Saturday, 15 December 2012

Asking for definitions, for greater precision, feigning incomprehension - avoiding the point


One of the favoured tactics of those who do not want to confront criticism (implicit or explicit) of their ideology, is to hijack the debate.

So that, a perfectly clear argument, based on perfectly obvious evidence, and backed by perfectly simple reasoning - is met with instant demands for clarification; especially by the demand for exact definition with elimination of grey areas, and the triumphant production of what are supposed to be counter-example (no matter how rare or dubious).

If these demands are acceded to, then they lead to a debate concerning definitions, the balance of evidence, and - if necessary - the epistemiological status of whole realms of discourse.


I came across all of this when I published an article exploring the implications of social class IQ differentials on college entrance, at varying levels of selectivity.

The article was based on solid (not to say ancient) knowledge and clear assumptions - the precise numerical results depended on the assumptions, but the essential point was simply factual.

Yet insofar as the article was not simply taken as evidence of all sorts of motivations in myself, the response from Leftists was as above: for definitions, which could be challenged, for greater precision which could be muddied by emphasizing grey areas, skepticism about the whole area of intelligence research... in general anything was up for debate except the clear and obvious central point.


Well the same thing happened in the unpublished comments to my earlier article on the anti-Christian tendency of intensive weight-training and its associated regimes; the response of those who didn't like what I was saying was to behave exactly like politically correct IQ skeptics - except they did so in the moral domain.

I mean asking for exact definitions and focus on grey areas, rare exceptions, what is theoretically possible (rather than useful) and so on.

This style of argument is extremely hazardous; since it can be used to defend any sin of which one is convicted. Instead of accepting the force of conviction the discourse is turned into an abstract discussion of the nature and parameters of this particular sin.


What this reveals - from a Christian perspective - is an unrepentantly sinful attitude of treating salvation as if it was the kind of examination in which you want to get a pass grade with the minimum of work: therefore you are trying to discover what you can get away with.

Whereas what is required is to repent sin and resolve to stop defending sin (even if you cannot stop doing it - and many or most people cannot).

What this reveals is a gulf between the secular Right who are revealed as a species of Leftists that happen to be focused on machismo; and the Christian Right who are the only true Right, and who are focused on patriarchy - which is orthogonal to macho.


Note: the reason for this gulf between the Christian Right and the secular 'Right' is ultimately metaphysical - reality ordered by salvation versus reality ordered by a pleasure-pain index. But the difference can be measured more obviously in general and specific terms relating to the matter of attitude towards the sexual revolution: Christians are negative, secularists are positive (with a few minor reservations to do with themselves having more status and power). Thus the litmus test issues are manifestations of the sexual revolution: abortion, contraception, marriage, divorce, 'Game', drugs, plastic surgery (and the fight against aging), tattoos and other body 'modifications'... and the cult of the self-sculpted body as exemplified by intensive weight training. It's all a metaphysical package.