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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

floobedy Re:Are you kidding (794 comments)

The Civil War was related to slavery, but not exactly cause much by it. It was more of the southern states trying to favor "states' rights" over federal power, and the growing opposition against slavery in the north made the more stubborn southern states feel resentful of the federal government taking action.

That's just all wrong, and I don't think any serious historians believe it. Although the south wanted "states' rights", the particular states' right they wanted was the right to be slaveholding. They indicated no other "states' rights" which were important to them in the main historical documents at the time. The debate within the south over whether they should secede, focused almost entirely upon slavery. The main documents in which they explained their reasons for secession (such as the various declarations of Independence of southern states, and Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina) usually mention nothing other than slavery, and always mention slavery as their main concern.

The Emancipation Proclamation in wording freed slaves, but it also discouraged Europeans from assisting the south as they would seem like they were promoting a morally wrong practice.

No. The south indicated very clearly what the issue was for them. There is no reason that the South would conspire against themselves and go along with Lincoln's supposed PR campaign, in order to deny themselves support from Europeans. The crucial thing here is that the historical documents from the South clearly and obviously don't support what you're saying. It's possible to attribute other motives to Lincoln, and to claim he didn't really care about slavery but was using that issue to sound high-minded. You could always attribute his anti-slavery statements and actions to insincerity. However, it was the south which seceded, opened fire on Fort Sumter, and formally started the civil war. They were very frank in their reasons for doing so, and it was always about slavery.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued long after Europeans had decided not to intervene on behalf of the South in the civil war (not that they ever had any serious intention of doing so). As a result, the Emancipation Proclamation cannot have been intended to prevent Europeans from entering the war.

I suspect you have been influenced by the Lost Cause historical revisionist movement, which was a crackpot revisionist movement that arose about 30 years after the civil war had ended, and which sought to re-write history regarding the civil war. It wished to portray the civil war as being due to causes other than slavery (which is entirely wrong) and it portrayed slavery as a benign institution, done for the benefit of slaves (also entirely wrong).

Unfortunately, that group has tremendous influence among the general public, particularly in the American south. It's just ignored by professional historians, who consider it a crackpot group. But it has managed to propagate all kinds of historical falsehoods which are now widespread. It's a crackpot movement, but it's very successful. It's claims are repeated all the time by all sorts of people, even here, on slashdot.

The evidence weighs very heavily against that point of view, and no serious historians believe it.

3 minutes ago
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Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

floobedy Market is inefficient (145 comments)

I suspect the problem here is that the stock market is inefficient or irrational, and the Efficient Market Hypothesis is wrong. I suspect that alibaba is in a bubble and overvalued. Furthermore, it has been bid up in a bubble by amateur investors, who don't realize that they could acquire a stake in alibaba more cheaply by buying yahoo stock instead. Professional investors won't short alibaba, because they think the price for it won't correct quickly enough.

If my suspicion is correct, then the CEO of Yahoo should sell all shares in alibaba and yahoo japan, and should retain the $48bn as cash for yahoo. Professional investors will then bid up the price of yahoo stock (now shed of what they think is an overvalued asset) because they realize that yahoo plus $48bn is worth more than $48bn, since yahoo is slightly profitable. By doing so, yahoo would gain $13bn or more in market capitalization. Yahoo will have "cashed out" on what professional investors think is an overvalued asset (alibaba), and will have benefitted from amateur investors bidding up the price of something which yahoo partially owns without realizing that they should have bought yahoo stock instead.

8 hours ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

floobedy Re:Who is revisionist? (794 comments)

Also, I think I should mention what you left out of your quotation. That remark (by Lincoln) was a response to a fiery editorial by Horace Greeley that the Federal Government must seize all slaves immediately and free them from their masters, including those slaves in the border states which had not seceded. Congress had already passed a law to that effect. From the editorial:

We think you [Lincoln] are strangely and disastrously remiss in the discharge of your official and imperative duty with regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act. Those provisions were designed to fight Slavery with Liberty...

III. We think you are unduly influenced by the counsels ... of certain fossil politicians hailing from the Border Slave States. Knowing well that the heartily, unconditionally loyal portion of the White citizens of those States do not expect nor desire chat Slavery shall be upheld to the prejudice of the Union ... we ask you to consider that Slavery is everywhere the inciting cause and sustaining base of treason: the most slaveholding sections of Maryland...

Lincoln was treading very carefully there because he didn't wish to alienate the "Border Slave" states such as Kentucky, which could cause them to secede also, and to join the south in the war. Ordering federal troops to seize and free all slaves in the border states at that time, could have caused the North to lose the war.

Even in the example you provided, the issue was entirely about slavery. Lincoln's letter was a response to a demand that he free slaves according to a law just passed by Congress. Lincoln was being political and compromising, which is why he didn't act according to that law.

2 days ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

floobedy Re:Who is revisionist? (794 comments)

That is just taken way out of context, and your interpretation of it is wrong. I've seen that quotation many times. You're relying upon quotations which have been carefully cherry-picked from personal correspondence, by a crackpot movement, in order to support a point of view. Instead of doing that, let's look at the main historical documents from that period.

Upon seceding, many of the southern states produced their own declarations of independence, declaring plainly their reasons for seceding. For example, the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina, states plainly that the entire reason for the secession of South Carolina is to preserve slavery. It states plainly that their main complaint is that the north is not upholding its constitutional obligations or the Fugitive Slave Act, and has not been returning runaway slaves to their masters in the south, and intended eventually to abolish slavery. From the document:

But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations... In many of these States the fugitive [slave] is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied [with their return]...The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor... A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery... [and that] the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

The entire document is only a few pages. It raises no issues other than slavery, the preservation of slavery, and the return of fugitive slaves. This is not a cherry-picked quotation from personal correspondence. This is a formal declaration of independence which explains South Carolina's reasons for secession right before they opened fire on Fort Sumter, thereby formally beginning the American civil war.

[Slavery] was obviously not [Lincoln's] main motivation in the Civil war.

Lincoln did not start the civil war. The south seceded and then opened fire on Fort Sumter, in order to preserve slavery. It was the south which started the civil war, and their main motivation was to preserve slavery, and they said so, very plainly, on many occasions.

Lincoln didn't want a war at all--in fact he was desperate to avoid one. Lincoln was perfectly willing to allow a gradual phase-out of slavery over time in order to placate the south and prevent them from seceding. Lincoln was trying to offer any possible inducement to avoid a war, which he believed would be disastrous.

The south rebuffed Lincoln's attempts to compromise or produce a gradual phase-out of slavery, then seceded and opened fire on fort Sumter. Their only stated motive for doing so was the preservation of slavery.

2 days ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

floobedy Re:Duh (794 comments)

That if nothing else proves that the US is an Oligarchy.

It certainly doesn't prove anything like that. It's not a crime to screw up, make huge mistakes, and bankrupt your own bank. There would be no way to "jail" the CEOs because errors (no matter how severe) are not crimes. This demonstrates nothing about whether the US is an oligarchy or not.

2 days ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

floobedy Re:Are you kidding (794 comments)

Sorry, but no, you're not. You are not given the opportunity to vote for your representatives and leaders. You're given a false dichotomy, the illusion that you have a choice while in fact the system is rigged and perverted to the point to ensure that you actually have none. The main reason why there is no threat of violence or worse for making the wrong choice is simply that you CAN NOT make the wrong choice.

That's just all wrong. The existence of only two parties in the USA is an artifact of the voting system. If you use first-past-the-post voting for each position separately, then splitting the vote is a sure way to lose, so all groups consolidate as much as possible before the final election. Look at it this way: if the Democrat party divided into mildly left and far left, then neither of those leftist parties would ever approach 50% of the voting population for any given elected position, so both of those leftist parties would certainly lose every election. As a result, all kinds of compromises and voting ("primaries") happens before the actual final election, because consolidation before the final election is crucial in that kind of voting system.

This implies that all kinds of compromises are made in order to appeal to the median voter, even before the election has begun. Within each party, there are intense primary battles in which democrats and republicans vote for who they want their candidate to be. Anyone can vote in those primary elections. There are often extremists put forth at that stage. However, each party must be very careful not to stray too far from the median voter because that's a sure way to lose, given the voting system.

This implies that some kinds of voting and compromises are happening before the final election happens, as opposed to afterwards, as in many European countries.

If either party proposed something flagrantly unpopular, then a third party would immediately spring up, and the original party which proposed something unpopular would go away. Everything would revert to two parties, because the voting system encourages consolidation, but one of the parties would be a new party and the old one would die away (this has already happened more than once; the two parties used to be Democrats and Whigs). Neither party could propose something totally unpopular, and win anyway because there is no choice. Instead, the parties must calculate and vote amongst themselves about what the median voter will support, before even proposing a final candidate.

The US voting system is silly, and I'm no fan of it. It's archaic and should be replaced. However, it has nothing to do with what you portray. It is totally unlike the parties which existed under communism.

2 days ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

floobedy Re:Are you kidding (794 comments)

No, the civil war was about slavery. There were other issues also (like tariffs), but the primary issue was slavery.

That point is extremely obvious if you read the primary sources in this case, which include declarations of independence by the states which were seceding, in which they explain very clearly what their main motives were.

There was no other issue at the time so important that it would have caused a civil war. There was no other issue which would have caused the southern states to secede. Although there were other disagreements, such as disagreements about tariffs, those disagreements were nowhere near so intense that they would have provoked a secession or civil war.

the slavery thing was pretty much just a PR tool Lincoln used to solidify public opinion in the north.

You are repeating a historical fiction propagated at the end of the 19th century and which continues today in some conservative circles. It's a strain of thought which arose long after the civil war was over. It started with the publication of The Rise And Fall Of The Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis. It was an attempt to downplay the importance of slavery to southerners, and to portray slavery as a benign institution anyway which was done primarily to benefit of the enslaved. It's considered a crackpot theory among all serious historians, but it inspired a movement in the south which continues today.

There was a long prelude to the American civil war. Tensions had been building for decades. In fact, the civil war had already started (for all intents and purposes), in bleeding Kansas and other places, where fighting had already broken out, years before the formal beginning of the civil war. All this happened long before Lincoln was president. The issue was slavery, and both sides said so in no uncertain terms.

It's good to know that mass "education" is successfully keeping people confused about this.

Sadly, you're the confused one. You've been misled by a crackpot revisionist group.

2 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

floobedy Re:What a strange discussion (854 comments)

I wonder why this topic is so much discussed in the USA. In every other country climate change and the fact that we, humans, are causing it is accepted as a scientific fact.

Unfortunately, that's not true. Global warming denial is common in many places of the world, especially in the formerly communist countries, middle eastern countries, south asian countries, and anglo countries. The USA has similar levels of global warming denial as Russia, India, the UK, Australia, the Czech Republic, and many other places.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_opinion_by_country

about a week ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

floobedy Re:Five hundred years? (854 comments)

What postulate of statistics allows asserting accurate predictions from 0.0000001 repeating percent of the full data set?

Statistics allows this. It depends upon how frequently the event occurs.

Could you predict the sentiments of every human on the planet (over 4 billion) by asking the last 500 people born?

Suppose that among the last 500 people born, none of them are albinos. What are the chances that the 501st person born will be an albino? It's possible to know that it's unlikely, using a dataset of only 500 people. A dataset of 5,000 people (selected at random) would be more than enough, even though the population is 7 billion.

Bear in mind that temperatures of the last 20 years have been way outside anything of the last 500. Using your birth rate analogy, suppose nobody among the last 500 people born are albinos, and then suddenly, the next 20 born are all albinos. Wouldn't you suspect something?

about a week ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

floobedy Re:Five hundred years? (854 comments)

And the remaining weather stations turned out to not be very reliable either, with most being more than 2 degrees Celsius error.

This doesn't matter as long as the errors are randomly distributed. There is a big difference between the error of one station, and the error of all stations put together. This is because it's extremely unlikely that all random errors will point in the same direction. As a result, you can get an extremely accurate measurement of temperature even if individual sensors are inaccurate, provided you have enough of them and the errors are randomly distributed.

Also, many errors can be corrected. Satellite measurements show gradually changing levels of radiation from earth because their orbit is gradually decaying, and it's possible to correct for that.

about a week ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

floobedy Re:Five hundred years? (854 comments)

You're making mistakes with statistics. It doesn't matter if the period under study is small relative to cosmological phenomena. What matters is the length of time in which the temperature increase occurred (30 years) relative to the total study period (500 years), and the rarity of the phenomenon observed within the total study period. That is what you'd need to calculate whether this change is a random fluctuation. The temperature variation across billions of years does not matter here.

In fact, even one year would be enough to detect some anomalies. Say your computer had 10 crashes inside of 30 minutes, and zero crashes in the prior year. Would you suspect a problem, other than just normal occasional crashes? Would it matter if your period of observation (one year) is small relative to the history of computing? Again, what matters is the length of the period in which the change occurred (0.00006 years, or 30 minutes) relative to the length of the total study period (1 year, or 17000x as much), and how rare the phenomenon was in the total study period. It's just not necessary to know the history of computing in order to calculate the odds.

You can repeat this procedure indefinitely. In some cases, even one millisecond would be enough to detect an anomaly, if we were studying phenomena which occur over femtoseconds (one quadrillionth of a millisecond). Suppose some event happens every microsecond on average, over a period of one millisecond. What are the chances it will occur in the next femtosecond? About 1 in 1,000,000,000, and the age of the earth does not matter.

about a week ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

floobedy Re:Another railgun proposal... (630 comments)

I wish I could find the article which described this. If I recall, the railgun was supposed to be enormous and would be miles in diameter.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

floobedy Difficult to defend against (630 comments)

Perhaps one of the big benefits of a naval railgun is that it's so difficult to defend against. Old-fashioned anti-ship missiles can be disabled or destroyed by the defending ship's close-in defenses. This is because the incoming missile is filled with sensitive electronics, guidance systems, explosives, fuel, turbojet engines, stabilizing fins, etc, and is very likely to be damaged or destroyed if hit by a 20mm round from the defending ship's CIWS missile defenses.

However, how do you shoot down a hunk of metal traveling at mach 7 toward your ship? It wouldn't make any difference if you hit it with a 20mm round from the goalkeeper or phalanx. The projectile would just keep flying toward the ship and strike it anyways. Besides, how would you even hit something which is so small and traveling at mach 7.

It doesn't seem there would be any good defense against this.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

floobedy Another railgun proposal... (630 comments)

I recall a proposal (at this point very hypothetical) to have a huge railgun arranged in a loop, which would be situated somewhere in the continental US. The projectile would go around and around in the railgun loop, accelerating each time, like a slingshot, until it's flung out toward the target. The projectiles would go so fast that they'd fly out into orbit before coming back down. This would allow us to "shell" any country on earth from some railgun in the US. The "shells" in this case would have so much kinetic energy that they'd level a city block from the shock wave they'd create upon landing.

WHY DON'T WE HAVE THIS ALREADY? It's the ultimate homeland defense.

about two weeks ago
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Survey Finds Nearly 50% In US Believe In Medical Conspiracy Theories

floobedy Re: Jenny McCarthy (395 comments)

I enjoy it so much when people with such immature points make such obvious errors in spelling and grammar. Please tell me more about my "inanity" and "muppetude" man, you are like a rocket scientist with your magical cognitive abilities.

Before you criticize others' grammar, you should learn the difference between a comma and a period. Most people had mastered that by the 3rd grade. You, on the other hand, didn't manage to put together two sentences without making childlike mistakes.

John gets polio and you do not, there is no issue.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. You can't even write at the 3rd grade level.

You do know what a false dilemma is don't you?

The poster hadn't committed the false dilemma fallacy. Look it up, and figure out what it means.

You're just an utter idiot, over and over again.

about a month ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

floobedy A few criticisms (401 comments)

I think the model wrongly assumes that elites draw down essential resources faster than commoners. In pre-modern society, that appears to have been incorrect. In pre-modern civilizations, it was over-farming and the reduction in soil fertility which was subject to draw-down, and not "resources" more generally. (For example, there is reasonably good evidence that soil degradation contributed to the collapse of the western roman empire). Elites do not consume much more food than commoners. As a result, I'm not sure it would make any different how stratified society is. Take the chateaux of the Loire Valley as an example: they're extravagant, but they're not built out of materials (such as stone) which became exhausted anywhere or threatened civilization.

In pre-modern societies, elites subsisted off the surplus labor which was left over after commoners had provided for their own subsistence. According to best estimates, this "surplus" labor available for exploitation by elites was never more than 20% of the total commoner labor available. Most labor in pre-modern societies was used in simply providing enough food for everyone to survive. In ancient Egypt, more than 90% of the population spent all their working time devoted to agriculture or household work, and similar ratios existed in other civilizations. As a result, the total consumption of elites in pre-modern society was never a large fraction of the total production of society. Some elites may have had extremely extravagant lifestyles compared to commoners, but that is because such elites' numbers were extremely small, generally much less than 1% of the population.

Another important consideration here is the difference between reduction of population, and the collapse of some political order. Insofar as I can tell, soil degradation often leads to a gradual reduction in population over centuries until some political order suddenly cannot be sustained. Often, ancient civilizations were empires in which some center had a large army and long transportation networks. The empire dominated a group of subject peoples on the periphery, and extracted the products of their surplus labor beyond subsistence and transported those surplus products to the center. Usually, the subject peoples disliked being so dominated. It seems possible to me that soil degradation could lead to a reduction in the size of the surplus, and thus the size and power of the army of the empire, until the arrangement suddenly could not be maintained. Take the western roman empire as an example: soil degradation and population decline had been happening for centuries, until the army weakened and a barbarian tribe invaded and suddenly overran and destroyed the empire.

Of course, the main criticism of the paper is that it's wildly speculative. There is no data whatsoever in the paper. This is excusable because there is very little "data" in the modern sense left over from pre-modern civilizations. Pre-modern peoples were extremely good at telling stories and writing epics, but poor at keeping records and statistics of commoners' well-being. For this reason, and other reasons, the causes of the collapses of many civilizations (such as the meso-American civilizations) are not well understood, and the explanations are highly speculative and different from each other. Many researchers speculate that the American civilizations collapsed because of long-lasting mega-droughts, which obviously would not fit this model of resource draw-down.

Usually, when constructing a model, it's at least necessary to verify that the model agrees with past evidence. Even then, the model may not be predictive at all; however, constructing a model which agrees with past evidence is often a first step. Unfortunately, the model in this case is just wildly speculative. There are virtually no examples of egalitarian civilizations prior to the 18th century, and so no data on how egalitarian civilizations would have fared. There is no data on soil fertility, consumption by elites, resource draw-down, total populations of civilizations, etc, which this model refers to. Instead, the model is along the lines of "this seems plausible".

about a month ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

floobedy Re:Double Standards (794 comments)

If you had no assumptions of my political affiliation, then your remarks about cognitive dissonance make no sense.

about a month and a half ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

floobedy Re:Double Standards (794 comments)

Or maybe white people only care when other white people are killed in high concentrations. But that wouldn't fit your partisan philosophy.

Except the Soviet Union, which I mentioned, consisted of other white people. Also, the issue wasn't just that white people "didn't care"; the problem was that some white people explicitly denied that the massacres had occurred. It's not a matter of them just not caring.

about a month and a half ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

floobedy Re:Double Standards (794 comments)

Cognitive dissonance is a human trait. You are engaging in it yourself when you try to cast the left as engaging in it more than the right... Your whole argument is itself simply an expression of a double standard when you try to claim the left engages in this more than the right.

You wrongly guessed my political affiliation. I have never voted Republican in my life. Furthermore, I was voted most liberal by my graduating high school class in San Francisco.

about a month and a half ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

floobedy Double Standards (794 comments)

Whole Foods is treated differently because of the moral and intellectual double standards which prevail on the left. Leftists and rightists both treat things differently when they are done by people on "our side" and so practice double standards. The left, however, is particularly bad in that regard.

One example of this was the extremely widespread holocaust denial (or something akin to holocaust denial) which is rampant on the left and has always been. I am not talking about the mass murder in Germany. I am referring to the mass murder in the Soviet Union in the 1930s through the 1950s and even after; the mass murder in Cambodia in the 1970s; and the ongoing mass murder and severe political repression in almost all explicitly "socialist" countries which until recently were the darlings of far leftists everywhere. Those mass murders were denied or disputed by considerable numbers on the left. What's more, the denial of mass murder is ignored by a great many other leftists who do not deny that those murders occurred. There is a double standard. Whereas most leftists would vehemently protest (and rightly so) when someone disputes the Holocaust, they are strangely silent when one of their own disputes the mass killings of leftist regimes.

The denial was especially severe with regard to Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge murdered 1/4th of the population of that country within a few years. A whole industry of professors and leftist figures exist to deny the mass-murder there. Even Noam Chomsky tried hard to deny the killing fields, and tried hard to dispute the reports of massacre emanating from that country. The reason for this denial (I suspect) is because the mass murders followed a socialist revolution and were orchestrated by far leftists who had been educated in Paris, and who had been supported enthusiastically by the far left. The fact that it resulted in mass murder is difficult to accept for people who are convinced of their own ethical superiority. Thus, a double standard evolved.

If Noam Chomsky had been a Nazi sympathizer and had denied the Holocaust, he would be a forgotten figure by now, as he deserves to be, for various reasons. However, he spent his time denying the mass murder in Cambodia, so it was forgotten.

These double standards prevail everywhere. My leftist friends cannot stop laughing at young earth creationism, but are in thrall to pseudoscientific nonsense which makes creationism look sophisticated in comparison. There are all kinds of T-Shirts meant to mock creationism, with a "Teach the Controversy" byline beneath a Triceratops attached to a plow. There are not, however, T-Shirts worn by my leftist friends mocking homeopathy, or all kinds of ancient medical quackery, or "energy medicine", or "multiple chemical sensitivity", or the recent widespread belief that vaccines are dangerous and aren't worth it. Granted, these things are not practiced by most people on the left. However, they are ignored by people on the left who have a scientific understanding, who reserve their vitriol for the pseudoscience of the other side.

There are also double standards with regard to doomsday groups. Each side of the political spectrum mocks the doomsday groups of the other side. People who are waiting for "the end times" are mocked by those on the left. However, peak oiler doomers (almost all of whom were on the far left) who assured us that civilization certainly would collapse before 2008 are largely exempt from that mockery.

I suppose double standards are easy to fall into. It's difficult to condemn one of your own.

about a month and a half ago

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