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  Topic: "Power" - Open Discussion, Why Lolcatz Rule< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 26 2009,12:58   

Per request, a devoted thread. I'll copy-paste some previous posts.

What started this mess  :angry:

Quote (Amadan @ Oct. 26 2009,09:18)
I don't think it's quite that. Remember that, at its basic level, the YEC cult is part of a simplistic, anti-intellectual and paternalistic group identity. The dynamic works as long as members remained focused on the next life (or a fantasy apotheosis in this life where Jeebus comes and We watch the Others get skewered)  rather than the complicated, messy realities of this one. A form of emotional coercion, whereby you stick with Received Wisdom or face exclusion and damnation, keeps them doing just that. It is a very shallow faith that is easily threatened when (as with Floyd here) it is questioned by outsiders.

As far as I can see, "evolution" (like "socialism" or "atheism") is just a place-holder term for stuff that threatens that group identity. Because they are Wrong, it isn't important to examine the truth of their claims (or non-claims, in the case of atheism).

I suspect that Floyd sees Catholics as not-quite Christians, but can't trust his ability to handle the theological and doctrinal side of the argument, hence his concession (which pretty much punctured the rest of his argument). To be consistent, Floyd should have stuck to the approach that his version of Christianity is the only correct one. But I think Floyd has academic pretensions, as well as being an attention whore.

Quote (deadman_932 @ Oct. 26 2009,09:41)
There's a vicious circle at the core of it, also: the power-seeking paternalistic group identity is also profoundly anti-intellectual.

It reminds me of this documentary on the !Kung-San "Bushmen", one of whom rhetorically asks an interviewer, when faced with external agricultural pressures; "Why plant when there are so many mongongo nuts?"

Frank Zappa once observed that the symbology of being punished for eating fruits of the tree of knowledge of life and death indicated a profound anti-intellectualism at the core, yet to have real power in this world, information is an absolute necessity.  

Their main identifier tells them they have all the knowledge they need, and in this thread, you see the outcome of it as Flody's views -- when taken to logical extremes -- reject science itself, and anything else that might call into question the omnipotence of the ideology.

Quote (Amadan @ Oct. 26 2009,12:24)
Quote (OgreMkV @ Oct. 26 2009,11:22)
Quote (deadman_932 @ Oct. 26 2009,09:41)
Frank Zappa once observed that the symbology of being punished for eating fruits of the tree of knowledge of life and death indicated a profound anti-intellectualism at the core, yet to have real power in this world, information is an absolute necessity.  

I would disagree with this part of the statement.  I guess it depends on how you define power.  

In terms of political power, intelligence appears to be not required, perhaps even selected against.  It seems to me that the smart people are off busy with things that are important, like saving lives and keep aircraft in the air.  While politicians (and lawyers for that matter) sit around and ignore the reams of data that shows their pet ideology is stupid.  Instead they create false dichotomies to convince people that their very lives are at stake unless they follow the 'leader'.  

I disagree. I often work with politicians and many of them are very very intelligent. I suspect you're conflating intelligence with academic eminence.

And lay off the lawyers or I'll sue you in the Admiralty Courts, from which nobody has ever emerged alive, sane or solvent.


The smart people keep saying, 'look you idiots...', but unless the smart people are willing to try for political power, we will always have the least intelligent people as leaders... some with access to squadrons of fighter-bombers and nuclear weapons.

Politicians are aware that Adam Smith's notion of the rational actor as the basis for economics is utter crap. Many, if not most decisions, are taken on non-rational grounds and only rationalised after the fact. That is particularly true for voting, where perceptions of identity, affirmation and such like are powerful influences (even determinants). And clever politicians, who want to get and keep power, use this. So they talk dumb just like we does, and they manipulate our fears because we like them to.If there is a demand for intelligent discussion of policy someone will eventually spot the gap and sell to it. But don't underestimate the irrationality of politics, or the intelligence of (most of) those who play the game.

Consider monetary power.  There are few smart people that are really wealthy.  (Bill Gates does NOT count.)  Again, the smart people seem to just want to do their thing.  The unethical take advantage of smart people (and the system) to gain monetary power... and do whatever they have to to keep that power.

Not wishing to be completely cynical, but was it ever different?
(I pause to savour the moment while the terms 'Microsoft' and 'ethical' compete for the same space in my brain)

Unless the smart people want to pull an Atlas Shrugged (and I'm not saying that's a bad plan), the smart people will have to step up into the political and monetary arenas and fight to keep things even reasonable.  I mean, you really ought to see what these idiots are trying to do in Texas.  Our "history expert" hired by the school board at great expense doesn't even know where Rosa Parks made her stand (as it where).

The thing I always loved about the notion of 'Going Galt' is that you would have to enforce trade-union style discipline if you wanted to stop an enterprising free-market blackleg Galt stepping in to take your place at a discount. Ironic, much?

Quote (deadman_932 @ Oct. 26 2009,12:41)
Quote (OgreMkV @ Oct. 26 2009,11:22)
I would disagree with this part of the statement.  I guess it depends on how you define power.  
[major snippage]

I'm always happy when others seem interested in concepts of power. I mean, it's a cliche that college students gravitate towards Machiavelli, Catcher in The Rye, Ayn Rand, Nietzsche, etc. in order to begin to understand/overcome the commonly unstated forces that dominate their own youthful lives -- yet people tend to kind of lose interest in the subject, despite it being so essential to who we are. Also, it's amazing how little work has been done in synthesizing research on power from various fields of study, even though its relevance to all aspects of human existence is unquestioned.  

Anyway, I could yap for a long time on the subject, but I'll try to make this brief: Old French  "poeir,"  means "to be able to act," and is used to refer to a relative measure of the ability to control the physical and social  environment, particularly the thoughts and behaviors of other entities ("actors").
In short, power is the ability to do or (more importantly) to get others to think/do what one wants them to. Power can be based on multiple sources of power ranging from brute Coercion to claims of Positional Power based on legitimization.  In order to achieve and maintain power, however , information is crucial. In every example of "Power" there is some form of information underlying the claim, even if it's just appeals to tradition. Knowledge and power are two sides of the same coin, ultimately.
I'll just offer an example from a visiting prof. I took a class from once:  A spaceship lands on Mars, loaded with valuable minerals and awesome weapons. However, it is disabled and there are only two humans left alive : the captain who has access to the "wealth" and weapons, etc.--but can't repair the ship. Then there's an engineer who only knows how to run the computers and fix the ship. Who has power? Granted this is an oversimplification, but it helps to analyze bases of power.
Steven Lukes (1974) Power: A radical view.  
Max Weber's Basic Concepts in Sociology (1952) and The Three Types of Legitimate Rule (1958)
Keith Dowding's  (1996) Power . This last one is a little skinny book, but pretty important.

ETA: I got interested in concepts of power early on, but it really hit me when I began looking at how cultures "evolve" from hunter-gatherer groups to tribes, chiefdoms, states, etc. Information is everything in that regard.

AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

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