Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Counter the Stupidity Gradient

May 28th, 2014 by John Mansfield

my ivory towerFor a couple years I had an office at UCLA in a building called Engineering IV, a much nicer building than the utilitarian name might imply. My office and those of most I dealt with were on the fourth floor, but many mornings I would first ride the elevator up to the fifth floor to look out a large floor-to-ceiling window toward the southwest. Now and then the haze was light enough that I could see the ocean. There were no classrooms or lecture halls in this building, only offices and lab space, but it was a public building on a public university campus, so the hallways were open to the public, and we were told not to kick any strange people out, just call campus security if there was a problem.

I never saw any strange members of the public in the building, but one day I came upon a manifesto of sorts pinned to a bulletin board. Someone had done the favor of laying out in a dozen typed pages of Descartes-like reason and observation that we academics in our ivory tower were all wrong about thermodynamics. Work-heat equivalence, second law of thermodynamics, heat conduction? A bunch of fables passed along from teacher to student since Joule, Carnot, and Fourier.

I made a copy for myself, thinking it would be an interesting exercise sometime to identify where the errors were that led to such conclusions, but I never found the necessary conjunction of time and interest to dig into it. It’s probably still lying in a box in the attic packed when we left Los Angeles fourteen years ago. I still think it would be a mildly worthwhile intellectual exercise to analysis it, but I strongly doubt there would have been any value at all in debating its author, for either myself or him. As the saying goes, it’s impossible to win a battle of wits against an unarmed opponent.

Comments (7)
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May 28th, 2014 13:09:19

John Mansfield
May 28, 2014

As some may have guessed, I was reading the dialogue by Bruce Nielson and others at Millennial Star.

May 28, 2014

I had a long online debate once with a fellow from southern Utah who denied special relativity. I have to admit he was pretty good at coming up with relativistic paradoxes, so I learned something from figuring out the answers to them. I doubt he did, though.

Bruce Charlton
May 29, 2014

What I find striking is how lame and outdated are the Mormon ‘Liberals’ (like OW).

Exactly the same arguments and points were made in the Mainstream Christian churches – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist etc – thirty, forty even fifty years ago.

Many Liberal ‘reforms’ were adopted as a result of these Leftist pressure groups – so we know exactly what happens.

For example, the Church of England introduced priestesses twenty years ago – and the consequences can be studied IF anybody is genuinely interested in them.

But I believe that Mormon Liberals *have* studied the consequences of implementing the changes they advocate – so they know what would happen – and yet they still want the changes! – therefore they are shown to be malignly-motivated.

Discussion with Mormon ‘radicals’ (i.e. 1970s style ‘progressives) should proceed on *that* basis – and not on the basis that their motivations are beneficent.

For example – Mormon theologians advocating post-modern/ non-realist theologies are recapitulating the (three decades old) work of Don Cupitt in the Church of England – and therefore they can see exactly where they are heading: which is out of the church, and out of Christianity.


Man SL
May 29, 2014

Some truth to that, Bruce, but its always possible that people are just stupid, sometimes intentionally.

May 29, 2014

I’d say that intentional stupidity is inherently malicious.

Adam G.
May 29, 2014

Intentional stupidity is inherently fearful, not malicious. It’s the notion that if you just don’t think about it, you won’t have to choose between two masters.

GK Chesterton
May 29, 2014

If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by clarity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

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