Sunday, May 07, 2006

impossible idiocy

physicist sean carroll of the blog cosmic variance reports the birth of a wrongness singularity in the blogiverse.

and just what is a wrongness singularity?

a statement is either wrong or it is not wrong ... by the conventional rules, n declarative statements can be wrong at most n times. by the pauli exclusion principle, you just can’t be more wrong than that!

to be wrong more than that should defy the laws of logic, but this is the right-wing blogiverse we're observing, so singularities are theoretically possible. carroll focuses his blogometer on reynolds' recent bloviations regarding u.s. energy policy in the middle east:

of course, if we seized the saudi and iranian oil fields and ran the pumps full speed, oil prices would plummet, dictators would be broke, and poor nations would benefit from cheap energy. but we’d be called imperialist oppressors, then.

four statements, four instances of preposterousness. (can we call these falsehoods prepostulates?):

  • prices would plummet — no, they wouldn’t. as it turns out, the saudi and iranian oil fields are running at very close to full capacity; any increase would be at most a perturbation.
  • dictators would be broke — not sure which dictators we’re talking about here — the ones we just deposed? in fact, dictators have shown a remarkable ability to not be broke even in countries without vast stores of oil wealth.

  • poor nations would benefit — because it’s really the poor countries that guzzle oil? this one baffles me.

  • we’d be called imperialist oppressors — now, in a strict sense this is not wrong. we would be called that. because invading sovereign countries in order to take over their natural resources is more or less the definition of imperialist oppression. however, reynolds’ implication is clearly that we should not be called imperialist oppressors, that it would somehow be unfair. which is crazy. so can we count that as wrong? yes!

so far, a straightforward proof. now, onto the hidden fifth element:

as tim lambert points out, instapundit managed to be wrong yet another time, by begging a question and then getting the wrong answer!
  • the subjunctive clause opening the first sentence cleverly slides from invading saudi arabia and iran to running pumps at full speed. actually not something that would happen in the reality-based world! as tim says, "yeah, because that’s pretty much the way it worked out in iraq."
so in fact, reynolds has managed to fit five units of wrongness into only four declarative statements! this is the hackular equivalent of crossing the chandrasekhar limit, at which point your blog cannot help but collapse in on itself. it is unknown at this point whether the resulting end state will be an intermediate neutron-blog phase, or whether the collapse will proceed all the way to a singularity surrounded by a black hole event horizon. we may have to wait for the neutrino signal to be sure.

the right-wing blogiverse: an endlessly fascinating place to visit, but i can't see how intelligent life could exist there.

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