Category Archives: Politics

Don’t be shy, Nigel

It’s a strange thing.

He’s finally achieved his triumph. After all this time!

I expected to see Nigel Farage jumping about all over the place pointing out to us all the benefits we are now enjoying in the sunny uplands of Brexitland.

And making sure we’re in no doubt that it is he, Nigel Farage, whom we must thank for our immense good fortune.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage in 2017 [Photo: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA]

So where are you, Nigel?

© Chris Lawrence 2021

Tangerine trees and marmalade skies

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

It’s time for some concrete examples of over-belief.

We’ve looked at the mayhem Clifford’s ship owner caused.

And we can easily think of other clearly immoral cases, for example dismissing entire communities as subhuman because of ethnicity or cultural characteristics; or assuming someone is a terrorist just from their appearance.

This is our evidence principle so far:

[EP3] If anything is morally wrong, then it is morally wrong to believe anything, within the category of descriptive belief, on insufficient evidence, in the absence of any conflicting and overriding moral imperative.

Antisemitic Nazi propaganda poster in Lithuanian language
Antisemitic Nazi propaganda poster in Lithuanian, 1941
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Would you Adam and Eve it?

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

We finished last time with the opening paragraph of William Clifford’s The Ethics of Belief.1

This tells his keynote story of the passenger ship owner who manages to overcome his doubts as to whether his ship is actually seaworthy. He does this not by having her overhauled and refitted but by trusting in Providence.

The ship sails and then sinks in mid-ocean.

Is the ship owner guilty of the death of passengers and crew? Undoubtedly.

JMW Turner The Shipwreck
J M W Turner: The Shipwreck
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April 1 is coming early

This is from the Daily Telegraph website 14 January 2021, by someone called Jonathan Saxty:

We Brexiteers are being blamed for the problems we warned about

In reality, fault lies squarely with the Government and poor planning

As problems mount for UK businesses, both in dealing with mainland Europe and regarding Northern Ireland, don’t be surprised if Brexit and Brexiteers get the blame for what is a failure of Government, as the possibility of reintegration via the backdoor looms. Many businesses are reporting difficulties adapting to the post- Brexit trading landscape, with the Federation of Small Businesses claiming many small firms have not had the time, money or clarity to prepare. German logistics group DB Schenker became the latest parcels operator to suspend cross-border delivery, following a similar move by DPD. How did the Government not anticipate…

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Banging on

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

Last time I explained why I think it’s so important to have a workable principle of good and safe believing.

In short, it’s because we need an antidote for the kind of fake news which led to the storming of the Capitol building, and for the kind of unjustified religious belief which led to 9/11 and the Spanish Inquisition.

Trump supporters storm Capitol building, Washington DC
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Taken for a mug

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

The last few articles (from Fake news and the ethics of belief to If only) have been getting increasingly technical.

It would be unfortunate if this meant losing sight of why I think this stuff about belief and evidence matters.

I am therefore going to backtrack a bit and, at risk of repetition, spell out what for me is the point of all this.

Thank God for President Trump
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Vuvuzela for the NHS

It’s 8pm Thursday. Time to clap for the NHS. Thing is ours is a street of terraced houses on one side facing a primary school on the other, not tower blocks with packed balconies. So clapping doesn’t quite do it on its own.

Saucepan lids help of course. But this Thursday I remembered one of our souvenirs from 20 years in Cape Town: the vuvuzela:

vuvuzela
Vuvuzela
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When in doubt, answer a different question

When politicians are asked a question they don’t want to answer you expect them to employ their usual tactic. This is to answer a different question, one they are happy to answer, and hope no one notices.

But it’s not only politicians who do this.

On BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions 10 April 2020 there were two politicians and two non-politicians. About 34 minutes into the program Jill Morris from Stafford asked what I thought was a very interesting question:

Does the coronavirus prove that God does not exist?

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