HRW defends itself to its board: Substance or Rhetoric?

Apparently Ken Roth is sweating. Here he is, defending himself to his board about the Saudi scandal. Here’s where the rubber meets the road: Does he lie to and dissemble from his own people? Then you know he’s really afraid (and without substance). Actually, when you think of it, what’s worse: denying you’re unbalanced, or defending the imbalance as deliberate? Sort of Enderlin’s bad choices — is he a fool or a knave?

You be the judge: is this written by a man of integrity, or a kid caught with his hand in the Saudi cookie jar?

A number of recent media reports have suggested that Human Rights Watch has compromised its neutrality by meeting with potential donors at receptions in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. These reports are based on misleading assumptions and wrong facts. Human Rights Watch does not accept donations from any government. All of our US$44 million annual budget is raised from private individuals and foundations. Of that sum, almost 75% comes from North America and about 25% from Western Europe, with less than 1% from all other regions of the world combined. As an organization with a global mandate, we are naturally endeavoring to diversify our financial base and have begun to actively explore funding in regions as diverse as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Accordingly, Human Rights Watch staffers made presentations on our work to two private audiences in Saudi Arabia in May (as well as to audiences in Amman and Beirut). These were receptions in private homes, hosted by people who were interested in Human Rights Watch and who invited other guests to learn more about us. Among the guests at one of those receptions were the deputy head of the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia and a member of the Shura Council, a government-appointed consultative body. Neither of these individuals was solicited for funds, nor would Human Rights Watch ever accept funds from such officials, in any country. Government officials are, of course, important interlocutors for our advocacy on Saudi human rights policy. We seek to apply our rigorous methodology in an even-handed way to serious human rights violations wherever they occur. A key source of our credibility in talking to governments is that we are not singling them out for criticism but rather looking at similar issues in more than eighty countries.

At the receptions in Saudi Arabia, we discussed and answered questions about our work in Saudi Arabia, which includes coverage of women’s rights, the juvenile death penalty, domestic workers, and discrimination against religious minorities. No other human rights group has produced a more comprehensive, detailed and thorough body of work on Saudi Arabian human rights issues in recent years than Human Rights Watch.

The audience also heard a presentation about the situation in Gaza, which dominated worldwide headlines earlier this year and is naturally a matter of concern to those in the region who are interested in human rights. We feel Human Rights Watch distinguished itself with accurate, sober, and impartial work on the Gaza conflict in early 2009, including coverage of Israel’s use of white phosphorous , as well as Palestinian political violence during the conflict. We also discussed criticism leveled against Human Rights Watch, particularly by US-based groups and commentators, that we are biased against Israel. We sought, in part to juxtapose that criticism with the charges we face in much of the Middle East (and from some Western critics) that our US donor base makes us “soft” on Israeli human rights violations.

We reject the idea that an individual’s nationality, ethnicity or religion can be taken as a proxy for their political or ideological beliefs or that the backgrounds of our supporters influence our
coverage. By the same token, no assumption should ever be made that a Saudi citizen’s support for human rights reflects or is captive of Saudi government policy. Human Rights Watch is eager and delighted to find supporters of the human rights ideal – financial or otherwise – in any and all countries of the world. To draw such communities into an active, international network is an important part of our mission and does not impair our political neutrality. It threatens no-one but the human rights violators we seek to expose.

There are a number of what seem to be linked items in the letter, but I can’t get the URLs.

45 Responses to HRW defends itself to its board: Substance or Rhetoric?

  1. Lorenz Gude says:

    Well, concern for human rights is a Western concern and if his budget figures are honest that is where most of the money comes from. So I think it is a stretch to think HRW has a ‘hand in the Saudi cookie jar’. That said I don’t trust the whole human rights ‘narrative’ because it seems to me that it is an unbalanced post colonial movement. As we have discussed here recently what the Sri Lankan government just did to finish the Tamil Tigers was indeed a massive violation of human rights. There certainly was an ineffective campaign to restrain the Sri Lankan government coming from the ‘human rights community’ – mostly from the same places HRW gets its moola. But since it wasn’t a Western government involved it didn’t amount to much. I’ll respect the human rights activists when they show that they care about the rights of say ordinary Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamils from the likes of the Tamil Tigers. Or Israelis and Palestinians from the likes of Hamas and the PLO.

  2. oao says:

    i am not entirely sure how afraid he is. the atmosphere is such these days that probably nothing is gonna happen.

  3. Cynic says:

    It is about time that people realised that “Human Rights” has become a cliche; a banner with which to bash some while the blatant hypocrisy at play ignores real rights of humans.
    Just taking the situation of medical care in Britain for example one witnesses the blatant disregard for the rights of humans to receive proper health care from the the system forced on them by their government, the older they get (e.g. over 55 hip replacement is not considered cost effective).
    Breast mastectomy, for cancer, considered “elective” surgery for woman in Australia so not available to her under the health plan.
    Human and Rights are relative in today’s world where hypocrisy is riding the crest.

  4. RedPencil says:

    These reports are based on misleading assumptions and wrong facts.

    An interesting and perhaps revealing misuse of English… he doesn’t say “mistaken information” just that the reports use the “wrong facts”. As oppose to the “right facts” which of course are the only “facts” used by HRW.

  5. Lorenz Gude says:

    Cynic,

    I have lived in Australia for 30+ years and that is the first time I have heard of mastectomy being elective. I have MD and nurse friends and I’ll check, but if it were the case there would be great controversy. That said, I have experienced an HMO like tendency to limit service. I have an irregular heart and MDs here seem a bit too quick to rule out surgery because of the higher risk. On the other hand I had a necessary kidney stone surgery and woke up to a ring of nurses anxiously engaging me in conversation – transparently even to my anesthetic addled brain – to see if I still had all my marbles. When they saw a moment too late that I was functioning just fine they changed their tune. My nursing friends agree that I probably died on the table and I have to admit the ‘rationing based excuses’ I get for not doing surgery have a real basis. :-) Australia spends 8.5% of GDP on medical care while the US figure is 16.5%. The Australian public system is run like a big HMO with careful cost monitoring and that has a downside. The US system in uneven depending on how much you can afford. Given the choice I’d rather have top US insurance and access to places like the Mayo clinic. As an ordinary pensioner of limited means I am much better off in Australia where I have full access to both the private and public systems. I voluntarily carry private insurance which costs me about U$1000 a year in addition to the mandatory Medicare levy (which is much less at my income levels) which gives access to the public system. So if I want to press for elective surgery I have the alternative of the private system. Either way it is a big mistake to become mentally dependent on the heath care system – it does not maintain your good health if you are lucky enough to have it – good diet and exercise come first.

  6. Cynic says:

    Lorenz,

    There was a public outcry that eventually forced surgery after a delay of several months, this from a visiting Australian with whom I was discussing medical care costs and quality of treatment of different plans in different countries.
    I had no reason to doubt his comments.

  7. Cynic says:

    Lorenz,

    To get back to the thread, sort of:
    The Australian public system is run like a big HMO with careful cost monitoring and that has a downside.

    This illustrates that Human Rights in today’s world is dependent on political, financial and age considerations which demonstrates that the Rights for a Human are not universal nor equal.
    It has been reduced to a political club, basically.

  8. oao says:

    it does not matter what the system is, the rich get high quality, often wasteful healthcare and the lower classes get low quality, rationed care.

    the rest is conversation.

  9. Lorenz Gude says:

    Cynic,

    That’s sounds more like it. If there is a delay in the system on essential surgery the press gets on it and there is an outcry. As we all know breast cancer needs to be acted on quickly and is a hot button issue. Elective surgery is another matter and delays are often lengthy in the Australian public health system. I know a person of ample means who waited years for a gall bladder operation because they refused to buy private insurance. We had a labor PM – Paul Keating – who encouraged this kind of behavior by refusing to have private insurance himself. The government has since given taxpayers a break if they buy private insurance.

    I don’t think human rights are universal or equal in practice. In my own case medically my heart condition can be treated by drugs or an expensive, risky operation. I accept that I get the drugs so someone who absolutely needs a bypass can get it. And I think oao’s description of a medical system is the way we will end up – a minimal safety net for everyone, and a tiered private system for those with the ability to pay. (By we I mean Australia – I have little faith in the US Congress’s ability to design a rational system – or reduce the 16.5% of GDP the US is spending on medicine.) The reason I think that is a MD friend who is a refugee from the British national health system (there are a lot in Australia) points out that there is always more you can do medically and if you are not careful you will end up spending 150% of GDP. Finally, I think the whole human rights narrative is based on the socialist notion of equality of outcomes and so I don’t trust it. (To get back to the thread!) It often isn’t about the outcomes so much as it is about the do gooders – who love to do things like go to Africa and live in precisely the same way as former colonialists while spouting post colonial rot. Or reform the medical system on behalf of poor folks etc. Or whatever.

  10. oao says:

    That’s sounds more like it. If there is a delay in the system on essential surgery the press gets on it and there is an outcry.

    really? there’s tons of serious delays in the US that ou never hear about; and even when the press sometimes reveals it, nothing much happens; there is a lot of heat and no solution.

    private insurance is not a solution for the low strata of society which in a recession like now grow. and this is precisely the time when the public healthcare cuts funds.

    I accept that I get the drugs so someone who absolutely needs a bypass can get it.

    but are you representative? and would you base the system on individuals to decide what you do? and will that really solve the problem?

    I have little faith in the US Congress’s ability to design a rational system – or reduce the 16.5% of GDP the US is spending on medicine.)

    why should they? they have a wonderful public system they devised for themselves and when asked to extend it to the public they said “fu”. it’s so much easier to cut funds when you’re not affected by it.

    The reason I think that is a MD friend who is a refugee from the British national health system (there are a lot in Australia) points out that there is always more you can do medically and if you are not careful you will end up spending 150% of GDP.

    indeed. that’s why the system is set up the way it is (a) public system for politicians (b) private system for the rich (c) another public system for everybody else. now you can do medically the max possible in a and b and ration in c.

    Or reform the medical system on behalf of poor folks etc. Or whatever.

    bingo. this is what the reform is about in the US: screwing most of the population so that a minority can do well.

  11. Ray in Seattle says:

    It’s interesting to find some here who seem so solidly in the conservative camp complain about the inadequacy of government-provided health care – so bitterly that they describe the standards-of-care rules in that system as violations of human rights – if everyone doesn’t automatically have access to every procedure.

    I don’t want to get into a health-care coverage debate but isn’t that like the Arabs complaining about Israel’s existence because the ultra-orthodox have in the past objected to Israeli gay-rights parades?

  12. Eliyahu says:

    I see your point Ray, that –in your hypothesis– Arabs would be pointing to intolerance by some Jews of a gay rights parade as a way of calling Israel intolerant, opposed to rights of gays, etc. However, you picked the wrong issue. In fact, this issue of a gay parade united religious Jews, Muslims and Christians. The current Mufti of Jerusalem or some other leading Muslim cleric AND a leading Roman Catholic cleric –maybe the papal nuncio– and a leading rabbi got together at a press conference a few years ago to oppose a gay parade here in Jerusalem. See, there are some things that bring almost everyody together.

  13. Ray in Seattle says:

    Eliyahu, Yes, after I posted that I wondered if there wasn’t a better issue to illustrate my point. But, at least you got it ;-)

    It’s interesting to me that the three major religions can have such a universal contempt for “God’s work” in this regard, yet primitive tribal societies such as native Americans historically had no trouble accommodating whatever sexual / gender variations their children grew to be – giving them approved and respected roles in their society.

    Don’t read too much into what I’m saying since I haven’t thought that much about it but it also seems that the more conservative the religion the greater the anti-gay contempt. I suspect there’s something going on there psychologically that’s related to antisemitism. I asked before but got no response when I asked if others here had read Kozinski’s “The Painted Bird”. It’s a novel in the best sense of illuminating human nature and it deals with those issues.

  14. oao says:

    that they describe the standards-of-care rules in that system as violations of human rights – if everyone doesn’t automatically have access to every procedure.

    as usual you are so focused emotionally on criticizing conservatism that you miss the point. it’s not that kind of access that is the issue. it’s that (a) govt is incompetent in providing anything, as most public healthcare systems demonstrate (b) such systems drastically ration access to most of the population while allowing the elite, including the politicians, the kind of access that you deplore.

    there are currently 2 public heathcare systems in the US: one for the three branches of govt and one for the increasing number of plebos who don’t get it through jobs, the access and quality of care is extremely low (i know because i am in it). one of the 1st thing congress is doing is keeping its own system by excluding itself from the reformed system, while trying to prohibit that system from permitting access of the plebos to non-rationing alternative.

    there is malice in that.

  15. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao, stop for a minute and think about my comment. I was not criticizing conservatism. I was criticizing the fault that seems to have raised your ire – inequities in the delivery of care, esp that some do not get enough publicly supported health care.

    I found that ironic. I was not criticizing “conservatives” as you claim. As I’ve said before, I think well-thought-out views of both conservatives and liberals on these issues are worth considering and both probably contain some truth in them.

    If it seems that I’m jumping on conservatives here I’m just having some fun and providing some balance. Some conservatives seem to be so emotionally committed to their beliefs that they could not possibly accept that any liberal view on such matters is worth their mental effort to understand (i.e. everything about Obama’s health care proposals must be corrupt and fraudulent and its only purpose is to make dem politicians and their rich donors richer while denying health care to those who actually need it).

    I just think it’s all pretty entertaining, so I commented. Cheers

  16. oao says:

    i can only reiterate: tiresome.

  17. oao says:

    Some conservatives seem to be so emotionally committed to their beliefs

    i had figured quite a long time ago that your “theory” is nothing but projection from yourself to others.

    that they could not possibly accept that any liberal view on such matters is worth their mental effort to understand

    these are not liberal views, they are leftist views. and those have overwhelmingly been proven wrong and damaging in history. lefties just don’t learn from history because of their emotional wishful thinking about the world, rather than accept reality.

    and pls don’t be like alibama, trying to pass yourself as some sort of neutral, “above” the fray. it does not work.

  18. Ray in Seattle says:

    It’s amazing that every sentence in your typical comment can be so full of errors. I’m not complaining about that. Just pointing it out . . and using it as evidence of how the ideological mind works. Input is skewed to support the ideological position even before it is considered. And the only possible result of any consideration will always support the ideology as well.

    Just FYI – I take definitions such as liberal, conservative, leftist, progressive, RW, etc. with a grain of salt, esp. when uttered by a member of the far edges of those sub-cultures. First, they all defines them differently. Second, they tend to move the boundaries to justify their current rant. Like when someone says that “those (leftist views) have overwhelmingly been proven wrong and damaging in history.”

    Most of the free world provides health care for all their citizens and most provide better care at much less cost, per taxpayer. The only place such facts have “overwhelmingly been proven wrong and damaging” is in the fevered minds of some RW ideologues who can’t stand the idea that governments in countries economically to the left us are providing better health care, providing it for all their citizens and they’re doing it for half the cost. That sucks for you doesn’t it?

    But the really interesting part for me is that comments yours sit right up there with Palestinain claims that Israel is spiking chewing gum with aphrodisiacs. Both are equally devoid of any rational basis and are based on what satisfies your ideological beliefs – that “leftists” and “Jews” respectively – are corrupt contemptible people who will lie and deceive the “innocent” and “pure” in order to gain power and riches at their expense. You both will believe that no matter what factual counter-evidence is provided. And you both will believe that anyone who disagrees with you has a devious intention to lie and discredit you and your “honest” beliefs of which you are absolutely certain. There is not the smallest doubt in your minds.

    That’s what I find interesting, not the health care debate.

  19. oao says:

    i gotta find the discipline to ignore you. it’s just that i don’t want lurkers to think that you should be taken at face value.

  20. Ray in Seattle says:

    Suggestion: Ignore me. Have you considered that the lurkers might be smart enough to make up their own minds without your assistance? Or that they might agree with my views even more after reading your criticisms?

    But whatever. Why not try to have a respectful dialogue? We can disagree without insulting each other (or the groups that we accuse each other of belonging to). I know I can do that but can you?

  21. oao says:

    Have you considered that the lurkers might be smart enough to make up their own minds without your assistance? Or that they might agree with my views even more after reading your criticisms?

    you just criticized me for not considering the possibility that liberal positions may have merit and now you expect people to agree with you without the benefit of counter positions. ah, well, inconsistency makes life so much more convenient.

    what is more, there is a contradiction in these 2 senstences of yours. i will leave it to the smart lurkers to figure it out.

    Why not try to have a respectful dialogue?

    respect for arguments is not automatic, it must be earned. say something worthy of respect and you’ll earn it.

    i often disagree with others here. when the arguments deserve it, i respect them; when they don’t, i don’t.

    you automatically disincentivize me when you reveal lack of consistency; when you have one explanation for almost everything, which ends up being a tautology; and when you make universal claims of which you exclude yourself.

  22. oao says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-dQfb8WQvo

    yet when asked about his own family, alibama rejected such policy.

  23. Ray in Seattle says:

    Couldn’t stay away could you? First, you say:

    you just criticized me for not considering the possibility that liberal positions may have merit and now you expect people to agree with you without the benefit of counter positions. ah, well, inconsistency makes life so much more convenient.

    No, I don’t expect “people” to agree with me. I suggested that they might agree with me more so after reading your argument, than before. There is no inconsistency there. Where is that trained scholastic mind that understands complex logical argument at a deeper level than all the “ignorant idiots” out there? I have yet to see any evidence of it. You can get the simplest things totally wrong – and in almost every comment you do.

    I’ll pass on trying to explain the difference between disrespect and disagreement again.

    You say, you automatically disincentivize me when you reveal lack of consistency; when you have one explanation for almost everything,

    You do realize the contradiction in there don’t you? How can I be inconsistent while having one explanation for almost everything? Which is it?

    You say further, and when you make universal claims of which you exclude yoursel

    You’ve made that accusation before without showing any evidence. I’ve made a lot of comments in this forum. Let’s see you find one where I excluded myself from my views on human nature. (I don’t expect you to do so because there aren’t any – but also because it is very much your way to make accusations and then not back them up or retract them.)

    See, this is why I suspect that some lurkers are more likely to see the sensibility in my views on human nature after you provide such clear evidence in support of them in your comments.

    It’s not about you or me. It’s about human nature and how it applies to members of different cultures in conflict. I think my views of human nature as regards the strength of identity belief on behavior – provide a useful way to see some parts of that esp. dealing with honor / shame, which is a theme of discussion in this forum. If you disagree with me in some non-trivial way, and it’s important to you, why not provide a good argument for why I may be more wrong than right? You have not, so far as I can see.

    BTW, your “tautology” argument makes no sense in this context. All discussions of human nature are left with self-referential causes that have no proof, as such. For example, people lie because they prefer lying over telling the truth. Arabs hate Jews because they consider Jews to be deserving of their hatred (for various reasons). When dealing with causes of human behavior, enlightenment can only be found by going below that surface tautology and asking what mechanisms might cause those beliefs to exist in someone’s mind and have control over their behavior. That’s what my views try to address.

    I’m not trying to “prove” something any more than RL is trying to “prove” that Pals are driven by honor / shame passions to attack Jews or that Westerners suffer from cognitive-egocentrism. He is offering some possible mechanisms worthy of consideration and discussion that are no less self-referential than mine – as would any discussion of the causes of behavior.

    But you are not disagreeing with me; you are saying that my views are not worthy of consideration and discussion. That’s just a way to put someone’s ideas down without the need to offer any justification that could be refuted. I call that intellectual cowardice.

  24. [...] defense to their board, Ken Roth, speaking for the organization in the royal “we”, made the following point. We were talking not to the Saudi government (although they did admit there was at least one [...]

  25. oao says:

    you might want to read the piece on my site on diarrhetic replies.

  26. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao, You might want to consider how absurd it is for someone to make their argument by dumping a string of links into their comments. I never click those and I’ve never been to your site that I can remember.

    If you can’t trouble yourself to make a coherent statement of your views in your comments why should anyone go to extra effort to try to interpret your views through some link to another site.

  27. oao says:

    You might want to consider how absurd it is for someone to make their argument by dumping a string of links into their comments. I never click those and I’ve never been to your site that I can remember.

    no, the absurdity is in pushing everywhere a trivial “explanation” which cannot be falsified. and it is not my fault that you don’t comprehend how and why the links are to evidence for arguments in context. sometimes the relevance is more subtle, but hey, weren’t you the one claiming that the readers are smart enough to judge for themselves?

    If you can’t trouble yourself to make a coherent statement of your views in your comments why should anyone go to extra effort to try to interpret your views through some link to another site.

    well, apparently you are not one of them but that does not mean i am not coherent. fact is i try to be succinct, which you probably cannot be.

  28. oao says:

    btw, i could not give a ff if you click on my links or visit my site or not. i only suggested it to aid your comprehension and to avoid doing here what you are doing: loooooooooooong posts.

  29. oao says:

    http://www.freedomslighthouse.com/2009/07/fox-news-investigates-possible-patient.html

    you see, ray, i am giving consideration to liberal ideas of healthcare.

  30. oao says:

    on the liberal multiculti liberals:

    http://www.democracybroadcastingnews.com/2009/07/pat-condell-redresses-liberal-left-for.html

    btw, his background is similar to mine. one reason why we’re not willing to consider liberal left positions.

  31. Ray in Seattle says:

    Hey oao, re: #34:

    Pat Condell is one my favorites. I agree pretty much with everything he said in that video which I first viewed a couple of days ago.

    He said two things in there that you should think about.

    One, he identified his target for criticism as members of the “liberal intelligentsia” who hold certain views about Islam. He did not say that he rejects all liberal left views, much less all the views of anyone who identifies as a liberal left or a liberal. So, he uses labels but only after he qualifies what he means by them. That’s smart IMO.

    The other thing he said was that their “cringeworthy cowardice in the face of aggressive Islamism has caused many liberal-minded people to actively despise the word liberal”. You see, that would pretty much be me.

  32. oao says:

    He did not say that he rejects all liberal left views, much less all the views of anyone who identifies as a liberal left or a liberal.

    1st, that he did not does not imply that somebody else should

    but 2nd, i have liberal views in certain areas. the problem is that today’s liberal left is an utter fake. they would not know true liberalism if it bit them on the ass.

    The other thing he said was that their “cringeworthy cowardice in the face of aggressive Islamism has caused many liberal-minded people to actively despise the word liberal”. You see, that would pretty much be me.

    so? that would be me too and pretty much everybody with half a brain.

    you gotta stop belaboring under the nonsense that I criticize your arguments because I am a conservative.

  33. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao said: so? that would be me too and pretty much everybody with half a brain.

    you gotta stop belaboring under the nonsense that I criticize your arguments because I am a conservative.

    You need to stop belaboring under the nonsense that brains have something to do with it. I think you really believe that conservatives are smart and liberals are idiots – based on your own words repeated here many times.

    That’s not a framework that comes from any observation of human nature. It comes from wanting to believe that those who agree with you are intelligent and those who don’t are dumb – because that feels so damned good. You’re not unintelligent. Your ideology shuts off your brain in some topic areas is all. But don’t feel bad. Politically oriented blogs are filled with those who accept that truth – on both sides.

    I’m sure you saw how ineptly Yaacov handled himself. He barely understood what he was saying much less what I was saying. I went to read some of his articles. His blog drips ideology but anyone could see that it would from his few comments here. He’s a smart articulate guy who is devoted to his ideology. I don’t hold that against him. I’m sure like-minded souls appreciate him immensely and so he has a rep to maintain. I wish him well. I just don’t find that kind of life-mission very interesting. Most political blogs that identify as liberal are as bad or worse.

    I think Pat Condell would not be so foolish as to believe that only those who agree with him are smart. I don’t think Pat Condell is an ideologue, yet he is very passionate – maybe sardonic is a better word for it.

  34. Ray in Seattle says:

    Clarifying #38: Where I said:

    You need to stop belaboring under the nonsense that brains have something to do with it.

    I should have said intelligence instead of brains. Of course, strong emotion happens in the brain too. But you probably knew what I meant.

    Where I said, Politically oriented blogs are filled with those who accept that truth – on both sides.

    I should have put truth in quotes, as in: Politically oriented blogs are filled with those who accept that “truth” – on both sides.

    I was too tired last nite when I wrote that.

  35. Ray in Seattle says:

    And adding:

    Where you said, you gotta stop belaboring under the nonsense that I criticize your arguments because I am a conservative.

    I don’t criticize your arguments, such as your views about what education is/should be and why education being not what it should be produces people who lack thinking skills as the underlying cause of growing leftist views in the West – because you are a conservative, either.

    I figure that no matter why you have that belief, it either will or will not, survive a logical challenge. It doesn’t seem right to me so I challenge it by asking you to explain counter-evidence – such as how come so many leftists like Chomsky, Walt, Mearscheimer, etc. are PhD graduates (which requires advanced thinking skills) and exhibit no obvious intellectual deficiencies – other than they totally disagree with you. You ignore that challenge or insult me for posing it.

    When you challenge my views you don’t do that. You say they are “nonsense”, that you don’t “respect” my views, that you “don’t have to respect nonsense”, that I don’t have a sufficient education to understand “falsification”, etc. Those are forms of insult not logical challenges. That makes me believe that your objections are ideological rather than logical. The committed ideologue feels it’s degrading to have to logically justify their “true” beliefs to non-believers and are on a mission to insult and degrade them publicly. I’d point out that you engage in almost no logical justification of your ideas here but your comments are quite full of insults for anyone who doesn’t agree with your ideology.

    If your objections were logical you should have no trouble explaining why you think my views are not falsifiable or are tautological, in some detail. I think you are wrong about that but I’d be happy to listen. If your objections were not ideologically driven I also think you’d make some effort to actually understand what my views are. But you’re stuck on this caricature (straw-man) of non-falsifiability / tautology.

    That frustrates me because I really like it when smart articulate people disagree with me. It tests my beliefs which I think should be able to survive the test or I should change them. I hate to see such an opportunity lost to rancor and insults where I’m forced to defend my honor rather than my ideas. It’s disappointing.

    The internet is a really cool place to test beliefs. Sitting at my desk I can be having a discussion about philosophy or world politics or behavior science with someone sitting at a cafe in Tel Aviv or London. It’s degrading, I think, to squander such an opportunity by using it to engage in blog-combat over ideology. But I also understand why ideologues would see the chance to humiliate their enemies as the opportunity not to be squandered and civil discussion a waste of their time. And so why do I keep trying to deal with this and not just leave? I guess I find the topics that RL and folks like Stu Green and some other commenters here bring up to be very interesting and I don’t know of anyplace else this is happening where I can learn new stuff and also participate in the discussion.

    Remember, I really like when smart people disagree with me. Why waste the valuable teaching moment by attacking me personally?

  36. Ray in Seattle says:

    Sorry about the italics above. In case anyone doesn’t know, Google Reader seems to terminate italics html tags for you at the end of each paragraph if you don’t. The only drawback to Google Reader is it loses the comment numbers for some reason.

  37. oao says:

    ray,

    i don’t read your long treaties. if you want my attention, be succinct. the ratio between value and reading time is too skewed to justify the latter.

  38. Ray in Seattle says:

    I’m not aware we ever signed a treaty. I thought we were still at war ;-)

  39. oao says:

    aw, c’mon, is that your best try at humor?

  40. krulayar says:

    ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY IS ALREADY ON EARTH !!!

    The sigh of His arrival: A face in the sky video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_OAauYfPwE

    For details:
    Please stop in http://manaalmahdi.wordpress.com
    Please refer to someone incharge fitted whatever doctrine you are.
    This is an exceptionally distinguished essence fitted all mankind.

    Thanks,
    Krulayar

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