Showing posts from November, 2020

7 Types of Undecided Voters

  Yes, Undecided Voters Exist.  But Who Are They? The election is over, and now everyone can weigh in about who did a good job, who did a bad job, and why.  One group of people that is coming under an enormous amount of fire is the pollsters.  For instance, Nate Cohn of the New York Times has written a piece about how many of the polls were once again off - especially by underestimating the size of Donald Trump's support.  Cohn is not alone.  Many people, especially on twitter, have gone ballistic against our nation's predictors and prognosticators, concentrating a lot of their artillery on Nate Silver of the 538 website and podcast. To which Nate Silver replies, (and I quote) " Fuck you, we did a good job ."  Nate Silver's response to all such criticisms is always that he is a data analyst and not a pollster, and that if the pollsters are not doing a good job, it's not his fault.  Very well, Nate, we're not trying to blame you, but if you're a data a

Capitalism: the Greatest Threat to the Market Economy

[Note: I'm still in this ongoing project of uploading things I've written years before.  I'm not sure when I wrote this, but at first I printed it out as a standalone pamphlet, and then it was one of several pieces that I put together into a zine in 2006.  I'm guessing that I wrote it somewhere between 2003 and 2005, but I had been thinking in these directions even earlier than that.  Anyway, some of my opinions have evolved since then.]   Capitalism: the Greatest Threat to the Market Economy By Ian Downey     We, who fight for democracy, must always be on our guard against propaganda, the rhetoric of demagogues who seek to beguile and seduce us into serving their own power.  But how can we know propaganda when we see it?  People who create propaganda are attempting to quickly inspire others to action.  Thus they will scarcely ever write anything that is nuanced, complex, or precise – anything that may contain details that go against the main thrust of their argument. U

Muslims and Stalinists

In one of those classic opinions I have, those weird, extreme, and extremely nuanced compromise positions that manages to get everyone mad for different reasons, I'm going to say that my attitude towards Stalinism is essentially the same as my attitude towards Islam.  Okay, so here goes.  3 points.  Point #1: I'm not a Stalinist.  Point #2: I'm not a Muslim.  Point #3 - and this is the important point - I think Muslims and Stalinists should both be defended, militantly, against their enemies. Why? Because Stalinism is a religion.  And I believe in freedom of religion. But more importantly, because those who attack Stalinism and Islam - especially those well-meaning(?) "liberals" who want to "disprove" Stalinism and Islam through facts and logic - are ignoring, whether deliberately or not, the reality that Stalinism and Islam are not simply abstract ideas that exist in a vacuum.  They exist here in the real world, the world of human social relations

Make it Explicit

  The greatest accomplishment to which a philosopher can aspire is to make explicit .  To make an argument explicit, to clarify the boundaries of a position, to lay out clearly the stakes of a determination should be the loftiest aim of a philosopher worthy of the name.  This does not mean that I will agree with the position that the philosopher makes explicit, once it has been explicated.  I may disagree, but I will still value the philosopher for having made their position, with which I disagree, explicit - that, and only that, is their value as a philosopher.  (Of course, the person may be important and good in other ways, besides their philosophical work.) In fact, the explication of an argument with which I disagree is more valuable to me than hearing something with which I agree.  I am tempted to say that until I can clearly see how I disagree with it, it is not fully explicated.  That's a joke, but like the best jokes, it contains a lot of truth. I repeat that this is an ai