Saturday, November 18, 2017

Trump's Judicial Appointee Had A Ghostbusting Hobby; The Washington Post And Its Commenters Freak Out

  So...there are legitimate grounds for criticizing this appointment--obviously. For example, Talley has never tried a case. To the layperson, this seems...y'know...really bad... And the ABA rated him unqualified.  (Conservatives respond that the ABA has a liberal bias; which wouldn't surprise me in the least...but I don't know anything about it.)

   But hyperventilating about his ghost-hunting hobby seems like BS to me.
   First, ghostbusting sounds like a blast. I'd totally do it. In fact, a bunch of us back in high school decided we were totally going to do it. (Though, as I recall, it didn't really progress much past a bit of lame chop socky training in the back yard...y' case we encountered "cultists"...)
   Second, nine in ten Americans believe in God and souls and whatnot. Last I looked, there were exactly no openly atheistic senators or congressmen. How is it that Talley's views are supposed to be wildly less rational / less scientific / more outre than those? Because he's agnostic as to whether those souls or spirits or whatever show up in the world occasionally? Which, incidentally, about half of Americans believe. And how many people in the federal judiciary are similarly agnostic on this burning metaphysical issue of crucial political importance?

   Third, let me just note, ad hominem, that the progressive left believes things far less rational and more unscientific than Talley's ghost agnosticism. Social constructionism--which would better be called 'social creationism'--is waaaay less rational than the hypothesis that there are ghosts. (Which, don't get me wrong, is pretty crazy.) Vocal and influential sectors of the PC left have proclaimed almost everything under the sun (and also: the sun...) to be "social constructs." Notoriously, folks over there have argued that men can turn themselves into women via all sorts of quasi-magical means: feeling like women, thinking of themselves as women, calling themselves women, dressing like women, being regarded by others as women, playing womanly social roles, etc. Of course the whole discussion is plagued by debilitating degrees of vagueness and imprecision, multidimensional ambiguity, and motte-and-bailey-ing... So the really outlandish creationist thesis rarely quite gets unequivocally affirmed. But rarely gets unequivocally denied, either. The social constructionist left basically proclaims everything a social construct--but the claims, literally construed, are so crazy that most people figure that they must just be making some kind of garbled semantic claims--e.g. that the term 'woman' just means something like dresses like a woman. (Which...can't be true on account of self-referentiality and vacuity... And also isn't true as a straightforward matter of lexicography.) But if the claims were merely semantic, then e.g. arguments about restroom use wouldn't make sense. Those arguments require substantive conclusions, not merely semantic ones. Then, of course, there's the "social construction of race" silliness...which, like the other silliness, is motivated partially by left-wing political preferences, partially by bad metaphysics, partially by the view that social science trumps natural sciences, and partially just by sloppy thinking and general lack of clarity.
   All in all, there's a clear sense in which someone who is agnostic about, say, ESP, is being less irrational than someone who professes belief in a garbled tangle of nonsense that's stuck somewhere between (i) an assertion that human agreement has magical powers and (ii) a assertion of straightforwardly false semantic claims.

   But, anyway: this outraged BS about Talley's ghostbusting is dumb, IMO. There's plenty of substance to focus on in his case. This other stuff seems to me to be a sideshow. I also expect that it's partially motivated by the left's conception of itself as "the party of science"--something it absolutely, positively is not.


Anonymous Critical Spirits said...

Not to mention the blatant ad hominem waged against Talley. "How can we trust in his judgment regarding constitutional law if he believes in silly things like ghosts!?"

This is critical thinking 101 stuff here. How are people so bad at this???

2:20 PM  

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