this is what our tax dollars pay for
wow many spacewalks 2floaty4me wow wow 1 small step 4shibe wow 321blastoff wow
this is what our tax dollars pay for
wow many spacewalks 2floaty4me wow wow 1 small step 4shibe wow 321blastoff wow
Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
Nobody has any idea how accurate this is.
Ralph Cowen, 67, is one of the organizers of a bi-national festival in Brownsville, Texas and nearby Matamoros, Mexico. His is a story of border crossings: he is Anglo, but a British ancestor migrated first to Mexico, and only later did his family arrive in Brownsville. In recent years violence across the border has kept people jumpy, yet Cowen reveals mixed feelings about the border walls and other intensive US security measures. "The fence to me is like the Berlin Wall," he says "I have a piece of the Wall on my desk and it reminds me that things can change and walls can come down." (@kainazamaria/NPR)
This is awesome - we need more of this! Building social capital is easy, and everybody wins. Good on you, Ralph Cowen. You go get ‘em with your radical multiculturalism.
You cannot buy electronics with food stamps. You cannot buy cigarettes with food stamps. You cannot buy pet food with food stamps. You cannot withdraw money with an EBT card (food stamps).
Do you know what else you can’t buy with food stamps? Shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, tinfoil, plastic sandwich bags, toothpaste, cleaning products, tampons, pads, over the counter medications (such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.), and anything else you can think of that you cannot physically ingest for nutritional purposes.
Do you know what you can buy with food stamps? Food.
Do you know what it’s like to scrounge for change to buy non-edible necessities, use a credit card and EBT card (food stamps) during the same transaction, and then have the person in line behind you judge you for buying the ingredients to make a birthday cake?
People who disseminate false information about food stamps have never had to use food stamps.
Want some relevant philosophical literature? Here you go:
Be excellent to each other.
A few of the people I knew from high school (that now try to get people into the Vemma scam, though I’m sure there’s no correlation there) are trying to promote pseudoscience as “proof” and “fact”. That simply will not do. Rap battles? Okay.
EDIT: It got better
Oh, goodness. So many things! I think I should start by listing the classes I’ve taken (and all of these are just the ones within the major):
407 is our course code for seminar, and 499 is “special topics”. 411 is always a “great figures” class that varies depending on the term and professor. So as you can see, one of the best things has been the ability to take (almost) whatever I want! A very “off-beat” approach to the whole college idea, especially at a State school. Part of this is because there are only about 50 students in the department across all academic standings, so I get a little more one-on-one with the professors and a little more freedom in what I want to take to satisfy the category requirements.
Perhaps the best thing among what I’ve learned, though, is more about how to think than what to think. I’ve done everything from metaphysics (“the really real”) to philosophical criticism of neuroscientific methodologies. The skills introduced in lower levels and honed in upper are useful for almost any field or study. The “joke” that people try to make about philosophy majors is asking us “What are you going to do with a philosophy degree?” Well, anything, really. Philosophy gives you the tools to dive in to a field of your choice with passion, tenacity, and a critical eye.
One of the biggest things is also the practice of evaluating your own thoughts and ideas to figure out which ones are worth having, being able to defend and explain them, and being willing to abandon bad ones. It means that for almost every belief/idea/thought I have, I’ve done the careful work of evaluating exactly why I have it and why it’s worth keeping. This has the nice side effect of making it so that you will very rarely “lose” arguments about those ideas simply because you will have already considered the objections others might have to them.
Philosophy, for those who don’t know, translates from Greek to “love of wisdom”. I could not describe the field or the practice in any more beautiful manner. It is an inquiry into our own understanding, what we mean when we say certain things, and how the things we say relate to the world around us — and ourselves.
The following is the first draft of my final paper for this term’s philosophy seminar, Race and Biology. It’s a response to Neven Sesardic’s paper about how opponents of hereditarianism only oppose it insofar as it allows them to avoid responding to hereditariansim… though the punch line here is that he does exactly the same thing himself. The preponderance of evidence is on the side of environmentalism, though I don’t touch on that much here because I simply don’t need to. His arguments are so poor that I have tried to use logic alone to dismantle them. You can find links/info on the sources at the bottom. Enjoy!
Neven Sesardic’s claims in Nature, Nurture, and Politics pose what he considers to be a stark and incontrovertible argument in defense of hereditarianism, striking down both environmentalism and clinal distributions for genetic variability. He does the work of presenting a set of conditions under which it should be apparent that political motivations have influenced scientific claims. Unfortunately, the claims he make fail his own logical process and in fact disrupt hereditarianism itself. In this paper I will demonstrate the logical and empirical inadequacies in Sesardic’s argument.
Sesardic gets straight into it with listing “a possible list of ﬁve conditions which (if jointly satisﬁed) would signal the corruption of science by politics” (Sesardic 433, 2009). His first condition addresses political backgrounds for a hypothesis:
1. In a discussion over scientiﬁc hypothesis H, a political implication that is generally associated with the potential truth of H is considered politically unwelcome by the overwhelming majority of researchers (Sesardic 433, 2009).
The specific pieces to note here are that the hypothesis H needs to be politically unwelcome by the overwhelming majority of all researchers involved. Gallup polls show that party affiliation within the United States has 23% identifying as Republicans, 45% identifying as Independents, and 30% identifying as Democrats. 40% identify as Republicans including ‘leaners’, and 47% identify as Democrats including ‘leaners’ (Gallup, 2014). While Gallup does not collect data for the population of ‘researchers’ specifically, this distribution is likely to align with theirs to at least some relevant significance. If Sesardic’s claim is that a hypothesis is considered to be “politically unwelcome”, and the researchers who find it to be that way are the “overwhelming majority”, there may be at least some credence to their political oppositions. This phenomenon becomes more curious considering the tendency of researchers to avoid biased political motivations, and that the scientific method has been established with the objective of avoiding influence in deriving findings.
Sesardic’s second condition is also related to political motivations:
2. Some arguments against H have been put forward by a group of scholars (let’s call them M-scholars), who themselves openly and repeatedly admit that their opposition to H springs from their political views (Sesardic 434, 2009).
Sesardic’s issue here is quite clear – if scholars are admitting their opposition to something is based on political inclinations, surely their work will be biased! Oddly enough, the opposite seems to be true upon careful inspection. If scholars “openly and repeatedly” admit their positions and that this is how they approach their work, it opens that work to scrutiny for bias as a result of those positions. If this is the case, it can be made evident and they can self-correct or accept recommendations from colleagues. The danger seems to come from the opposite possibility, having a potential bias from a political view and not voicing it. Bias within research can be very difficult to identify and correct for, meaning that when political views are unknown, potentially damaging studies and results can escape scrutiny. Sesardic’s M-scholars seem to be doing their due diligence as scholars rather than failing it.
Condition number three is a new approach:
3. Many independent and highly respected scientists who have not publicly taken part in the debate over H also state that M-scholars cannot keep their science and politics apart (Sesardic 434, 2009).
Those familiar with legal terms will see this as strictly hearsay. The “highly respected scientists” are, according to the condition, speaking to the character of the M-scholars with no real authority to do so, and insofar as they are attacking their character rather than the validity of their arguments, it qualifies as ad hominem as well. Neither “many” nor “respected” is quantified, nor is the degree to which the M-scholars “cannot keep their science and politics apart”. This condition is both unspecific and obviously logically fallacious.
Condition number four presents some potential cause for concern about M-scholars:
4. In the theoretical ﬁeld P, the arguments of M-scholars against H have been accepted for decades without any critical examination and have been enthusiastically advertised as completely undermining H.
Part of the peer-review process, by which these arguments have been subjected to (given that they are scholarly arguments and so widely-accepted), is “critical examination”. Part of breaking new scholarly ground is refuting older ideas with better hypotheses as well, so any M-scholar argument that has been accepted for decades is likely to have withstood substantial criticism and alternative theories. If H is as potent as Sesardic claims it to be, it seems as though it should neither be so easily undermined nor so widely disputed.
Condition number five is some kind of beautiful irony:
5. The arguments of M-scholars against H are actually very bad arguments, suffering from many easily recognizable logical fallacies, distortions of H and straw man criticisms (Sesardic 434, 2009).
As demonstrated for the above conditions, Sesardic falls victim to his own conditions even before applying them to the discourse he is interested in. If there is a such thing as academic irony, this condition should embody it.
If we were to give Sesardic the conditions for evaluating an argument, though, would they have any ground? It may be very well argued that they should be worth considering in the context of application, for in that context they may have some revelatory use. He lists the way each of the five conditions is applied, though for brevity this will not be included.
Sesardic argues that his first condition is filled because “the truth of H would make it much harder to solve current political problems of racial inequality” (Sesardic 434, 2009). Even if this were the case, there are many hypotheses that would make it more difficult to solve those problems. Coming up with an idea does not make it scientifically valid, that is what testing and peer-review are for analyzing. If H is true, it should have no problems with scrutiny, regardless of political disposition. Criticism that amounts to political disagreement is not considered academically relevant, nor is it logically or scientifically relevant.
With regards to the second condition, Sesardic’s opposition is that the political motivation for the science is dangerous: “this sometimes went so far that they even claimed that their ‘‘critical science’’ was an ‘‘integral part’’ of their struggle to create ‘‘a more socially just—socialist—society’’ (preface to Not in Our Genes)” (Sesardic 434, 2009). This is an application of a relevant and interesting idea, that we should be cautious of any politically motivated science. However, as mentioned earlier, this transparency about the political motivation opens it up for scrutiny and evaluation. Insofar as it has been evaluated and found to be scientifically valid and accurately epistemologically attributed, that political motivation can be rendered irrelevant.
Sesardic’s application of the third condition, as elaborated above once again, amount to hearsay and ad hominem attacks. Rather than citing any particular examples in which Lewontin might be guilty of what he is accused of doing, Sesardic lists the names of Peter Medawar, Richard Dawkins, and Ernst Mayr (Sesardic 434-435, 2009), using them as some form of valid empirical evidence. Suffice it to say, a name is not an argument, an ad hominem attack is not a valid logical move, and an appeal to authority offers no value to an academic discussion or scientific claim (lest that claim have been tested and evaluated itself).
Rather than use the opportunity for refutation that Sesardic sets up in the fourth condition, his argument amounts to “Lewontin’s criticisms of the concept were regarded as the ﬁnal word on the matter. Case closed” (Sesardic 435, 2009). This isn’t just a missed opportunity, it’s wrong! While not necessarily in direct opposition to Lewontin’s findings, Andreasen’s clade arguments (Andreasen, 1998) need to make some heroic assumptions about gene flow and population distribution in order to meet his numbers. Many studies like Templeton’s, though, have found that there is no biological basis for race due to the same kinds of genetic diversity that Lewontin originally identified (Templeton, 2013). It is certainly not “case closed”, unless by this Sesardic means that Lewontin’s findings are indeed accurate and do actually undermine H.
Fearing nothing, Sesardic makes a bold statement of his own arguments: “obviously I am not in a position to judge how successful I was in that enterprise but it may be indicative that none of my central arguments have been challenged so far” (Sesardic 435, 2009). It may very well be the case that none of Sesardic’s arguments were yet challenged because they were not seen to be relevant. Of course, “there was clearly no space in this short text to defend properly any of the above ﬁve claims” (Sesardic 435, 2009). He does note that his arguments “were defended in more detail in [his] book on heritability” (Sesardic 435, 2009), but to present a flawed argument without any defense of it is in poor academic taste. It is my hope that thus far I have demonstrated both his conditional and argumentative inadequacies – issuing the challenge he seeks.
In his final few paragraphs, Sesardic finally works on attending to what should be a clear deduction by now – that his own principles could be used against his arguments. His response is short:
For instance, it is not true that (1) a political implication that is generally associated with the potential truth of environmentalism is considered politically unwelcome by the overwhelming majority of researchers. Also, it is simply false that (2) some arguments in support of H have been put forward by a group of scholars (let’s call them R-scholars), who themselves openly and repeatedly admit that their defense of H springs from their political views. And so on (Sesardic 435, 2009).
While I have worked to clarify why these ideas might be wrong above, I will do my own due diligence and explain, specifically, once more. For scenario (1), it is not considered politically unwelcome because the “overwhelming majority” of researchers share the view that H is politically unwelcome. Again, in order for this to be the case, it cannot be limited to a single political affiliation, and the statistics involved suggest that politics alone have little to do with the unwelcome nature of H. For scenario (2), this transparency regarding their positions serves to strengthen their arguments due to withstanding strict scrutiny about the potential bias. Again, by being clear in their political motives, those motives can be sought out and, if necessary, accounted for. What Sesardic attempts to attribute to a methodological flaw is actually a strong point, and there should be some skepticism about the fact that no scholars in support of H have been so open about their potential biases.
Sesardic does defend the rationale behind his arguments in his conclusion:
It may seem to some people that focusing just on the arguments and avoiding political imputations should always be praised as ‘‘taking the high road’’, but in fact this approach will sometimes make important aspects of a scientiﬁc controversy completely unintelligible (Sesardic 436, 2009).
It should rightly be questioned whether he is actually “taking the high road”, though, given what he’s presented. He also seems to have violated one of his own earlier contentions:
I ﬁrst argued that if a scholar publicly defends a certain view (say, hereditarianism) in the debate about IQ, race and genetics this fact alone cannot justify attributing a political motivation to that person (Sesardic 433, 2009).
Having attributed political motivations and character flaws to Lewontin to try and make his arguments, it should be clear why Sesardic was unchallenged – his own logic defeats his claims. Following this, I have hopefully demonstrated Sesardic’s logical and empirical inadequacies.
1. Andreasen, R. O. (1998). A new perspective on the race debate. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 49(2), 199-225. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/688112
2. Party Affiliation. 2014. Gallup. Retrieved from
3. Sesardic, N. (2009). Nature, nurture, and politics. Biological Philosophy, 25(3), 433-436. doi: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10539-009-9159-9
This will make you very happy.