Archive for the ‘Intellectual Pretensions’ Category

Scientist confused by Hollywood; confuses fiction for reality

October 27th, 2014 No comments

No wonder the general public is confused about science; it appears that some scientists don’t get it very well either:

Thorne quickly realised that the model generated by Nolan’s team is as scientifically accurate as it gets. Forget artistic licence; this is what black holes actually look like. “This is our observational data,” Thorne explained. “That’s the way nature behaves. Period.”

No, you credentialed fool. You don’t get “observational data” from meditating on renderings of your mathematical model; you get observational data from observing the natural phenomenon under study.

As Professor Kirke once said, “‘I wonder what they do teach them at these schools…”

“Read Little”?

March 8th, 2013 No comments

Oh my.  It seems I’ve been doing it wrong:

We want to develop breadth of mind, to practice comparative study, to keep the horizon before us; these things cannot be done without much reading. But much and little are opposites only in the same domain. . . [M]uch is necessary in the absolute sense, because the work to be done is vast; but little, relatively to the deluge of writing that…floods our libraries and our minds nowadays. . . . What we are proscribing is the passion for reading, the uncontrolled habit, the poisoning of the mind by excess of mental food, the laziness in disguise which prefers easy familiarity with others’ thought to personal effort. . . . The passion for reading which many pride themselves on as a precious intellectual quality is in reality a defect; it differs in no wise from other passions that monopolize the soul , keep it in a state of disturbance, set it in uncertain currents and cross-currents, and exhaust its powers. . . . The mind is dulled, not fed, by inordinate reading, it is made gradually incapable of reflection and concentration, and therefore of production; it grows inwardly extroverted, if one can so express oneself, becomes the slave of its mental images, of the ebb and flow of ideas on which it has eagerly fastened its attention. This uncontrolled delight is an escape from self; it ousts the intelligence from its function and allows it merely to follow point for point the thoughts of others, to be carried along in the stream of words, developments, chapters, volumes. . . . [N]ever read when you can reflect; read only, except in moments of recreation, what concerns the purpose you are pursuing; and read little, so as not to eat up your interior silence.

— A. G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods

"Dialogue", meaning "Shut Up and Be Like Us"

September 16th, 2006 No comments

No, this isn’t about “dialogue” within The Episcopal Church (although it could be).

This week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a lecture at the University of Regensburg on the relationship between faith and reason, and the importance of and legitimate position of Greek philosophy within Church teaching.

Dry stuff, eh? Not when he quotes, in the first third of his talk, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos:

“Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

The reactions have been, unfortunately, predictable:

Across the Islamic world Friday, Benedict’s remarks on Islam and jihad in a speech in Germany unleashed a torrent of rage that many fear could burst into violent protests like those that followed publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad….

Chancellor Merkel is not cowed, and still remembers how to use the word ‘dialogue’ in its non-debauched form:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the German-born pope, saying his message had been misunderstood.

“It is an invitation to dialogue between religions and the pope has explicitly urged this dialogue, which I also endorse and see as urgently necessary,” she said Friday. “What Benedict XVI makes clear is a decisive and uncompromising rejection of any use of violence in the name of religion.”

However, CAIR is busy using ‘dialogue’ in its debased form (meaning, “keep talking until you see things my way”):

“The proper response to the pope’s inaccurate and divisive remarks is for Muslims and Catholics worldwide to increase dialogue and outreach efforts aimed at building better relations between Christianity and Islam,” the group said.

So far, this is all SOP. Here, however, is something deserves a bit more highlighting:

“The pope and Vatican proved to be Zionists and that they are far from Christianity, which does not differ from Islam. Both religions call for forgiveness, love and brotherhood,” Shiite cleric Sheik Abdul-Kareem al-Ghazi said during a sermon in Iraq’s second-largest city, Basra.

(Side note: “Zionists”? I think al-Ghazi’s anti-Semitism is showing.)

Get that? The pope isn’t a “real” Christian, because he’s critical of Islam. Real Christianity does not differ from Islam, according to al-Ghazi. (I’m sure his Chaldean neighbors will be surprised to hear this…)

So. A Shi’ite cleric takes it upon himself to declare what “real” Christianity is — and it turns out to be just like Islam! Those “Christians” who do not accept this vision are therefore not “real” Christians, but rather “Zionists”.

An … interesting approach to inter-religious dialogue, to be sure. One that I think will be rather unproductive with non-dhimmi Christians.

It might have a chance of working at the National Cathedral, however. I hear they go in for that sort of thing.

God have mercy.

Heard in the office

September 20th, 2002 No comments

“You guys seem pretty literary for engineers.”

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