New links

Some new additions to the blogroll:

3 nonliberal science fiction writers:  Vox Day, Michael Flynn, and John C. Wright

2 traditionalist Catholic sites:  Rorate Caeli and Mundabor

a neoreactionary:  Radish

and the unclassifiable Ron Unz

All of these passed the test that I feel compelled to check them often enough that I was annoyed at not having a link on my own web  page.

In addition, I’ve gotten rid of unnecessary proper articles in link names and removed inactive links.

The Catholic perspective, Part I: escape from subjectivity

What is distinctive about the Catholic mind, that Catholics believe things that no one else believes?  Identifying specific differences is not hard; what is tricky is figuring out which one is the ultimate cause of all the others.  For example, many would say that the authority of the Pope is what makes Catholicism unique, and hence we are called “Papists”.  However, the papacy is for Catholics a conclusion rather than an axiom.  We accept it because we see the modern hierarchical Church as the historically legitimate development of the Apostolic Church.  But looking at the same historical and scriptural data, Protestants and Orthodox see corruption rather than development.  What underlying difference causes us to read the data so differently?  Again, one could cite specific dogmas that are distinctive to the Catholic faith:  the assumption of Mary, Purgatory, the filioque, the immorality of contraception, etc.  But why do Catholics believe these things when others don’t?

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The moral superiority of masculine groups over feminine groups


In short, one Pankhurst is an exception, but a thousand Pankhursts are a nightmare, a Bacchic orgie, a Witches Sabbath.  For in all legends men have thought of women as sublime separately but horrible in a herd.  –G. K. Chesterton

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La Nouvelle Theologie

You know, I’ve never run across a quantum mechanics textbook that builds the case for its subject around how dull, dry, and uninspiring most texts on classical mechanics seem to be.  Running across such a frivolous argument might lead one to suspect that quantum mechanics is actually a big fraud.  Fortunately, quantum theory is not a fraud, and so students are instead given examples of phenomena that are described by classical physics incorrectly, not just boringly.  That’s how intellectually serious disciplines work.

Stuff you’re not supposed to feel

Yes, I know, you’re proud of your wife for being a working girl, doing her part to pay the bills, etc.  But deep down, don’t you find the thought of your wife being bossed around by some other man for eight hours a day slightly emasculating?


It’s Venus

I’ve now been an astronomy professor long enough that I’ve started getting contacted by strangers who’ve seen something in the sky and want to know what it is.

If you’ve noticed a very bright object in the southwestern sky at sundown, that would be our evening star, the planet Venus, which is at its brightest tonight.

A growing tide of soft arguments

Of course, there’s nothing new about bad arguments, but a particular class of bad arguments seems to be getting more common.  This is why I distinguish a “weak” argument from a “soft” argument.  Weak arguments fail to prove what they promise, there are gaps in the reasoning, objections and counterexamples are not adequately dealt with.  A weak argument tries to convince but fails.  By a “soft argument”, I mean an argument that “isn’t even trying” because the arguer doesn’t really expect his claim to be contested.  So there will be flagrant contradictions in reasoning, grossly question-begging formulation of questions, obvious objections not dealt with, and the like.  The arguer will be smart enough to do better, but will not feel the need, because the point of the argument is not to convince.  The point of the argument is to signal assent to the dominant view while presenting a facade of independent reasoning.

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