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  • Patrick L. Boyle "Mr. Wonderful" - Leftist Tract Diguised as a Work of Dispassionate Science

    This is not a serious book on the evolutionary roots of political differences. That is just a deception. It is a book that that attempts to demonstrate that the left is right and the right is wrong.

    It is certainly thought provoking but it has a number of obvious limitations. First of all it has an obvious left wing bias. Secondly and probably more importantly his analysis is rather shallow as to its reductionist perspective. A deep reductionist is someone like E.O. Wilson or Richard Dawkins. They will ultimately explain a human 'feeling' according to Darwinian or other biological principle. But Tuschman 'explains' political feelings only in terms of intermediate level concepts like 'tribalism'. That sort of approach leaves unanswered the question 'Why is there tribalism'? In Tuschman's world view tribalism is just a faulty kind of thinking seen in rightists.

    Tuschman is content to note that conservatives are high on tribalism while liberals prefer exogamy. OK, that seems accurate enough but what does it explain. There is a passage in one of Richard Feynman's books where his father asks the young genius why such and such natural phenomenon exists. Young Feynman gives responds with a conventional answer - the name of a concept. His father says no. Nobody knows why that is so, so we give it a name. Just naming something isn't real knowledge.

    That's how a lot of Tuschman's explanations strike me. His approach is rather like factor analysis. He shows that certain human attitudes and beliefs cluster together. But so what?

    Another problem with his intermediate level analysis is that conceals much of the real problem. For example he points out that conservatives can be considered racists because they tend to agree with a list of opinions about blacks. One of the statements is "Blacks are more violent". No doubt a lot - maybe all - conservatives would agree with that. But the unacknowledged problem is that it is objectively true that blacks are more violent. This kind of analysis shows his bias as well as the limitations of his methodology. Since blacks are incontrovertibly more violent in the FBI crime statistics does this tell us something about Republicans? Or does it tell us something about Tuschman?

    Tuschman never entertains the possibility that part of the negative attitudes of conservatives towards blacks could have something to do with blacks themselves. He seems to tacitly assume that all objections to blacks are irrational. But it is very rational to avoid black neighborhoods after dark. In 1954 when a white segregationist opposed school integration because he thought it would not help blacks learn and would disrupt the education of whites, it made some sense to analyze the segregationist's opinions in terms of his 'tribalism' or 'ethnocentrism'. But more than a half century later when those predictions about the consequents of integration have come true - isn't it appropriate to consider those arguments on their merits? In economics there is a similar split between monetarists and fiscalists. Would it make sense to only argue about the psychological influences on their respective adherents and ignore the consequences of their proposed policies? I'm sure there are some reasons why Keynes thought one way and Friedman another. But there has also been a track record of policies based on those differing viewpoints.

    Tuschman relies heavily on the Right Wing test by Altemeyer. This test - the RWA - he tells us is a modern improvement on the infamous F Test that was designed to unearth conservatives as secret Fascists. Tuschman approves strongly of this test and seems to be untroubled that it is so politically slanted to the left. He cites no similar scale that leans right. I suspect that he doesn't think that any such scale is possible. Over and over he blithely asserts that left wing attitudes are reasonable and concordant with objective reality while right wing attitudes are signs of defective thinking. He seem unaware of just how biased he is.

    In a sense the RWA is tautological. It tells us repeatedly that conservatives are conservative. For example it shows us that Americans who oppose gay marriage are more likely to be Republicans. The cover blurb and marketing claim that the book provides some evolutionary insight into political alignments but in fact it mostly just lists those things that leftists believe and those things that rightists believe. But he does not take a neutral stance and he does not attempt to understand the cases where people do not hold ideologically pure positions. He tends to treat all conservatives as a herd well characterized by a few simple generalizations.

    For example in the discussion of gay policies he flatly states that hundreds of species are homosexual. This is a myth of the gay activists. It is espoused in Bruce Baghemil's book 'Biological Exuberance'. This is by no means a well accepted idea. There are 300 examples of supposed animal homosexuality in this book many of which are just silly. Most serious researchers of homosexuality like Simon LeVay will have nothing to do with this fringe thesis. It is probably more correct to say that there is only one animal species that has anything like the pattern of homosexuality seen in humans. That is the domestic sheep. It is a serious problem for sheep breeders and is being studied at several agricultural universities.

    Notice that on the subject of race that Tuschman was content to cite agreement with the statement "Blacks are more violent" as a simple and unambiguous proof that the person who agreed to that statement was a bigot. There was no attempt to consider if in fact the statement were objectively true. In fact few facts in any area of political discourse are better established than the fact that blacks have hugely higher rates of violent crime than whites and especially East Asians. One can argue about why this should be so and who is responsible. But it simply isn't possible to argue about the facts themselves. Blacks have murder rates about five to tens times that of other races here in the US and elsewhere. But Tuschman would have you believe that being acquainted with well known crime statistics somehow brands you as a kind of proto fascist. At the same time he gratuitously endorses this far out gay animal theory.

    Tuschman simply accepts any shaky liberal dogma as scientific truth and simultaneously ignores anything conservatives might believe as a sign of ignorance and error.

    Tuschman misses the big picture. I'm a Republican but I don't give a damn one way or the other about gay marriage because I know something about homosexuality. Tuschman constantly erects straw men on the right which he then can haughtily dismiss. He seems to harp on Glenn Beck. But who imagines that this populist yahoo is a serious thinker? There are no similar remarks on the empty headed notions of Louis Farrakhan or Michael Moore.

    This is another book that should not be read on a Kindle. Almost all of the charts and illustrations are too small to be comfortably read. I had looked through the 'Read Me' preview and not seen any illustrations. But I was wrong. My advice - only buy one of the paper versions of this book. I prefer to read novels on Kindle but given the current Kindle limitations on resizing graphs and charts, I recommend old fashion paper for any book with many illustrations.

  • Nicolas - Heaven Is A Glass of Milk

    I grew up in a small town in the midwest in a pretty big family. 32 kids and 4 house chickens. My father worked at a paper mill, my mother sold cloth at a fabric store. Ironically we didn't have a single book in the house (ironic because books are usually made out of paper) nor did we have a single item of clothing (well, what one would normally think of as clothing: all our clothes were made of fruit bags we would save from the grocer's and sew into shirts, pants, hats, shoes (etc) at the dinner table as my father read scripture) We were always struggling financially. Not because of my parent's mediocre blue-collar jobs or the cost of raising nearly three dozen children. We struggled financially mostly due to medical bills involving the chickens (they all had diabetes and one of them had a bad back). Even though we barely had enough money to eat, my father would always make sure our refrigerator was stocked to the absolute bourgeoning limit with Tuscan Whole Milk 1 Gallon. In fact, for several months we survived exclusively on Tuscan Whole milk, bypassing solid food altogether. And to be honest I can't remember a happier time in my life. When my wife asked me to describe my childhood on our first date, I looked up at her from across the table where we had been trying to enjoy a bottle of lobster port and said, "creamy." And you know what? Creamy sounded pretty good to her in comparison to that lobster port. Needless to say, we were married within a week.

  • Brian B. "justcause80" - Cream of the Crop

    2012 Topps Tribute is my favorite baseball card product of the year, already. In each pack, and each box contains 6 packs, you have a lucite-contained autograph or relic card numbered to 99 or fewer. Even the base set, while not trading for much, is beautiful and makes this a product that collectors will happily display proudly.

    Also look for Tribute to the Stars autographs numbered to 24. If you find one, Topps has a redemption program that allows for you to send that card to them an they'll ship it back to you along with a pack of 2011 Bowman Sterling cards. Don't be too confused; the Tribute to the Stars cards were intended to be an extra hit, but were instead put in as normal parallel inserts. I received one in one of my boxes, and it seems to have taken the place of a relic, rather than an auto, since mine came with 4 autos and 2 relics, rather than the 3 autos and 3 relics these boxes ship with.

    Overall, the value of this product is going to perform better, year after year, than others simply because it is a premium and more difficult to attain set. I give it 5 stars for quality, lasting valuation, centering, and chances of receiving some extremely valuable signatures from some of baseball's all time greats.