HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Saturday, March 11, 2017

 
Epistemological relativism redux

by digby
















Paul Waldman has written a good piece about the fact that Republicans are now destroying the idea of "neutral judgment"  --- or are basically saying "the facts are biased."
This is straight out of President Trump’s playbook, one that tries to convince everyone that there’s no such thing as a neutral authority on anything. If the CBO might say your bill will have problematic effects, then the answer is not to rebut its particular critique, but to attack the institution itself as fundamentally illegitimate. If the news media report things that don’t reflect well on you, then they’re “the enemy of the American People.” If polls show you with a low approval rating, then “any negative polls are fake news.” If a court issues a ruling you don’t like, then it’s a “so-called judge” who has no right to constrain you. 
To Trump and increasingly to his Republican allies, there are only two kinds of people in the world: the ones who agree with them (who are the best people, fantastic, believe me) and the ones who don’t (who are losers and haters). There is no in-between and no such thing as neutrality.

I will just note that Trump isn't the first to do this. He's the most obvious and the sloppiest about it. And the Republicans have now turned it into their default mode of persuasion. But I've been writing about this since I started blogging. I used to call it "epistemological relativism." Here's one I wrote about five years ago:

Epistemological relativism for dummies

by digby

Senate Science Committee member Marco Rubio said today, "I'm not a scientist, Jim, I'm just an old country GOP hack" and everyone's all atwitter. (Actually, he said "I'm not a scientist, man" in answer to the question of the age of the planet.)

But we should be grateful that in keeping with the new kinder gentler Republican party that he didn't say what he really thinks: teaching science in schools is akin to communist indoctrination. Via LGF:

Rubio said there also could be activity in the legislature by evolution proponents who wish to remove the theory compromise language. “I think there’s still going to be folks out there talking about this – on both sides. … I think this will be a battle that will go on for quite some time,” he said.

The “crux” of the disagreement, according Rubio, is “whether what a parent teaches their children at home should be mocked and derided and undone at the public school level. It goes to the fundamental core of who is ultimately, primarily responsible for the upbringing of children. Is it your public education system or is it your parents?”

Rubio added, “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

Rubio, a Cuban-American, made a comparison to the strategy employed by the Communist Party in Cuba where schools encouraged children to turn in parents who criticized Fidel Castro.

“Of course, I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro,” he quickly added, while noting that undermining the family and the church were key means the Communist Party used to gain control in Cuba.

“In order to impose their totalitarian regime, they destroyed the family; they destroyed the faith links that existed in that society,” he said.

This is a very slick politician and I think he's quite dangerous. That answer is the usual wingnut gibberish, but he is very good at dogwhistling to the rubes. He signals very clearly that he is on board with the whole idea that evolution should not be taught as ... science.

This gets back to one of the most fascinating aspects of right wing ideology over the past couple of decades: their bizarroworld post-modernism. Recall this from Lynne Cheney's jeremiad against "relativism" called Telling the Truth:

"In rejecting an independent reality, an externally verifiable truth, and even reason itself, he [Foucault] was rejecting the foundational principles of the West."

There was a time when the right used to argue that there was such a thing as objective truth and it was the left who said it was arguable. But due to their need to accommodate the primitive superstitions and literal biblical interpretations of so many of their followers conservatives have become extreme epistomological relativists, unable to make a clear statement as to whether or not the sun came up this morning if it means that a fundamentalist somewhere might have a problem with it. Rubio proves it with his slippery endorsement of the idea that schools should teach that science is all a matter of opinion.

But one thing has remained of their arguments through every permutation: it's always about phantom totalitarians infiltrating their families and businesses. I can only speculate about why that might be, but I lean toward this explanation from Corey Robin:

Historically, the conservative has sought to forestall the march of democracy in both the public and the private spheres, on the assumption that advances in the one necessarily spur advances in the other. Still, the more profound and prophetic stance on the right has been to cede the field of the public, if he must, but stand fast in the private. Allow men and women to become democratic citizens of the state; make sure they remain feudal subjects in the family, the factory, and the field.

I guess I just assumed that when Lynne Cheney was talking about the foundational principles of the West she was talking about the Golden Age of Greece and the Enlightenment. It turns out she was taking her inspiration from the Dark Ages. 

.