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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Those Idiotic Ancients!

Over at Reason.com, Tim Cavanaugh writes:

"As surely as Earth rests at the center of a finite series of interlocking crystalline polyhedrons within the compass of a benevolent prime mover, so Ben Bernanke will clear all challenges and have his woeful career extended by the U.S. Senate."

Tim is clearly trying to mock the stupidity of pre-Enlightenment views of nature, but it seems all of philosophy and science before the Enlightenment (TM Voltaire) is mushed together in Tim's head as an undifferentiable swamp of falsehood, because:

1) The idea of "interlocking crystalline polyhedrons" was put forward by Johannes Kepler, who was a pioneering advocate of heliocentrism, not geocentrism (so the Sun, and not the Earth, was at the center of those polyhedra), and Kepler is supposedly one of the early heroes of "modern," scientific thought.

2) The idea of the "prime mover" came from Aristotle, who certainly did not see that mover as "benevolent."

But hey, those dumbasses came before the Enlightenment, so who can even be bothered to get their stupid ideas straight?

11 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:02 AM

    Well, at least you understood it was a joke this time. Tone-deaf as this post might be, it's an advance over your response to "crying is exactly the same as being the passive partner in anal sex."

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  2. Um, so I guess this is Tim here, posting anonymously, because no one else would ever have remembered my comment on that long ago post. So, Tim, jokes don't need any connection to the real world to make them actually funny? Somehow, I missed the "tone" of your comment? No, I think I got the "tone" down pretty accurately -- those ancients were dumbass mother fuckers. Wasn't that the "tone"? If not, what was?

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  3. What I see here: Tim is really, really embarrassed that he screwed up this history so badly. So, the best response is to throw out some bullshit "tone deaf" charge, which is kind of a catch-all "I was sooo misunderstood" excuse.

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  4. Anonymous8:16 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Anonymous2:38 PM

    I'm not Tim. Just a regular reader of the Hit & Run comment threads, and a person who has a better concept than you do of how humor works.

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  6. Yes, anonymous, the fact that I've professionally sold articles to humor magazines is pretty good evidence I have no idea how humor works. But in any case, to successfully mock the ideas of pre-Enlightenment thinkers, oughtn't one to have some clue as to what those ideas were?

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  7. Gene, who ever knew the Internet would allow you to make so many friends?

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  8. I have to be obnoxious to Reason writers lest anyone think I've sold out to the Beltway libertarians!

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  9. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Congratulations on the magazine sales. But they don't erase the fact that you think the point of the sentence was to "mock the ideas of pre-Enlightenment thinkers."

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  10. Well, I think that was the idea there because that WAS the idea there. Of course, Cavanaugh was using these silly pre-Enlightenment ideas to mock the silly idea that the universe foreordained that Bernanke must be re-appointed.

    But that would have worked much better if he had had some notion of what those ideas actually were.

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  11. I think maybe you guys are both right (or both wrong). Clearly Tim C.'s remarks only make sense if they were drawing on ideas that somebody once held, and I think Gene is right to assume that Tim C. vaguely thought some one person in the medieval Church held all these ideas (before dunking a heretic in boiling oil).

    But I think Anon might be right too, in that Tim C. was not necessarily intending the joke to rip on this hypothetical medieval whim worshipper.

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