If you want me to take you seriously....

W. C. Fields is alleged to have said, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."1 If I've referred you to this page, there's a real good chance I'm not dazzled. Here are some really basic ideas on ways to avoid leading me to take you unseriously:

  1. Quoting unintelligible writings, such as those by Michel Foucault and other post-modernists, does not show that you actually understand those texts. Because such texts are unintelligible, it is highly likely that you do not understand those texts. And if this is indeed the case, then your arguments are, in fact, a form of appeal to authority.

  2. You have not progressed very far in your atheism when you substitute a human for an unverifiable deity. You have progressed even less far when you deny worshiping that being but gush over his or her every fart.

  3. If you're going to scream about the right to dissent when the Supreme Court hands down a decision affirming same-sex marriage rights,2 it would help if you had supported people's rights to dissent from your religion.

  4. If you will assert that the people should be permitted to rule themselves, it will not help if you imagine corporations to be more deserving of human rights,3 and therefore to be more human, than the people themselves.

  5. If you would complain about believers in Christianity or any other religion, it would help if you were more critical of the ideology of neoliberalism, so-called "free" markets, the "invisible hand," and "trickle-down" by any other name.4

  6. Sorry, if you publicize and market yourself predominantly as a 'sex object,' you have no cause for complaint when you are objectified, even when and if you become pregnant.5

  7. Fig. 1. Labor Force Participation and Employment during Barack Obama's presidency, from Bureau of Labor Statistics data If you're going to post crap about what a great job Barack Obama has done as president, then where's my job (figure 1)? I'm not interested in your excuses or his—they won't pay my rent. Where's my job? Also see number 22 below.

    President [Barack] Obama has been an unusually strong helper and supporter of Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton, and this is assumed to be linked to interest in his legacy. Successful presidents tend to be followed by presidents from their own party. But it is more than legacy, or loyalty. It is a desire to avoid humiliation. If Mr. [Donald] Trump wins, voters will be saying more than that Mr. Obama’s leadership didn’t quite work. They’ll be saying he was such a failure that they lurched desperately toward someone who’d blow the whole system up. Mr. Trump’s election would be a stinging rebuke, one for the history books. Mr. Obama will give everything he has to keep that from happening.6

    In the event, Donald Trump won, apparently due in no small part to the fact that I am not alone.7

    So here's a hint: If you're whining about the alleged 'fascism' (a poorly defined term) brought to us by Trump, you should have been as concerned about the neoliberal 'fascism' already directed at the poor.

  8. A serious intellectual endeavor does not begin with the question, how can I justify what somebody said?

  9. Your restaurant review will have a great deal more credibility if you wait until the place is actually open before posting it. (Yes, I actually encountered this with Amy's Drive Thru in Rohnert Park.)

  10. If you're going to worry about earthquakes, then don't move to a region along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

  11. For a few decades, significant segments of academia succumbed to a notion that, in the oft-repeated words of Isaac Catt, a short-lived Communication department chair at California State University, East Bay, during the time I was pursuing my master's degree, "If it isn't hard to understand, you aren't learning anything." Which is to say first, that academia was no longer a place for learning; second, that it had rather become a place for excusing professors from having to explain obscurantist bullshit; third, it had become a place for blaming  or intellectually bullying students for not understanding said bullshit; and fourth, it had become a place for immunizing alleged scholarship from critical examination. Academia has mostly moved on but some students still think they can get away with this crap. I'll give you a hint: Not even Catt accepted it from me (and I still, all these years later, even now that I've finished my Ph.D., think he's a hypocrite).

  12. Your essays need to demonstrate a clear understanding of the terminology you use and argue logically from substance. Great names are not a substitute for substance because it is what people do or say that makes them great.

  13. When you post ill-informed comments (often memes) on our political and economic system (see my list of essays on this topic, which follows) which you cannot or will not defend, you have already crossed whatever "boundary" you may claim to set against my supplying a better-informed perspective.

  14. No, your Ph.D. does not immunize you from challenge. And if you think it does, you're acting like you don't even have a master's.

  15. No form of software, artistic, or intellectual freedom appears in the form of licensing. Licensing acknowledges 'property' rights, property is domination, and when you cede domination of your mind to anyone else, you are only 'free' in Orwellian terms.

  16. No, declining to participate in a fraudulent electoral system does not mean giving up one's right to complain about it.

  17. I have seen "magical thinking" understood in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) as the imagination that things can be the way you want them to be through the act of believing that they are so.8 This fairly obviously includes such New Age scams as "The Secret" with its "Law of Attraction." And what it amounts to is a way of shirking one's responsibility to help fellow humans by, in effect, blaming them for not thinking the right way, that is, "being negative" or being insufficiently "positive."
    Chip Dunham, December 26, 2016, via GoComics, fair use.

  18. Conservatives really are authoritarians9 and, while the relationship between ideology and attachment style is somewhat less than perfect,10 they generally express insecure attachment issues.11 They devalue empirical evidence in favor of so-called 'transcendent' knowledge, which is to say, they knowingly and persistently engage in the naturalistic fallacy. Worse, they celebrate the suffering their ideology imposes as "God's will" or in the name of the market.12

  19. Dominant paradigms are no substitute for actual evidence: Sounding 'reasonable' or adopting 'middle-of-the-road' positions does nothing more than kowtow to the status quo.

  20. When we speak of improvements in the conditions of subaltern people that are alleged to have transpired since any given date, we must subdivide the matter first into the ways in which bigotry has been institutionalized and second into its underlying attitudes. I might concede that there have probably been improvements in the former in some cases for some subaltern groups, but I am less certain about the latter.

  21. I see absolutely no reason to engage with idiots for free. Especially when they're employed and I'm not.

  22. Given a false dichotomy, such as that between a protofascist Donald Trump13 and a neoliberal14 warmongering15 Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, that both of these choices are in their own way murderous on a mass scale, and that both would perpetuate an economic policy that dooms me to continued unemployment, I do not see and will not recognize a "lesser of evils." Those who insist that we must vote for one or the other of these candidates must 1) provide a compelling answer to why I do not vote, and 2) explain how such a vote does not support criminal behavior. Also see number 7 above.
    Ted Rall, October 10, 2016, via GoComics, fair use.

  23. No one's demagoguery licenses others to do the same.

  24. It is an ad hominem attack if someone rejects your argument because of who you are or who they think you are rather than because of what you say.16 It is not an ad hominem attack just because you've made an ass of yourself and you want to blame somebody who called you out for it.

  25. Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, and Vladimir Lenin were not communists. They were authoritarian socialists. True communism means egalitarianism, not authoritarianism; cooperation, not central planning;17 and the absence of property rather than state ownership.

  26. It should be painfully obvious that to accuse whites of racism simply because they are white; or males of misogyny, simply because they are male; or white males of privilege, simply because they are white and male is 1) its own form of bigotry; 2) an attempt not to persuade or to secure an alliance but rather to humiliate and silence; and 3) a refusal to acknowledge grievances stemming from other forms of oppression, especially including class. Which is to say that these accusers want not social equality but instead to be tyrants on their own terms. See #27 below.

  27. Before opening your mouth about alleged white or male privilege or some combination of the two, you'd better have a real job for me, right fucking now. No promises, maybes, or other forms of bullshit. Otherwise, you're an asshole who hasn't the first idea what you're talking about. See #26 above.

  28. Arguments are supported by some combination of logic and evidence. As a human scientist, I am less authoritarian about what may constitute evidence. But evidence must be open to public inspection18 and a failure to present evidence, even if such evidence is allegedly 'classified,' flatly invalidates the argument. This is true even if you are Donald Trump claiming Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower19 or you are a Hillary Clinton-supporter alleging Russian interference in the 2016 election or you are George W. Bush claiming the Iraqis are harboring weapons of mass destruction.20


In addition, I have addressed the failings of our system of social organization, capitalist libertarianism, neoliberalism, market systems of exchange, and of money at length:

Ted Rall, January 2, 2015, fair use

But perhaps most fundamentally, understand that I combine age with a very high level of education. Treating me like I am an idiot is a very good way to persuade me that you are an idiot.