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David Brin

David Brin
San Diego, California, USA
October 06
Bio David Brin’s novels have been translated into more than twenty languages, including New York Times Best-sellers that won Hugo and Nebula awards. His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed cyberwarfare, the World Wide Web, global warming and Gulf Coast flooding. A 1998 Kevin Costner film was loosely adapted from his post-apocalyptic novel, The Postman. ............................................ Brin is a noted scientist, futurist and speaker who appears frequently on television (Life After People, The Universe), discussing trends in the near and far future, on subjects such as surveillance, technology, astronomy, and SETI. His non-fiction book, The Transparent Society, deals with issues of openness and security in the wired-age. ............................................. David Brin web site: Twitter: Facbook:

APRIL 16, 2012 10:08PM

Take the Wager Challenge...and push back Culture War

Rate: 1 Flag

The brilliance of Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Prince Waleed and their clade never ceases to impress me.  Twenty years ago, they were subsidizing Rush Limbaugh and the neoconservatives to spread what's become the core notion of today's right. (Though it also crops up on the far-left!) One that is now fundamental dogma to millions of Americans.

The notion that assertions can trump facts.

Ridiculing the “fact based community,” the party line has become completely untethered from any need for consistency or reference to evidence. Leveraging upon a native and healthy American trait - suspicion of authority - it has metastacised into the cancerous nostrum that all experts are automatically wrong because they know a lot.  From scientists to journalists to judges, medical doctors, academics, diplomats, skilled labor... indeed, the list of knowledge castes under attack at Fox is now almost complete.  (Find the exceptions!) Only the Wall Street oligarchy has been left out.  Those "experts" it seems are indispensable.

Not even Marxists ever found so perfect a way to insulate their followers from dogma-dilution.  Is there any way to get past the nostrums recited by Limbaugh listeners and climate denialists and so on?

I found one.  And it works.  It works very well.

Make it a matter of money.  Stone cold hard cash.

I have found that no amount of facts or evidence will shift an “ostrich” republican back to the old ways of Goldwater and Buckley, in pre-Fox days, when conservatism respected knowledge and facts. Back when the average education level of republicans was higher than democrats, when 40% of scientists were in the GOP, instead of less than 5% today.  When knowledge and intellect weren't the openly declared enemy.

Nevertheless, I found a bullet! When faced with absolute denial and perfect assertion-addiction, one thing cracks the turtle shell. Demanding a wager!

“You are absolutely certain about your list of assertions, even those that sound cockeyed and totally over-the-top, or that denounce all of America's knowledge-experts.  So certain are you, of these Ailes-approved assertions, that you're willing to stake our nation’s future on them, even putting back in charge the idiots who ran America off a cliff in the first decade of this century.  So certain that you’ll demonize every opponent, despise all educated people, and trash any talk of negotiation or compromise.

“Fine.  Only then, if you truly are that certain, make a bet!  Take my money! Back it up with cash that we’ll both deposit with some agreed-neutral party.  I’ll even give you odds. If I am the fool, for disagreeing with you, take money from this fool! (And religion is no excuse; the loser could pay the winner's favorite charity.)

“This matters. You are willing to help ignite the latest phase of the American Civil War, convinced that facts back up your side.  Then show some guts. Put money on it!”

== Clearcut, provable wagers ==

Here are just a few of the matters I have offered to lay on the table, at various times.  I've made some nice cash. But mostly had the satisfaction of calling the other guy "chicken" when he refused... and seeing him stop using some outrageously false, Roger Ailes talking points.

*  You have your panties in a twist over illegal immigration? Well I bet illegal immigration is always worse under Republicans, who upon taking over savagely cut the Border Patrol.  Democrats reinforce it. In any event, illegal immigration across the Mexico-U.S. border has now, under Obama, reached net-zero.  If you don’t believe it, make a wager and take my money!  Or else, stop ranting about this!

(Side note: many white males are instinctively noticing that the USA is no longer theirs to control, alone.  Some react viscerally against this new era and blame illegal immigrants. But in fact, America's demographics have been changed far more by LEGAL immigration, a matter the GOP never ever raises.  Why not? One has to wonder.)

* You claim we’re in steep moral decline, especially in Blue America. Red America is more moral and knows better how to raise kids up, wholesomely; is that right? Okay, have we shaken on a wager? Then here’s just one clear-fact refutation. Teen pregnancies are highest in states with abstinence-only policies. (In fact, get Crazy Uncle to bet on every point of “immorality” from divorce rates, teen sex, STDs, and domestic violence to almost every type of crime, in Red vs Blue regions.  He’ll lose on all counts.  Take his cash. Or call him a coward.)

* Taxed enough already?  That's the outraged Tea Party mantra.  So make a bet on how high taxes really are in the U.S. today, especially for the rich, compared to any time in the last 80 years.  (Actually, we're at one of the lowest points since 1930.) Or what fraction of the US economy is taken up by the Federal government. Or who is paying more tax and getting less in return. (Hint: Blue America pays more taxes, gets fewer benefits, but... key point... Blue America also whines much much less.)

* The Obama stimulus of the economy in 2009 was a "catastrophe" according to Republicans like Mitt Romney, who wanted the US Auto Industry to go into bankruptcy and receivership, and thereby "learn a lesson." It was claimed that the taxpayer would lose trillions... literally trillions.  So have your uncle bet you whether this is still what he believes... then show him the NET PROFIT that we, the people, are making off the stimulus.

(Then ask him if he thinks we got our money's worth from a decade and two trillion dollars and thousands of lives poured into "nation building" in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ask him if he knows what fraction of that went to companies co-owned by Dick Cheney.  Finally, ask him why he doesn't know, or care.)

* Obama the socialist? BHO got his  party to pass the republicans’ own health care proposal (circa 1994-2004).  “Obamacare” is essentially the Gingrich Plan, later adopted by Mitt Romney. Don't let them weasel by claiming "We changed our mind!" Sure, they have that right.

But you do not have a right to change your mind AND scream "socialist!" at those who implement YOUR plan. Find a way to parse this as a bet.

*  Here’s one that always works. Offer to bet Crazy Uncle that Rupert Murdoch’s top partner and co-owner at Fox News is a Saudi Prince. He'll deny it in screeching outrage... then he'll refuse to make it a wager.  Nail him with that hypocrisy.

I could go on and on.  Indeed, many of you regulars are tired of hearing these same things recited here.  (Well, you knew it would happen in an election year!)  But that’s not the point, this time.

Sure, I know we won’t change many minds with this tactic.  Negotiation and mind-changing isn't in the cards. Not during outright Civil War. Ailes and co. have succeeded in plunging us down that path and nothing is left but to fight it. With the right symbols.

But at least this’ll arm you to help get the nut-jobs to shut the f$#& up over their favorite ranted assertion-incantations!  Because they care, above all, about their money.

== Hence this OPEN CALL! ==

Come to the comments section (below) and offer your own favorite crazy uncle bets, parsed to go to the heart of a right wing "frame" and easily disprove it.  Offer it up as a clear wager... and provide citations for devastating proof/evidence.  Keep them short n' punchy and focused on crystal clear FALSIFIABLE STATEMENTS or wagers subject to potent proof. I'll publish the best ones here.

Oh, and just for fairness sake... you contrarians or republicans are welcome to offer up ways to bait your dogmatic-leftist crazy aunt, too!

They may not be as numerous or dangerous as the Murdochite loons, right now, but I consider them-there-lefties to be fair game.  Only dig this... try to stick to actual unbiased assertions that real liberals (and not a few campus lefty flakes) actually say, not things Glen Beck claims they say.

I’ll post the top ones on CONTRARY BRIN.

Even better, I hope someone will become convinced to run with this concept and create a web site devoted to Big Political Bets.  As contributions to sanity go, you could do much worse.

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You complain about wasteful government spending? So what's the biggest source of fraud, waste, and abuse in the US government? Is it unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, or NPR? How about the Defense Department? Let's make a bet!