Bullshit, and the Ironic Invalidity of the Census Debate

July 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.” – Professor Harry G. Frankfurt, “On Bullshit”, pp. 55-56.

The ironic truth is that a debate focusing largely upon the validity of census data is comprised of so much bullshit as to make the debate itself invalid. Witnesses and Parliamentary Members at committee hearings, columnists, and even those who write letters to the editors of our vestigial newspapers have decided that the this issue – more than most others – demands that all concern over truth and falsehood must be abandoned if the debate is to be resolved favourably.  The debate has turned even serially honest thinkers, writers and speakers into at least second-class bullshitters for the purposes of either backing or opposing the Conservative government’s decision to make completion of the long form census voluntary; to repeal laws that impose penalties of fine or imprisonment for failing or refusing to fill out the long form census and remit it to government. Read more

Optional Long Form Census a Blow to Racism

July 17, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Canada’s Conservative government has announced that completion of Canada’s “long form” census will cease to be mandatory in 2011. Shrieks of condemnation can now be heard from a wide range of interests. None of them are justified. To the contrary, this is one step the Harper government has announced in recent history that is actually praiseworthy. Read more

Run from the Rahn Curve

July 13, 2010 by · 6 Comments 

Recently, Shotgun blogger PUBLIUS featured a video made by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity concerning a graph of the so-called “Rahn curve”. The video serves as a good example of what is wrong with the idea of founding upon quantitative economic arguments ones advocacy of individual freedom. And, given the political orientation of those telling us about the Rahn curve, an explanation of why libertarians are prone to making the aforementioned error is warranted. Read more

Identity, Blatchford, Journalism, and Oz

July 5, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Christie Blatchford is a writer whose writings currently are printed in the Globe and Mail Newspaper. She is probably most widely recognized as a writer who reports the facts as they relate to court proceedings. She is well respected in that role and, in my view, such respect is warranted.

However, Blatchford writes (or, on radio, speaks) her opinions on non-legal matters (e.g., matters of politics or culture) at times and, in that capacity, she is decidedly weak. Those of her opinions I have heard or read are of the Joe six-pack “it just seems to me” or “I feel” variety, rather than being the result of a applying any consistent and coherent set of philosophical principles to the facts of a matter.

That weakness did not stop her from flashing her press credentials to take an unwarranted swipe at unpaid blog writers who attended and reported upon G20 protests and who think that they deserved to be treated with the same dignity and respect as paid reporters. Read more