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October 22, 2007

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What's the difference between a "different reality" that we have no means of perceiving or comprehending, and something that does not exist?

I'm beginning to wonder if bothering to criticize Distort D'Newsa is even worthwhile. Yeah, I know, I've done it too, but it's too easy. Sorta the intellectual equivalent of strangling a defenseless small animal.

sophia8:

"What's the difference between a "different reality" that we have no means of perceiving or comprehending, and something that does not exist?"

LSD?

What a moran... Everything I've ever read by D'Souza only confirmed one fact; that he is in fact the poster child for birth control.

I take my illogial waffle with strawberries and whipped cream.

It is very difficult to read D'Sousa without feeling dumber on the other side. I wrote about him today, and a few days ago...Why can't I quit him? (Because he has a book coming out and is everywhere, for some reason, somehow.)

HJ

You can have your illogical waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, only after you fight Kid Rock for it.

D'Souza came to speak at my college last year, and I naturally attended for the 'train wreck' entertainment value. He had clearly softened his usual talking points for a college crowd, staying away from some of the more wingnutty things he says in writing and on TV, but managed to sneak in a few zingers. The one that sticks out most in my mind was his claim that people in other countries see American movies and think they represent normal American life.

He specifically said that his mother in India sees Hollywood's output and thinks it represents the average American. And we know this is true, because every American thinks that Indians all dress in crazy colorful outfits and frequently engage in melodramatic large-scale well-choreographed song and dance numbers.

When your thesis is "the terrorists hate us because of our culture, so we should make our culture more like the terrorists'," it's pretty much downhill from there.

Tom, I'm not sure he's incorrect. I'm in Australia and have been for a year, and I do get some comments to the effect of "I thought that was invented in American movies!" or "Don't Americans do that? I saw it on [American tv show]." No, most reasoned people don't think the US is just like the movies, but there does appear to be a consensus that movies and tv shows are at least partially representative. I certainly don't think India is like a Bollywood film, but the sari and salwaar kameesh are common garments in parts of India.

The most common thing that people think was invented by hollywood here in Melbourne? Halloween. It's just not done, and they always seem surprised that people really do go trick-or-treating like in the movies or television shows.

The rest of what he says may be utter bunk, but that does (from personal experience) have a grain of truth to it.

Patience, as a Melbournian myself, I would just like to point out that your first "quote" is not consistent with your second "quote".

And if we Melbournians think halloween was invented in hollywood, then that means we do *not* think it represents real america.

Which is in complete opposition to
D'souza's original point. So, no, what he says does not even have a grain of truth.

Extra funny bit is that his argument that Dennett is using an argument from ignorance relies on the ignorance of his audience regarding the definition of the term. How circular!

Also, a shout out to Melbourne, Australians from Melbourne, Florida.

Tom, I live in Moscow, and have lived outside the US for over 15 years. Perceptions of the US are definitely skewed by Hollywood movies--the questions are by how much and in what direction(s). Sometimes the result is a surprise: having seen the disgusting opulence of bourgeois "Dallas", Romanians put Ceausescu up against the wall. I have never been to India, and but through themes repeated in Indian movies I do have some notions about their culture, partially distinct from and partially reinforced by my substantial contact with Indians abroad (including a college roommate). One can learn about a culture based on the stories they tell themselves (though Hollywood movies are made 50% for a non-US audience). To explain to Russians what modern America is like, I occasionally recommend that they watch "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle". ;)

BTW, Dinesh D'Souza debated skeptic Michael Shermer: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-10-24.html

I think Kant's point, and I am no expert, is that there HAS to be a noumenal would (as well as phenomeonal one), because although causality is a prerequite for our understanding anything, the deeper substance of causality MUST be rooted in the noumeanal world for the Humean reason that phenomonally we only ever percieve conjunctions of events in time and not the "actual" causal relations. Nonetheless, Kant said that causality was real because we perceive the world with causal understanding a priori. Please God (HA!), someone improve and correct what I've said here but this is how I understand it, flawed as I'm sure it is. In any event, to co-opt Hume's problem of induction (the offical name, or at least variation of, this problem of causality) as a means to "prove God" is ludicrous, especially since Hume was NOT religious and Kant's religious beliefs are much in question or at least seriously attenuated. Kant certainly DID NOT think that GOD was the fix-all answer to this daunting problem. And it simply does not follow that the existence of the noumenal world entails or even implies God. At best it simply leaves room for more tropical metaphyical options one and only one of which may be a God-like entity. It's just a bad argument Mr. D'Souza and bad philosophy. Stay where you're better aquainted, Kant is out of your league.

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