"Never confuse an ought for an is, nor an is for an ought."
My attorney has long kept a slip of paper under the thick-tempered glass of his desktop that has written on it the sage advice, "Never confuse an ought for an is, nor an is for an ought." This stems from Hume's famous philosophical statement, "you cannot deduce an ought from an is."
Hume’s idea seems to be that you cannot deduce moral conclusions, featuring moral words such as ‘ought’, from non-moral premises, that is premises from which the moral words are absent. The passage is summed up in the slogan ‘No-Ought-From-Is’ (or NOFI for short) and for many people it represents the take-home message of Hume’s moral philosophy. It is sometimes rather grandly referred to as Hume’s Law.
No confusing an ought for an is, and vice versa, is much, much, more useful advice for us average Joe's, in my experience, than Hume's no deducing an ought from an is. I have noticed that the confusion of another person's is statement (objective/hypothesis or fact) for an ought statement (subjective/opinion or propaganda) is at the root of many arguments, both here in the comments on ZeroHedge, as well as out in polite society and even my marriage.
Take, for example, the case of James D. Watson, a Nobel Prize recipient for Physiology or Medicine in 1962, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, and author of the fantastic book, The Double Helix.
In October 2007, Watson told the Sunday Times in an interview that he was “gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.”
Since then, Watson has not been invited to give public lectures.
“Because I was an ‘unperson’ I was fired from the boards of companies, so I have no income, apart from my academic income,” he explained before auctioning off his Nobel Prize.
My take is that Watson, a scientist, made altruistic is statements, observations really, that were portrayed by the non-scientific media and interpreted by many as ought statements, or opinions, and so he was branded a racist, and black balled. This begs the following question, which is frequently asked on some freer forums, such as Zerohedge. Are facts racist? It seems to be dependent upon one's definition of racism.
According to the ADL:
Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics.
Belief? Have they watched the Olympic 100 meter finals? And I think their definition is missing a conjunction, intentionally so. And? But? Or?
What if it is not merely a belief, but a fact, that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, at least in regards to an objectively-measurable characteristic such as intelligence, or time to run a set distance?
Does the objective statement, "On average, Japanese score much higher on intelligence tests than Sub-Saharan Africans," make the speaker a racist?
Does the objective statement, "In general, blacks are far superior to Asians in a foot race," make the speaker a racist?
If it does, and these facts are indeed true, then is not anyone and everyone either a racist, or a denier of reality?
Do Watson's objective statements, "gloomy about the prospect of Africa,” because, “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really,” make him a racist?
The objectively provable truth of these statements indicates to me, at least, that the ADL's definition of a racist is either true for all instances of rational thinkers, thus we would all be racist, or nonsensical, and useless as a definition in either case.
In the beginning of Orwell's novel, 1984, the main character Winston writes that, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.” At the end of the novel, after being tortured, he sits at the cafe and writes, “2 + 2 = 5,” in the dust on his table.
When the forces of tyranny use such power, as it has with Watson (and Winston) in order to convince us that an is is really an ought (or 2+2=5), then it is no wonder that we are so often prone to confuse an ought for an is.
Back in high school, the 80's, I studied journalism and wrote for the school newspaper. In those days, I recall that the news stories were supposed to be objective (is statements) and kept separate from subjective opinion (ought statements), that were to only be found on the editorial page. However, it didn't take me long reading The New York Times to learn that this was simply not reality.
When I listened to NPR or so-called conservative talk radio, or watched television news, I noticed that the lines between news and opinion were at best very gray and blurry. When one reporter would interview another reporter for their opinions as a subject matter expert for a news story, I would wonder if they were evil propagandists, or just lazy journalists? After knowing many journalists, and reading Edward Bernays' book, Propaganda, my answer is probably a little bit of both.
Today, with social media and the internet, there simply are no lines separating news and opinion. Just look at ZeroHedge: no editorial section; no news section; no features section. It is entirely up to the individual to sort out the two.
Have you noticed that much of what is labeled as fake news, is actually opinion, and vice versa? This is important to recognize, as governments and statists push to eliminate fake news, they are really trying to eliminate opinion. I am looking at you, Mr. Zuckerburg and Mr. Brin. When the government gets to decide for the individual what is fact, and what is not, then liberty is lost.
I believe that this is a big part of why the First Amendment was placed at the top of the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Having read Bastiat, I understand that the Bill of Rights does not grant me my natural rights, but is clearly and only intended to protect these natural rights, especially if and when the government of the United State's of America is inclined to tyranny. Don't agree? Educate yourself.
hedgeless_horseman's Revolutionary Call to Arms:
11. Read, The Law, by Frédéric Bastiat.
12. Make a list of your natural rights.
13. Read, The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights.
So, much like the right to defend our liberty, as protected under the Second Amendment, we must also exercise our right to freedom of speech and peaceable assembly, as protected under the First Amendment.
To that end, I invite each of you to come to the Second ZeroHedge Symposium and Live Fight Club in Marfa, Texas, this June 1-3.
This year it is going to be a slightly different format. Once again, we have some amazing speakers, but we are also going to have more opportunity for all attendees to participate. If you have something to say, then you will have the chance to step up on the Paper Street Soap Box and say it. This is, after all, nothing more than a peaceful assembly of the people, and a great opportunity to practice differentiating between fact and opinion, which is one thing that Fight Club is really good at.
Feel free to email me if you want to discuss further: hedgeless @ protonmail .ch
As a reminder, there is no registration, no badges, and no charge to attend. If you want to remain anonymous, then you certainly may do so. Please, do not DOX attendees. We appreciate the Financial Times reporter abiding by this request, last year, and hope everybody follows suit.
Thanks to those of you that have already donated, and a request to those that have not to please do so now, so that we can pay for the meeting hall, the fantastic live music, and if anything is left over some really good mescal to go with the music on Saturday night. Weldon Henson is coming to play!
- LTC account: MGVkR2GVTtNCUgyN4n1Q2B4Y1yJdMdL1is
- BTC account: 3EbTJndVgViVi3jTdb3zJVxpuDBvYv5XeM
Once again, if you are not planning to camp out in the high desert, drive an RV, or sleep in the gutter or jail, then reserve a luxury suite, historic hotel room, teepee, yurt, trailer, or tent (and wood-fueled hot tub) at one of the few fine sleeping establishments within stumbling distance of the many fine bars in town. You better hurry! The most interesting and best accommodations all sold out last year.
We are going to officially kick off the Symposium at 12 noon on Friday, June 1st, again at the Marfa Activities Center, 105 North Mesa, Marfa, Texas, 79843. Although a few of us might be out at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center, Thursday night, after having spent the day touring The Chinati Foundation.
Here are a few other posts regarding this year's symposium:
We look forward to seeing y'all in a few weeks!
Peace, prosperity, love, and liberty,