Friday, August 10, 2007

it really IS silly season all year round for these people

One of the things I like very much about The Independent is that it offers a broad range of views, some corresponding roughly with my own, some not. In many ways the ones that don't are the ones that are the most interesting; for instance I'm pretty sure the Indy only retains the services of Bruce Anderson to prevent its readership getting into a nice contented complacent liberal rut, a very valuable service. Seriously, you need a nice bracing bit of this:
Britain has the highest rate of single-motherhood in Europe, which is why we also have the highest prison population
occasionally, just to make the blood boil, while you imagine old Bruce sitting in his club in his pinstriped suit eating roast beef and spotted dick, guzzling claret and fulminating about the gays. It's good for you.

Dominic Lawson is another candidate, and he's surpassed himself this morning with a really tremendously incoherent article about religion. This is a man who knows where my buttons are, and isn't afraid to get in there and press away furiously. He starts off slowly with a bit of praise for his late brother-in-law John Diamond and for Richard Dawkins (who wrote the foreword for Diamond's last book Snake Oil), then veers off Sanity St. wildly, knocking bins over and everything, by invoking the religion-as-moral-framework fallacy and the "No True Scotsman" argument, throwing the Bible-as-metaphor fallacy smoke-bomb in after it, and then hitting us with the "god of the gaps" argument as we emerge coughing into the daylight. I'd like you to imagine, if you will, the old Family Fortunes double-farty noise after each one of those ingredients in what is a pretty rich and gamey logical fallacy salad.

Lawson's starting-point, before moving on to religion, was the rise of so-called "alternative" and "complementary" therapies (hence the Snake Oil reference), and another of our more reliable conservative wingnut columnists, Mad Mel Phillips, has had a slightly bizarre rant on a similar theme in the Daily Mail. The comments are great, particularly the one about "facts" from the bloke in Scarborough, though that one must surely be satirical. Mustn't it? More wide-ranging, though slightly less sympathetic comments (i.e. they're not from Daily Mail readers) can be found on Richard Dawkins' website (which reproduces the article in full) and on Pharyngula (which links to it).


Andy said...

I'm not sure I get what Ms Phillips is trying to say. Does she have a point, or is she just barking mad?

But, while we're quoting Chesterton, how about this one:

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

And remember - you can prove anything with facts.

electrichalibut said...

The "believing anything" quote is misattributed anyway. It was Émile Cammaerts writing about Chesterton who coined it.

Not that it matters, it just shows that Mad Mel is a lazy researcher as well as a loony. Or that she knows that none of the Mail's readership will know, or bother to look it up.

The Black Rabbit said...

Back from Kephalonia streaky pants, and amused about your Bruce Anderson comments.
My mother and I have noted this TURD for a few years now.
He makes Question Time very eye-boggling when they get him on...

(I don't share your generosity of spirit regarding him and his ilk being "good for me" - something about my lack of tolerance (rather like Mr Anderson himself I expect)).

electrichalibut said...

A few letters in today's Indy re. the Lawson article, most of them quite rightly tearing him a new one, to coin a phrase.