Monday, June 19, 2006

THIS SORT OF EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. In their lengthy, imbecilic "debate" about the importance of fathers (coming up next: was "The Flintstones" a total rip-off of "The Honeymooners"?), John Derbyshire says:
To take your last point first: Are you suggesting that if I hold a certain opinion about politics and society, and if I then read a sheaf of research studies that seem to me to be sound, but that contradict my opinion, then I should hold on to my opinion and ignore the science? Sorry, no sale.
Jonah Goldberg replies:
Yes, to a certain extent I am asking you to have your politics shape your opinions and frankly, I am at a loss to see how you should think otherwise, let alone why you should be so boastful about it.
As always, Goldberg's weak verbal skills leave his gist less than clear, so it's hard to tell whether he has totally missed Derbyshire's clear reference to fact-based information, or has acknowledged but refused to address it.

But his dudgeon speaks volumes. The idea that politics is the measure of everything on God's green earth is the central fallacy of National Review conservatism. As we never tire of pointing out here at alicublog, in their universe, movies, music, TV shows, football teams, and even sex are judged by their conservative correctness. So of course Goldberg is outraged. How could one of the comrades allow himself to deviate on so crucial an issue as the Meaning of Fatherhood? That's almost as ungood as failing to enjoy The Passion of the Christ.

Remember Godard's famous question, "How can I hate John Wayne for upholding Goldwater and yet love him tenderly when abruptly he takes Natalie Wood into his arms in the last reel of The Searchers?" That such an idea would never, ever occur to any of this lot -- indeed, it might cause their synapses to fuse like overheated electronic circuits -- really explains, more than their various political idiocies, why they are wrong.

UPDATE. Jay Brida in comments thinks we might be onto something: "Dare I say it might be the string theory of wingnuttia? It explains their culture, their beliefs and their oddly discordant strategy of appealing to fat libertarians and dominionists at the same time." Actually, I always thought that what brought these factions together was the all-you-can-eat shrimp bar. But that was an ignorant superstition. Science will bring us to the truth!

UPDATE. My wider point to one side, the Goldberg/Derbyshire mental-pygmy wrestling match has devolved to the hilarious. Derb here argues that sometimes abused children have it coming:
Rich would say (I mean, on the basis of his column, I suppose he would say) that THEREFORE parental abuse causes adult aggressiveness.

But that needs proving, and the mere correlation doesn't prove it. Two alternative explanations come to mind at once. (1) We have an aggressive adult from an aggressive parent (he beat the kid, didn't he?) Maybe aggression runs in this family. It doesn't even have to be genetic. It could be dietary, or religious. (2) The kid was obnoxious and difficult from the start. (Some are. Believe me.) The parent, who was perfectly average in aggressiveness, was driven to distraction (read: abnormally aggressive reactions) by the kid's intransigent naughtiness. So we're not looking at a parent-to-child effect at all; we're actually looking at a child-to-parent effect! Yet I am pretty sure I have never read a headline saying "Difficult Kids Provoke Parents to Abuse, Study Shows." Why not? Because our popular culture, and even big swathes of our academic culture, are Freud-soaked...
I imagine Joel Steinberg reading The Corner, and exclaiming, "That's what I've been trying to tell you people! The little cunt was staring at me!"

Meanwhile Goldberg just keeps bringin' the breathtaking:
I will simply say up front: I do not believe the science Derb is referring to or purporting to refer to. Perhaps I'll end up with apple cider in my ear, but if it means what Derb suggests it to mean then I just don't believe it.
If brains were dynamite, these guys couldn't blow a fart.

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