The proper answer is to present acceptable candidates for the positions of State Senator and State Representative, and challenge the existing statists in the district-level primaries.

  • You’re not getting my point, are you. No matter which member of the present candidate/incumbent base wins election, they will move to the left.

    Oh I got your point, I just do not entirely agree with it (but I also do not entirely disagree with it either). I think there is some value to Ron Paul making some waves.

  • Babies are a likely consequence of sex. Sex is a baby-making system. It’s simply wrong to describe babies as an “unlikely” consequence of sex.

    Wrong. Getting pregnant is not all that likely, especially not from a single sexual encounter. Read up on the subject, and then try again.

    As for whether sex is a “baby-making system,” I don’t think it is in the sense you’re implying. Sex for cats and other species that don’t pair-mate for life is a baby-making system; sex for humans is a bit more than that. It’s also a bonding system. If you think the only or even the main purpose of having sex is to create babies, you’re doing it wrong – and likely to be disappointed at your low hit rate besides.

    If a rapist could call his victim into permanent existence (maybe he’s a magician) you’d still be left with a suffering victim afterwards. The magically conjured girl would gain rights the second she materialised, surely?

    Alright, so we’re no longer talking about “acutalities.” Well, if there were magicians (and unicorns, animated mannequins et al), then I suppose the woman called into existence in this manner would have rights from the moment she was called, full-blown, into existence. I could point out that this is still substantially different from the situation of a baby, which is NOT called, full-blown, into existence, but why bother? The full-blowitude or lack thereof of the baby’s existence is not the point for me – the conflict of rights is. It’s the parasitism that nullifies its right to continued existence in the mother’s womb if she wants it gone, not the extent of its development. To repeat my earlier quibble with your analogy – a rapist’s victim is NOT parasitic on him for its survival. A baby IS. This is how a pregnant woman is different from a rapist.

    As to parasitism, as I’ve discussed it’s a consequence of biology.

    So is stupidity. That doesn’t make it a job qualification. Likewise, the biological reality of a baby’s parasitism doesn’t elevate its right to life over that of its mother’s to bodily integrity.

    Babies are parasitic on their parents after birth. You’ve argued that this isn’t relevant because if the parents don’t want the child they could find some other human to look after it. But that may not be the case.

    I’ve also conceded that in those cases where no one can be found to take over caring for the child, the mother is indeed responsible. See 2-3 (I can’t remember) of my previous comments.

  • Dr No

    Brian, your point presupposes that a republican slide to the left is both preventable and desirable.

    As the republicans slide to statism, those dissatisfied individualists continue to swell. It may be that a new party may be born out of this. It’s happened before.

    Of course, if it’s the republicans are just sliding to the left, it could be the far right that rises to create a new party. God help us if that’s the case.

    The problem at root appears to be that (the) people really don’t want all that much freedom and just want to be comfortable and aren’t all that concerned about trampling over the rights of themselves and others to be so. This is the danger of democracy and why the founding fathers of the USA did not set things up that way in their constitution and why there was not universal sufferage. What we have is mob rule and the mob wants “other people” to take the risks.

  • Dr No

    desirable->undesirable.

  • Dr No:

    Brian, your point presupposes that a republican slide to the left is both preventable and desirable.

    Yes, it does. Although the dissolution of the Republican party and the formation of a Jeffersonian party from the liberty-minded remains (with the rest joining the Social Democrats) would accomplish the same thing. I’m thinking of not a mere slide, but a slam to the right. As in an excising of all those not sufficiently liberty-minded. It could be a major problem in the Northeast, where even the Republicans are Democrats. But in the bulk of the nation, finding real Constitutionalists (and not xenophobic acolytes of Pat Buchanan) should not be terribly difficult. They’d have to endure the media anal-probe, of course — and I think that keeps a lot of them away. But it’s really the only hope we have to save the Republic.

    I also suspect your analysis to be true – people generally don’t want to be free, they want to be comfortable. And if that means not being allowed to do, say, or think certain things, well, that’s the price of comfort.

    Perry:

    I think there is some value to Ron Paul making some waves.

    This is where you and I differ. Ron Paul’s waves would completely swamp any nascent anti-statist movement by permanently associating it with kook-ism. Just as the 9/11 troofers have made any criticism of government now appear to be the venue of insane conspiracy-mongers, Ron Paul makes the pursuit of liberty seem the domain of cranks.

  • Ian B

    Babies are a likely consequence of sex. Sex is a baby-making system. It’s simply wrong to describe babies as an “unlikely” consequence of sex.

    Wrong. Getting pregnant is not all that likely, especially not from a single sexual encounter. Read up on the subject, and then try again.

    Please don’t patronise me. The reason wise people use contraceptives is that getting pregnant is by any reasonable definition likely. Or do you use the “she probably won’t get pregnant” strategy? That’s caused a fuck of a lot of babies over the years. There have been many cases of girls getting pregnant from their first sexual encounter. It’s a hit and miss affair, yes. You can’t guarantee that a girl will get pregnant from any particular act of intercourse, but to suggest that it is unlikely is ludicrous. Only a fool would have unprotected sex and trust to probability.

    It is, by any rational definition, a likely consequence of sex.

    As for whether sex is a “baby-making system,” I don’t think it is in the sense you’re implying.

    Ooh, I rather think it is. Maybe you aren’t inferring correctly.

    Sex for cats and other species that don’t pair-mate for life is a baby-making system; sex for humans is a bit more than that. It’s also a bonding system. If you think the only or even the main purpose of having sex is to create babies, you’re doing it wrong – and likely to be disappointed at your low hit rate besides.

    I didn’t discuss the purpose of sex, by which I presume you include the motivation of the participants. Sex is a baby making system by any rational definition, since it’s the system with which people make babies. Sex, in general, evolved for reproduction. Reproduction is caused by sex.

    Why us complicated sentient beings have sex is more complex, yes. We’re driven to it for pleasure. Please don’t try to paint me as some miserablist puritan who thinks people should only have sex to make babies; indeed I’m rather a sexual libertine. I even draw “adult” comics for a living, and they’re really not about making babies. They’re about recreational sex.

    But why do we seek recreational sex? Well, we can presume that evolution found it to be a rather good way to make babies. Babies are simply a natural, expected consequence of having sex, despite your portrayal of pregnancy as something that happens at random like meterorite strikes on gardeners. Anyone having sex has to take the possibility of baby-making into account.

    A couple having unprotected recreational sex and chanting “I do not want a baby” in unison are nonetheless knowingly participating in an activity with a high likelihood of making a baby. As such, their recreational motivation is entirely unimportant. The thing they are doing carries a high risk of making a baby, whatever they may want it to be about.

  • Rob Berbank

    I need some help.

    I was just out minding my own business, robbing a bank for fun. I didn’t intend anyone to get hurt but these guys wearing blue shirts with brass badges and guns showed up (who knew? My mate, Joe robbed two banks last month and got away with no problems) and well, shots were fired, mucho claret was spilled.

    So to cut to the chase, now friends of those blue shirted guys are after me wanting to violate my bodily integrity. Won’t you Libertarians help a guy out?

  • Won’t you Libertarians help a guy out?

    Sure. In our ideal world, damn near everyone in the bank, not just the robbers, will be armed, so Darwin will eventually cull the gene pool of people with a predisposition to rob banks.

  • Rob Berbank

    Oh, so that whole bodily integrity thing isn’t sacrosanct then. Whoda known? You’d think someone would make an ironic post to illustrate the point wouldn’tcha?

    I didn’t know that so I’m the victim. Guess that means I’ll go find some Marxists to help me out.

  • Ian B

    I think something that is basically overlooked is that the whole Creationist movement basically started as a reaction not so much to Darwin’s theory as to a fear of what Darwin’s theory may be used to justify, and this has largely been forgotten by both sides. Science-minded folks have this picture of religious harpies appearing from nowhere to assault them unprovoked in their universities and schoolrooms; but I would argue that the Creationists saw scientists and their fellow travellers seeking to use evolutinary thery as a justification for eugenics, which was the global warming of its day. They rightly feared that.

    We live in a world where the scientific left are determinedly pushing ahead with a technocratic ideology, and being enormously successful at getting it imposed. They seek to control people and make them live lives ordained optimal by scientific committee. Your optimal BMI will be calculated, your cholesterol intake, your allowed carbon footprint. Don’t do as you’re told and there’ll be trouble. And let’s not forget the Malthusian tendency who are getting more and more blase with their population control demands. This is very, very scary stuff.

    We may laugh at William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes trial. We must also remember that at the time eugenics laws were sprouting all over the western world, and it was only a war against the regime who took them to their logical conclusion, and the revulsion in the west that was a consequence, that put an end to them (and let us not forget that liberal paradise Sweden only grudgingly ended their eugenics programme in 1975!). Eugenics was a direct consequence of Darwinism, and a belief among scientists that they could build utopia, even if that meant a few eggshells on the floor.

    I think this really needs to be understood- the religious reaction that led to Creationism isn’t as irrational as we may think, it’s an understandable reaction against, effectively, progressive statist ideologies which are backed by a scientific establishment eager for oligarchy. This is a battle between two equally misguided and committed tribes, not cool reason versus lunacy.

  • Ian B

    I’m confused too. That comment above (me, 2007: 08:41pm) was supposed to be in the Creationism thread. How did it end up here???

    Because although it is a perfectly reasonable comment, it was off-topic there but not here… the Management

  • Rob – your proctologist called – they found your head.

    You were engaged in a crime. Your armed entry into the bank to rob it put the “bodily integrity” of every patron of the bank at risk. Your willingness to discharge your weapon at law officers did the same for them.

    Therefore your being shot was an act of self-defense. Perfectly reasonable and acceptable.

    Please turn your computer in to the nearest recycling depot.

  • Only a fool would have unprotected sex and trust to probability.

    Indeed. Nothing in my post says that you shouldn’t use protection when you have sex. I was responding to your assertion that sex is a “baby-making” system. I would argue that it is more than that. In r-selected species, such as seahorses, alright, it is. They fertilize generally every time they have sex. But in K-selected species, such as humans, sex isn’t all that effective at making babies – at least not on a case-by-case basis. Now why evolve a “baby-making” system that’s so crappy at making babies? I can only think that sex in humans is for other things too – like pair-bonding. To the extent that pair-bonding has anything to do with children, it has to do with raising them, not making them. And indeed, why have oxytocin involved in sex if it is only a baby-making system?

    A couple having unprotected recreational sex and chanting “I do not want a baby” in unison are nonetheless knowingly participating in an activity with a high likelihood of making a baby.

    Kindly read the link I included. The activity they are participating in doesn’t have a “high likelihood of making a baby.” It’s only about 3-5%, which is not “likely” by anyone’s definition.

    Anyone having sex has to take the possibility of baby-making into account.

    Absolutely. Just like anyone driving a car has to take injury into account. In the one case we wear condums, in the other we wear seatbelts. If injury results from a car crash, I take steps to speed my recovery and lessen the damage – such as going to a hospital. If my girlfriend gets pregnant and doesn’t want to be, what’s to stop her from also going to a hospital and taking steps to minimize the damage?

    The only thing would be the right of the foetus. I have already said that it’s unlikely we’re going to see eye-to-eye on this since you don’t think of “bodily integrity” as the fundamental right, but I do. But I think we can agree that the larger evolutionary purpose of sex is a bit beside the point of the discussion we’re having. Our discussion is one of rights-against-rights. Bringing up evolutionary theory and lots of science I’m guessing you’re not an expert on is yet another in a long series of diversionary tactics, nothing more.

  • Joshua –

    If you are such a believer in bodily integrity, then I presume you’d have no trouble criminalizing those who knowingly leave home with the flu?

    No? Then stop pretending that you feel that bodily integrity is what you are defending. You are defending the right to commit murder for the sake of convenience and casual sex. You’re just making a post-hoc rationalization because the fact that you wish to commit murder upsets you.

  • Ian B

    I was responding to your assertion that sex is a “baby-making” system. I would argue that it is more than that. […blah…] And indeed, why have oxytocin involved in sex if it is only a baby-making system?

    Ah. I didn’t say it’s only a baby making system. I said it’s a baby making system. My oven bakes buns. My oven doesn’t only bake buns. My computer is a system that sends email. My computer isn’t a system that only sends email.

    How are we doing here?

    Kindly read the link I included.

    I did, and I love being patronised. Carry on, it makes you look evernso smart.

    The activity they are participating in doesn’t have a “high likelihood of making a baby.” It’s only about 3-5%, which is not “likely” by anyone’s definition.

    That depends on the circumstance. If your car had a 4% chance of exploding each time you start the engine, would that seem “unlikely”?

    Furthermore, your link to the respected journal WikiAnswers.com seems to agree with me. I quote-

    “Now, PLEASE do not use these odds in support of unprotected sex. Many, MANY girls have become pregnant from a single, unprotected sexual act, and in essence you’re playing Russian Roulette with your own body. Sure, the odds are in your favor, but it’s still a huge risk if you’re not ready for a child. ”

    You can argue about the definition of “likely” if you likely, but a 4% risk is significant considering the consequence of losing the gamble. If I do something that presents me with a 4% risk of losing £1.00, I may risk it. If I have a 4% risk of losing £1,000,000, I’ll think much more carefully. It becomes a considerable risk. So we can talk in those terms if you like.

    But let’s check some reality here. Any normal person thinks having unprotected sex presents a likelihood of a pregnancy. Ye and ye alone seem to be saying that the risks are small. In practical terms, a 4% risk is large. Are you really arguing that a woman who knowingly has sex without contraception is not knowingly accepting the risk of pregnancy, or are you just trying to pick apart my use of the term “likely” on semantic grounds?

    Absolutely. Just like anyone driving a car has to take injury into account.

    Indeed. If you crashed on one journey out of every 25, wouldn’t it be wise to stop driving?

    In the one case we wear condums, in the other we wear seatbelts. If injury results from a car crash, I take steps to speed my recovery and lessen the damage – such as going to a hospital. If my girlfriend gets pregnant and doesn’t want to be, what’s to stop her from also going to a hospital and taking steps to minimize the damage?

    Because there’s now somebody else involved in her “damage”, which is an interesting term in itself since you’ve now relegated a human being (the baby) to mere “damage”. This is the central problem here. I’m discussing the rights of two human beings; you are discussing the rights of one, relegating the other variously to “damage” or a parasite (yes I know I used that term as well). The person created has become a mere inconvenience. THis is central to your justification. You don’t want to consider its rights, so you simply deny it has any, and you’ve twisted and turned all over the place, trying to deny those rights based on it not having existed previously and all sorts. Your girlfriend can only minimise her “damage” by inflicting greater damage on another human being. If another human had to be killed to speed your recovery from a car crash, then there would indeed be a question as to whether you could do that, wouldn’t there?

    The only thing would be the right of the foetus. I have already said that it’s unlikely we’re going to see eye-to-eye on this since you don’t think of “bodily integrity” as the fundamental right, but I do.

    So do I. The problem I have here is there is one human being who can only regain her temporarily compromised bodily integrity by fatally compromising someone else’s.

    But I think we can agree that the larger evolutionary purpose of sex is a bit beside the point of the discussion we’re having.

    I agree, but then I didn’t start that phase of the discussion. I merely pointed out that eggs and sperm and wee-wees and woo-woos make babies. It was you who started on about the grand evolutionary reason for human sexual behaviour.

    Our discussion is one of rights-against-rights. Bringing up evolutionary theory and lots of science I’m guessing you’re not an expert on is yet another in a long series of diversionary tactics, nothing more.

    evernso smart…

  • Sunfish

    I would rather see the truly wicked Hillary Clinton win and wreak the havoc she will wreak than another Big Government Republican win and see the USA move incrementally in the wrong direction yet again… and having the Ron Paul (and Tancredo and Thompson) supporters stay home in disgust would be a powerful signal to the Republican party

    ..because that worked so well for us in 1992.

    There’s a difference between ‘bad’ and ‘fucking disastrous.’ Merely ‘bad’ buys us a little time to think of a plan B. Electing a Hillary gives us one hell of a lot less time to come up with another idea.

    We sent that message in 1992. Some sent it in 1996. We sent that message in 2006. Every time the right in this country throws a tantrum, things get worse instead of better.

  • Ian B

    We sent that message in 1992. Some sent it in 1996. We sent that message in 2006. Every time the right in this country throws a tantrum, things get worse instead of better.

    Isn’t the problem here for small governmentists that really there isn’t an effective strategy to send a message? If you support a big guv republican, they take that as support for big guvmint. If you don’t support them, the Democrat wins and everyone presumes that the electorate favour big guvmint.

    Same problem here in UK, not that it matters much now we’re just a region of the EUSSR. If only big governmentists are presented as the electable candidates, the electorate have no means to register their disapproval. For example, for me as a lowly elector; at the next election I could punish the Tories by voting UKIP. But since UKIP have no chance of winning, and since their votes will almost all come from disenchanted Tories, I’ll just be helping Labour to another term, who will then declare this as more proof of the “progressive consensus”.

    There doesn’t seem to be a clear way around this.

  • Ian –

    It’s a double-edged sword really.

    We’ve got people in this country who argue that a vote for a Libertarian is a de facto vote for a Democrat – strictly on the basis that if a Republican doesn’t win, a Democrat must. There is almost no thought of the possibility of a third-party candidate actually winning — so when presented with a false choice of two evils, evil always wins.

    In the last election we had here, there were two choices for governor – I voted for neither. I voted for every third party (commie or not) on the ticket solely as a protest vote.

    But what would have happened if 40% of the electorate had done the same?

    “Cthulu 2008 – why vote for the lesser evil?”

  • Sunfish

    We’ve got people in this country who argue that a vote for a Libertarian is a de facto vote for a Democrat – strictly on the basis that if a Republican doesn’t win, a Democrat must. There is almost no thought of the possibility of a third-party candidate actually winning — so when presented with a false choice of two evils, evil always wins.

    That’s for two reasons.

    1) The two parties have rigged the game.

    2) Third-party Federal candidates in the US almost universally are well-dressed versions of a schizophrenic on a park bench. Nader, Means[1], Perot, Badnarik, Buchanan, the asshat that the Prohibition Party keeps dreaming up, none of them even appear particularly sane to Mr. and Mrs. Middle America. The reason that Buchanan has borderline-mainstream credentials is because he was a speechwriter for a RINO 35 years ago. Perot had money, which automagically made him interesting to the media of 1992.

    And thus my point: I don’t have an easy answer. Easy answers are something that Democrats and Labourites and other populist types deal. The world is a complicated place. And that’s why I’ll vote to put the brakes on if I can’t get to the steering wheel.

    [1] Yeah, I know that someone called him a libertarian once. He changes political affiliation with the frequency that the average American changes socks.

  • Sunfish

    Let me expand a little.

    Ever study CPR? I teach it.

    It’s a holding pattern. It will not typically restart a stopped heart. What it does is, it buys time. It forces oxygen into the blood and circulates it, thus delaying cell death and in particular brain death. That’s why I tell my students that, once they start, they need to continue until they are relieved of care for the victim or it becomes unsafe to continue: Doing your thirty-and-two slows the rate at which things get worse while you or another rescuer tries to come up with a better option.

    The better option, for the lay rescuer (meaning the general public or even the non-paramedic professional) is defibrillation: an electric shock delivered to the heart to force it back into a normal rythymn (sp?). Or, a paramedic or physician trained in ACLS will do the same but combined with certain drugs.

    My point is: I think of the US body politic as having a stopped heart. And plenty of us are busy applying chest compressions and ventilation in order to slow the rate at which things are getting worse. However, the purists are demanding that we stop CPR because defibrillation is so much better.

    They’re right, in one sense. They’re also completely missing the point that there is no such beast at the moment, and our choices are to either stick our hands in our pockets and let the patient die[1] or continue CPR, which admittedly has a chance that the patient won’t recover but also has a chance that we’ll hang on long enough to try something else.

    [1] The bloodiest war in our history was against ourselves. That’s IMHO a possible outcome of a Clinton presidency. To me, it’s worth having to suffer through four years of some lying sack of New York/New England crap in the Oval Office to avoid a repeat. I don’t like violence retail. I’m terrified of the possibility of violence wholesale even aside from being caught in the middle.

  • If another human had to be killed to speed your recovery from a car crash, then there would indeed be a question as to whether you could do that, wouldn’t there?

    There would be, yes. And if another person’s recovery from a car crash required him to live parasitic off of me for the better part of a year, there would also be questions as to whether he was allowed to do that without my continued consent, I suspect.

    Indeed. If you crashed on one journey out of every 25, wouldn’t it be wise to stop driving?

    It would be. And if the risks of pregnancy were similar, then I suspect sex for pleasure would as good as never happen. Since there is birth control, and since the risk of pregnancy from a single encounter is much lower than 25% even without it, sex for pleasure does happen, and with reasonable certainty that pregnancy will not occur.

    I’m discussing the rights of two human beings; you are discussing the rights of one, relegating the other variously to “damage” or a parasite (yes I know I used that term as well).

    No. I am discussing the rights of two and concluding that the rights of one are more important than the rights of the other. You are trying to take away the woman’s ownership of her body on the basis of babies “floating in” and being “put there” (as though they existed before they existed) and sex being evolution’s “baby-making system” (as though what a thing is evolved for is a moral issue) and shockingly bad analogies comparing a woman having an abortion to a rapist.

    (Oh, wait, I forgot – you support legal abortion on “pragmatic” grounds. In your world, the foetus has an unqualified right to life and the woman fully “consented” to its “tennancy” by having sex, her bodily integrity is only “temporarily compromised” by pregnancy, and it’s a question of “murder” vs. “9 months inconvenience,” and yet you still think it’s OK to kill the foetus for “pragmatic” reasons, whatever that means. Not because the woman owns her body, and not because the foetus’ right to life is in any way qualified, but for “pragmatic” reasons. That’s just lovely.)

    You don’t want to consider its rights, so you simply deny it has any and you’ve twisted and turned all over the place, trying to deny those rights based on it not having existed previously and all sorts.

    Good grief. Talking about the baby’s lack of prior existence was in response to your exceedingly bizarre assertion that the baby had been “forced” into the womb, which it obviously can’t have been if it didn’t even exist before it was there. My case is, and has been consistently throughout this discussion, that the woman owns her body, the foetus has a right to life, and the woman’s ownership of her body trumps the foetus’ right to life. No twisting, no turning – it’s been the same case all along.

    People own their bodies. That includes pregnant women. There is no such thing as a right to live parasitic on another individual. As it is her body, it is absolutely and in every way her decision what use that body is put to. Not yours, not evolution’s, not the foetus’, certainly not society’s – not anyone’s but hers.

  • OOPS!

    I’ve misread Ian B’s point above as 25% rather than “1 in 25″ (i.e. the 5% I was talking about).

    Let me rephrase:

    Indeed. If you crashed on one journey out of every 25, wouldn’t it be wise to stop driving?

    It would be. And since the risks for pregnancy are similar, then I advise people to use birth control. Since there is birth control, and since the risk of pregnancy from a single encounter is only about 5% even without it, sex for pleasure does happen, and with reasonable certainty that pregnancy will not occur.

    Apologies.

  • Ian B

    Me: If another human had to be killed to speed your recovery from a car crash, then there would indeed be a question as to whether you could do that, wouldn’t there?

    You: There would be, yes. And if another person’s recovery from a car crash required him to live parasitic off of me for the better part of a year, there would also be questions as to whether he was allowed to do that without my continued consent, I suspect.

    That’s not the same issue as we were just discussing. In your original scenario, the “damaged” party is you, not the “parasite”.

    Me: Indeed. If you crashed on one journey out of every 25, wouldn’t it be wise to stop driving?

    You: It would be. And if the risks of pregnancy were similar, then I suspect sex for pleasure would as good as never happen. Since there is birth control, and since the risk of pregnancy from a single encounter is much lower than 25% even without it, sex for pleasure does happen, and with reasonable certainty that pregnancy will not occur.

    [Ignoring your arithmetic error] Our discussion about risks of unprotected sex focussed us on that, so let’s stick with that. We know that many abortions are due to women knowingly taking a signficant (is that a better word than likely?) risk of becoming pregnant by not using contraception. I admit I do not know the proportion. As such, many abortions are not so much an accident as a withdrawal of prior consent, either overt or implicit in their actions.

    As two personal examples; my married aunt had an affair and left her husband for the man, knowingly conceived a child- and then the man turned out to be a violent lying asshat who she had to get rid of. So she had an abortion.

    Another example is a woman I know who had had 3 abortions. She was stridently lesbian. Except when drunk, when she had a penchant for inviting male cab drivers into her home for unprotected sex. Despite your assertion that such pregnancies are “unlikely”. (And we must remember that the 4% is for one sexual act, whereas most people who have unprotected sex will do so repeatedly).

    In each of those cases the woman had made no effort to prevent a baby being made, and yet you apparently assert that she bears no responsibility for the pregnancy and the baby is the one who must pay the price for her choice.

    We must also follow your reasoning here. If unprotected sex pregnancies are so unlikely as you assert, then the risks from contraceptive failure must be even rarer, surely? We must presume therefore that a very large proportion of abortions are due to unprotected sex, which is a choice of the woman who got pregnant.

    No. I am discussing the rights of two and concluding that the rights of one are more important than the rights of the other.

    I haven’t seen you previously discuss those rights nor even accept that the baby has any.

    You are trying to take away the woman’s ownership of her body

    No, I’m not trying to take away anyone’s ownership of anything. One way of putting my argument would be that (outside of rape) the woman has voluntarily surrendered her pure ownership of her body by taking actions which she knows may cause that to happen.

    on the basis of babies “floating in” and being “put there” (as though they existed before they existed)

    That is a parody of my position, using semantics. We’ve already seen that prior existence has no relevance, and at no point did I assert that babies actually “float in” or are “put there”. I said that the baby has no choice in being in the situation that it has been placed in by others. You can desperately pick at language if you like, or focus on meaning. It’s your choice.

    and sex being evolution’s “baby-making system” (as though what a thing is evolved for is a moral issue)

    Again, I did not assert any teleological moral position. I merely said that the reproductive organs are a mechanical system which makes babies. Which they are. That term “reproductive organs” is a clue there. As is the term “genitals”.

    and shockingly bad analogies comparing a woman having an abortion to a rapist.

    No, again you misrepresent me. I pointed out that soebody else’s shockingly bad analogy actually put the woman in the same position as the rapist within that bad analogy, and thus the analogy didn’t support the position it naively seemed to support.

    (Oh, wait, I forgot – you support legal abortion on “pragmatic” grounds. In your world, the foetus has an unqualified right to life and the woman fully “consented” to its “tennancy” by having sex, her bodily integrity is only “temporarily compromised” by pregnancy, and it’s a question of “murder” vs. “9 months inconvenience,” and yet you still think it’s OK to kill the foetus for “pragmatic” reasons, whatever that means. Not because the woman owns her body, and not because the foetus’ right to life is in any way qualified, but for “pragmatic” reasons. That’s just lovely.)

    Yes, basically, and that’s because I recognise that real life is messy, and abortion is a unique situation where rights clash so spectacularly that there isn’t a good answer. I recognise that women will do it anyway, and that an early abortion of an early stage foetus which may not even have a nervous system of any sort yet may well be the best pragmatic thing even though it is taking a life. I’d prefer the world to be without war, too, but accept that that may be difficult on a pragmatic level to achieve.

    I take a similar position to that of Dr No’s earler post, which is that I would not ban abortion, but neither should we pretend that it is not what it is, and as such it is a profound moral decision far removed from a decision to e.g. prevent conception by technological means, which has effectively no moral dimension. I hope we can reach a stage at some future date where there are very few abortions because more people take responsibility for their actions before the disaster occurs. We should not lose sight of the fact that having an abortion is taking a life.

    I’d also like our scientific/medical industries to seek far better contraceptive methods, since current ones have room for improvement. Many women don’t feel comfortable constantly drugging themselves (and suffering side effects) while condoms are frankly pretty ghastly and can be difficult to apply for the those young men whose sperm causes many of the unwanted pregnancies, and so on.

    But yes, my actual policy position is grungy and inconsistent- but I don’t think it’s honest to get around that simply by pretending that the issue doesn’t exist, primarily by the astonishing tactic of denying that the foetus even has any humanity or is even alive.

    Good grief. Talking about the baby’s lack of prior existence was in response to your exceedingly bizarre assertion that the baby had been “forced” into the womb, which it obviously can’t have been if it didn’t even exist before it was there.

    I said the baby had no choice in being there, so stop with this straw man that I had said that somehow a baby had been “forced in”. I said (several times, I think) that the baby is having force used against it to evict it, despite it having not been the one who chose it to be there or to exist in the first place. That is not the same as your cartoonish “forced in” and I’m sure you know that.

    My case is, and has been consistently throughout this discussion, that the woman owns her body, the foetus has a right to life, and the woman’s ownership of her body trumps the foetus’ right to life. No twisting, no turning – it’s been the same case all along.

    I don’t think any third parties who have read this discussion will agree that that’s a good summary of your position. I don’t think you’ve even accepted that the foetus has a right to life prior to this posting, for instance.

    People own their bodies. That includes pregnant women. There is no such thing as a right to live parasitic on another individual. As it is her body, it is absolutely and in every way her decision what use that body is put to. Not yours, not evolution’s, not the foetus’, certainly not society’s – not anyone’s but hers.

    Well, that’s certainly an opinion. Unfortunately you haven’t really presented any evidence as to why one person’s ownership of their body “trumps” another’s right to life, specifically when the person who is to lose their right to life is an innocent victim of the decisions of the person claiming violation of their ownership of their body.

    That paragraph is basically just a statement of the default pro-choice position, which is where we started. The question is whether, having taken actions which knowingly compromise your right of ownership, you have the right to grab it back at the expense of another life. If we see sex as a kind of contract, there is an implicit clause “accepting the terms of this contract accepts the possibility of pregnancy”. Everyone who has sex, even with contraception, has to recognise that they may cause a pregnancy. I’m not saying people should abstain. God forbid. I am saying that they should recognise that one consequence of it may be the woman getting pregnant, and that at that point however much one may not want it to be so, a new responsibility has arrived in the couple’s lives.

    I thought I’d been party to a pregnancy once, for several miserable days. It turned out to be a very late period (spookily, it later turned out that her twin sister had just become pregnant). I shall never forget the relief when she texted me to say her period had started. :) We’d used contraception and neither of us wanted a baby at that point. Nevertheless we both recognised in those days that if she was pregnant, the whole ball game had changed and difficult decisions were on the table.

    This is the fundamental perhaps of what I’m arguing here. That, in line with libertarian belief in personal responsibility, people must accept the responsibilities associated with sex, rather than sweep them under the table by denying rights or even humanity to the innocent third parties who may be created as a result.

    That’s all. Abortion may be a necessary evil; but let us not pretend that it is anything other than the taking of life for selfish reasons.

  • Plamus

    Ian B, I think you are the one patronizing. Joshua has made a very coherent argument about when “something” becomes the bearer of rights. You try to shoot his argument, but provide no opinion. Is it when the sperm cell penetrates the ovum’s wall? Is it when a fertilized egg becomes implanted in the uterus? Is it when you have heartbeat, brain activity, unique fingerprints (all of those have been picked by various parties to the argument, along with many more)? It’s disingenuous to, in effect, say “No, it’s before that!”, but not to say when – and you probably do not do so because you are aware that, taken to its logical conclusion, this will take you into the camp of the Pope, claiming condoms kill human beings. Or perhaps even further, into the if-you-are-not-having-sex-right-now-then-you-are-killing-human-beings camp. If you want to claim that a potential human being is a human being, and as such deserves rights, state so, but be prepared to face the thorny issues, and thorny they shall be, Sir – like Plan B pills, condoms, or even day-of-the-month contraception methods being designated genocide.

  • Ian B

    Also-

    There is no such thing as a right to live parasitic on another individual.

    I ask again- do parents have a right to not care for their (post-birth) offspring if they do not care to do so? May you starve your baby to death? It’s entirely parasitic on you, remember. (If you care to answer this, presume that there’s no other person or agency you can palm it off to).

    Do people have moral obligations beyond their formal rights?

  • Ian B

    Ian B, I think you are the one patronizing.

    I’m sorry, I’m trying not to be. But I admit I find it annoying when people do this internets thing of trying to ridicule their opponent by posting links to primary-school level explanations, the kind of “I don’t think you know anything about astronomy, here’s a map of the solar system on wikipedia” malarkey.

    Joshua has made a very coherent argument about when “something” becomes the bearer of rights.

    Well, not really. I’m not sure when Joshua thinks that is, except perhaps when it’s not “parasitic” which is by any reasonable argument some considerable time after birth. Presumably that allows me to play whack-a-mole with babies half out of the birth canal, for instance. Look, it’s crowned! WACK.

    Is it when the sperm cell penetrates the ovum’s wall? Is it when a fertilized egg becomes implanted in the uterus? Is it when you have heartbeat, brain activity, unique fingerprints (all of those have been picked by various parties to the argument, along with many more)

    Heartbeat, brain activity and so on are indeed entirely abritrary, let alone “unique fingerprints”.

    The fertilisation process is fairly rapid and for practical purposes we can simply say, when it is complete. When there’s a viable foetus is good enough. That might not have exact precision, but we don’t need exact precision since I don’t know of practical instances wherein anybody knows with that precision precisely what is occurring within the womb. We simply don’t need to know that. In a sense, it’s an argument for pedants.

    I think we may get into the morning after pill here, so I’ll nail my colours to the mast by saying that while that may in some cases act technically an abortion, I’m not arguing against that, and never would. The woman taking it doesn’t know whether it prevents fertilisation, has no effect (since no fertilisation would have occurred anyway) or aborts a very primitive foetus.

    It’s disingenuous to, in effect, say “No, it’s before that!”, but not to say when – and you probably do not do so because you are aware that, taken to its logical conclusion, this will take you into the camp of the Pope, claiming condoms kill human beings. Or perhaps even further, into the if-you-are-not-having-sex-right-now-then-you-are-killing-human-beings camp.

    Yes, but that’s an absurd conclusion. Sperm are not human beings and neither are eggs, they are devices which create human beings, which when created are distinct from the sperm and eggs (which have different DNA, most obviously).

    If you want to claim that a potential human being is a human being, and as such deserves rights, state so, but be prepared to face the thorny issues,

    I don’t have to face those thorny issues since I’ve no interest in “potential” human beings. We’re discussing actual human beings, not a zillion discarded cells gluing together the pages of Juggs Monthly.

  • Ian B

    Before I get jumped on for “different DNA” I’d better clarify that as “consistently different DNA configurations”. Will that do?

  • Plamus

    Ian, that’s fair, “point of fertilization” is an honest position, even though I do not share it for various reasons.

    Some of them have been summarized by Joshua.

    Others have to do with the fact that, while the death of (sometimes alleged) human beings is a tragedy, it will still happen, and just because you want to legislate it away, it will not go away. Analogy: sometimes, a baby gets dropped on its head, and dies – accidents happen (even to very careful and responsible people), and it’s not very productive to say, that by carrying the baby, the parent assumes a responsibility for placing it safely on a non-elevated surface, or that a baby has an inherent right to not die from an accidental drop. Tragic? Of course. Would the opposite outcome be preferable? For sure. Should we conclude that parents better not carry their babies without a highly-paid and highly-trained government official present, or risk going to jail? I do not think so. End of analogy. Thus, educating people about safe sex (or safety belts in cars) is okay by me; forcing them to have it (or wear them) – not okay, even if it can lead to loss of (potential) life. Call me jaded, but life leads to death.

    The truth of the matter is, the little ivory tower of relative certainty about what a human being is is about to be dynamited soon enough by advances in biotechnology. The sooner we address the implications, the better, as they will be fuglier than abortion issue.

  • I said the baby had no choice in being there, so stop with this straw man that I had said that somehow a baby had been “forced in”.

    It isn’t a straw man: you said it. It’s in your December 29, 2007 02:02 AM comment, and I quoted the relevant section at the top of my first comment in this discussion. Your exact words were that the foetus “is required to bear the full responsibility and accept death as the punishment for being forced into a womb tenancy.”

    I said that the baby has no choice in being in the situation that it has been placed in by others. You can desperately pick at language if you like, or focus on meaning. It’s your choice.

    It isn’t desperately picking at language – it’s trying to get you to see one of the errors you’re making. That error too was identified in the very first comment I made in this discussion.

    I don’t think any third parties who have read this discussion will agree that that’s a good summary of your position. I don’t think you’ve even accepted that the foetus has a right to life prior to this posting, for instance.

    I think any honest third party would agree that’s a good summary of my position. Lines that might have communicated the same point to you if you had been reading in good faith include:

    It’s the parasitism that nullifies its right to continued existence in the mother’s womb if she wants it gone, not the extent of its development.

    and

    Likewise, the biological reality of a baby’s parasitism doesn’t elevate its right to life over that of its mother’s to bodily integrity.

    and

    Here we have two inalienable rights to bodily integrity, one of which depends on the other’s body and one of which does not. Clearly, the independent right (the mother’s) wins.

    Among many others.

    And then there’s this bit of whining:

    But I admit I find it annoying when people do this internets thing of trying to ridicule their opponent by posting links to primary-school level explanations, the kind of “I don’t think you know anything about astronomy, here’s a map of the solar system on wikipedia” malarkey.

    And I admit that it was meant to annoy you. You are haughty in your tone and disingenuous in your characterization of my arguments.

    For example:

    I’m not sure when Joshua thinks that is, except perhaps when it’s not “parasitic” which is by any reasonable argument some considerable time after birth.

    I have answered this two times already. I admitted that this issue was messy and said that I would support a system of laws that required the woman to be responsible for it if no one could be found. Ignoring those answers doesn’t make them go away, Ian – they’re recorded above for everyone to read.

    If you do not wish to be patronized, start by speaking more politely yourself. At the very least, characterize the positions you’re arguing against accurately. I’m sorry you don’t like the source I linked, but I think you’ll find the numbers in it are sound regardless of whether they come from Wikipedia or a textbook you would respect.

    I pointed out that soebody else’s shockingly bad analogy actually put the woman in the same position as the rapist within that bad analogy, and thus the analogy didn’t support the position it naively seemed to support.

    Alright, fair enough. I change “shockingly bad analogy” to “shockingly bad characterization of someone else’s pretty good analogy.”

    I take a similar position to that of Dr No’s earler post, which is that I would not ban abortion, but neither should we pretend that it is not what it is, and as such it is a profound moral decision far removed from a decision to e.g. prevent conception by technological means, which has effectively no moral dimension.

    This I wholeheartedly agree with. My concern is that that decision remain where it belongs – with the woman.

  • Sheri

    Get a grip. The man stands for every value of ethics. Give him some room to move. Not every candidate has to see eye to eye on everything you hold dear. Just look at his campaign, not every single detail in his brain. He has the best ideas I’ve seen to date in any of the candidates! If you can hold this against him than you are a closed minded baffoon.
    Live and learn! Sheri

  • Ian B

    I said the baby had no choice in being there, so stop with this straw man that I had said that somehow a baby had been “forced in”.

    It isn’t a straw man: you said it. It’s in your December 29, 2007 02:02 AM comment, and I quoted the relevant section at the top of my first comment in this discussion. Your exact words were that the foetus “is required to bear the full responsibility and accept death as the punishment for being forced into a womb tenancy.”

    If I appear “haughty” it is because I am annoyed at having to continually defend myself against mischaracterisation of what I’ve said, as with the above example. “Forced into a tenancy” is not the same as “forced in”. It means the baby is in a contractual position without having made a choice, whereas your continual use of “forced in” implies that I’m trying to suggest that the baby is physically forced in (into the womb) in some way, thus leading you to ask where it was before, which is not what I meant and I genuinely believe that you know that.

    I simply meant that the baby has been placed in the situation by the actions of others. It bears no responsibility for its existence.

    whining

    Please avoid inflammatory language.

    If you do not wish to be patronized, start by speaking more politely yourself

    See above.

    And I admit that it was meant to annoy you. You are haughty in your tone and disingenuous in your characterization of my arguments.

    I have repeatedly shown that you are consistently misrepresenting my arguments in order to sidetrack them into semantic blind alleys. [blah blah blah deleted the rest of what I wrote here because…]

    …we are now down to arguing about the argument, so maybe it’s time to call it a day. We’ve each stated our positions and since neither of us is going to in any meaningful way change each others’ mind, and I have some work to get on with and a looming deadline, perhaps we should agree to disagree. I don’t think either of us have any new arguments left to bring to the table. If nothing else, perhaps we’ve both given some readers of this thread some food for thought.

  • It means the baby is in a contractual position without having made a choice, whereas your continual use of “forced in” implies that I’m trying to suggest that the baby is physically forced in (into the womb) in some way, thus leading you to ask where it was before, which is not what I meant and I genuinely believe that you know that.

    As I genuinely believe you know that the argument I was making is independent of whether you were using “forced” in the literal sense or “forced” in the sense of “in a contractual position without consent.” I was arguing against this latter, but never mind.

    Please avoid inflammatory language.

    Why? You haven’t.

    …we are now down to arguing about the argument, so maybe it’s time to call it a day. We’ve each stated our positions and since neither of us is going to in any meaningful way change each others’ mind…

    Agreed – some time ago, actually.

  • William H. Stoddard

    I ask again- do parents have a right to not care for their (post-birth) offspring if they do not care to do so? May you starve your baby to death? It’s entirely parasitic on you, remember. (If you care to answer this, presume that there’s no other person or agency you can palm it off to).

    Do people have moral obligations beyond their formal rights?

    That’s not really comparable, though. A parent who does not wish to feed a child—or cannot afford to, a real possibility in some parts of the world, and everywhere for much of history—does not have to starve the child, if “starve” means keeping it somewhere where it cannot get food, and not providing it with any. They can just as well put it in some visible public place, where anyone able to support a child is able to take it in. In other words, they can sever their relationship with it without killing it. Given current technology, this cannot be done with a fetus, at least not in the early stages of development.

    There is an alternative to infanticide if you wish to end a parental relationship. There is no alternative to abortion, particularly during the early months of pregnancy when abortion is best performed.

  • William H. Stoddard

    If we see sex as a kind of contract, there is an implicit clause “accepting the terms of this contract accepts the possibility of pregnancy”.

    Who is that contract made with? Even stipulating that a fetus is a person, a contract cannot be made with a person if that person does not exist. Before the sexual act, the fetus does not exist. In fact, unless you set the boundary of personhood at fertilization, it normally does not exist until some time after the end of the sexual act. So any contract that is made in consideration of the plan to have sex is one that the fetus cannot be a party to, and cannot have acquired rights under.

    If there is a contract, it is between the sexual partners. But they could just have well have agreed not to procreate—to use contraception, and to terminate any pregnancy that occurs through contraceptive failure. Indeed, if we’re supposing that the woman wants to abort, it’s fairly unlikely that she has previously agreed to a contract to carry the child to term.

  • William H. Stoddard

    You can only argue that the unborn have no rights if you deny their humanity. I find that argument somewhat flawed and frankly rather chilling.

    In the case of an ectopic pregancy; since the foetus will die anyway, as will the mother, there’s clearly a case for making the best of a bad situation (abortion).

    Let me point out that there is no legal situation involving a person who has already been born where “they’re going to die anyway” is taken as a justification for killing them. It isn’t even accepted as grounds for euthanasia of a person who actively desires a quick and painless death. It certainly isn’t accepted when the only reason for the earlier death is that it would be advantageous for someone else. In fact, the criminal law, at least in California, explicitly states that the fact that you are in peril of death does not justify you in taking the life of an innocent person: you are not permitted to save your own life at the cost of theirs.

    Therefore, if you accept the belief that it’s okay to abort an ectopic pregnancy because the fetus is going to die anyway, you are already treating it as having a lesser right to life than a human being has after being born. You yourself are, in some measure, denying its humanity. At this point, we’ve already settled what we are; we’re haggling over the price.

  • Joshua, with respect, regarding:

    You are trying to take away the woman’s ownership of her body on the basis of babies “floating in” and being “put there” (as though they existed before they existed) and sex being evolution’s “baby-making system” (as though what a thing is evolved for is a moral issue) and shockingly bad analogies comparing a woman having an abortion to a rapist.

    Well, babies don’t exactly “float in” but they are certainly “put there” every bit as much as a stalk of wheat sown by a farmer. The stalk did not exist, true, before the farmer put the seed there–but there’s certainly no other reason for the existence of that particular stalk. It’s disingenuous to suggest the farmer did not “cause” the stalk to exist, that he did not “put [it] there”.

    People own their bodies. That includes pregnant women. There is no such thing as a right to live parasitic on another individual. As it is her body, it is absolutely and in every way her decision what use that body is put to. Not yours, not evolution’s, not the foetus’, certainly not society’s – not anyone’s but hers.

    What is “parasitic” about the baby’s relationship with the mother? The mother “put [it] there”, volitionally. Regardless of intent, there is simply no other way–barring rape–for the baby to exist. If human beings have inherent rights from conception then the contract to support those rights for the term of the pregnancy, including the right to life, is originally and volitionally put into place by the mother when she chooses to engage in the only act that makes human beings.

    I would support a system of laws that required the woman to be responsible for it if no one could be found

    Why? What argument could you muster for that that didn’t fly in the face of your arguments against the mother’s responsibility regarding it’s existence in the first place?

    Perry:

    “Unchosen pregnancy is to chosen pregnancy as unchosen sex is to chosen sex. It is a relationship with another human being that the pregnant woman did not consent to have and must not be forced to have.”

    That is a very powerful way of putting it. I have always had difficulty with this issue and that is a thought provoking argument.

    It is a powerful way of putting it, but that doesn’t make it correct.

    The mother *does* consent to the relationship, by volitionally doing the only thing that makes babies and especially and specifically by doing so while being the only type of being that can get pregnant. Again, if human beings have inherent rights from conception, then women create the contract with a given foetus simply by allowing the possibility of it’s existence. Women can get pregnant and men can’t, just like women can’t get prostate cancer and men can. These aspects are simply part of what we are.

    Pregnancy and sex are not one and the same (men can have sex all day long and never get pregnant), so the parallel asserted by Joshua does not stand.