Barack Obama: His Presidency

Hi everyone!
Teague and I started a podcast called the Veil of Ignorance. In this episode, we discussed the presidency of Barack Obama. Despite the fact that Obama has been the most important president in our lives (my generation), our political discourse has been wholly consumed by reactions to Donald Trump. We hope this makes us recognize the salience of Obama’s presidency.
Our next episode will cover imperialism and colonialism. There will be a few guests to discuss these issues with us. This episode on imperialism and colonialism will be recorded and posted two weeks later.
Hope you enjoyed this episode and, if you did, please subscribe to our channel! There will be more episodes like this in the future!

Donald Trump is not a liar

Donald Trump is not a liar; he’s a bullshitter. There is a fine difference. The philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt believed the difference between lies and bullshit is that lies are necessarily false; on the other hand, bullshit may happen to be true or false. In essence, a lie is a conscious act of deception, whereas a bullshit entails an indifference to how things really are. In order to lie, one has to implicitly acknowledge the existence of the truth — and then deceive another of not believing in such truth. However, a bullshitter does not care whether there exists a truth or a falsity. For example, I can bullshit a test by writing a bullshit answer. It doesn’t matter to me whether the answer is true or false. I just need to write some bullshit. If it happens to be true, I get a good grade. If it happens to be false, it doesn’t matter because I never bothered studying for the test to begin with.

Nietzsche believed that foregoing objective truth would be life-affirming. JL Mackie argued that disbelief in objective truth regarding morality would not be catastrophic. Some, however, worried that it could be very dangerous. If there is no objective morality, then why be moral? If there is no objective truth, then how do I make sense of things? In general, I think it is not so dangerous for people to not believe in objective truth regarding morality or the external world. We are hard-wired to care about certain values and facts; and I doubt that we would stop caring about them even if it turned out to be the case that they were not objective. I think this is especially true regarding morality. For instance, Foucault or Nietzsche still argued for certain virtues despite their skepticism of objectivity. The problem isn’t anti-realism. The problem is bullshit — antipathy towards objectivity. Trump is, in this sense, a bullshitter. He doesn’t care whether what he says is true or false. He spouts a ton of lies, but they are not calculated. They are not conscious acts of deception. It doesn’t matter to him whether his statements are true or false. A liar would try to show how his lie is the truth; Trump doesn’t provide any evidence. As we have seen, such bullshit has been extremely pernicious. Lies require effort and responsibility; one has to support them. Bullshit does not, and it can easily destroy a society when wielded by the powerful. Bullshit is worse than the nightmares of a postmodern world reigned by Nietzsche and Foucault, once feared by many. Anti-realism is not the problem; bullshit is.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito is fantastical. The story unfolds as if it were a lore or a fairy tale passed down for generations. It is full of magic and mystery, yet unlike any Western fairy tale. For instance, the supernatural of Moribito is supervened upon its natural world: i.e., whereas the supernatural hides from the ordinary in the West, the supernatural in Moribito’s world occupies an invisible layer of reality. It appears that the world of Moribito is composed of many grids stacked up on each other –similar to Michel Foucault’s view of knowledge. Interestingly, the nature of this world’s knowledge and history accords to Foucault’s view of each as well: history and knowledge are shaped by the powerful.

Despite some of its gloomy undertones, Moribito is, at heart, a moving tale of courage and compassion. Each character musters up the courage to sacrifice their lives to protect the ones they love. This seems typical of Japanese anime, but I believe Moribito breaks from that convention. If one watches the show, one finds that their bravery comes from humanity rather than inhuman fearlessness; it is full of weakness and doubt. This is evident from its focus on maternal love, nurture, loyalty, family, and friendship. Moribito is not simply a story about a hero fighting monsters to protect their friends and lovers. Much of the show’s conflicts come from human beings.

Another critical difference between Moribito and other supernatural shows is that the main character is a strong, female warrior. Balsa is stoic and courageous, yet kind and altruistic. She has an unwavering sense of duty and morality. Her stoic personality is complemented by the sensitive men around her – Tanda and Chagum. I believe that Chagum especially brings out the best of her, as she act as both his martial arts teacher, mother, and roel model.

Not every character in this show is flushed out and the animation can be quite strange sometimes due to its use of 3D animation. Nevertheless, the action scenes are exquisitely animated, and the way it sketches the world’s landscapes and supernatural entities is a treat to the eyes. Hence, these minor flaws do not detract much from the overall quality of this show. I really wish there will be a second series that delves deeper into the mysteries of this world. Moribito did an excellent job at not giving too much information, thereby keeping the supernatural ever more mysterious. Although this leaves the audience begging for some answers, it doesn’t ultimately disappoint us because the show gave the major characters’ relationships a satisfying closure. In other words, a perfect starting point for a new season!

Crisis in the Humanities : Scientific ignorance and the Renunciation of Logic

“Masculinity is a socially constructed phenomenon.” ( Begin watching from 1:11:03 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDNBEM3jMLY ) Such an absurd and ridiculous statement can be easily seen from those who study feminism and sociology. You can also find english major students hoarding a book by Jacques Derrida or Judith Butler which contains appalling writings full of sweeping claims of human nature without any empirical evidence. Steven Pinker eloquently demolishes the non-factual nonsense of the Humanities by clearly stating, “I believe testosterones exist. Biologically, men and women are different. In terms of violence, the topic of tonight, we can clearly see how male testosterones tend to cause more violence. Men kill 10 times more than women. This doesn’t mean culture doesn’t have a role. We can obviously see how different cultures portray masculinity and femininity in different ways. However, I do not wish to go as far as denying biological differences.”

If you wish to read more concerning the repugnant obscurantism and gibberish of these two, check out these links: http://philosoraptor.blogspot.com/2009/04/bad-writing-and-bad-thinking-judith.html (Butler’s atrocious writing examined)

http://www.economist.com/node/3308320 (brief account of Derrida’s bullshit)

http://adrianblau.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/is-derrida-full-of-bullshit-part-1/ (Derrida’s bullshit part 1)

http://adrianblau.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/is-derrida-full-of-bullshit-part-2/ (Derrida’s bullshit part 2)

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2003/08/derrida_and_bul.html (The famous Leiter report demolishing the obscurantist jargon of Derrida)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvwhEIhv3N0 (Foucault, Derrida’s contemporary, criticizing him as “word terrorism”)

Unfortunately, Derrida and Butler are the bread and butter of much of the Humanities. The Humanities are so hungry for bullshit that it actively seeks for more. Alan Sokal, a physics professor, once posted an academic journal full of intentional gibberish and obscure words as a social critique on a post-modern cultural studies journal. (Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair , Source 2: http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/weinberg.html ) Of course, it caught much fire and attention. Quite sad and pathetic. We can see from so many of these examples that the Humanities are loaded with toxic ideas. I once had a religious studies professor in my college. His adoration for Derrida was quite shocking. He attended his lectures personally and bragged about smoking cigarettes in front of Derrida. As if that charlatan is worthy of such respect! His antics furthered, culminating to his denouncement of Modernity as the equivalent of capitalist consumerism. I do not even wish to address the stupidity of this statement.

What we see from these examples is that we need an intellectual revolution within the Humanities. We need to be able to elevate the quality of our education, which is quite crucial for democracy. Many of their problems stem from posturing and objection towards evidence based thought. I assert that broadening one’s scientific knowledge and practice of logic must be taken more seriously within the Humanities. I assert that “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” must not be obstructed by scientific ignorance and aversion to reason.

I end with Dennett explaining the staggering genius of Darwin and the sheer size of his influence which inevitably permeates all forms of knowledge.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfTPTFN94o

P.S. Peter Singer adds one to the table as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYYNY2oKVWU

Egoïst

Smile, Egoïst.
I must insist.
A liar’s lips are moist.
Death shall be rejoiced.

Keep pretending.
Like Harris and Islam.
Keep resenting.
Quiet murders of calm.

My fate is madness.
A triumphant wreck,
Keep me in check,
Delightful penance.

I am
the scum and filth of this world.
I am
the essence of foul unfurled.

Torture pomposity,
follow animosity,
heed my Coda.