Fake Math and Flying Spaghetti Monster

Your Rent A Friend is listening to: Count Basie Radio on Pandora.com

His Mood is: Good, baby! It’s ALL good.
(Rent-a-friend’s note: The email address at which to reach me is now a hotmail address for reasons which elude me. In short, if you ever wish to email me, it will have to be at hotmail because my gmail account imploded and cannot be recovered. Like the deathstar. Poof. I knew I should have put a screen on that thermal exhaust port!)

If you’ve been reading this blog faithfully (and by the look of my stats about four of you have), you know that I have been attempting to prove the existence of Objective Truth as outlined in my Metaphysical Map. If you haven’t been reading my blog, you probably think I am on powerful drugs which are not necessarily prescription. Let me assure you all that I know exactly what I’m talking about. I am talking about TRUTH! And part of the reason I am talking about truth is because I wish to tell you about Jesus. It’s not as much of a stretch as you might think to go from Metaphysical outlines of objective truth to a Jewish carpenter who claimed to be God.
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Cheap Samurai Tactics #2- Look Over There!

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

His mood is: On the Verge of Screaming for Ice Cream

Welcome once again to Cheap Samurai Tactics for beginners (Listed in your catalogue as CST 101, section 203). Cheap Samurai Tactics are just a form of cheating. Last time, I introduced you to the first of four categories of Cheap Samurai Tactics (CST’s), and gave you the run down on how to use the tactics within. Let’s review the categories:

1. P’Shaw
2. Look Over There!
3. Semantics
4. Slight of Hand

Today we’ll look at the second category:

2. Look Over There!

This is the Art of Misdirection. The key to these tactics is to change the subject without your opponent noticing that you have done so. You don’t have to lose an argument if you can start a new one when no one is looking!

A. Discredit the Source: If you can cast a negative light on the source of information, you can make the issue at hand guilty by association! For instance, if you could prove that recycling got its start with Attila the Hun, blood-thirstiest scourge of the 5th century, you could use that as an argument for the innate evils of reducing, reusing, and all that other stuff. Though, deep down, we all know that, were the devil of hell to say the sky was blue, the darn thing would still be blue. Just keep it under your hat.

A.1/2- “You’re Only Saying That Because…” A variation on CST 2-A. is to attack the motivation of the person with whom you are debating. This is usually in the form of: “You’re only saying that because…” And anything here will do. “…Because you’re a bigot, because you’re a Jew, Because you hate me, Because you’re a Jerk, Because you’re a republican, Because you’re a Nazi, Because you’re a Vegan, Because you’re a man-eating killer clown from outer space, etc.” Obviously the truthfulness of a statement has nothing to do with the motive the speaker has to share it, but the point of the CST’s is not to make logical sense. It’s to WIN WIN WIN!

B. Discredit the Proponents or Beneficiaries: If bad or foolish people agree with something, it must be bad or foolish. If it could be shown that the Ku Klux Klan preferred to travel by taxi, you’d have all the proof you need to denounce every cab in New York as racist. (Of course, everyone knows the KKK actually prefers to travel by bus, as it has more headroom for their big pointy hats. The same is true of witches, and a surprising number of ancient Egyptian deities.).

C. Use a Resume as Proof: Don’t just use a source’s credentials as a reason to trust them. Use it as proof that their ideas are true! Anyone with an MD, PHd, a DVD, or show on TV MUST be right about everything they say (provided it agrees with what you think, of course). And don’t let yourself think they can only be all-knowing in their field of study! A British biologist can write books on theology if he wants to! Can the study of nucleotide base pairs really be THAT different from being an Orthodox Jew? I mean, the man went to COLLEGE for crying out loud!

D. Argue Against the Metaphor: At some point your opponent will make use of an illustration to clarify a point. THIS is where you strike! For instance, it has been said that the way men think is different from the way women think: “Women’s thoughts are like spaghetti, because they all intertwine, and men’s thoughts are like waffles because they compartmentalize.” This is where you would shoot back: “So you’re saying that men’s and women’s minds are both made of starches and carbohydrates? You’ve just proven MY point, that men’s and women’s minds work the exact same way.” And then you’d go home and sacrifice a goat at your shrine of Hillary Clinton to thank her for your victory.

E. Focus on the Fringe: In every group, category, or concept, there is a tiny collection of anomalies. If you can keep the focus on that tiny sample, you can deflect any facts which only relate to the 99% your opponent dogmatically insists represents the issue. This is the way people pointed to George Burns and said, “He’s 105 and he smokes a cigar every day!” And to them, this was good evidence that smoking isn’t bad for you. Then there’s the more than 1,000 deaths every day in this country that are linked to smoking. But I digress.

E.2. The Parts= the whole: This is known as the “fallacy from composition.” It is making the assumption that, because each part of something has some property, then the whole must also have that property. For example- an elephant is made up of parts that I could easily eat within the span of ten minutes. Elephant toenail? Easy. Elephant eyelash? Just splash a little dressing on that and it’s gone. Elephant spleen? Serve it with a side of green beans and I’ll chow that down with time to spare. Therefore, since each part of an elephant can be eaten by me within ten minutes, it can be argued that I can eat the whole elephant in ten minutes. Just bring me the extra large bottle of barbecue sauce and have dessert ready in eleven minutes.
There are times when this argument isn’t invalid. If I say, “Each tile on the bathroom floor is blue, therefore the whole floor is blue,” this would be correct. And it doesn’t require a stomach pump when I try and prove it.

F. Turn Facts into Bazaar Absolutes: Like the previous CST, this works by making mountains out of mole-hills. Only, this time, instead of you focusing on the fringe, you’ll imply that your opponent is doing so. They may, for instance, admit that a college education isn’t 100% protection from becoming poor and homeless. This is where you quickly say, “You think people who graduate from college all wind up homeless? Or maybe you want us to believe that every pan-handler in the city has a PhD in reverse economics?” And in that precious second of stunned silence, you shake your head scornfully and walk off as though you’ve just won the argument. I think we can all admit that getting the last word is even better than being right.

G. Feelings!: You will have strong emotions related to certain topics (Or you can pretend to, if you take a few acting classes at your local community college). Nothing is easier than assuming that your feelings prove the truthfulness of something. This is the concept that most marriages are built on these days. This is one of several key reasons most marriages fail these days, but I digress. My point is, if something makes you FEEL bad, it must BE bad! And if something makes you feel good, it must BE good! Of course, you’d never come out and say this, because you’d sound like some unicorn-fairy-rainbow-cloud-dancer from the 3rd grade. Focus on the feelings, let the rest be assumed. If you wanted to defend your position legitimately, you’d probably have you change your position first.

Next time we’ll learn how the pen is mightier than the sword, and how the tongue is like a spark that starts a terrible fire. In the mean time, your homework is to find ways to make use of these handy tools of deviance. And don’t limit it to conversations. If you’re losing at poker, just lay down a pair of matching cards and say “Go Fish.” As my friend, Captain Dan, always says, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.”

rentafriend2000@hotmail.com

Cheap Samurai Tactics #1- P’shaw!

Your Rent a Friend is Listening to: Church Music by the David Crowder Band

His mood is: Spent like a dollar in a candy store.

In a recent blog I discussed how Christians get called all kinds of nasty names, like “Arrogant” or “Close Minded,” on account of the fact that we label the things we believe as “True.” I know- the nerve of us. Aside from the self-defeating and rather silly nature of this complaint, you’ll notice that it is also an attempt to side against the idea without actually taking any pains to prove the idea wrong. Even if we agree that we are close minded and arrogant, that does nothing to prove that what we believe isn’t still True. This diversionary tactic is one of the many devices I like to call “Cheap Samurai Tactics.”

Cheap Samurai Tactics are, in short, bad arguments. It’s the muscle you get when you don’t splurge on the really good Samurai, and you wind up with the second rate, slightly used, discount warehouse Samurai. My friend, Captain Dan, would use this phrase to describe any kind of short cuts and cheating, but here I’m using it in reference to cheating in an argument or debate. The CST’s are best used when you either know you are wrong but don’t want to admit it, or you don’t care if you’re right or wrong, you just want to fight about something and don’t feel like being bogged down by facts and reason. Perhaps it’s because you’re a lawyer and your client won’t pay you if they get the chair, or maybe you’re an advertiser who is being paid to sell something that serves only to irritate the people who buy it. Maybe you’re just a jerk. Whatever the reason, there are CST’s for you.
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Brain Fat and the Metaphysical Nickel

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

His Mood is: A little frazzled, a little swingin’ (Which is better than just frazzled)

In order to wrap up our journey across the Metaphysical Map, it is time for us to take a walk around Belief and Knowledge. Get your metaphysical shoes on, strap on your backpack of previous knowledge, and bring some philosophical bug repellant. When we get there, we’ll make hypothetical S’mores!

Let’s recap where we’ve been: GOD creates reality, which includes rubber ducks. I see the rubber duck, and I see it as yellow, which it really is, so what I see is the truth. I have “The Rubber Duck Experience,” which I think was the name of a Jimi Hendrix album. Or it should have been.

My experience of the ducky is now processed in my mind. My experience is chewed thoroughly by the teeth of reason. Reason asks WHY? and HOW? And if it’s classically trained and well versed in Shakespeare, Wherefore art Thou? And then my logic licks the sides of my experience for those tiny flavors of intangible truth which can be discovered with WHAT IF? And then, when I have made connections and met categorical boundaries and defined things according to context and previous experience, my brain takes the step of Faith and swallows my experience so that it can be digested in my memory and metabolized into the muscle of intellect and the fat of useless knowledge which only gets recalled while playing Trivial Pursuit.
If you’ve heard this metaphor word-picture before, I’ll give you a dollar. Suffice it to say, I could continue the metaphor, but let’s all be glad that I did not. It would have used the phrase “Brain Fart.” But I have more class than that.
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Sean’s Shirt IS Red!

Greetings my Ham Sandwhiches! It’s your Rent A Friend here, and my inspiration for today’s lesson on all things awesome is Sean Slaughter from the What in the Ham Sandwich? Show.  http://www.thehamsandwichshow.com/

Check them out on i-tunes. Be a Hamster.

I recently listened to Ham Sandwich Show Podcasts “Oprah’s Church” from 12/11/08, and “Debate with an Atheist” from 6/12/07. In both, Sean attempts to make a point about the universal nature of TRUTH by first appealing to what color his shirt is. I think I can help streamline his argument. It goes like this:

The Scene- Sean is wearing a red shirt and talking to his wife, True-Asia, and their friend Cook, AKA Cook Dawg, AKA the Drumma Beast Boy, AKA Saint Nick, AKA Captain Platypus of Space Patrol (Some of these nicknames might not be accurate).

Sean: My shirt is RED.

True-Asia: No, your shirt is black.

Cook: You both be trippin! You shirt be green!

Sean: I think you mean to say, “You both are trippin. Your shirt is green.”

Cook: Yes, of course. Excuse me. Your shirt is green.

True-Asia: Spoken like a true gentleman.

STEP 1.

FACT: They each perceive the shirt differently.

FACT: They DO each perceive the shirt.

FACT: Perception requires something to perceive. If the shirt was not REAL, they would not all perceive it at all.

THEREFORE: The shirt is REAL. The three independent perceptions prove it does exist, even though they disagree with some details. It is not an illusion or a hallucination, or what politicians refer to as “A Press Release,” or “The Polls” or “Statistics.” But I digress.

STEP 2.

FACT: The shirt actually exists. It is REAL.

FACT: A real object will reflect a certain wavelength of light, while absorbing the others. (In other words, it will be a certain color. See your box of Crayons for details.)

FACT: One color is not another color. (Red is not black, green is not yellow, etc. See the labels on your crayons for further details.)

THEREFORE: If the shirt is RED, it is not black or green. If it is green, it is not black or red, etc. Again, Crayola has given you all the information on this that you will ever need, in convenient boxes of 64 (With a sharpener in the back!!!). Sean, True, and Cook CANNOT all be correct. At least two of them MUST be wrong.

STEP 3.

FACT: If the shirt is RED, it is not black or green. (Only in a discussion of philosophy would this have to be stated.)

FACT: Color is determined by the wavelength of light, not by perception. (A Yellow taxi remains yellow even when no one sees it, or when it is seen by a color blind person who cannot see the color yellow. His limited perception would not change the wavelength of the light coming from the Taxi)

FACT: Sean’s shirt is reflecting a light wavelength range of roughly 630–740 Nanometers, which is (and what most human eyes perceive as) the color red RED. (Yes, I looked this up on Wikipedia. Don’t you judge me!)

THEREFORE: Sean’s perception is correct, and his assertion (“My shirt is red”) is TRUE. Cook and True’s perceptions and/or assertions are FALSE. (Either they see it incorrectly and are honest about what they see, or they see it correctly but are lying.)

STEP 4.

FACT: Light is necessary for us to see, but we do not need to see light for it to exist. In other words- Our perception allows us to be aware of light, it does not MAKE the light. The light exists OUTSIDE of our perception.

FACT: The light reflected by Sean’s shirt would remain the same even if no one saw it, or if no one saw it correctly. (A room full of color blind people might all agree that Sean’s shirt is black, but they would all be wrong- it still reflects a light wavelength range of roughly 630–740 Nanometers, AKA RED. The reality has not changed, but their perceptions cannot accurately see what is REAL)

THEREFORE: Reality (Of which light is one part) exists outside of and independent of our perceptions, knowledge and beliefs.

STEP 5.

FACT: Reality is independent of our perceptions, knowledge, and beliefs.

FACT: Truth is word or thought accurately reflecting reality (describing what is REAL).

THEREFORE: TRUTH exists independently of our perceptions, knowledge or beliefs.

Conclusion:

Because Sean’s shirt is REAL, then there are TRUE facts about it (Like what color it is) and FALSE statements concerning it (Like saying it is green when it is in fact RED). Because there is ONE reality (of which the shirt and all of us are a part) then the TRUTH about the shirt is TRUE for all of us, even if we do not perceive, know, or believe that truth. It is TRUE that Sean’s shirt is red, even if we do not see, know, or believe that it is, because the TRUTH is not determined by our perception, knowledge or belief, but by the real shirt (i.e. Reality).

Application:

God made all that is. There is one REALITY. We perceive it accurately, and thus perceive TRUTH, or we perceive it wrong and perceive an illusion. We can know, think, or say something which accurately describes that reality, which would be TRUTH, or we can believe, think, or say something which does NOT accurately describe reality, which would be a lie. Anything TRUE is true for ALL PEOPLE because the truth does not depend on us, it depends on REALITY.  Any truth is universal. If it is not universal, it is not TRUE. And as God is the creator of all reality, this is why it can be said that All Truth is God’s Truth.

Oh, and everything that can be said, Metaphysically, about Sean’s shirt, can be said about rubber ducks. In case you wanted to connect this with my previous blogs.

rentafriend2000@hotmail.com

The Duck is on the Floor

A friend and I were walking down the street in the heart of Chicago, headed to find some food. Finding food is one of a very few selected reasons to be on the street in Chicago after dark, especially in the winter when the temperature drops low enough to cause all life functions to cease and then to be blown away in the hurricane-like winds that roar through the ice-crusted buildings. The other reason is to find entertainment, like the plethora of small theaters where actual actors stand on an actual stage and recite memorized lines. Or they drink beer and make it up as they go. I’ve been to both kinds of theatre in Chicago and the lesson there is: you get what you pay for.

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Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion

Weigh your choices carefully!

I stumbled into a great facebook post recently. See if this sounds familiar:

A friend of mine had expressed a disliking of a particular movie. The person she was talking to berated her for her opinion, as if her personal taste in movies could be compared to having interchangeable tooth/toilet brushes. Because she didn’t feel the same way he did, he chose to criticize her and call her ignorant, which of course did nothing to change her mind. It only made her angry. If we looked into it, I expect we would find much of the Middle East peace talks going along these lines.

The online response of her friends was the typical reply to such a situation: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, (So far, so good) because an opinion is neither true or false- it is subjective.” That last part is where they are wrong. Well, it is my opinion that they are wrong, and I am correct, which makes my opinion true and theirs false. Ok, before you go throwing full wine bottles at your computer screen, let me explain.

You’ll notice that, in earlier posts, I put Opinion below Belief and Knowledge on the Metaphysical Map. You might have wondered why it wasn’t put with Perception or Experience. The reason is, an Opinion is a statement of absolute, transcendent, universal truth expressing a believed piece of knowledge which is either TRUE or FALSE. Did I just blow your mind? I know I did. I could hear it from here. Take my hand. It’s going to be OK! And there’s nothing wrong with a little therapy if you need it.

When someone expresses an opinion, it is one of two things. It’s either a statement about the speaker (“I like pizza”) or it’s about some object on which the speaker is offering judgment (“Pizza is better than aerospace technology”). When I give you my opinion, I’m either talking about me, or I’m talking about something else (in this case, pizza). In the first statement, I am saying something about ME- specifically that I like pizza. This is either true or false. I could be lying. It may be true that far from liking pizza, I despise it, because I am some godless hippy communist pinko creep PRETENDING to like pizza so I can infiltrate your society and corrode it from the inside. Or maybe I’m just lactose intolerant.  Thankfully, neither of those is true, so it remains a TRUE statement that “I like Pizza.”

Why is this not subjective? Because it is ALWAYS true for everyone everywhere that I Like Pizza. It doesn’t matter if YOU like Pizza. I will still like pizza no matter how YOU feel. It’s not always about YOU, you know. We share a Reality, and in the REAL universe, I like pizza. If someone ever tells you that I do NOT like pizza, they are a liar. Do not give them your credit card information, nor vote for them.

In the second statement I am comparing two things. Sometimes people do this when they really mean to make a statement about themselves. When I said “Pizza is better than aerospace technology,” I REALLY meant, “Given the choice between them, I would choose Pizza because I am not lactose intolerant, but I am afraid of heights.” This, much like the First World War, is a result of poor grammar. Once again, the statement is either true or false, but it is intended to be a statement about my personal response to things.

But what if it’s not? What if I really am comparing Pizza Hut to NASA? In this case, I am comparing these things, not to themselves alone, but to some external standard of good and bad. To say something is “Better” only makes sense if there is some standard of GOOD to compare two things against. The one that conforms most closely to the definition of “Good” is the one which is “Better.” So, we must ask in what ways these things are similar so that they might be compared. How about this: Both cost money. We could say pizza is better because I can get a large pepperoni pizza for five dollars, where as ANYTHING made by NASA costs more than the gross national product of South America. And I can promise you it won’t be delivered to your door in half an hour or less. But if by “Good” I mean, capable of sustaining life in a low orbit for prolonged periods of time, then the better of the two (and it’s a close call) would be NASA. Without the proper aerospace technology, you would be dead before the pizza was even out of the box. Even at five dollars, that’s a bad deal.

Maybe you don’t compare Italian foods to various technology fields. I can see no reason why you wouldn’t, but it takes all kinds to make a world. Since my standard of “good” above is based on my personal preferences (Either I prefer to spend $5 at a time or I prefer to survive the trip into space) and not on some external standard (like calories or cubic inches) then there is no reason I should expect you to judge according to this standard I set up for myself. You might argue that pizza is better than aerospace technology because without pizza you would shrivel and die like a plant in the desert, making the shuttle and the most advanced satellites irrelevant. This is valid. But what if I said “Pizza is CHEAPER than aerospace technology.”? Cheaper is a math concept. Pizza is cheaper, because it costs less money. A thousand jillion dollars is clearly more than $5, making pizza the “better” (meaning cheaper) alternative. This is not up for argument. If you think it is, you’re either Bill Gates or the sultan of Brunei. In either case, I would be willing to be adopted into your family/last will and testimony.

What then can we say about someone who demands you consider a certain movie as “Good”? Maybe he is comparing the film to some standard of quality (“The movie was in focus and had audible dialogue” or, “This movie did not contain Keanu Reeves attempting to use a British accent”). Maybe he really means to make a statement about himself (“This movie made me cry like a little girl”) and he wishes for you to feel the same so that he will not feel like such a sissy. Or maybe he’s a jerk who doesn’t care what the conversation is about and he’s just trying to pick a fight. If he’s this third type, just walk away, man. Just walk away. Everyone is entitled their own subjective emotional response to external stimuli, but when you choose to express those feelings, choose your words carefully because if you don’t, you will sound like a jerk. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

rentafriend2000@hotmail.com

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