A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Category: logic

Joe Scarborough hates your mom’s PowerPoint

by pdxblake

Joe Scarborough’s attack on facts is going from the head scratching to face-palming awfully quickly. In response to a chart that contradicted one of his statements, Scarborough tweeted:

“Childish insults and skewed graphs liberals make up on their mom’s PowerPoint does not change reality. Facts-and math-are stubborn things.”

And this makes Jonathan Chait concerned:

“Nothing he [Scarborough] writes here makes sense on any literal level. To understand the sentiment Scarborough is trying to communicate, you have to understand it on a different plane. His insults — childish, mom, PowerPoint —  are Scarborough’s attempt to show, through contrast, that he, Joe Scarborough, is kind of a big deal.”

Charlatans on Fire

by evanmcmurry

We just found the exact temperature at which chicanery breaks the skin:

Fire officials said 21 people at an event hosted by motivational speaker Tony Robbins suffered burns while walking across hot coals and three of the injured were treated at hospitals.

The injuries took place during the first day Thursday of a four-day event at the San Jose Convention Center hosted by Robbins called “Unleash the Power Within.” Most of those hurt had second and third degree burns, said San Jose Fire Department Capt. Reggie Williams.

Walking across hot coals on lanes measuring 10 feet long and heated to between 1,200 to 2,000 degrees provides attendees an opportunity to “understand that there is absolutely nothing you can’t overcome,” according to the motivational speaker’s website.

My favorite part:

Organizers had an “open burn permit” and medical staff at the event, and there was also a fire inspector on the scene, Williams said.

“Once they (the medical staff) became overwhelmed, our inspector called for us,” Williams said.

In short, Robbins created a problem that literally could not be overcome by the medical staff at his event. Good thing the people of San Jose pay their taxes for fire departments and roads and whatnot, so all that power within could get to the hospital. (h/t Erik Loomis)

A Working Theory About Why D-List Celebrities Become Anti-Vaccination Nuts

by evanmcmurry

The Colonel Drew Nilsen raises an interesting question with regards to Rob Schneider’s dabbling in the anti-vaccination movement: what is it about the anti-vaccination crusade that so reliably draws D-list celebrities?

I can hazard a guess on this. When was the last time you heard about Rob Schneider? Thought so. Seth Mnookin, the one-man anti-anti-vaccine crusader, points out that Schneider’s new show got a total of one review, which called it the worst thing on TV. You, like me, probably didn’t even know it existed. You do now.

Ditto Jenny McCarthy, who is inarguably more successful as an anti-vaccine semi-philanthropist than she ever was as an actress or model. If it weren’t for her role disseminating anti-vaccination theories, the only time we’d hear about JM is when she accidentally sends nude photos of herself to her son’s dentist.

This is the prime advantage of fringe theories,like “vaccinations cause autism”: they have nowhere to go but up. If anti-vaccine crusaders reach 100 people and convince 1, they don’t see that as a 99% failure: they see it instead as one person more who believes them than did before. That’s a victory. Rob Schneider’s rant may be ubiquitously criticized, but if he reaches only 10 people who change their minds about vaccinations, he wins. Sure enough, despite the fact that the anti-vaccine movement has been pilloried for years now, it’s made steady gains in the public consciousness, because its threshold for victory is so low that it can count as growth what a mainstream movement would see as stagnation.

Likewise, Rob Schneider need only reach a few people to reassert his place in the popular consciousness. He doesn’t have to be Ryan Gosling, he just needs to be mentioned a couple times a month, and he becomes a viable public figure again, certainly enough that he’ll start getting invites and such. All of a sudden, you’ll have been “hearing about Rob Schneider a lot lately”; most people won’t even know why.

I’m not saying Schneider is joining the anti-vaccine movement as a career move; I’m saying that to the extent that the goals of Rob Schneider and the goals of the anti-vaccine movement—i.e., incremental exposure—are coincident, the two have nothing to lose by combining forces.

Economics, by Mitt Romney

by evanmcmurry

So we’re clear: bailouts are just fine when initiated by Republican presidents, on days when that President’s brother endorses you. That’s called economics.


by evanmcmurry

I think my favorite sentence in this stupid magical-realism-Holocaust novel I’m reading is “Hey.” Because Romanian Jews in 1941 totally said, “Hey,” right?

Boss Actually Rich, Notices Some Guy

by evanmcmurry

BREAKING! HUGE! Bruce Springsteen, despite pushing lib causes, has >$200 million. How has NOBODY noticed this yet?!?!? http://t.co/LGqNNuDa

Americans hate government regulation, except when they don’t, which is always

by evanmcmurry

Come on, assholes: “Americans have increasingly turned against the idea of “government regulation” since the beginning of the Obama administration…BUT when you drill down to specific rules and industries, a strikingly different portrait emerges: The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that government regulations of the food industry, car safety, workplace safety, prescription drugs, and even environmental protection should either be strengthened or be preserved as they are, with only a small fraction believing they should be reduced.”

Today in logic, Growing Pains edition

by evanmcmurry

Not to mention, of course, that the imputation that ‘unnatural’ means ‘wrong’ is one of those stupid things people say when they haven’t thought through the implications of the assertion. I mean, you’re aware television is ‘unnatural,’ right? So are pants. So are eyeglasses, cell phones, indoor plumbing, the Growing Pains complete second season on DVD, and just about any weapon more complicated than a rock.”


by evanmcmurry

Breitbart followers using Breitbart-style rhetoric to accuse Breitbart publication Big Journalism of covering up nature of Breitbart’s death. I can’t tell if this is how it begins, or ends.

Sentence of the Day

by evanmcmurry

“Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious.” –Rick Santorum. It’s even stupider in context.