Archives for category: information vs misinformation vs disinformation

The latest episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, my podcast, is online in both video and audio forms. Like the previous episode, we wander into an extra-controversial topic for controversial reasons. I interview Ralph Ellis, the author of a number of books including King Jesus (which I finished reading only after I chatted with Mr. Ellis for this episode) and Jesus, King of Edessa.

LocoFoco Netcast, Season Two, Episode Four: February 21, 2021.

This is a tricky subject, of course, in no small part because many people, around the world, are believers in one of the three major religions herein discussed: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Like Ralph Ellis, I’m not a believer in any of these religions. But, also like Ralph Ellis, I do not think disbelief in a religion gives the disbeliever license to kill and otherwise abuse members of the religion in question. Religious warfare and genocide are despicable things. They are not acceptable when done in the name of one religion against another, or by disbelievers in all of the major religions. We are living in strange times, when the lid that has been placed, culturally and politically, against mass religious warfare could blow off at any moment, leaving us with a bloodbath — and perhaps no civilization to speak of.

But it is also the case that many people orient themselves politically and morally using religion. This has always been the case. Indeed, this is one of the things religion provides: a mechanism (or, if you prefer, organism) for ego-transcendent morality. Now, I believe that the evidence suggests that just about any metaphysical system could provide that service, but undoubtedly some work better than others. Along with Ralph Ellis, I judge Islam deficient in this regard. Though I did not inquire deeply into Mr. Ellis’s “Islamophobia” (a detestable name for opposition to some specific bad memes), or explicate my own, I can with some confidence state that there are crucial components to the Islamic memeplex that enable it to grow and thrive — while not really allowing freedom to grow and thrive. Muslims have been backwards for a thousand years, and for obvious reasons, not excluding the hegemonic beliefs that squelch liberal developments, especially including notions like Dhimmitude, taqiyya, capital punishment for apostasy, and the simple gambit that Mohammad was to be “the last Prophet.” These are all pernicious notions, integral to Islam.

But every political idea set has some truly dangerous notions. Christianity led to our civilization, which has raised world health, wealth and freedom, but embedded in the core Christian notions are a number of incompatible memes, and warring notions can do much damage.

For this reason, I have long treated investigation into the origins of Christianity as more than a matter of mere curiosity.

I have read up and down and around the subject for years. Of particular interest has been what Albert Schweitzer called “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” This is perhaps most famously instantiated in the modern Jesus Seminar scholarship, though, after decades of reading in this vein, and about Gnosticism as well (Hans Jonas and Elaine Pagels being the two main historians), a certain deep skepticism set in: the main scholars seemed not to get far, leaving the origins of Christianity in a deep shadow.

Ralph Ellis figured out why. He saw something kind of obvious — but one of those “too obvious” problems that, because of their obviousness could not even be admitted by most people as a problem. There was a historical mystery at the heart of the Gospels: why was an apparently insignificant figure like Jesus (a “peaceful” “carpenter”) so significant in Pontius Pilate’s day, and how did he relate to the epoch-making events of the Jewish Rebellion and its suppression by Roman generals (and future emperors) Vespasian and Titus? Something historically huge and “majorly” evident happened in the seventh and eighth decades of this epoch designated A.D., yet the purported most important man of the period, Jesus, is said to have barely made a world-shaking blip a few decades earlier?

Ellis saw that there had been some strategic fibbing. The historical Jesus had indeed been a revolutionary, as repeatedly suggested and alluded to in the gospels . . . and in the seventh decade in particular. But somebody (whom Ellis identifies in a daring and mind-blowing way) had insulated this revolutionary’s true identity by placing him back in time, in history and out of History.

And Ellis has made some astute observations about the accumulating evidence: at the heart of the matter was the astrological changing of the World’s zodiacal odometer, from the Age of Aries (the Ram) to the Age of Pisces (the Fishes), which began c. 10 A.D. And which gave both the Flavian emperors and the Christians their telltale symbols, the Fish:

The sign of the cross took on increasing importance, of course, as the message of personal salvation became central to Christianity. But to Jesus of Gamala — the historical rather than gospel Jesus — the fish was vitally important, for the gnosis at the heart of his variant of Judaism (he was a Nazarene) was ancient knowledge of the precession of the Earth. This was information that the Jews took out of Egypt shortly after the end of the Taurian Age (of the Bull).

Ralph Ellis is the author of a number of well-thought-out, fascinating explorations that upend what we think about the religions grounding our western civilization. His works can be found at his own publishing house, Edfu Books. His “Illumination Lecture” series on YouTube is also worth consulting. I was extremely happy to have interviewed him, now for a second time. The interview, as published now, lingered “in the can” for a few weeks of difficulties, including technical difficulties (I need a decent mixer) and regional (an ice storm hit and I was without power for too long). Now it is up. I hope people can give it an open-minded review, as an introduction to a new way of looking at the beginning of our age.

For, we are all Pisceans, fishers of men. To those who accept the gospel accounts, they will of course not enjoy this exploration, for it is deeply, deeply heretical. Even apostate. But then, I’m merely another heretical apostate, seeking the truth.

I can assure you, I realize that these matters of history and religion are not irrelevant for our age. For one thing, if Ralph Ellis is right, they show that much of our lives has been deeply influenced, if not to say determined, by myth-makers long ago, men consciously engaged in psychological warfare. A grand psy-ops. These propagandists sought to bring peace to an empire by manipulating our species’ religious sense.

And many, many folks do likewise to this very day.

twv

The LocoFoco Netcast can be found at LocoFoco.net and via various podcatchers.

What are we supposed to make of “experts” who do not confront the most important data in front of them?

That’s a problem these days. And it has been a huge issue on the CO2 theory of “anthropogenic global warming.” One problem I’ve had with this well-funded “climate science” is that its pushers cannot explain the biggest climate change in our most-relevant geological past: the cycles of Ice Ages. So I invited Ralph Ellis, co-author of the paper “Modulation of ice ages via precession and dust-albedo feedbacks,” to explain what others do not seem able or . . . willing. Here is our conversation, in video, with a few visual aids (“as they say in the ‘ed biz’”):

It turns out that Ralph Ellis is an inveterate challenger of accepted paradigms. So after the one-hour mark, our conversation moves to ancient Egypt and a curious possibility about the true identity of the ancient Israelites. And note: this possibility has been staring us in the face all along. It occurred to me, and if you knew who The Hyksos were, it probably occurred to you. But only Ralph Ellis has taken up the clue to see where the ancient path leads.

The audio version of this podcast can be found on a variety of podcatchers and at LocoFoco.net:

LocoFoco Netcast, “Ice Age and Exodus,” Season Two, Episode Three (January 4, 2021).

Provide feedback at LocoFoco.locals.com. Thanks for stopping by.

Timothy Virkkala

A “Reflection” by me, as appeared in Liberty, June 1993, p. 7.

My interest in UFOs is very recent, and was sparked as much by my disillusionment with dominant intellectual paradigms as it was by compelling accounts of evidence of UFOs. What I had suspected for a long time became painfully obvious a few years ago: cultism is not just deplorable behavior from marginal groups — from the “basket of Deplorables” — for dominant groups can behave just as cultic. The differences are real, but mainly our appraisals of cultic behavior depend upon our group affiliation. We get one of those Russellian conjugations: I am a scientist or philosopher; you are a religious believer; that person over their is a cultic nut.

My UFO interest grew out of my research into the end of the Ice Age, actually. I found out, about five years ago or so, while researching Denisovans and (from another direction) global climate change, that the truths of the Younger Dryas have not been assimilated into academic thought, and that academics have been resisting the cataclysmic nature of the Ice Age’s cessation for over a century, and have often done so in horrifically ideological and cultish ways, treating their findings as dogmas and their dogmas as religion.

I’d known for decades that academic disciplines could be dominated by in-group cultism, and that Science The Procedure did not necessarily track Science The Institution. But to learn that it was almost more common than not? Quite a blow.

The classic case of a familiar academic cult is Keynesianism, which is based on a lie by Keynes himself — his politic pretense that British labour union refusal to allow nominal price drops after World War I and the pegging of gold at parity was the cause of the post-war depression there. Every decent economist knew this. But politically the unions were thought to be impregnable, and economists did not have the courage to simply drive the message home to the public. I regard this as an outright lie (following accounts by F.A. Hayek and W.H. Hutt), and the whole edifice of Keynesianism built on that Great Evasion of a Bedrock Truth. What a crock.

Quite a few other disciplines have been infected with the cultic bug, too, and I was aware of some of them. But my discovery that geology was corrupt in a similar manner was sort of the last straw for me. I gave up on my last bit of ridiculing “weird theories.” And then the AATIP revelations came out, and all bets were off. I repented of my former cultism and am now a full-blown “nut” who does not care what snobs think. I know them mainly to be frauds.

How in-group cultism can infect academia is interesting to watch. My latest excursion into this area has been revisionist history of Judaism and Christianity — the history of which I have been reading about, on and off, for three decades. In a few hours I talk to Ralph Ellis, whose books on the Hyksos-as-Hebrew-patriarchs and the historical Jesus are mind-blowing and ultra-plausible — but which no academic will touch with a ten-foot pole. I am merely curious and eager to learn more. If it is a scorned “heresy” matters not one whit to me.

One way to defeat the human propensity to treat intellectual matters in cultic fashion might be simply as Ray Scott Percival, a philosopher in the Popperian tradition, has written about in his recent Medium essays on “Fake News and the Manifest Truth Delusion”: “The biggest gain in the control of error would be through the separation of science and the corrupting influences of politics (e.g. state funding, licensing etc.) and the chilling effect of political correctness on open discussion.”

Which, amusingly enough, anti-Popperian philosopher Feyerabend proposed when we were young.

I am more than willing to revise my beliefs and manage my suspicions about UFOs based on evidence and competent speculation about possibilities. But we are still afflicted with a paucity of data that has not been, in the words of Charles Fort, “damned.”

A very cultic word, that. And apt for how governments and academics have publicly treated the subject.

It is time for academics to forswear their cultism and their willingness to serve as intellectual priest and pope, catechist or Grand Inquisitor.

twv


The latest interesting YouTube video on UFOs.

The most important component of fake news is the false claim. A lie is an intentionally false statement. One “paradox” that follows from that is that a lie may be true, since all liars are human and humans are fallible. Liars make mistakes, too.

Ray Scott Percival, ‘Fake News and the Manifest Truth Delusion,’ Medium (December 2, 2020).

Tristan Justice (really?) writes in The Federalist that “Google’s YouTube Shuts Down Dilbert Creator Scott Adams.” It is only one video, but it is, as Adams has related, much like every other video he has created. But hey, it was suppressed so politely:

The level of ideological control, here, is rather astounding. The major social media platforms increasingly demand conformity to their politics. If you think this is a good thing, you should be wary of what you are turning into: a fascist. The hallmark of fascism is ideological control and a one-party state. Technocratic fascism might best name this new version.

The political party being defended by such corporate discrimination, is, as I have been saying, the Democratic Party. The excuse to suppress anti-Democratic opinion is “that it isn’t truthful.” But that is what tyrants always say. It is a rationale I regarded in my youth as conservative. Illiberal. Was I wrong?

“Deceptive practices” indeed!

The droll thing about the current political division is that each side sees the other side as “fascist.” And both make at least half-plausible cases. Yet only one side is attacking their opponents’ non-subsidized ability to speak and publicize information, argument, and speculation. So one side, the Democrats, is the obviously more fascist.

Scott Adams is a very bright observer of popular rhetoric. His popularity as a podcaster derives from his ability to explain the rhetorical skills of Donald Trump. And Adams has expanded on this to explain the memetic forces at play in the wider world of our current political contests. I probably catch one of his episodes every other week, but recognize his valuable contributions. He is not always right, but daily he offers insights of genius. To suppress such a voice in politics is almost unthinkable to me. If you think he is wrong, argue against him.

If you think he should be suppressed for the reasons lamely given by Google?

Well, politeness suggests that I refrain from saying what I think of you.

twv

What are some ways how to not be bothered by people’s ignorance?

  1. Develop the ability to enjoy explaining things, which would work against their ignorance. Then realize that were they not ignorant you would not have much occasion to educate.
  2. Realize that everyone is ignorant, as Will Rogers wisely explained, only on different subjects. Try a little humility!
  3. Impute responsibility for their ignorance correctly — on forces outside your control. As Hellenistic philosophers sagely advised, there is no point in getting worked up about things you cannot appreciably change.
  4. Develop a grand theory of knowledge and nescience, and take comfort in the fact that though people are largely ignorant, we can at least understand why. Once you have a grasp of the reason for something, it becomes easier to handle.
  5. Feel superior to the ignoramuses. If you are proud in your knowledge, you cannot really be bothered by their ignorance, since their ignorance performatively proves your superiority. Revel in their ignorance!

Hmmm. That fifth method seems a bit suspect, eh?

…as answered on Quora, June 10, 2018….

In answering a question on Quora, Dennis Pratt explained a common problem that has infected today’s “climate change” debate: the motte-bailey argumentation method. I was going to just quote a snippet of his answer, to set up my reply, but have decided that, instead, I will quote the whole thing, and then follow with my response to it:

Why is the climate change denier movement so passionate?

One reason is that climate alarmists use a particularly frustrating fallacy to push their solutions. And so, our points are rarely addressed, and our “passion” is frustration at a sophistic trick.

Conflating Implementation with Problem Identification
In order to solve a problem, we need at least these four steps:

1. Correctly identify that a problem exists and what its extent is.

2. Correctly identify the causes of the problem, and their relative contributions.

3. Correctly identify the “best” solution, which usually is the most effective with the least cost.

4. Implement that best solution well.

Our frustration comes when the alarmists start arguing #2, #3, and #4. When we push back, the alarmists will justify, say, their solutions, by appealing to (a small part of) #1.

“You are ‘denying’ that there is a problem at all.”

“No, we may have disagreements with your certainty at many points of these steps, but the least of our disagreements will be with historic data on warming; we were just now arguing our biggest disagreement with you — against implementing your totalitarian, civilization-destroying solution! Why did you just change the subject back to historic warming data?”

A “bailey” is an enclosed area lightly defended where most of the people hang out day-to-day. A “motte” is a hill with a castle atop it, behind the bailey. Upon attack, the people retreat from the bailey to the motte, which is much more fortified and much easier to defend, but it is sufficiently restrictive that it is not where the people want to be day-to-day.

The worst use of this fallacy is when alarmists cry out for international governmental control of the world economy to ‘save’ us from global warming. As you can see from the steps I’ve outlined above, which are necessary to well solve a problem, the alarmists are demanding an implementation of a particular solution — they are operating at step #4. That would be they hanging out in their “bailey”.

We anti-alarmists, seeing the alarmists at the end of the problem solution process, will object for a myriad of reasons. We might object because we think that their solution (e.g., Paris):

* will not be implemented well (#4),

* will not solve the actual problem (#3),

* causes more problems than it solves (#3),

* is far inferior to better solutions (#3),

* solves a less important cause (#3)

* misidentifies the most important causes (#2),

* exaggerates the size of the problem (#1)

* uses Monte Carlo simulations as though they were crystal balls (#1)

* uses economic forecasts of the future world economy as though they were crystal balls (#1)

* etc.

Upon hearing our concerns, the alarmists retreat from the bailey to their motte. They stop arguing for their proposed one-world-totalitarian solution <0559>, and instead fall back to their well-defended fortress.

“Are you denying that the temperature has increased over the last century!!! Oh, my!! How can you be so unscientific!!!!”

Oh, man, is that irritating!

{To see this demonstrated, the humor in this parable <0302> is derived from the warrior’s repeatedly falling back to pointing out the paw print (his motte) every time his totalitarian solution (his bailey) is challenged by the old man: <0302>}

The Motte-and-Bailey Fallacy is so effective because it conflates the outrageous (a one world totalitarian government enslaving all human action) with the easily defended (temperatures have increased a bit in the past). It is so frustrating because were we to agree that the motte is well defended (i.e., temperatures may have increased in the past), the alarmists would cheerfully return to their bailey, happily pronouncing that “all scientists agree” with some outrageous totalitarian solution. <0535>

Asking for intellectual honesty from alarmists is not possible: this fallacy has been so effective that there is no reason for them to discontinue using it.

The solution is to call them on it.

If there is any “overwhelming agreement of scientists”, it is only on some minimal aspects of Step #1.

Our passion is not against historical data, but against, for example, the refusal to talk about the destruction of humanity that would occur were we to implement many alarmists’ solutions (e.g., Step #4). <1355>

Though I agree that the motte/bailey gambit is vexingly annoying coming from the alarmists, my passion is largely aroused by the historical data that alarmists ignore, and even lie about.

But I go further. Most alarmists know nothing about their subject, or merely repeat a few pet theories and ignore the critical literature. I go further yet. Many researchers claiming to be “climate scientists” know very little about long cycles of climate. Indeed, their lack of understanding of climate cycles is astounding, and I hazard that many of these researchers are not competent in their field.

That is a daring thing for a non-scientist to say, I know, but we should remember a few things:

  1. There is a huge replicability problem in modern academic research, making most putative science junk science.
  2. The peer review system has been compromised in many disciplines, so we should be very suspicious, and the mere citing of a peer-reviewed paper does not provide the authority we might expect.
  3. And it gets worse, since the whole research area is funded in the billions and billions of dollars to promote a specific flavor of conclusion. This is a not unsubtle process, but not too difficult to see. Indeed, it looks an awful lot like the implementation on a global scale of the technique the Bush Administration used to get false reports about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the early 2000s.
  4. The whole consensus angle has been shown to be a fraud. There is not nearly as much agreement among ostensible climate scientists as commonly made out. The “97 percent” claim is bunk.
  5. Most of the reporting on “the science” is propaganda, and lying propaganda at that. Claims about “hottest summers” and “warmest winters” abound, but almost all are against the evidence, leaving out whole decades in the past that were warmer than recent, for example, with much more impressive records, etc. Tony Heller has made an online career demonstrating the concerted fraud that has been going on. And why folks who have read The Grapes of Wrath or endured any educational film strip (remember those?) about the Great Depression should not remember how hot it was in those days, and not be able to figure out that recent temperatures have been nowhere near as hot as it was for several years in the 1930s, and not just in America, is beyond me. Are educated people really this stupid? Can one convince a college grad of any damn fool thing, so long as it feeds his (or her, or zher) sense of self-righteousness?

I could go on. Though I am annoyed by the motte/bailey biz you mention, in a sense I understand and almost forgive the alarmists. They are doing what ideologues almost always do. People have great difficulty separating matters of fact from value. And politicians are known liars and opportunists; journalists hacks and propagandists — so of course they transmit the idiocies. This is known.

But when scientists behave like incompetents and worse — propagandists and liars — I get my dander up.

Climate alarmism is a cult. It works like an End Time Cult. We should be studying social psychology (see Festinger et al.) and roll our eyes when “scientists” say obviously idiotic and non-factual things.

twv

Elites and their popular supporters often express alarm at resistance to and disobedience of their demands and authoritized “expertise.” I find this so disingenuous as to be contemptible. If our elites expect our trust they shouldn’t lie to us, especially in plain sight, or evade big truths and scurry to keep them hidden.

And the elite’s loyalists in the general population? Their compliance shouldn’t be so knee-jerk and their credulity should be leavened with some skepticism — or at least some empathy for us doubters.

I am of course thinking of the pandemic panic. But not just that.

twv

Voting security and electoral integrity would seem to be important things in a democracy.

But of course, for politicians and large interest groups, what’s more important is a widespread belief in voting security and electoral integrity coupled with actual, in-play clever ways to rig and game the system.

I disapprove of electronic voting machines, since such systems have been repeatedly shown to be easily compromised.

The fact that one almost never hears about this is astounding in the way that almost everything in our hyper-politicized time is shocking.

I think there should only be two ways to vote:
1. A secret ballot on election day at a registered polling booth.
2. A public online ballot, completely transparent, with the ability to vote early, and change one’s mind often, right up until election day, at which point your last vote is sealed.

A public, non-secret ballot should be the only remote way to vote, no mail-in ballots or any of that easy-to-compromise nonsense.

I support open, non-secret balloting for the same reason that John Stuart Mill did. I support secret ballot as an option for the same official reason to introduce the method originally.

A person should have some identification to vote, of course. The arguments against such things are amusingly racist.

And a person, registered for online voting, should be able, on election day, to click a button saying one will head to the polling place and vote there. The polling station should be notified and the whole security arrangement should remain secure through sensible protocols. Votes should be hand-counted and the totals should be checked against polling station rolls, as usual.

twv

This week’s podcast is up:

LocoFoco Netcast #19, with Robert Wicks.

It is available on Bitchute and Brighteon (though at time of publication, the video was still “processing” on both sites) as well as YouTube:

LocoFoco Netcast #19, with Robert Wicks.