Monday, August 22, 2005

A Republican Goes to the Dentist

I can picture Brad the conservative visiting the dentist:

Dentist: I'm going to have to perform a root canal.
Brad: Oh, you just think you members of the elite know everything, don't you?
Dentist: Um, OK. If you want evidence, have a look at this tooth in the mirror.
Brad (refusing to look in mirror): You can use you rhetorical phrases like "evidence" to impress your professors at medical school, but you won't impress me.
Dentist: OK then. Let's look at a medical textbook, shall we?
Brad: You and your "indisputable" medical textbook. Don't you recognize any flaws in your basic premises? Oh look, there's F9/11.
Dentist: WTF?
Brad: And I can't believe you're disparaging my tooth, when you refuse to criticize F9/11 with equal fervor.
Dentist: What?!
Brad: Stop assuming that you have a monopoly on truth. And stop assuming that my one bad tooth is representative of all my teeth.
Dentist: Um, I never said that it was. I ..
Brad: I hope you grow out of this someday. (leaves dentist's office, slamming door behind him.)


Anonymous Brad K. said...

What an exercise in wankery, but it's your blog. BTW, I'm not a Republican, Mr. Assumptive.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Rose Nunez said...

"Stop assuming that you have a monopoly on truth."

I heard that line far more often from my lefty profs in the English department. They were far more likely to dismiss empirical evidence than most Repubs I know-- with the exception, of course, of the biblical literalists. But they don't make up the entire population of Republicans, you know.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Brad K. said...

I did say those words to Chris, but I didn't mean it in the relativistic way my English profs meant it, speaking as an ex-English prof.

I meant it to caution Chris against gliding blithely over what he calls "facts" on his way to his conclusions, e.g. Saddam had no WMDs [don't tell the Kurds], people who don't know that this is absolutely true are ignorant, ipso facto, they deserved to be disparaged.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Saddam had no WMDs in 2002. Is that clearer?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Oh crap. I have comment spam to delete now.
Anyhow if you're not a Republican, what are you?

10:58 AM  
Anonymous brad. k. said...

What difference does it make? I mean, it makes a big difference to you obviously, which is what started all this crap.

11:36 AM  
Blogger WestEnder said...

I thought it was a funny joke because it pokes fun at the type of reasoning we see most often from republicans these days.

It only makes it funnier when people go beserk or get defensive.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Is that a Republican or a plain paranoid nut? (no offense whatsoever to Brad above; I am saying this in a wholly objective way- assume I never read the comments above)

10:59 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Well it's related to right-wing postmodernism, and the general sense among conservatives that you can ignore valid scientific research. I find it alarming.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Brad K. said...

My problem with you was and is your attitude toward those who disagree with you and your opinion that this attitude is justified. You implied in another thread that anyone who believes in divine creation is by definition ignorant (BTW, I know some liberal Wiccans you should meet), if not proven by their religious beliefs then by their refusal to share your political convictions which are based on your conclusions, which to some extent are drawn from selected facts, but which are not the same as the whole truth. For instance, I consider it a fact that Saddam had WMDs, and would've answered so if asked, but my answer doesn't mean everything you presume it to mean. You borrow the terminology of scientific assertion to imbue your political opinions with the patina of truth, when they are not truth. You don't consider that someone could have the same facts as you or more, or that they can look at those same facts and come to different conclusions. A better way to say that you don't have a monopoly on the truth is that your chosen fact is not necessarily representative of the larger truth that you say it is representative of. You start from a point which presumes there is no middle ground upon which a dialogue can take place. No dialogue can happen because you build a catch 22 into your arguments. Anyone who disagrees is by definition less informed; thereby proving you are more informed. QED

It's sad that so many think like you do, really, because a dialogue needs to take place.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I never said I wasn't willing to consider other arguments. But in certain cases there are strong facts supporting one conclusion, which would be true regardless of whether I did or didn't believe it. I know that social science statistics don't give you the absolute proof that you find in math, but if you have strong evidence for something then you treat it as true. Unless you choose the postmodern route. Check out
and look at the questions that had factual answers. Then look at their results. How would you interprert them? I'm not asking rhetorically; I'd really like to know.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Brad K. said...

Look, I'm not going to rehash the Iraqi war debate with you because I don't believe I can persuade you and vice versa, but our inability to reach agreement doesn't mean that either one of us is ignorant or uninformed. I still find your characterizations of "common people" from the other day insulting and arrogant, and in line with my experience, which has been that the Arts & Culture folks are more likely to denigrate common people with differing political opinions than vice versa. I will say this about you, Chris, many of my A&C friends don't pretend to have any basis that is "concrete [or] measurable," and just denigrate as a matter of course, the way many men in locker rooms talk about last night's game. I suspect that the psychology is similar as well--it's a bonding exercise--a validation of one's place in the group. I don't know why my Bush-supporting acquaintances seem less likely to wear their politics on their sleeve and judge others' worth by their party affiliation--maybe they don't derive as much of their identity from politics. (BTW, I dislike celebrity blowhards of all stripes.) I disagree with your notion that the A&C wants common people to be more informed because "more informed" means "agree with us" and at heart I think the A&C crowd enjoy their sense of superiority--or having "taste in ideas."

I know, I know. It ain't braggin' if it's true. That seems to be your contention about Paglia's point, which you never want to revisit. I guess it's a lot to ask a snob to denounce snobbery. Your concession that you never said the left was perfect is simply weak, Chris. To adopt your favorite defensive posture, I never said that you said you weren't open to arguments. Close-mindedness is not something one usually announces.

Your much-vaulted Pipa survey was designed only to prove what its designers already believed to be true--that Bush supporters were dumb and Kerry supporters were smart. It starts by simplifying the conclusions of the Duelfer report and the 9-11 commission report (I know how you love links--here's one: These simplifications become the baseline for all that follows. No questions were asked that Kerry's supporters weren't inclined to get "right," such as True or False: there was substantial agreement before the war that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Lots more could be said about our respective positions, but the "social science" that animates this survey is not what I call hard science. The definitive history hasn't been, and can't yet be written on how Iraq fits into the war on terror, but let's hope that we both live long enough to read that history, and we can buy each other a beer and laugh about how we were both wrong about this and that back in 2005. And if I happen to say, after a few cold ones, that I still think OJ killed his wife, don't call me grossly ignorant, deal?

11:11 PM  

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