THE WEEK ONE FILE: Give us this day our daily bread!

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

But also our daily logic:
Are we humans really "the rational animal," in the manner we've long declared and supposed?

It all depends on how low your standard for grading is. Consider an op-ed column in this morning's New York Times.

The column was written by a professor of medicine at Cal's medical school. By any normal societal standard, this person is very smart.

Then again, so is Mario Livio, the astrophysicist with whom we began our search, one week ago, for an improved daily logic.

By any normal societal measure, Livio is enormously smart—but good God! When he wandered a bit afield, he produced some astoundingly jumbled logic.

The column in today's New York Times was written by a very smart person. Then again, that very smart person started her column like this:
ARONSON (3/23/20): “Not just old people: Younger adults are also getting the coronavirus,” a news network declared on its website last week. The words seemed to suggest that Covid-19 didn’t matter much if it was a scourge only among the old.
The news network in question is NBC News. To see the headline the writer is quoting, you can just click here.

That said, do the quoted words actually "seem to suggest" that Covid-19 "doesn’t matter much" if it only affects the old?

Our answer: it all depends on how low your standards for implication are.

In truth, any statement can "seem to suggest" anything else if you want it to. There's no formula which tells us when Statement A implies Statement B. In the end, it's always a matter of judgment.

Any statement can imply anything else if we want it to! And in such ways, our badly disordered public discourse had floundered and flailed over a period of decades. In the end, this blowsy, undisciplined public discourse finally gave us our Trump.

Does the quoted statement really imply, or seem to suggest, that a scourge among older people "doesn't matter much?" In our view, the quoted statement "seems to suggest" no such thing unless you just want it to.

We'll also say that this morning's logic doesn't improve as the writer continues. Like last week's astrophysicist, this week's professor of medicine is a very smart person. But as she continues, she offers this:
ARONSON (continuing directly): Even if the headline writer had no such nefarious intent, many people seemed surprised that two-thirds of the Americans known to be infected were under 65, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control, and that younger adults around the country also have become critically ill. After all, we kept hearing that 80 percent of the infected Chinese who died were age 60 and older and that the average age of death from the disease in Italy is 81.

No one wants young people to die. So why are we OK with old people dying?
In paragraph 2, the writer acknowledges that the headline writer may not have meant to suggest or imply that the deaths of older people don't matter much.

That may not be what the headline writer meant! But given the ways of our blowsy daily logic, so what?

By paragraph 3, the professor of medicine has returned to her starting point. She directly implies that "we" (whoever that's supposed to be) are "OK with old people dying."

She has made no attempt to clarify what she means, or to offer any real evidence in support of her eye-catching claim. She has simply advanced the eye-catching claim. Quoting Wittgenstein out of context:
"It is in this and similar ways that [we] operate with words."
Very smart people actually do reason in such undisciplined ways. In fact, as anyone should be able to see, they do so all the time.

Ranking people reason is these disordered ways all the time. And when they do, our highest ranking news organizations simply aren't able to notice.

NPR rushes an incoherent excerpt from a new book into print. The New York Times rushes an unsupported claim to the top of its op-ed page.

It is in this, and in similar ways, that we rational animals reason!

In a more rational world, our logicians would descend from their aeries to comment on these follies. But in the alternate world which we do inhabit, the logicians threw the later Wittgenstein under the bus.

According to Professor Horwich, they did this so they could continue with the "linguistic illusions" which define the bubble within which they uselessly live. In this way, our ranking logicians—surely, none dare call them "guardians"—have wandered away from their posts.

We closed Week One in our new report with a revised public prayer. "Give us this day our daily bread," we said. "But also our daily logic."

Give us this day our daily logic! Our discourse will continue to flounder and fail in the absence of that boon until our cosseted logicians get off their high horses, emerge from their aeries and return to significant work.

In the past several decades, we've badly needed help with the logic of sensible paraphrase. Increasingly, we also need help with the logic of generalization and selective otherization.

This column in yesterday's Washington Post Outlook section is about as bad as daily illogic gets. It was written by two ranking professors at Columbia, neither of whom is a kid.

The professors are 53 and 42 years of age. They're dealing with an important topic. Their work is amazingly bad.

That essay was written by Ivy League professors, then published by the Washington Post. Even in our sudden age of cholera, it is in this and in similar ways that we "rational animals" work.

Last week, we started a lengthy attempt to describe the way the logicians of the world have walked away from their posts. We'll continue in the weeks to come, eventually showing you what the professors threw away when they decided to throw Wittgenstein under the bus.

We're hoping that a 9-year-old kid will read these reports at some future point and take the mission from there. For decades, our daily logic has been a sad joke. In the end, it gave us our Trump.

Last week, we began our new exploration with a prayer for daily logic. Our reports went exactly like this:
Week One: Give us this day our daily bread!
Monday, March 16: What Professor Horwich said! The start of a meta-discussion.

Tuesday, March 17:
Amazing! Fifty-six years after Wittgenstein's book, a very smart person wrote this.

Wednesday, March 18: The number 1 lives in a fairyland, and other high-end mumbo-jumbo.

Friday, March 20: Give us this day our daily bread—but also our daily logic.
We expect to start Week Two tomorrow. That said, we have a lot of rubble-strewn ground to explore, and we'd like to cover it well.

61 comments:

  1. Why did this doctor jump to the conclusion that the words seemed to suggest that Covid-19 didn’t matter much if it was a scourge only among the old"? Perhaps, because he's familiar with many examples where the medical world deems old people to be less important. Here is a horrifying example:

    Israeli medical doctor Gai Peleg told Israeli television that in northern Italy the orders are not to allow those over 60 access to respiratory machines.

    https://www.jpost.com/International/Israeli-doctor-in-Italy-We-no-longer-help-those-over-60-621856

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. It's called triage and it is what happens when there is a shortage of respirators. This is why Trump needs to get his ass in gear and mobilize production of more respirators. Trump will have those deaths on his hands, not the doctors who have to make difficult decisions about who can be put on a respirator.

      Delete
    3. The USA could use a smart leader as President during a pandemic. Instead, we have a standard-issue Reagan Republican.
      Were doomed.

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  2. This is no time for politics, but Democrats are committing mass suicide today holding up critical assistance to working people and business for solar panels and abortion. Sick people. My wife didn't vote in the last election but already said she's voting for Trump which shocked the hell out of me but she's been watching the updates every day from Trump's team.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha.
      Nice concern trolling.

      I'm not worried about your wife voting for Trump.
      Trump voters who are awake are never going to vote for a guy who supports socialism for corporations.
      Unless you're suggesting that it was something other than the neoliberalism of the Democrats that gave us Trump.
      If so, everything but Trump's bigotry turning on the base ---which of course, it could never be--- is on the table.

      Delete
    2. Publicly traded companies in a cash crunch don't need a bailout. They can issue more stock.
      It's "We, the people", not "We, the free-market libertarians".

      Delete
    3. "solar panels and abortion"

      Did you ever think your wife said she's voting for Trump, because she's as ignorant of the facts as you are?

      https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/virus-relief-bill-would-let-steve-mnuchin-hand-out-500-billion-slush-fund-to-secret-recipients-report/

      Delete
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  4. "Are we humans really "the rational animal," in the manner we've long declared and supposed?"

    If you go back to Aristotle or talk about how philosophers use logic, you can ask this kind of questions. If you have followed experimental psychology, cognitive psychology and cognitive science, you will know that early experiments very quickly found that humans don't reason the way formal logic predicts. At first these divergences were considered "errors" in reasoning, but then scientists suggested that the way humans reason is functional and adaptive and helps them survive and do well in daily life, even if it doesn't conform to syllogisms of logicians. Modal logic, fuzzy logic and probabilistic modeling were developed to capture uncertainties and they more closely resemble human reasoning, choice and decision making, especially outside conscious awareness (when people do best at estimating probabilities). It was found that human logical errors tend to reflect underlying probabilities, not formal logic.

    Somerby never talks about any of this. He instead suggests that human reasoning is bad and uses that to suggest that humanity is in decline and liberals suck, that future anthropologists will weep for us. The early cognitivists, and more modern ones such as Herb Simon, Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman, Daniel Ariely would weep for Somerby.

    Somerby should stop attributing whatever he dislikes about current thinking to failures of human reasoning. He doesn't know what he is talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It seems to me that an article like the one Somerby discusses may be intended to encourage young people to think about their actions. If resources are short, triage becomes necessary and critically ill young people may be given priority over old people. That will lead to more deaths among the elderly.

    If you can convince young people that their own grannies and grandpas are at risk, then maybe they will adhere to the social distancing restrictions being put into place but ignored by those who are young and feel invulnerable.

    By suggesting that we are OK with old people dying, the article invites young people to think about whether that is true, about whether THEY are OK with their own old folks dying. If they are not OK with this, then perhaps they will take the warnings more seriously.

    Logic doesn't have anything to do with this situation. Perhaps the authors were aiming at empathy and only used the quote as a springboard to discuss whether we value older people.

    Somerby doesn't want to talk about anything except how illogical two "Ivy League" professors are and how bad that makes us as humans. Anyone with an ounce of responsibility is busy urging ALL people to stay indoors. Somerby is oblivious to that and instead thinks these professors are just being illogical, not trying to urge everyone to think about the needs of their neighbors, not just themselves, when they decide to ignore public health recommendations.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "The number 1 lives in a fairyland, and other high-end mumbo-jumbo."

    Doesn't the number 1 live in Flatland?

    ReplyDelete
  7. From Politicus:

    "The reasons for why things were getting worse were simple: people aren’t adhering to guidelines to socially distance themselves from others.

    “Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” Adams added.

    The Surgeon General noted that young people needed to treat the threat of the disease differently — to act as if “they have the virus right now,” as he put it. “So, test or no test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kids will never believe that they’re mortal.

      You won’t shame them into compliance. Some things are what they are.

      Delete
    2. "Kids will never believe that they’re mortal."

      Meh. Things can change quickly.
      Two weeks ago, people were telling me free-market libertarians would never beg for Daddy government to save them.

      Delete
    3. 8:05,
      You can't compare "kids" to "free-market libertarians". There's such a thing as "kids".

      Delete
    4. Anonymouse 8:05pm, I think even fee market libertarians believe the govt has certain functions suited to it, such as FEMA, a National Guard, a Military, a Federal Reserve, and others.

      Faith in the extremism of people who don’t hold your views seems to be common among anonymices. Generally, that sort of thinking never leads to further consideration or disappointment.

      Delete
    5. You forgot patent protection and courts to enforce contracts. Free market libertarians always believed in Daddy government. Nobody, except free market libertarians, was arguing they didn't.

      Delete
  8. I'm not much of a Trump fan but his charm offensive in this thing has been incredible.

    Whinging reporters notwithstanding. They aren't the brightest bulbs and don't have a clue how Trump is coming off to regular Americans. A lot of them voters.

    Expect to see them start screaming about the daily press briefings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Expect to see them start screaming?

      You've gotta be kidding. Dembottery on cnn, npr and such has been running wild for days. How could you miss it?

      Delete
    2. My wife and I were watching the press conference on CNN. After the Q&A had gone on for a long time, CNN switched away. My wife then changed to FoxNews to watch the rest of it.

      Is this the first time CNN failed to show the entire press conference? Why did they decide not to show the entire thing?

      Delete
    3. 9:22,
      Causing 100s of thousands of deaths, because he downplayed the virus as a hoax.
      What a playful scamp.

      Delete
    4. Regular Americans are eating up Trump calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus".
      Probably because they're extra "economically anxious", due to the work furloughs.

      Delete
    5. Joe Biden did a "shadow" appearance from his living room today and announced that the borders will remain open to China, Europe, Iran, Mexico because to close them would be xylophone. His wife quickly came to take him away for jello time.

      Delete
    6. The three most influential political parties in the country are the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the American Media.

      Delete
    7. And the Republican Party and the American Media are in cahoots.

      Delete
  9. “Are we humans really "the rational animal," in the manner we've long declared and supposed?”

    We humans invented the idea of logic and rational thought, ie that there is a thing called “thought” which can be either rational or not rational. And we decided what constitutes “rational” thought, thus the statement “humans are the rational animal” is true by default. The funny thing is, there often seems to be disagreement about what is rational and what isn’t. For example, Trump voters see a good leader in Trump, Bob Somerby sees a mentally ill man.

    Who gets to enforce what is rational (or reasonable, since that may be the sense in which Somerby means “rational”), especially when it comes to political questions? Surely Somerby can’t believe that the rational position on any given question lies outside the minds of the political actors, since that would put him in league with the Platonists.

    ReplyDelete
  10. “And in such ways, our badly disordered public discourse had floundered and flailed over a period of decades. In the end, this blowsy, undisciplined public discourse finally gave us our Trump”

    If humans aren’t truly the rational animal, then that has been true since humans evolved, which was more than a period of decades ago. Hence, one cannot postulate a previous time when our public discourse was based on rational thought. Our history has given us Trump, but it also gave us Lincoln and MLK. Who knows how Somerby would explain Andrew Johnson or James Buchanan, or Herbert Hoover?

    ReplyDelete
  11. “Very smart people actually do reason in such undisciplined ways.”

    Aronson did not conclude from the NBC headline that “we are OK with old people dying."

    She believes that we are OK with old people dying based on her experience as an expert in the field of geriatrics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 50,000 or more mostly old people die every year due to influenza and we don't have these kinds of measures in place to save those lives.

      Delete
    2. @11:37
      You just confirmed Aronson’s point.

      Delete
  12. The governor of Texas explicitly said old people will want to die in order to save the economy.

    "No one reached out to me and said, 'As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?' And if that is the exchange, I'm all in," Patrick told Fox News.
    He added, "My messages is that let's get back to work, let's get back to living. Let's be smart about it and those of us who are 70+, we'll take care of ourselves. But don't sacrifice the country."

    Since the point of this blog is how discourse affects our political actions, let's note that the NY Times, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, the president, the governor of Texas, have all argued that some people dying from coronavirus is worth people going back to work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's worth a mention that millions of people dying in crowded hospitals would not in fact save much of the economy.

      Delete
    2. I should also clarify the economy can be protected with government stimulus. The economy is you and me.

      What these psychopaths are after is protecting their stocks portfolios.

      Delete
  13. And, right on cue:
    “Not long after President Trump wrapped up his briefing Monday evening, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) defended the president in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” casting the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for older people to make sacrifices for the sake of their grandchildren’s economy.
    Patrick, who turns 70 next week, made the case for restarting the country’s businesses, telling Carlson, “I’m not living in fear of covid-19. What I’m living in fear of is what’s happening to this country.””

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/23/coronavirus-latest-news/

    Aronson probably meant “Republicans” when she said “we” don’t care about old people dying, but she was too polite to say it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any rational humyn being would appreciate the suggestion that while the most vulnerable segment (the sick, the elderly) must be protected, shutting down all economic activity might not be the most rational course of action.

    But then, dembottery of the liberal zombie cult driven by their Orange Man Bad creed, is a totally different matter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As usual, you have no idea how economics works.

      However, I agree that it's ridiculous to act like Trump is worse than any other standard-issue Regan Republican piece of shit.
      You'll get no argument from me about that part of your comment.

      Delete
  15. My father's holdings have plummeted and he's voting for Trump this year. They are intended for his kids and his priority is not watching his life's work go down the drain. He voted for Obama twice and sat out 2016.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your father sounds as if he might be senile.

      Delete
    2. Practicing endodontist and sharper at 71 than you ever were.

      Delete
    3. Your father is going to make his kids lazy handing them his holdings from hard work.
      They, and the world, would we better off if the kids got jobs, like the rest of us.

      #100percentestatetax

      Delete
    4. The only people who say this 1:55 haven't worked a day in their lives and want to exist on the hard work of others.

      Delete
    5. 1:41,
      A 71-year old endodontist, who will risk millions of deaths from a pandemic overwhelming the nation's health care system, all to protect his stock portfolio.
      (Which won't be worth shit when it happens.)
      He sounds nice.
      (And sharp).

      Delete
    6. What have we got here? A 71-year old

      who is thus in the age cohort that has an 8% fatality rate from a disease that’s rampant because of Trump’s ignorance and incompetence,

      who is a medical professional and therefore most likely to understand how Trump’s incompetence led to this disaster,

      whose net worth has been wiped out by Trump’s incompetence,

      whose now-mostly-disappeared assets were for his kids, so his priority is not watching his life’s savings go down the drain as they do.

      who voted twice for Obama, (presumably) couldn’t stand Hillary but now plans to vote for Trump.

      But he’s extra sharp.

      Who is this guy?

      Fictional, if I had to guess.

      Delete
    7. Everyone knows there were no Obama to Trump voters especially in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Michigan.

      Delete
  16. i want to tell the world about the great and mighty spell caster called Dr .osofo my husband was cheating on me and no longer committed to me and our kids when i asked him what the problem was he told me he has fell out of love for me and wanted a divorce i was so heart broken i cried all day and night but he left home i was looking for something online when i saw an article how the great and powerful Dr osofo have helped so many in similar situation like mine he email address was there so i sent him an email telling him about my problem he told me he shall return back to me within 48hrs i did everything he asked me to do the nest day to my greatest surprise my husband came back home and was crying and begging for me to forgive and accept him back he can also help you contact him on Email ( osofo.48hoursolutioncenter@gmail.com ) whasAPP him +2349065749952

    ReplyDelete
  17. I’m so excited my broken Marriage has been restored. “We recently made up, even though it was difficult. It’s been more than a month now, and everything feels like it’s returned to normal. He has began to treat me better, and it’s been a healing process for both of us. The nightmare that had lasted for almost 2 years before we broke up is finally over. It’s like we fell in love all over again! We’ve both put the past behind us, and are trying to move forward – and for the first time in a long time, the future looks a lot brighter. I can’t express in words how grateful I am Dr Great! It’s like we’ve finally rediscovered those things about each other that made us fall in love in the first place. All of the worrying and stress has simply vanished. Thank you Dr Great for saving my broken Marriage and brought my husband back to me!”. Me and my husband are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Great. If you have any problem contact Dr Great now and i guarantee you that he will help you contact him through

    infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com

    WhatsApp +2348118829899

    blog http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I’m so excited my broken Marriage has been restored. “We recently made up, even though it was difficult. It’s been more than a month now, and everything feels like it’s returned to normal. He has began to treat me better, and it’s been a healing process for both of us. The nightmare that had lasted for almost 2 years before we broke up is finally over. It’s like we fell in love all over again! We’ve both put the past behind us, and are trying to move forward – and for the first time in a long time, the future looks a lot brighter. I can’t express in words how grateful I am Dr Great! It’s like we’ve finally rediscovered those things about each other that made us fall in love in the first place. All of the worrying and stress has simply vanished. Thank you Dr Great for saving my broken Marriage and brought my husband back to me!”. Me and my husband are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Great. If you have any problem contact Dr Great now and i guarantee you that he will help you contact him through

    infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com

    WhatsApp +2348118829899

    blog http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wall Street Journal reporting a 0.01% death rate. This is going to blow up in Democrat faces and Trump's "flu" predictions will turn out to be prescient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great.
      Having Trump pat himself on the back, and keep his ignorant pie-hole shut, is a win-win.

      Delete
  20. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I had been rejected by my husband after five(5) years of marriage just because another woman had cast a spell on him and he left me with 2 kids to suffer. One day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how he help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a chance he told me that my husband is under spell, he said that he will help me and after 7 days that i will have my husband back. i believed he and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster has the power to bring lovers back now my husband is back with after 7 days . he also gave me a financial magic ring to boost my business and removed bad luck. i am now happy with my husband. Thanks you Dr. love please contact him at (lovespelldoctor0@gmail. com)

    ReplyDelete
  21. My husband and I have been married for about 7 yrs now. We were happily married with two kids, a boy and a girl. 3 months ago, I started to notice some strange behavior from him and a few weeks later I found out that my husband is seeing someone. He started coming home late from work, he hardly care about me or the kids anymore, Sometimes he goes out and doesn't even come back home for about 2-3 days. I did all I could to rectify this problem but all to no avail. I became very worried and needed help. As I was browsing through the Internet one day, I came across a website that suggested that Dr Great can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he did a spell for me. Two days later, my husband came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my family are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Great . If you need a spell caster that can cast a spell that truly works, I suggest you contact him. He will not disappoint you. This is his E-mail: 

    infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com

    WhatsApp +2348118829899

    Blog http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I had been rejected by my husband after five(5) years of marriage just because another woman had cast a spell on him and he left me with 2 kids to suffer. One day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how he help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a chance he told me that my husband is under spell, he said that he will help me and after 7 days that i will have my husband back. i believed he and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster has the power to bring lovers back now my husband is back with after 7 days . he also gave me a financial magic ring to boost my business and removed bad luck. i am now happy with my husband. Thanks you Dr. love please contact him at (lovespelldoctor0@gmail. com)

    ReplyDelete
  23. PROFESSIONAL SPELL CASTER WHO CAN HELP YOU WITH LOVE-SPELL TO GET YOUR EX LOVER BACK URGENTLY AFTER BREAKUP/DIVORCE EVEN IF YOUR SITUATION SEEMS HOPELESS! CONTACT: INFINITYLOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM IS CERTAINLY THE BEST SPELL CASTER ONLINE AND HIS RESULT IS 100% GUARANTEE.. 

    After 3 Years in a relationship with my Boyfriend, my Boyfriend started going out with other girls and showing me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to broke-up with me if I dare question him about his affair with other girls, I was totally devastated and confused until an old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet DR GREAT who help people with their relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love Spells, At first I doubted If such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, When I contact him, he told me everything I needed to do and I did and he helped me cast a Love Spell and within 28Hours my boyfriend came back to me and started apologizing, now he has stopped going out with girls and he is with me for good and for real. Contact this Great spell Caster for your relationship or marriage problem. 
    Here's his contact..

    CALL/WHATSAPP: +2348118829899

    EMAIL: infinitylovespell@gmail.com  OR  infinitylovespell@yahoo.com  

    BLOG http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete