Arrr!


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  • Today is also 2 days after the 158th anniversary of the crowning of Norton I, the first and sole Emperor of these United States of America, and Protector of Mexico.
  • Look what I found: there’s a whole page about me over at Ryerson University! Ryerson is now my favouritest university in the world…. oh wait, University of Ottawa pays me a salary. Heh heh. Never mind.
  • Cousin Ajay sends us this great pictorial link to “7 Amazing Holes“. No, sadly it is not pornographic.
  • Here’s a little historical flashback: a series of catty letters between Salman Rushdie and John Le Carre. That little bitch Christopher Hitchens couldn’t resist poking his nose into the fray, trying to soak up some of the leftover grandness of these two literary behemoths.
  • From Brother Bhash, here’s a discusion of the extent of use of “private contractors”, i.e. mercenaries, in Iraq. I’d meant to have a whole post dedicated to the rise of Blackwater USA, the world’s biggest private army, but I’m not up to it today. Instead, here’s another link to a discussion of how Blackwater’s contractors are essentially impervious to any sort of legal restrictions on their activities in the field.

 

Spidey Patel sends us this study claiming to show a link between conservative political sentiments and a certain lack of intellectual rigour. It’s created quite a stir, as you might have guessed. Slate‘s slightly right-leaning William Saletan dissects the study here. But readers respond here.

My take? Well, to be honest, I haven’t read the whole study. I strongly suspect there are serious statistical deficiencies present, and I wonder about how they are defining “conservative” and “liberal” –in a manner sufficiently forgiving to be representative of the national population? I doubt it.

More to the point, the conclusions that the journalists are claiming that the authors made don’t seem to reasonably follow from the way that the methodology has been described. My bias: I don’t doubt for a second that there are neurocognitive deficits among hardcore, unyielding conservatives; it takes a certain kind of dysfunction to enact that special kind of reality denial. (Yeah, I said it.) However, this study in no way demonstrates those deficits.

And before all you right-of-centre lurkers start having an aneurism, take a moment to think about the word “conservative”: it means “resistant to change”. An extreme conservative is therefore someone who is pathologically resistant to change, to the point of an inability to process new evidence that might indicate a strong need for change. It’s entirely likely that converse cognitive issues exist among extreme hardcore liberals, as well. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it?

On that note, I leave you with the constantly updated Top 10 List of Conservative Idiots.