Sunday, 22 November 2009

Then There's This Asshole...

Back in the year 2005, one of my housemates got me to watch a show he was streaming online. It was called Bullshit! and it was my introduction to the modern sceptic movement. Even now when I see someone espousing nonsense, I clearly hear in my head Penn's voice saying "Then there's this asshole". So while it's preaching to the choir, I enjoy the show.

But fuck they can sometimes make a straw man.

Last night I watched the episode on world peace. And yes, there is a lot of bullshit to expose. But this episode promised something different, a way towards peace. So along the way, there's much laughs to be had at protesters on both the left and right - especially the left.

The premise is quite simple, most people want peace but really don't know what peace is. The word love keeps coming up, where really peace is a cessation of hostility. Thus the naivety of action leads to a misguided approach in order to stop it. Everything from dressing up and protesting to praying, it seems that the ones who want to take action just don't go about it in a way that's practical.

And what more, they have a socialist agenda. And as the man from the libertarian think tank says, socialism doesn't help foster piece. And then P&T did something I didn't expect, played the Hitler card. Motherfuckers!

But they thankfully didn't just attack the left, there's also the "support our troops" crowd on the right - the ones who think America is perfect and should do whatever it wants and whoever gets killed is incidental.

So there you have it. The assholes on the left want peace but are misguided as to how to go about it, and the assholes on the right are hawks. So what's the solution to all this?

Well it could be the UN, the United Nations was formed in order to foster peace. But look how that's gone. Peacekeeping troops raping children in Africa, veto powers for 5 nations on the security council who almost always are at odds with each other. Can you get the Russians and Chinese and Americans and British and French to agree on everything? Of course not. The UN is ineffective and because of the diplomatic immunity, when it does act there's always the possibility for corruption.

So we're fucked right? Well no. Penn and Teller have the solution, there's a means to foster interdependence between what would be otherwise hostile forces - money! A free market creates peace because it leads to a non-zero sum situation. Bastiat's Principle: "Where goods do not cross frontiers, armies will."

The shining example is the EU - the countries still hate each other but because of trade they cease hostility. So what's needed? Back to the guy in the suit: more free market and less regulation in the United States. Wait, what? I think I missed a step in there. Somehow the regulation in the United States is causing hostilities around the world?

The global financial crisis and the lack of regulation in the United States caused many to lose what Penn and Teller referred to as "the good life". That companies took advantages of loopholes, exploited the system to the maximum and it ruined many a life. Interdependence might have its downside too, it seems that the entire globe is now reeling from the corporate mess that plagued the American bank system.

And as for the EU, why not mention that there's plenty of quasi-socialist states operating together in the It's not just free market alone, it depends on the success of the states themselves and ultimately the quality of life for individuals.

It was downright deceptive to do this, and from all I can gather it's them pushing their own ideological agenda in, placing it as an incidental argument that sounds more appealing than the crazy espoused by the loopy left and the raging right. Contrast a middle aged woman wearing a pink crown with peace symbols over it with a guy in a suit and, well, the obvious.

In an earlier episode they admit to being "biased as fuck", which is fine. And they say they feel their honest about it. But how is it honest to present it in that fashion? But hey, it's their show. Present the free market in comparison to group who engage in an exorcism and, shit, I'm sold!

It's great that shows like Bullshit! exist, and perhaps because of what the show does is why I take such a reaction. After all, there's far worse crap being spewed by the average pundit on the airwaves and online. But to see them push their own political agenda in as if it was the only sceptically viable position, and to contrast that with the crazies...

...well that is bullshit.


Anti- said...

"The shining example is the EU - the countries still hate each other but because of trade they cease hostility."

Do you honestly believe that is the only reason why France hasn't invaded Belgium?

Kel said...

Nope, I don't. That was Penn & Teller's argument.

Intelligent Designer said...

The five member nations of the United Nations Security Council are also the five leading weapons exporters. How can they have a real interest in peace?