Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pascal, O'Reilly, Huckabee

When Mike Huckabee, the nitwit Biblical literalist with presidential pretensions, told Bill O'Reilly last Wednesday that he believed that God made Eve from Adam's Rib and that there was no reason to disbelieve it (quite a whopper in it's own right) he probably wasn't aware of Pascal's Wager.
"But I just believe he did it. And so, you know, if it turns out that I am wrong, I have lost nothing. If it turns out I’m right, it is a good thing."
The famous proposition by the mathematician Blaise Pascal is a well used toy of logicians although it's hard to pin down just what kind of fallacy it is, it being such a farrago of flimsy sophistry. Even so, it's well enough known as such to cause one with even a basic education to avoid the embarrassment of using it, as the Huckster did, in front of someone with an elementary knowledge of philosophy or logic. What then of this bumpkin airing his ignorance before an enormous audience he's trying to convince of his presidential level wisdom and insight?

Pascal famously argued for his own belief in the Christian God by saying if the belief turned out to be false, there was no afterlife in which he would suffer and if true, he had heaven to gain and therefore belief was the safer bet. Of course the argument is built on selected assumptions about this God; That's he is the one Christians believe in, that he punishes disbelief or rewards it over good works or other virtues. The argument fails to address the infinite assumptions one could make about this god and the arbitrary selection it makes amongst Gods who because there is no evidence, can be said to hate mankind in general as safely as one can say he punishes disbelief.

To someone who sees no reason to question what he's told although the evidence is absent, Pascal's wager may seem like an argument, but although I could dissect it in detail and dismiss it in a hundred ways, I will simply say that this sort of argument is as easily tossed aside as any of the traditional "proofs" long since banished to the swamps of madness and superstition.

Suffice it to say, that a man who sees no reason to credit the massive and irrefutable disproof of Adam's muddy origins and Eve's being cloned from the rib of a male while becoming a female without becoming Adam's identical twin is a dangerous idiot and I see no reason to allow him anywhere near an office of public trust.


Intellectual Insurgent said...

Unfortunately, it seems that "dangerous idiot" is a prerequisite to leadership in this country these days. The more dangerous and idiotic, the more popular.

Capt. Fogg said...

It gives me nightmares to think that the 2008 election may be a sequel to Dumb and Dumber and my crystal ball seems to be hinting at a Republican in the White House again, if not forever.