Scott Adams Can’t See the Elephant

In the past, I've mocked the privileged obliviousness of Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist and Man Who Knows One Thing. I have to revisit Adams, because in this election, he's come out of the closet as a Donald Trump fan.As Ben Dolnick hilariously outlines, this makes sense because they're kindred spirits in many ways. Like Trump, Adams has a pronounced narcissistic streak and an extremely high regard for his own talents. (Remember the sockpuppet incident?) He also shares Trump's belief that … [Read more...]

Tell You The Truth? Not Our Job!

The American political media rarely rises above mediocrity. Even at the best of times, they're overly focused on horse-race coverage, personality clashes and false balance, to the detriment of informed coverage of the issues. But this campaign seems to be bringing some of their worst instincts to the forefront.This is especially visible in the seemingly endless stories about Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server, or the Clinton Foundation and the nature of her involvement with it … [Read more...]

Does Religious Diversity Undermine Religion?

There's bound to be more than one reason why religion is on the decline. I've written about the spread of the internet and about churches obstinately clinging to bigotry that turns off younger generations. Now, from FiveThirtyEight, there's another answer: it's because of increasing religious diversity.The practical effect of rising religious diversity is to expose Americans to ideas and views that could challenge their religious beliefs. A recent survey found that 77 percent of Americans … [Read more...]

Conservatives Trapped in Their Own Bubble

After the 2012 election, I wrote about how the Republicans' epistemic bubble blinded them to their coming loss. Because they deliberately isolated themselves from all contrary opinion, they had no idea that there were people who didn't see the Obama presidency the same way they did, and thus failed to frame their argument in a way that would have been persuasive to those people. At the time, I mused on what they might do next:The very defect that's laid them low also makes it almost … [Read more...]

Repost: The Republican Stupid-Party Spiral Dilemma

[Author's Note: I wrote this in late 2012. In light of recent developments, I thought it was worth reposting. The success of Donald Trump seems to show that classic Christian conservatism isn't as necessary an ingredient to the Republican coalition as I once thought - but in just about every other respect, these trends have only accelerated.]In an interview in November 2012, Republican senator Marco Rubio, who was clearly laying the groundwork for his 2016 presidential run, announced that he … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Publish or Perish

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IThe last few industrialists of Colorado are disappearing, and the John Galt Line has been reduced to mostly-empty trains pulled by rickety, coal-burning locomotives. Having run out of leads in her quest for the magic motor, Dagny has finally resorted to contacting Robert Stadler. He comes to New York to see her, and she tells him about her discovery and gives him the incomplete papers she found in the factory:She watched him as he read. She saw the … [Read more...]

More Than the Sum of Our Senses

I'm still reading Timothy Keller's book. He's very much a fan of presuppositional apologetics, like this one in which he argues that an intelligent being that came about through evolution wouldn't be able to trust its own reasoning abilities:Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it's only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it. However, if we can't trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about … [Read more...]

Pushing Deeper Into the Bubble

After the election last year, I wrote about the conservative epistemic bubble that left Republicans so utterly blindsided by their defeat. At the time, I wondered whether the magnitude of their loss would force the GOP to bow to reality, or whether they'd respond by retreating deeper into self-delusion. Well, I have some developments to report on.First, there's this message from James Dobson, one of the most powerful voices of the American evangelical right (HT: Right Wing Watch, a site I sho … [Read more...]

Miracle on 34th Street: The Value of Empiricism

Yes, you get a Christmas post! Atheists don't take the day off just because people think a mythological savior-god was born on this date thousands of years ago.So my wife and I were watching Miracle on 34th Street last night (the original, not the remake). In spite of everything I'm about to say, it's still one of the better holiday movies.* As Greg Olear points out on Salon, it's remarkably egalitarian, secular and anti-consumerist even by modern standards, much less by the standards of the … [Read more...]

The Republican Stupid-Party Spiral Dilemma

In an interview late last month, Republican senator Marco Rubio, who's widely viewed to be laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, announced that he doesn't know how old the Earth is:I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.I can't help suggesting that perhaps … [Read more...]