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The “differend” is not just a difference of opinion

Perhaps the most stark form of differend lies in what philosophical logicians call ‘The Fallacy of Many Questions’. When, in the court dock for instance, a wily prosecutor asks a witness for the defence, “And do you still have a drink problem, sir?”, the witness had better be on his toes to avoid confirming the prosecutor’s implied allegation. If he answers “yes” – well, the game is over. If he answers “no”, then he implies, at least, that he has had a drink problem. One hopes that a good judge would overrule this question, on grounds of its leading the witness – that is to say, leading him without his knowing it to confirm some version of the drink-problem narrative, the framework of the question having excluded the option that there neither is nor ever was a problem with alcohol consumption.

Owen Jones’s ‘Denier’ allegation commits a similar fallacy: either Sikora, Gupta et al. do not deny ‘Covid’; or they do deny ‘Covid,’ in which case they are cast in the role of refusing to accept that Britons have this year died in their thousands. The option of accepting that there have been deaths but rejecting that they have been extraordinarily due to a ‘Covid pandemic’ is taken out of play.

Sinéad Murphy discussing An Incredible Berk of Staggering Ignorance.

The “differend” is not just a difference of opinion, it is a disconnect between fundamentally different world views. This is a discussion about what in these parts we refer to as “meta-context”, the unspoken & largely unexamined axioms that underpin how people understand everything.

20 comments to The “differend” is not just a difference of opinion

  • Diogenese2

    George Orwell was late to the game with “newspeak” the only language that shrinks in time .Consider Genesis 11

    “ And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
    6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
    7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
    8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.”

    They are setting up an impossible task , just like “zero emissions”, for permanent control.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – if one does not agree with their policy one is assumed to be denying the problem.

    For example, Mr Owen Jones might suggest that in response to a flood we bark like dogs, and when someone suggests that barking like a dog would not help with the flood Mr Jones would reply “DENIER! here are thousands of people drowning and you are denying the flood! We must bark like dogs, damn you, BARK now!”.

    The lockdowns and mask mandates have not saved lives – the nations that do them have not got a lower Covid death rate from Covid 19 (Sars Covid 2) than the nations that did NOT do them.

    Nor is there any justification for American States that did not lockdown being forced to give lots of money to New York which did lockdown – New York did not “save lives” by its actions, its death rate is higher than all the States that did not lockdown.

    There were indeed things that could have been done to save lives.

    People could have been advised to increase their Vitamin D3 levels – that would have saved half the people who developed the disease from developing it. Did Mr Owen Jones tell people to do that? I do not believe he did.

    Also there are Early Treatments for Covid 19 – this has been known since March 2020 (when Dr Zelenko made his suggestions public – but other doctors had been working on similar lines) – EARLY use of hydroxychloroquine, ZINC and azithromycin (or doxycycline) would have reduced hospitalisation and death by about 80% – did Mr Owen Jones suggest this, I do not think he did. Indeed I think he was like the (utterly vile “conservative”) Peter Oborne – in systematically smearing Early Treatment.

    Ivermectin and dexamethasone also has many medically qualified supporters – did Mr Owen Jones suggest this treatment? No I do not believe that he did.

    Instead Mr Jones just chanted his supports for lockdowns and other failed policies – and his defence of “we should have lockdown earlier and had a mask mandate from the start!” has been refuted by the Czech Republic which did these things and now has an even higher death rate than Britain does.

    So, as Mr Jones has failed to support policies that would have reduced the number of deaths and supported failed policies he is, by his own “logic”, a “DENIER” of Covid 19 (Sars Covid 2).

  • Paul Marks

    What were Peter Oborne’s medical arguments against Early Treatment for Covid 19?

    I listened to Mr Oborne (he was interviewed on Mr Putin’s “RT”), so I can tell you – “TRUMP!, he is fantasist, he is delusional!, he spreads any old lies!” said Mr Oborne – in response to many medical doctors and academics, such as the Yale Professor of epidemiology Harvey Reisch.

    This is on the same level as Mr Oborne’s book on Iran – where he, for example, informs his readers that the coup of 1953 in Iran was organised by the Americans – for “Israel”.

    There are two problems with this (as Mr Oborne knows very well) – firstly Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA was boasting, he did NOT actually organise the successful coup (his effort ended in failure – it was an effort that did not involve the CIA that was successful), and “Israel” “the Jews” had nothing all to do with the motivations for opposing the pro Soviet government in control of Iran in early 1953.

    I point all this out to show that it is not just Mr Owen Jones and some (some – NOT all) fellow leftists who are bad people – some people “on the right”, such as Peter Oborne, are bad people as well.

  • David Roberts

    This is in no way new. From my experience first we had DDT, then Acid Rain, then the Ozone hole, then Mad Cow disease, then Passive Smoking, then Global Warming/Climate Change and now Covid and this not my complete list. It does rather test my faith in human nature.

  • David, I agree this not new at all.

  • Stonyground

    This is just my understanding of these issues, I’m happy to be corrected if I have any of it wrong.

    DDT. When used indiscriminately did cause some environmental problems but had it been used with care millions of deaths from malaria could have been avoided. Acid Rain. This was dealt with by putting filters into power station chimneys to take out the sulphur. It was supposed to be killing trees, I’m not sure whether it was later discovered that the trees were dying of something else. The Ozone hole. Aerosol cans and refrigerators were blamed but I think that the evidence was weak. It was possible that the ozone layer varied naturally and we now have flammable gas in our freezers and fridges. Mad Cow disease. Millions were going to die, some did but I don’t think that we got into double figures. Passive Smoking. The dangers were absurdly exaggerated but, personally I was happy that a visit to the pub no longer left me stinking of fags. Global Warming/Climate Change. This is a completely invented problem, the climate scientists are wrong. How do I know that they are wrong? Simple, they are always wrong, they have been making predictions now for thirty years and their predictions are always wrong, not one single exception. Covid. Well it is a genuine problem. I think that most governments’ responses to it will be shown with hindsight to have been staggeringly inept. Are yes they will say, it is easy to be wise afterwards. Yes but there were a great many people who were just as wise at the time but they were dismissed as science deniers.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    David Roberts, you’ve made a very, very valid point.

    As H.L. Mencken said: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

  • “Have you stopped cheating at cards yet?” and suchlike ” ‘Yes’ I win, ‘no’ you lose” questions are an old feature of politics. How to evade their no-win design when under time pressure is also studied.

    “Do you deny covid!!”

    I deny your theory about it, Owen – and notice you can’t tell the difference.

    I invite commenters to find other and better ways to turn such gotchas against their originators.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I do not claim to be any more competent than Stonyground but here i go:

    DDT. When used indiscriminately did cause some environmental problems but had it been used with care millions of deaths from malaria could have been avoided.

    My understanding is that it was so cheap that it was used (indiscriminately) for pest control in agriculture. That was not a major health or ecological hazard, but it engendered DDT resistance, also in mosquitoes. If “we” had found a way to restrict DDT use to mosquito control, it would have done a lot of good.

    But I might be wrong.

    Mad Cow disease. Millions were going to die, some did but I don’t think that we got into double figures.

    As i said to a friend and colleague:
    I don’t believe that it is a threat… but they told me that you can catch it even if you don’t believe in it.

    Passive Smoking. The dangers were absurdly exaggerated but, personally I was happy that a visit to the pub no longer left me stinking of fags.

    No argument here, although in the past Perry and others have confused “I was happy with the consequences of the smoking ban” with “I approve of the smoking ban.”

    Global Warming/Climate Change. This is a completely invented problem, the climate scientists are wrong. How do I know that they are wrong? Simple, they are always wrong, they have been making predictions now for thirty years and their predictions are always wrong, not one single exception.

    My view is that climate alarmists (not necessarily climate researchers) are worse than wrong: they are bullshitters.
    The evidence for this view is their outrage about Bjorn Lomborg… when he did not even deny that AGW is real.

    Covid. Well it is a genuine problem. I think that most governments’ responses to it will be shown with hindsight to have been staggeringly inept.

    Not sure about “most”. I think that, at least in the 1st wave, the ineptitude followed something like a Pareto distribution: a few governments (including the UK… although NY State was much worse) were staggeringly inept.
    Most governments were only modestly inept.

  • APL

    Snorri Godhi:”DDT. When used indiscriminately did cause some environmental problems but had it been used with care millions of deaths from malaria could have been avoided.”

    Snorri Godhi:”Mad Cow disease. Millions were going to die, some did but I don’t think that we got into double figures.”

    Somewhere between DDT and MCD, came AIDS, it was my first inkling that the government, any government were probably full of shit.

    As an aside, I’m informed by someone I consider much more reliable than any government officer, that Fauci and Pelosi, were inextricably involved with and largely responsible for the unnecessarily large number of deaths of Gay men during the ’80s AIDS epidemic.

  • David Roberts

    Another item on my list is the demonisation of saturated fat, which resulted in its replacement in the modern diet by various hydrogenated fats. Probably a major factor in the current obesity explosion. For me this list raises the question of why so many of these false ideas take root. Is there any hope in an improved understanding of human psychology?

  • Flubber

    I think this is most starkly highlighted by the recent poll in the US asking people what their keys concerns were.

    On the right, it was traditional issues like respect for the law, Gov spending, immigration etc.

    On the left, the single most pressing issue was “the danger posed by Trump supporters” followed by Systemic racism, Climate Change etc.

    The left wing echo bubble has been gaslit into a whole series of imaginary bogeymen, and the solutions proposed are frankly batshit.

  • bobby b

    “On the left, the single most pressing issue was “the danger posed by Trump supporters” followed by Systemic racism, Climate Change etc.”

    If my present mood is any indication, they may be correct.

  • Melissa

    Paul Marks,
    Can you point me to an article about the Iranian coup from whence your information about the CIA’s non involvement comes? I ask because every on line source tells me that the CIA fessed up to the overthrow. Thanks.

  • bobby b

    This comment is going to loosely relate to differends as I have defined them, but be perhaps a bit off-topic.

    For those who had/have interest in the outcome of the criminal trial of Officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, John Hinderaker has put together a good short article about the March 8 upcoming trial date.

    https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2021/02/a-city-prepares-for-a-trial.php

    We’re going to see a very concrete example of the collision of differends.

  • Phil B

    Mad cow disease … My theory about it relies on an out of field training in chemical warfare and reading about it in three books (A Higher Form of Killing by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman – yes, that paxo – Yellow rain by Sterling Seagrave and a SIPRI book on Chemical warfare).I was trained in NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical warfare countermeasures by the British army) and read up about chemical warfare because I did not fully trust the information given by the instructors (namely that you would fully recover from nerve agent poisoning).

    Nerve gas is an organo phosphate and was invented in Germany between the wars as an insecticide to control insect pests in the market green houses that were used to produce crops such as tomatoes etc. The first two were Sarin and Tabun (called G Agents for German). They did a number on the insects and killed a few of the market gardeners too.

    Now, the British Government decided that it would eliminate warble fly which is a major pest of cattle and a notifiable disease. They ordered that cattle be dipped in insecticide which is/was an organo phosphate. In other words, stuff akin to diluted nerve gas.

    If you ask the Russians nicely for their records of nerve agent poisonings and fatalities or examine the long term effects of the Tokyo underground nerve agent attack on the victims, it may surprise you to find out that the effects and symptoms of mad cow disease are identical (poor coordination, trembling, mental confusion etc.).

    The vast majority of people suffering from mad cow disease (and there are very few of them) were farmers, people who worked in abattoirs handling the hides and animals and others who were on or near farms.In other words, people exposed forrelatively prolonged periods to the organo phosphate insecticide.

    In short, it was a relatively predictable man made disaster and thousands of cattle were destroyed for no particularly good reason and even today, beef cattle over 3 years old cannot be used for food of any kind.

    So, what do you think of that theory? Plausible?

    But if you expect any critical and sensible discussion of this possible cause among Government officials, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale …

  • bobby b (February 28, 2021 at 1:39 am and others), thanks for your info and comments. Quick question: does your link’s references to a Minneapolis downtown courthouse mean that arguments for change of venue have been heard and rejected, or is that still to be decided?

    As regards your (bobby b, February 27, 2021 at 11:47 pm) comment “they may be correct”, I note that they may not know it even so. When they pretended Trump was a Putin asset, they may have avoided continuously consciously knowing they were lying but their methods of investigation were not such as anyone who thought it could be true would have used. Similarly (as regards PC-ers senior enough to make decisions), exploiting pretended fear of the protestors (whom they knew from the start did not beat Sicknick to death) to carry through a political purge could get in the way of their thinking about how to address any such idea as if it could be real.

    (Similarly, green extremists’ methods for protecting us from environmental disaster are usually as ill-adapted to achieving that end, were it even needed, as communism is to reducing poverty, so they would be the last people to consult on how to solve any actual eco threat – and, sadly, the first people who would be consulted.)

  • Paul Marks

    Melissa – the Agency did not “fess up” it BOASTED of overthrowing the pro Soviet regime (which was NOT “democratically elected” as your sources will tell you – because it did not allow voting in areas of the country it did not control the voting process).

    Kermit Roosevelt went around presenting himself as a hero – even though his coup effort actually FAILED. It was a coup effort about a week after his that was successful.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    February 28, 2021 at 8:52 am

    “Quick question: does your link’s references to a Minneapolis downtown courthouse mean that arguments for change of venue have been heard and rejected, or is that still to be decided?”

    Judge Cahill took a cautious route – the motion was made several months ago, and he denied it provisionally, stating that he would hear re-argument at the start of the trial. This was, to me, understandable – the question of whether a proper jury could be seated is best answered at that time.

    But I really have no doubt that he’ll deny it again in two weeks. On the merits, the best anti-argument is that there’s nowhere in Minnesota where the jurors won’t have heard everything there is to hear, and so moving it wouldn’t matter. The best counter to that is that jurors in Minneapolis are at risk of riot and attack if there is an acquittal or a guilty finding to too-small of a charge, and thus Minneapolis jurors will not be able to be dispassionate.

    (It’s a fun argument to watch as the Minneapolis authorities surround the Hennepin County Courthouse with four layers of fencing and razor wire this week in the face of explicit threats from the “activist” side should the trial not go well.)

    But Cahill, who started out as a defense lawyer, spent years – decades? – as a Minneapolis prosecutor. His friends are prosecutors. Minnesota District Court judges are first generally politically appointed (as was Cahill) and then face election every six years, in a very progressive state (and, for Cahill, in an uber-progressive county), and the job pays well. There are very few “conservative” judges in Minnesota, and Cahill is not one of them. His history as a prosecutor notwithstanding, a conservative doesn’t do well in Minnesota elections.

    So, I would expect the trial to stay here.

    Cahill has not done a bad job in his pre-trial rulings – he decided, for instance, that a murder 3 charge didn’t fit, and so it was dismissed. (That dismissal was appealed by the prosecution, and the question will be decided in the next few days.) He’s been fair in his pretrial motion orders. But, ultimately, I think he knows on which side his bread is buttered.

    Keith Ellison has been ramrodding this prosecution from the sideline – making it clear what “needs” to happen – but staying just far enough away so that, if the state loses, he can point at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and complain.

    It’s all been fascinating for a legal-arcana junkie. The arguments re: Murder 3 have been very interesting.

  • bobby b

    Just for kicks, let me add this as part of the pre-trial circus:

    The Minneapolis City Council (12 socialists and Stalin himself) are desperately trying to limit how badly the city gets torn apart during and after the trial. As part of that, they decided to pay a bunch of media “influencers” to get out on Facebook et al. starting today and continuing throughout the trial and “keep the community apprised of what’s happening, what should happen, and how they should view whatever happens.”

    But then someone pointed out to them that this was an excellent point for the argument for changing the venue – how could they find a dispassionate jury while the city was educating the jury pool about how Chauvin was actually Satan and needs to be punished?

    So today they changed their minds about that. Oops.

    Fun stuff.

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