Limitations of Experience

Bill Nye has gained himself a great deal of admiration and hatred by positioning himself as a public face of scientism. A lot of progressives, who tend to side with scientism, are now holding up Bill Nye as a god. Meanwhile, a lot of conservatives, who tend to side against scientism, are now holding him up as a devil.

The debate of scientism has more or less become a debate between progressives and conservatives, which means a tit for tat has developed. Conservatives are lambasting one of the progressive’s public faces so they now need to lambast one of the conservative’s public faces. For the conservative’s tit the progressives have chosen Mike Rowe as their tat:

This image further demonstrations that the biggest advocates of scientism have a severe lack of understanding of the scientific method. The opening words in the image make sense within the framework of the debate. Conservatives have been arguing that Bill Nye lacks experience in scientific fields and is therefore unqualified to speak about scientific matters. In return the progressives are pointing out that Mike Rowe lacks experience in the trades. Here’s the problem, science isn’t a single discipline.

By the logic presented in the image one would certainly listen to Bill Nye on matters of mechanical engineering (at least matters that fall within his area of expertise). However, one would completely ignore anything he said about other scientific fields, such as the effects of widespread pollution on the biosphere, since he has no experience in those fields.

Of course, both sides are being foolish. The progressives’ implication that expertise in one scientific field gives an individual expertise in all scientific fields is wrong. But the conservatives’ implication that professional training is what indicates an individual’s expertise is equally wrong.

It’s quite possible for an individual to be very capable in one field and incompetent in another. Ben Carson is a great example of this point. He was a very skilled neurosurgeon. But his comment about pyramids being grain silos shows that his knowledge in the field of archeology is, to put it nicely, lacking. Likewise, it is also possible for an individual to be very capable in a field that they don’t work in professionally. Hedy Lamar had no formal scientific training yet she made several important discoveries, such as using frequency hoping to prevent enemies from jamming radio-controlled torpedoes (which was also an important contribution to the development of several wireless communication technologies that we rely on today).

In summary, both sides are being stupid. Each side is slinging mud at one of the other’s public face instead of debating the actual issues. One might expect such behavior from conservatives since they’re not beating the scientism drum but why would progressives, who claim to be believes in science, do the same thing? Simple, progressives are no more lovers of science than conservatives. They wield science much like conservatives wield Christianity. That is to say, they see science as nothing more than a concept they can exploit to forward their political goals.

Stories Change to Match the Facts

There’s been yet another case of police using deadly force under very questionable circumstances. This incident happened in Texas and resulted in the death of a 15 year-old. While this incident isn’t unique here in the United Police States of America, it has offered us a look into how law enforcers will change the story to make it match the facts:

Jordan Edwards, 15, died after Officer Roy Oliver fired a rifle into a car that was driving away from a party in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs.

Police initially said the car reversed “aggressively” towards the officer, but footage discredits that claim.

Police Chief Jonathan Haber said he “misspoke”.

Rules are for thee, not for me. When a suspect lies to a police officer they can be charged with a crime but when a police officer lies to the public they simply misspoke.

The officer in question has been fired but this too is a double standard. If you or I fire a rifle into a vehicle and kill the occupant we would most likely be charged with murder. However, when police officers do this they often suffer nothing more than having to take a forced paid vacation (called administrative leave in police parlance) or, in severe cases, losing their job. And even in the severe cases that result in an officer being fired their department is often strong armed into reinstating them by a police union.

Trust in the police is diminishing because of police actions and how the government responds to their actions. Stories like this where one officer steps in to defend another officer who obviously lied exacerbate the problem as does the fact that the officer in question hasn’t been charged after being caught in a lie.

A Business Opportunity

Us Americans love instant gratification, which is part of the reason so many of us are on several different medications. It’s far easier to pop a pill for our heart conditions than to lose the weight that is causing our heart conditions. Of course, this means that we expel a lot of medications and those expelled medications end up in our sewage and by extension in our ecosystem:

The United States of America is a highly medicated country: almost seven in 10 Americans take prescription drugs. That translates to 4.4 billion prescriptions and nearly $310 billion spent on medication in 2015. Painkillers, cholesterol-lowering medications, and antidepressants top the list of drugs most commonly prescribed by doctors.

Needless to say, the work of biologists like Lee may prove to be crucial.


Americans aren’t just putting these drugs into their bodies; they’re also putting more drugs into the environment. A growing body of research suggests all types of drugs, from illegal drugs to antibiotics to hormones, enter the environment through sewage and cesspool systems across the country. And while pharmaceutical drugs—when used as prescribed—are capable of curing disease and alleviating symptoms in people, they can wreak havoc on nature.

Here’s the difference between an agorist and pretty much everybody else. Most people look at this situation and see a pollution problem and likely want the government to step in and fix it. I, on the other hand, see a lucrative business opportunity. Many of the drugs expelled discussed in this article are difficult to acquire due to regulations. If somebody was able to develop a method of extracting these drugs from the water system and recycle them into consumable drugs again, they would have the perfect black market business. It would be difficult for the State to identify and shutdown and it would remove these valuable chemicals from the ecosystem.

Nothing to See Here

I was at the Sabaton concert last night so I didn’t get anything written for today. If anybody is wondering, Sabaton put on a great show. Battle Beast, another band I enjoy, was one of the opening acts and also put on a good show. In fact, I wish Battle Beast would have had some additional stage time.

Meaningless Words

Anybody who has read corporate marketing material or a corporate apology letter knows that it’s quite easy to put a bunch of words onto a piece of paper without having written anything meaningful. Corporations don’t have a monopoly on this skill either. Surpassing even the largest corporate marketing department are politicians. Politicians are the uncontested champions of meaningless words:

Without language, there is no accountability, no standard of truth. If Trump never says anything concrete, he never has to do anything concrete. If Trump never makes a statement of commitment, Trump supporters never have to confront what they really voted for. If his promises are vague to the point of opacity, Trump cannot be criticised for breaking them. If every sloppy lie (ie: “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower … This is McCarthyism!”) can be explained away as a “generality” or “just a joke” because of “quotes”, then he can literally say anything with impunity. Trump can rend immigrant families in the name of “heart”, destroy healthcare in the name of “life”, purge minority voters in the name of “justice”, and roll back women’s autonomy in the name of “freedom”. The constitution? Probably sarcastic. There are “quotes” all over that thing!

Setting aside the author’s obvious bias, this is a skill that almost every politician has. It’s more obvious when Trump does it because he’s a far less skilled orator than his predecessor. But if you hand me a speech or letter by any politician I’ll probably be able to read the entire thing without finding a single concrete commitment. As the author points out, if politicians don’t say anything concrete then there’s nothing to hold them accountable for.

Language is a tool for transferring information from one person to another. Somebody who is competent with language can transfer information effectively. So politicians must be very incompetent when it comes to language, right? Not necessarily. When politicians speak meaningless words they’re transferring very important information, namely that they are unwilling to commit themselves to anything. However, transference is a two step process. The information must be transmitted and received. Corporations and politicians like to use meaningless words because they can’t be held to anything and because the receivers have a strong tendency to put whatever meaning they want on those words. Trump supporters, for example, will attach positive concrete meaning to his meaningless words whereas his detractors will attach negative concrete meaning.

The reason so many people can get away with using meaningless language is because the receivers, your average Jane and Joe, aren’t competent enough with language to recognize it. Instead of recognizing that the words are meaningless and calling the transmitter out, most people attach whatever they want to meaningless words to reinforce their bias. I don’t blame Trump or Obama or any other politician for making meaningless statements. I blame the people for having such a lack of interest in pursuing knowledge that they allow themselves to be susceptible to this nonsense.

Information Disparity

Critics of capitalism often bring up information disparity. They claim that the consumer is at a significant disadvantage because they possess less information than the capitalists. I would give more validity to their point if their proposed solutions didn’t generally involve increasing information disparity. But these critics have a tendency of offering more government power, usually under the euphemism of oversight, as the solution to the information disparity problem. The fault with that solution is that there is an even greater amount of information disparity between governments and their subjects:

The growing covert culture is evident across the country. The New York Police Department has fought in court to hide the details of its fleet of unmarked X-ray vans that can see through buildings and cars. The FBI amassed a facial identification database that now includes 117 million individuals and used it for years without publishing a privacy assessment required by law, the U.S. House Oversight Committee reported in March.

“The transparency is still radically insufficient,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, who has studied police technology.

Levinson-Waldman said much of the change is driven by influential private companies that develop and market ever-more-powerful technology.

In Burnsville, Police Chief Eric Gieseke presides over a department that was among the first in the nation to deploy body cameras. The department’s servers now hold more than 93,000 videos. Almost of them are off-limits to the public, because of a separate 2016 state law that determined that the threat to personal privacy outweighed the benefits of seeing everything a police officer sees.

The State exists on information disparity. It wants to know everything about you while telling you nothing about itself. This is why information about new government surveillance technology and programs generally come to light through leaks, not through disclosure by the government. It is also why the government fights any attempt to reveal further information after knowledge of what it’s doing becomes public.

Body cameras are an excellent illustration of this point. More people have been demanding that police wear body cameras because they believe body cameras will keep both the police and the people they interact with more honest. However, the laws surrounding how body camera footage is handled is trending towards allowing the footage to be used to prosecute people but not being available to the public. In this way body cameras have become yet another source of information disparity. Law enforcers can use the data to prosecute the people but the people cannot use the data to hold enforcers accountable.

Information disparity cannot be solved by increasing it. Any solution to the problem of information disparity that involves government will only exacerbate the problem.

Late Stage Socialism

Witnessing late stage socialism is always painful. It starts with a rapid decrease in the average quality of life. A first this means larger consumer products, such as televisions, are more difficult to acquire. But soon even basic products like toilet paper and eventually food become scarce. Then the very government that caused the crisis scrambles to maintain its power by whatever means are necessary. Venezuela is currently experiencing late stage socialism and its president is doing everything he can to solidify his power:

Speaking at a May Day rally, Mr Maduro said a new constitution was needed “to restore peace” and stop the opposition from carrying out a “coup d’etat”.

He decreed that a citizens’ assembly be convened to write the new document.

Opposition leaders said the move was aimed at neutralising the opposition-led legislature, the National Assembly.

How many times have we seen this tragedy play out in our lifetimes? Yet most people seem unwilling to accept that centralized power is bad.

At this rate I’m not sure whether Maduro will abolish all governmental opposition to his power or the people will have his head in a guillotine first.