Aristotle badly debunked once again: Long ago, a famous Greek made a false declaration.
We’ll assume he believed what he said. But here is his groaner, in standard translation:
“Man [sic] is the rational animal.”
Presumably, Aristotle believed that. Plainly, he was wrong.
Twenty-five hundred years later, is there any sign that we are “the rational animal?” As a brief weekend primer, we’ll riddle three counter-examples:
Is Piers Morgan the rational animal?
Watching Piers Morgan’s program last night, we became convinced that Morgan is the dumbest person ever to host a nightly program. (Sean Hannity isn’t dumb.)
Morgan is supremely dumb. Beyond that, he is 100 percent convinced of the righteousness of his assorted perceptions.
(As Socrates noted, that is the ultimate way to be dumb. In response, the other rational animals got mad and made him drink the hemlock.)
Morgan’s program was astounding last night. At any point, did a minute pass without some howler or groaner?
We’re actively trying to figure that out! But out of all the evening’s groaners, just consider this exchange with defense attorney Jayne Weintraub:
MORGAN (7/121/3): [Zimmerman’s] injuries are not that bad.Note what happened in the highlighted passage:
WEINTRAUB: They’re not that good.
MORGAN: We don't actually even know for a fact his nose was broken. He never had an X-ray—
WEINTRAUB: Piers, Piers, we know—
MORGAN: We were portrayed a picture of a guy who had to shoot Trayvon Martin because he genuinely feared that he was about to be killed himself.
WEINTRAUB: Or— No, no, that's not the law. The law is that you have to be in fear of imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.
WEINTRAUB: You don't have to be–
MORGAN: But a bang on the nose and a few scratches on your head, does that qualify?
First, Morgan misstated the most basic part of the applicable Florida law. When he was corrected by Weintraub, he quickly agreed with her correction.
This suggests that he knew all along.
You’re right! This doesn’t necessarily mean that Morgan is dumb. It may mean that he is dishonest. But however you judge that, consider this:
Fifteen months into the public discussion of this case, a multimillionaire TV star is still misstating the basic law which defines the legal case! But then, you can see pundits misstating this aspect of the self-defense law every night of the week on cable. This was the very rare instance where one of these folk got corrected.
Fifteen months later, constant misstatements of fact are made by people who seem to know better. You may not be the rational animal if you aren’t troubled by this.
Is the Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franza the rational animal?
Good God. On the front page of today’s Washington Post, Manuel Roig-Franza presents an overview of the trial. This is the way he starts:
ROIG-FRANZA (7/13/13): It began with fragments.The first thing he mentions is the hoodie! Do we even have to explain how ridiculous that is?
A hoodie. A neighborhood watchman. A teenage boy.
Almost surely, we do. Almost surely, it wouldn’t make any difference, so we aren’t going to bother.
That said, this is the way a major newspaper reports this case on its front page. You may not be the rational animal if you can’t see the problem with that.
Is Josh Marshall the rational animal?
Way back when, Josh Marshall got his start as one of the web'ssmart liberals
A decade later, he has been reduced to what follows. This was his complete post:
MARSHALL (7/12/13): My TakeAs you can see, Josh’s “take” is carefully reasoned, all the way through its 44 words.
If you’re a wannabe cop loser with a gun who starts stalking a kid in the dark, you’re responsible for the outcome.
I know that sounds harsh or flippant. But I really do feel like this is what the whole case comes down to.
Josh says he knows that sounds harsh or flippant. In truth, that isn't how it sounds.
It sounds exceptionally stupid. It sounds like Josh’s brain on witch trial! Or maybe lynch mob.
Since Marshall is actually perfectly bright, it also sounds a bit dishonest. Do you really believe that Marshall “reasons” that way?
(On the bright side, he’s done well financially.)
Always remember to question authority! Plato was wrong, oh so wrong, when we said there were absolute forms in some magical place. Or whatever it was that he said!
Aristotle was crazily wrong in his claim about us animals. Cable, the web and the Washington Post are constantly proving him wrong.