Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Camille Paglia shows her ignorance of science and the current state of knowledge about consciousness when she says on page 232 of Sexual Personae that “His [Rousseau’s] narcissism evolves into Romantic solipsism, doubt about the reality of things outside the self.” She’s being negative of course. Paglia, like so many Republicans and their religious right, deplores the 60s and 70’s for their Romantic unreality, disorder and disregard for authority.

The truth is that anyone who doesn’t question “the reality of things outside the self” is sadly out of touch with reality. Another way to consider Paglia’s case is to think of “appearance versus reality” as Dennett does in his book, Freedom Evolves. Quite accidentally I happened to read in both these books one night and came across these contrasting views of reality. Let me quote from Dennett:

“The recognition of the difference between appearance [what we think is out there] and reality [what’s really out there] is a human discovery. A few other species... show signs of appreciating the phenomena of ‘false belief’—getting it wrong.” But animals lack the capacity of “reflection” which allows humans to understand the problem of appearances. “That sort of bridging of the gap between appearance and reality is a wrinkle that we human beings alone have mastered.

“We are the species that discovered doubt,” Dennett writes. (At least some of us have, the non-religious among us.) “Is there enough food laid by for winter? Is my mate cheating on me? Is it safe to enter this cave? [Why should I believe there’s a god?] “[Animals] cannot actually ask themselves these questions.... They are stuck in a world of appearances, making the best they can of how things seem and seldom, if ever, worrying about whether how things seem is how they truly are. We alone can be racked with doubt, and we alone have been provoked by that epistemic itch to seek a remedy: better truth seeking methods.” (Dennett, pp. 164-165)

Doubt about reality can be a good thing, Camille.


“On May 6, 2004, the FDA rejected the request to make Plan B emergency contraceptives available over-the-counter. Plan B is currently obtainable only by prescription despite the fact that increased availability would drastically reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. To counter this attack on reproductive rights, the American Humanist Association released a statement condemning the FDA’s pronouncement. Now the AHA is supporting a move to investigate the political pressures around the decision.” (FreeMind magazine, August/September, 2004, p. 9.)

I believe, when we look deeply enough for political pressure, we’ll find another case of certain congresspersons’ religion being promoted over scientific objectivity. Now how can that be in a nation in which we supposedly have a wall of separation between church and state? Who is breaching this wall and why?


The recent study of Fox News Network contained in the VHS production, “Outfoxed”, comes up with some very enlightening information. Did you know that if you watch Fox News exclusively, you are three times more likely to have wrong information about Iraq than if your news source was some other media outlet? These figures were derived from asking viewers after the facts were established what they believed the facts to be. By a number of three to one, Fox viewers believed false information.

Also, it may not surprise you to know that Bill O’Reilly is a nut case of the worst variety, an almost pathological liar. The powerful pundit slandered a young man for almost a year after he came on O’Reilly’s show to speak of his father’s death on 9/11 in the Trade Towers. O’Reilly continually made up statements that the young man did not say and totally distorted the young man’s position.

Since the young man was not a public figure and could, he did look into suing O’Reilly for slander. However, the lawyer who listened to the situation opined that before a case of slander can be made, the young man must first prove that Bill O’Reilly knew that he was speaking falsely, but since O’Reilly is notoriously misinformed and lies so frequently, it would be difficult to prove that O’Reilly does know truth from falsity. In short, if you lie pathologically as O’Reilly does, you can’t be sued for lying.

Also, it should be noted that on the day of the original broadcast, O’Reilly was so enraged and out of control that staffers for his show made sure that the young man got out of the building safely and quickly because they were afraid for the young man’s continued health. A fascist figure for sure is this Bill O’Reilly. It’s bad enough being an honest man in O’Reilly’s Foxdom. I definitely wouldn’t want to be a Jew in his Germany.

"If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he next comes to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." —Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) [They had fundamentalists too.]

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