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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Those Goddamn Sandy Hook Truthers Got Their Hooks In Denard Span

If you don’t know what a Sandy Hook Truther is, take a moment to read Max Read of Gawker’s illuminating look into their strange world. Basically, they are people who believe that the Sandy Hook shooting was actually some kind of elaborate hoax perpretrated by the government, because everything is an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the government in the eyes of these crazies. YouTube videos alleging such a hoax have been popping up all over the internet, poisoning the minds of people like Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span.

Pay no attention, Span.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:49 PM | 369 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: denard span, gun control, nationals, sandy hook, truthers, twins

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   201. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4349918)
As a kid I became obsessed with the kingdom of Strathclyd


Fascinating.
   202. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4349919)
By the time I started watching the NBA (1971ish), his career was pretty close to being over, but how did Wilt Chamberlain never foul out of a game? I know he was an incredible player who tended to be (quite often literally) head & shoulders above his opponents, particularly early in his career, but did he not play defense? Or played defense like a ballerina? Surely not. I mean, there's also such a thing as an offensive foul; clearly he went to the basket a whole hell of a lot, & surely every now & then the opposing center had position & created the opportunity for a charge.

Chamberlain's offense consisted mostly of dunks or easy layups from a standing position and an unstoppable fadeaway short jump shot. You'd never see him drive the lane, which is where he would've been most likely to pick up offensive fouls. Instead, he'd pass off to his many talented teammates like Chet Walker or Elgin Baylor who specialized in that sort of thing.

The truth is that with the exception of a few extremely quick and nimble centers like Bill Russell and Dave Cowens, the great majority of Wilt's one-on-one opponents were much more likely to foul him out of frustration than to be on the receiving end of Wilt's fouls. Compared to Wilt, nearly other contemporary center in Wilt's era, at least until late in his career, was immobile to an extent that you can't even imagine today. He didn't need to foul them to assert total domination.
   203. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4349921)
Old Hoss Radbourn ?@OldHossRadbourn

"Lance, was cheating cancer your first duplicitous act?"
   204. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4349927)
Fascinating.


I was using it to prove a point about Medieval history! I know that no one cares about my childhood interest in Strathclyde any more than they care about the statistics I compiled on my favorite video game when I was 12. It was rigged, by the way. Your shooting percentage depended more on the score than on your shot selection. I have reams of data to prove it.
   205. AROM Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4349936)
From what I've read about Wilt, having never seen him play live:

1. He didn't foul much to begin with, as Andy said. He didn't need to.
2. The few times he got into foul trouble, he'd be very careful on defense. Maybe to the detriment of his team. Wilt was as stat-aware as possibly any player, ever, and this never fouled out thing was a source of pride to him.
3. At least on one occasion he committed what looked to be a 6th foul, and stared down the referee. The ref was too scared to actually blow the whistle. I don't remember the source for this story.
   206. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4349938)
I was using it to prove a point about Medieval history!


For the record, I consider the medieval history of the British Isles to be on par with the epic poems of Scandanvia and, well, Ireland, not on par with the history of Rome or the Caliphates. No one wrote down what the barbarians in Europe were doing.
   207. bunyon Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4349941)

Understood, and somewhat stipulated. Certainly we know less, definitively, about the princes and kings of Middle Ages Europe than we do about the lineages of Roman emperors or the Caliphates. But it's not like we're reading the history of the era via Beowulf or the Irish epics.


I think my feeling on this is colored by none of my knowledge of history being from a primary source. I mean, I know historians do yeoman's work digging through actual records but what I know is from texts and lectures. While it may be exceedingly unlikely that the whole world has been fooled, I know, deep down, that it would be very, very easy to fool ME. Thus, my sort of uneasy feeling about it all.

Perhaps conspiracy theories use this feeling as traction. While I find it very unlikely that the gummint crashed planes into the Towers, I wasn't there. I have to believe a lot of people I don't actually know. That is very reasonable most of the time but when the story is fantastic, and you're lying in bed wondering about it, the fact that you don't actually know any of the actors involved gives you a feeling of being on quicksand.
   208. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4349968)
Chamberlain's offense consisted mostly of dunks or easy layups from a standing position and an unstoppable fadeaway short jump shot. You'd never see him drive the lane


Well Wilt was also quite fond of driving across the middle from the low post and finger-rolling to the rim. Amazingly graceful footwork for such a huge man, I don't think it was surpassed until Hakeem came into the league.
   209. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4349983)
The Middle Ages weren't some sort of massive gap in known history or advancement of civilization. It's just a period of time where Europe didn't lead the way. We know the proper accounting of years and history during the Middle Ages, because Baghdad was the Rome/Istanbul of the era.

The fact that Muslims were the primary innovators and civilized folks, while Christians in Europe were mucking about in pig ####, doesn't mean that civilization ended. The "Middle Ages" saw the invention of calculus and physics, more or less. It just too "Christendom" a thousand years to catch up.


You must be talking about the Dark Ages. By 1100-1200, the pace of innovation in Europe was higher than in the Muslim world. The Muslims were ahead, but Europe had already started to catch up; as illustrate by their ability to project power a long distance during the Crusades.

The issues the Muslim states had, is that much of their science, trade, innovation, etc. was done by their Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, and other non-Muslim subjects (working for Muslim rulers) building on a pre-Muslim Byzantine and Egyptian civilization/culture. Islam discouraged progress and innovation, but the ruler were able to leverage non-Muslim populations to keep moving ahead. As more and more of the population converted (under the pressure of discrimination) they lost access to this cadre, and society stultified.

It's actually a very good case example in favor of diversity and toleration. When Muslim states were heterogeneous, they advanced rapidly. As they became more intolerant/homogeneous, they stagnated.
   210. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4349994)
You must be talking about the Dark Ages. By 1100-1200, the pace of innovation in Europe was higher than in the Muslim world. The Muslims were ahead, but Europe had already started to catch up; as illustrate by their ability to project power a long distance during the Crusades.


This is like saying the pace of innovation today is higher in militant Islamic regions, due to al-Q's ability to project power over long distance. It's also a bit like saying Ireland or China's economy is strong than the US economy because of pace of growth, while ignoring that it's a lot easier to get from 0 to 1 than from 99 to 100.

The issues the Muslim states had, is that much of their science, trade, innovation, etc. was done by their Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, and other non-Muslim subjects (working for Muslim rulers) building on a pre-Muslim Byzantine and Egyptian civilization/culture. Islam discouraged progress and innovation, but the ruler were able to leverage non-Muslim populations to keep moving ahead. As more and more of the population converted (under the pressure of discrimination) they lost access to this cadre, and society stultified.


This is just wrong. I'll write it off as ignorance rather than bigotry.

It's actually a very good case example in favor of diversity and toleration. When Muslim states were heterogeneous, they advanced rapidly. As they became more intolerant/homogeneous, they stagnated.


This is fantastically true. The early Caliphates were the most modern, inclusive and advanced societies of their time.
   211. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4350000)
I studied medieval European history back in my college days. If I ever win the lottery I want to research the hell out of the "Pied Piper of Hamlin" story. It appears to have some bizarre basis in fact but there are so many gaps in the historical record that the genesis is a total mystery.

History is totally sweet and the lack of information is part of the charm for me. I never cared as much for well-sourced modern history.
   212. GregD Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4350031)
You don't have to go to the middle ages to find basic gaps in historical knowledge. There is active dispute over a few gaps in the colonial governors of Virginia in the 1600s; while you can find lists that look complete, there are historians who think there are periods where there are other governors or where we don't really know who was governor at all. And this is in a part of one of the world's empires in the 17th century. Once Virginia figured out how to make money on tobacco, however, the record becomes much clearer!
   213. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4350047)
The issues the Muslim states had, is that much of their science, trade, innovation, etc. was done by their Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, and other non-Muslim subjects (working for Muslim rulers) building on a pre-Muslim Byzantine and Egyptian civilization/culture. Islam discouraged progress and innovation, but the ruler were able to leverage non-Muslim populations to keep moving ahead. As more and more of the population converted (under the pressure of discrimination) they lost access to this cadre, and society stultified.


The greatest thinkers of the Mediterranean world between Augustine and Aquinas were basically Maimonides and a bunch of Muslims. We could go on for quite a while about advances made by practicing Muslims in trigonometry and astronomy and navigation and so on.

Whatever we think about post-Medieval Islam, Medieval Islam did very well at preserving and expanding on the Greek (etc.) achievement and in borrowing good ideas from India and elsewhere. The Medieval experience would suggest that there is nothing in Islam per se that makes it incompatible with science and learning.
   214. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4350052)
his is fantastically true. The early Caliphates were the most modern, inclusive and advanced societies of their time.


I don't think the Alhambra in Grenada would be considered an early caliphate period, but its the most impressive thing I've ever seen, considering when it was built.
   215. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4350054)
By 1100-1200, the pace of innovation in Europe was higher than in the Muslim world.


I think that's pretty clearly wrong. Indeed the single most important factor in the advances of the west was probably the fall of Granada (and the rediscovery of a lot of Greek works as well as things like Alhazen's work on optics -- well lots of work by Alhazen.). IOW you're about 3-4 centuries off.
   216. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4350063)
I don't think the Alhambra in Grenada would be considered an early caliphate period, but its the most impressive thing I've ever seen, considering when it was built.


Maybe not early, but early-middle Umayyad era for initial construction (889.) Finished during the high caliphates in the 1330s.

Also notable as a last redoubt of civilization in Al-Andalus as the Christian barbarians stormed back into the Iberian peninsula during the Reconquista.
   217. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4350123)
This is just wrong. I'll write it off as ignorance rather than bigotry.

The early Muslim states were rich/advanced because they inherited advanced Byzantine/Greek/Egyptian and Persian civilizations and societies. The Arab rulers contributed virtually nothing to societies besides a military caste. To the extent Muslim states were rich and advanced, it had nothing to do with being Muslim.
   218. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4350150)
The early Muslim states were rich/advanced because they inherited advanced Byzantine/Greek/Egyptian and Persian civilizations and societies. The Arab rulers contributed virtually nothing to societies besides a military caste. To the extent Muslim states were rich and advanced, it had nothing to do with being Muslim.


Okay, maybe it's just blind bigotry.
   219. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4350156)
Okay, maybe it's just blind bigotry.

You'd know what that looks like, but there's nothing bigoted about it. I dislike Islam on perfectly rational grounds.
   220. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4350157)
The early Muslim states were rich/advanced because they inherited advanced Byzantine/Greek/Egyptian and Persian civilizations and societies. The Arab rulers contributed virtually nothing to societies besides a military caste. To the extent Muslim states were rich and advanced, it had nothing to do with being Muslim.


Let me try to parse this, are you denying that there were a great number of Muslims in the dark and middle ages working in the arts and sciences who made great advances across a wide number of fields, or are you saying that their advances were built largely off the advanced civilizations that came before them?
   221. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4350160)
Okay, maybe it's just blind bigotry.

Even if you're right, it only means that the Arab states were at or near the heights of civilization eight or nine centuries ago, but couldn't keep up with those heights as the rest of the world progressed.(*)

Which -- we can be sure -- is primarily Whitey's fault.

(*) If all you're saying is that there were individual Muslims who were tremendously intelligent, wise, and accomplished well, yeah -- there are a bunch today, too.
   222. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4350164)
You'd know what that looks like, but there's nothing bigoted about it. I dislike Islam on perfectly rational grounds.


Are you equally willing to write off the entire Renaissance as nothing more than a few plagiarists cribbing notes from the Greeks and Egyptians? Because if you're going to hand-wave away the Islamic Golden Age and House of Wisdom eras because they're just cribbing notes from the Greeks and Persians, you damned well better be ready to dismiss Aquinas and Augustine for the same damned thing. The notable difference being that Aquinas was cribbing Aristotle via the Muslim translations.
   223. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4350167)
Even if you're right, it only means that the Arab states were at or near the heights of civilization eight or nine centuries ago, but couldn't keep up with those heights as the rest of the world progressed.(*)


The original argument here was that we might have "lost history" in the "Middle Ages" because no one was keeping records in Europe at the time. I pointed out that this was a Eurocentric fallacy, and that we have lots of history from that time frame, just from the centers of civilization of the world at the time rather than the barbaric corners of Europe. The entire discussion has been about historic centers of learning and cultural contributions to world civilization and learning by various cultures. It's a thread about history, #######. Try to read for comprehension next time.
   224. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4350169)
Also, this may have already been said, but I find it fairly amusing that the most glorious and successful part of Islamic civilization is actively loathed by the fundamentalists today. Dudes want to go back to a time that never even existed.
   225. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4350170)
Let me try to parse this, are you denying that there were a great number of Muslims in the dark and middle ages working in the arts and sciences who made great advances across a wide number of fields, or are you saying that their advances were built largely off the advanced civilizations that came before them?

Not at all. I'm not denying that there were a large number of excellent Muslim thinker throughout the pre-modern period. There were many. There were also many Christians, Jews, Zoroasrians and other non-Muslims contributing heavily to the innovation and prosperity of the Muslim states.

What I'm denying is that Muslim religion or culture had anything to do with that innovation. It hindered it. Those many innovative Muslims succeeded b/c they had access to predecessor cultures that fostered innovation and science. As Islam waxed, and those cultures waned, the innovation died. As those states became more uniformly Muslim in religion and culture (the Caliphates were <50% Muslim well into the early Middle Ages), they stagnated.
   226. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4350173)
To put it another way, if you're going to write off Ibn Sina, you have to write of Da Vinci as well. It's a stupid proposition from the start.
   227. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4350174)
Are you equally willing to write off the entire Renaissance as nothing more than a few plagiarists cribbing notes from the Greeks and Egyptians? Because if you're going to hand-wave away the Islamic Golden Age and House of Wisdom eras because they're just cribbing notes from the Greeks and Persians, you damned well better be ready to dismiss Aquinas and Augustine for the same damned thing. The notable difference being that Aquinas was cribbing Aristotle via the Muslim translations.


Oof. That's going to leave a mark.
   228. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4350178)
Are you equally willing to write off the entire Renaissance as nothing more than a few plagiarists cribbing notes from the Greeks and Egyptians? Because if you're going to hand-wave away the Islamic Golden Age and House of Wisdom eras because they're just cribbing notes from the Greeks and Persians, you damned well better be ready to dismiss Aquinas and Augustine for the same damned thing. The notable difference being that Aquinas was cribbing Aristotle via the Muslim translations.

It certainly started out as derivative. But, the big difference is the Renaissance didn't peter out. The innovation continued, until this very day in the West.

The Islamic world had innovation, and lost it and stagnated, b/c of the constraints of their religion and culture.
   229. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4350179)
Also, this may have already been said, but I find it fairly amusing that the most glorious and successful part of Islamic civilization is actively loathed by the fundamentalists today. Dudes want to go back to a time that never even existed.


This is true of all reactionaries, be they Islamic or Teajadi. Reactionary thinking is nostalgia for a false history.
   230. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4350180)
The Islamic world had innovation, and lost it and stagnated, b/c of the constraints of their religion and culture.


You might, just for a second, consider the facts of geography and resources in your sweeping generalities.
   231. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4350181)
The original argument here was that we might have "lost history" in the "Middle Ages" because no one was keeping records in Europe at the time. I pointed out that this was a Eurocentric fallacy, and that we have lots of history from that time frame, just from the centers of civilization of the world at the time rather than the barbaric corners of Europe. The entire discussion has been about historic centers of learning and cultural contributions to world civilization and learning by various cultures. It's a thread about history, #######. Try to read for comprehension next time.

I know, which is why I was willing to concede, arguendo, your assertion that Snapper's view was not only "Eurocentric," but bigoted. From there, I suggested the correct historical conclusion.
   232. GregD Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4350184)
Every civilization has stubbed its toe since the Pagans. Bring back Zeus and Osiris! We're all trailing in their wakes.
   233. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4350186)
You might, just for a second, consider the facts of geography and resources in your sweeping generalities.

Culture trumps those things hands down.

Spain and France had resources and geographical advantages that made Britain and the Netherlands look like backwaters. They controlled the richest lands, and most productive industrial areas in Europe in the 16th-17th centuries. Plus Spain had a massive stream of Gold and Silver from the Americas.

Yet under their centralized, dirigiste systems, they could never keep up in innovation or trade. A tiny, poor, island started the Industrial Revolution because of its culture, system and structures.
   234. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4350190)
I know, which is why I was willing to concede, arguendo, your assertion that Snapper's view was not only "Eurocentric," but bigoted. From there, I suggested the correct historical conclusion.


Hmm. Perhaps I should read for comprehension next time. (You could not bury the lede with the "whitey" snark.)

The decline of the Islamic empire is analogous to the decline of Rome. The primary failures of the Caliphates, aside from the political infighting which eventually pierce the heart of all imperial powers as they disintegrate, was the fact that it was centered in a desert.
   235. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4350193)
Culture trumps those things hands down.


Assertion and faith, layered in blind bullshitting.

Spain and France had resources and geographical advantages that made Britain and the Netherlands look like backwaters. They controlled the richest lands, and most productive industrial areas in Europe in the 16th-17th centuries. Plus Spain had a massive stream of Gold and Silver from the Americas.

Yet under their centralized, dirigiste systems, they could never keep up in innovation or trade. A tiny, poor, island started the Industrial Revolution because of its culture, system and structures.


The British empire won because of its navy, and because it was an island and more or less impregnable until the advent of aerial bombardment.
   236. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4350194)
A tiny, poor, island started the Industrial Revolution because of its culture, system and structures.

A bunch of craggy-ass rocks in the middle of nowhere populated by different races who didn't like each other. And that had been colonized by foreigners, no less, the supposed kiss of death to future development.
   237. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4350195)
The Islamic world had innovation, and lost it and stagnated, b/c of the constraints of their religion and culture.


And these are...
   238. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4350198)
Every civilization has stubbed its toe since the Pagans


Their are three great burgeoning of original thought in world history; the Spring and Autumn Period in China, the Greek awakening, and 18th century Germany.
   239. bunyon Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4350199)
The British empire won because of its navy, and because it was an island and more or less impregnable until the advent of aerial bombardment.

It did okay even then.
   240. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4350201)
The decline of the Islamic empire is analogous to the decline of Rome. The primary failures of the Caliphates, aside from the political infighting which eventually pierce the heart of all imperial powers as they disintegrate, was the fact that it was centered in a desert.


Needlessly pissing off the Mongols didn't help either, though of course they likely would have found a different pretext to invade anyway.
   241. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4350203)
The decline of the Islamic empire is analogous to the decline of Rome.

So wake me when their ideas and example, like Rome's, resuscitate themselves in anything like Western civilization, ca. 1750-2001.

We're going to be waiting a long, long, long time.
   242. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4350204)
It did okay even then.


Stipulated. Of course, the British Empire hasn't added all that much more than the Islamic Golden Age in the world-historic sense of things. A few recyclings of German and French theory out of the Enlightenment, politically, and quick adaption of mechanized production. It's hardly stunning.
   243. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4350206)
So wake me when their ideas and example, like Rome's, resuscitate themselves in anything like Western civilization, ca. 1750-2001.


Have you done calculus recently? Astronomy?

EDIT: This is, absolutely, nothing more than blind cultural bigotry. I thought you guys were smarter than this.
   244. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4350207)
The decline of the Islamic empire is analogous to the decline of Rome. The primary failures of the Caliphates, aside from the political infighting which eventually pierce the heart of all imperial powers as they disintegrate, was the fact that it was centered in a desert.

Your ignorance is shocking. Anatolia is not a desert. The Nile Valley is not a desert. The Tigris/Euphrates valleys are not a desert.

In the pre-modern period, these areas were far richer agricultural than any land in Europe. Just look at the population density.

Assertion and faith, layered in blind bullshitting.

And you read a book that wanted to make non-Westerners look better in spite of their failure to keep up with the West for 600 years.

The British empire won because of its navy, and because it was an island and more or less impregnable until the advent of aerial bombardment.

What do either of those factors have to do with the Industrial revolution? And, by the way, the Royal Navy's success is a cultural factor. French ships were better, ship for ship, in the 18th and 19th century. The Royal navy won because it had a better system for building, maintaining, and crewing warships: e.g. meritocratic officer selection, and advanced (for the time) dockyard bureaucracies.
   245. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4350210)
Holy ####, Sam is actually right. Snapper IS a bigoted #######. And ignorant besides. Jesus.
   246. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4350212)
Britain developed a capitalist economic system in the 17th/18th century well before anyone else. This seems mostly to have stemmed from a set of mostly contingent circumstances - primarily, an island with a central city providing something like a national market for goods, a weakened aristocracy who held relatively few special rights over land and peasants, and a tradition of leasing land to farmers which encouraged efficiency gains. The development of capitalism in Britain was a massive and new advantage - the productivity of English farmers in the 18th century is insane, way beyond what anyone else was doing - and it took centuries for that advantage to fully wane.

These are complicated stories, and splitting out what "came from" religion and what "came from" culture or geography or previous cultures is usually an opportunity for ignorant interested bullshitting masquerading as history. That's certainly what snapper's been doing.
   247. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4350213)
Have you done calculus recently? Astronomy?

Again, I'll stipulate to anything you want to say about the provenance of these things. What about the more sophisticated applications of these things to human affairs -- like sending men to the Moon? All credit for those things go to the people who first conceptualized a derivative equation?
   248. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4350215)
Your ignorance is shocking. Anatolia is not a desert. The Nile Valley is not a desert. The Tigris/Euphrates valleys are not a desert.


None of which were the centers of the Caliphates at their height. And of course, they are all (Anatolia accepted) surrounded by inaccessible geographies. You're making a bad impression, Snap.

EDIT: I wrote too quickly; obviously Baghdad was the center of the height of the Golden Age. But to pretend that it was a massively supported, resource rich region is absurd. I assume Snapper picked the other locations due to Grenada and Cairo's role in Islamic history. It is equally wrongheaded.
   249. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4350218)
Again, I'll stipulate to anything you want to say about the provenance of these things. What about the more sophisticated applications of these things to human affairs -- like sending men to the Moon?


Am I to write off Socrates, Plato and Aristotle because Greece has never sent a man to the moon?
   250. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4350219)
And these are...

Islam takes Mohammed as the perfection of man. He was the perfect human, and is the model for all law/culture. Therefore, everything is based on what he allegedly wrote (Koran) or said/did (Hadiths). This belief creates a backward looking mindset, and a deep suspicion of innovation and change. You can see the same problem among Christians who subscribe to Biblical literalism, and Sola Scriptura.

Add to that the Muslim conception of God is the He is pure will. God is not bound by logic or rationality in the Muslim view. He acts as He wills when He will. This also imbues a lack of interest in developing thought using logic. There is no Muslim equivalent to the long history of Christian Theology developing new ways of understanding God and Scripture. Their theology centers on interpreting what Mohammed wrote, did and said.
   251. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4350222)
Islam takes Mohammed as the perfection of man. He was the perfect human, and is the model for all law/culture. Therefore, everything is based on what he allegedly wrote (Koran) or said/did (Hadiths). This belief creates a backward looking mindset, and a deep suspicion of innovation and change. You can see the same problem among Christians who subscribe to Biblical literalism, and Sola Scriptura.

Add to that the Muslim conception of God is the He is pure will. God is not bound by logic or rationality in the Muslim view. He acts as He wills when He will. This also imbues a lack of interest in developing thought using logic. There is no Muslim equivalent to the long history of Christian Theology developing new ways of understanding God and Scripture. Their theology centers on interpreting what Mohammed wrote, did and said.


Final edit on the theory. It's ignorance AND bigotry.
   252. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4350223)
That's certainly what snapper's been doing.

Of course -- Snapper's crediting white people "too much." That's essentially what all this reduces to.

a weakened aristocracy who held relatively few special rights over land and peasants, and a tradition of leasing land to farmers which encouraged efficiency gains.

Those things didn't happen by chance; they happened because people refused to let themselves be subject to a strong aristocracy with special rights over them.
   253. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4350224)
Those things didn't happen by chance; they happened because people refused to let themselves be subject to a strong aristocracy with special rights over them.
No, not really. They happened mostly because the royals and central government won a series of struggles with the aristocracy.
   254. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4350225)
None of which were the centers of the Caliphates at their height. And of course, they are all (Anatolia accepted) surrounded by inaccessible geographies. You're making a bad impression, Snap.

Again, you're woefully misinformed.

The Middle East was the prime geographic location until at least the 16th century. It was the crossroads of the world. The center of trade from Asia, Africa and Europe.

Are you really ignorant of the fact that the Meditteranean and Red Sea/Indian were prime trade arteries from 1000 BC until well into the early modern period?
   255. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4350227)
Holy ####, Sam is actually right. Snapper IS a bigoted #######. And ignorant besides. Jesus.

It's ignorant and bigoted to say the Islamic world fell behind the West largely because of its culture? You don't know what bigoted means.
   256. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4350229)
Holy ####, Sam is actually right.


But Sam's attitude makes me wish he was more wrong than he is (both make good points). Bigoted is not the right word for either of them. Sam is much more eager to go out of his way to dismiss the accomplishments of Christians and Europeans than Snapper is to do the same for Muslims.

As is often the case, Matt Clement is the voice of reason and I endorse his statements.
   257. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4350230)
#222 And it's pretty clear that Alhazen for instance wasn't drawing on anybody for much of his work. And several of his students also produced influential, important work.

From Doubts concerning Ptolemy:


Truth is sought for its own sake ... Finding the truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough. For the truths are plunged in obscurity. ... God, however, has not preserved the scientist from error and has not safeguarded science from shortcomings and faults. If this had been the case, scientists would not have disagreed upon any point of science...

Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency

And in another word:

From the statements made by the noble Shaykh, it is clear that he believes in Ptolemy's words in everything he says, without relying on a demonstration or calling on a proof, but by pure imitation (taqlid); that is how experts in the prophetic tradition have faith in Prophets, may the blessing of God be upon them. But it is not the way that mathematicians have faith in specialists in the demonstrative sciences.

And

I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge.

Averroes (hugely influential in the European middle ages) wrote (among many other things) about how there was nothing incompatible in seeking the truth for a Muslim (speaking in particular of scientific investigation). Again, very clearly an original thinker.

EDIT: Yeah, nabbed from Wiki. First heard of these guys via James Burke and wiki has a nice summary on both of them.
   258. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4350232)
There's also the whole problem of Snapper ignoring other, non-Arabic, Islamic empires that were pretty impressive well beyond the period of the Renaissance.

I'd love to hear his opinions on why the Chinese are also a worthless culture, seeing as they were so easily handled by the "better" European powers.

eta: "It's ignorant and bigoted to say the Islamic world fell behind the West largely because of its culture?"

Yeah, it is. Ignorant and reductive. It's bigoted because you're waving your ignorance around to slander an entire subset of humanity based upon their "culture" - which is pretty hilarious considering the vast differences between Islamic nations across both geography and time.

Vaux: Yeah, I know that Sam's a dick, and he's trolling. Which is why I'm shocked he's right. What Snapper's written IS bigoted, and deeply ignorant of the history of vast swathes of the world.
   259. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4350233)

Final edit on the theory. It's ignorance AND bigotry.


And you mind is so open, your brain has fallen out. I find the defense of a repressive culture by alleged progressives quite humerous.

You really are living up to the worst stereotypes of the left; any criticism of anything non-Western is bigotry, and all cultures must be as good (and likely better) than the West, even if they have worse results on every indicator.

I'm done with you on this.
   260. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4350236)
The British empire won because of its navy, and because it was an island and more or less impregnable until the advent of aerial bombardment.

Well sure it was impregnable, other than to Rome which colonized it and the Vikings which kind of did ....
   261. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4350240)
Wow, Snapper says a lot of things I don't agree with, but I never thought he would stoop to this kind of vile ####. You should be ashamed of yourself.
   262. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4350241)
You really are living up to the worst stereotypes of the left; any criticism of anything non-Western is bigotry, and all cultures must be as good (and likely better) than the West, even if they have worse results on every indicator.

He does leave open the possibilty that non-Western cultures can get off-track, but when that happens it's the West's fault. (Whitey's really, but "the West" is close enough for these purposes.)
   263. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4350242)
I'd love to hear his opinions on why the Chinese are also a worthless culture, seeing as they were so easily handled by the "better" European powers.

The Chinese had the most advanced culture in the world for two thousand years until they suffered from hideous misgovernment largely by non-Chinese rulers, and the Mandarin class. You can see its the gov't system to blame rather than the base culture, because Chinese emigrants were wildly successful economically all over Asia while China itself was a basket case.

There's no question the Chinese culture is capable of keeping up with the West economically. I'm not fond of all its attitudes, e.g. towards women (particularly girl babies) and an excess of collectivism, but it is certainly highly advanced.

   264. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4350243)
and the Vikings which kind of did ....


Well they totally did, unless you count the Normans as French instead of Viking. And from two sides!

Somehow that great English culture didn't help them hang onto the large amounts of modern day France the English crown once held claim to.
   265. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4350244)
But Sam's attitude makes me wish he was more wrong than he is (both make good points). Bigoted is not the right word for either of them. Sam is much more eager to go out of his way to dismiss the accomplishments of Christians and Europeans than Snapper is to do the same for Muslims.


What the ####? I haven't dismissed any accomplishments of anyone. I've merely stated that IF snapper was going to disregard the academic and cultural accomplishments of the Islamic empire, then he MUST ALSO equally disregard those of European Christendom.

I don't disregard either.
   266. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4350245)
Wow, Snapper says a lot of things I don't agree with, but I never thought he would stoop to this kind of vile ####. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I haven't said one thing vile. Bottom line, I've said that Islamic religion and culture has inhibited innovation and growth.

I haven't denigrated the intelligence of Muslims. I haven't said they're bad people. If I said the exact same things about fundamentalist Christianity, nobody would bat an eyelash. If I said it about the Catholic Church, I'd get an Allelujah chorus.

Unless you're coming from the mindset the any criticism of non-Western culture or religion is vile, you're completely off base.
   267. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4350246)
"because Chinese emigrants were wildly successful economically all over Asia"

How do you square this with the massive success of, for example, Indian Americans who are Muslim? Because you certainly seem to conflate Arab with Muslim, and Arabs aren't even the majority of Muslims in the world, much less all Muslims.
   268. Delorians Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4350247)
You really are living up to the worst stereotypes of the left

As a frequent lurker and infrequent poster, I really must come to snapper's defense here. I have learned a lot that I didn't know, simply from a historical perspective, from the last 50 or so posts, which have been an excellent example of why I come to the BTF threads in general and the off topic threads in particular. But what should have been a back an forth between Snapper and others where he simply makes an point and they make a counterpoint, turned into him making an point and their otherwise excellent counterpoint needlessly being punctuated with 'and you're ignorant and bigoted and...'.
   269. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4350248)
Somehow that great English culture didn't help them hang onto the large amounts of modern day France the English crown once held claim to.

France had a population 5 or 6 times that of England, and was far wealthier. They had no chance to match them militarily.

In any case, the innovation I was talking about happened like 300 years later after British culture had moved away from the feudal.
   270. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4350249)
I've merely stated that IF snapper was going to disregard the academic and cultural accomplishments of the Islamic empire, then he MUST ALSO equally disregard those of European Christendom.

"Eurpoean Christendom" ... Thus ignoring 350 years of European intellectual tradition wanting nothing more than to rid Europe of Church influence -- the actual source of modernity having essentially no parallel in Islam.

Europe generated the tradition of dissent from the Church and that and then was when they left Islam and the Arab states in the distant past.
   271. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4350250)
If I said the exacts same things about fundamentalist Christianity, nobody would bat an eyelash.


And this is what's vile. That you conflate ALL of Islam with the most retrograde and fundamentalist visions of Islam. Instead of understanding that Islamic cultures and beliefs are nuanced in pretty much the exact same ways as other religions and cultures, you ignorantly ascribe the beliefs and customs of a portion of them to all of them, regardless of what actually was the case.

ETA: And then you use that argument as your primary explanation as to why most heavily Islamic nations are less advanced than European ones.
   272. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4350251)
If I said it about the Catholic Church


Please do. I'd be fascinated to find out if you could continue typing after your head exploded.
   273. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4350252)
And you mind is so open, your brain has fallen out. I find the defense of a repressive culture by alleged progressives quite humerous.


I haven't defended a repressive culture. I've defended historical accuracy. This is not a defense of al-Queada. It's a defense of history. Pointing out the fact that the House of Wisdom was, in fact, the center of learning in the world for centuries is no more a defense of repressive culture than is pointing out the fact Aquinas was a brilliant thinker (that I often disagree with) is a defense of repressive Catholicism.

He does leave open the possibilty that non-Western cultures can get off-track, but when that happens it's the West's fault. (Whitey's really, but "the West" is close enough for these purposes.)


Where on earth does this even come from?! Show me anything close to this in the text of this thread.
   274. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4350255)
How do you square this with the massive success of, for example, Indian Americans who are Muslim? Because you certainly seem to conflate Arab with Muslim, and Arabs aren't even the majority of Muslims in the world, much less all Muslims.

I do not doubt the individual intelligence, and diligence of Muslims (or any other ethnic group). Take smart people, and put them in a well functioning system and culture, and they will suceed. Those same people have not had massive success in Pakistan or Bangladesh, living in a Muslim culture.

It doesn't match the Chinese experience b/c the Chinese suceeded in locales that were even more backward than China. The Chinese weren't moving to more advanced nations and suceeding individually, they were moving to less advanced countries and suceeding much more than the local (to the extent they attracked hatred and even Genocide in Indonesia).
   275. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4350258)
Thus ignoring 350 years of European intellectual tradition wanting nothing more than to rid Europe of Church influence -- the actual source of modernity having essentially no parallel in Islam


Please read @238 very carefully?
   276. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4350259)
I haven't defended a repressive culture. I've defended historical accuracy. This is not a defense of al-Queada. It's a defense of history. Pointing out the fact that the House of Wisdom was, in fact, the center of learning in the world for centuries is no more a defense of repressive culture than is pointing out the fact Aquinas was a brilliant thinker (that I often disagree with) is a defense of repressive Catholicism.

I never said they weren't the center of learning in the world for centuries. I said they lost that distinction over the last milennia because Islamic culture was hostile to innovation and change to an extent that Western/Christian culture wasn't.
   277. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4350260)
I do not doubt the individual intelligence, and diligence of Muslims (or any other ethnic group). Take smart people, and put them in a well functioning system and culture, and they will suceed. Those same people have not had massive success in Pakistan or Bangladesh, living in a Muslim culture.


Indian and Indonesia *are* Muslim cultures.
   278. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4350261)
France had a population 5 or 6 times that of England, and was far wealthier. They had no chance to match them militarily.

In any case, the innovation I was talking about happened like 300 years later after British culture had moved away from the feudal.


My point was far more towards the inability of culture to explain as much as you claim it can. You're obviously able to recognize that, but tend to ignore the damage to Middle Eastern culture that, for example, the Mongol's did.
   279. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4350263)
I never said they weren't the center of learning in the world for centuries. I said they lost that distinction over the last milennia because Islamic culture was hostile to innovation and change to an extent that Western/Christian culture wasn't.


And your bigotry is highlighted in that unsubstantiated, blindside after 'because.'
   280. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4350264)

Please do. I'd be fascinated to find out if you could continue typing after your head exploded.


The Catholic Church certainly has hindered innovation and growth in the last 1000 years. But not nearly to the extent that Islam has.
   281. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4350265)
And your bigotry is highlighted in that unsubstantiated, blindside after 'because.'

How does an analysis equal bigotry? My analysis is either true or not true. There's nothing bigoted about the supposition that some cultures are better at forstering innovation and growth than others.

That's only bigotry in the mind of someone with an agenda.
   282. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4350266)
Show me anything close to this in the text of this thread.

It's embedded in practically everything you and modern leftists write. The fact that you don't write, "I'm biased against the West and overlook practically all faults of the non-West or denominate them Whitey's fault" doesn't change that, just as the fact that Snapper doesn't write "I'm ignorant and bigoted," doesn't stop you from seeing ignorance and bigotry in some of his writings.
   283. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4350267)
Indian and Indonesia *are* Muslim cultures.

Right. And the same exact people are not as successful there as when they come to the US.
   284. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4350272)
I assume, Snapper, that you agree with Mitt Romney that the reason Palestine is poorer than Israel is also culture.
   285. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4350273)
It's embedded in practically everything you and modern leftists write.


So you don't have any actual examples and are just throwing bullshit at the wall. Thanks for admitting as much.
   286. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4350275)
And this is what's vile. That you conflate ALL of Islam with the most retrograde and fundamentalist visions of Islam. Instead of understanding that Islamic cultures and beliefs are nuanced in pretty much the exact same ways as other religions and cultures, you ignorantly ascribe the beliefs and customs of a portion of them to all of them, regardless of what actually was the case.

ETA: And then you use that argument as your primary explanation as to why most heavily Islamic nations are less advanced than European ones.


Of course there's nuance, we're talking in generalities since the period encompasses 1000 years and hundreds of states.

My base proposition is simply that Islamic culture (on average) has been less favorable to innovation and growth than Western Culture (on average) in the last 600-800 years.

That doesn't mean it has to stay that way. It doesn't mean that Islamic culture doesn' have other advantages, and someone might not validly prefer it.
   287. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4350276)
Right. And the same exact people are not as successful there as when they come to the US.


Yes, Snapper, immigrating from poor areas to rich areas increases success. This has nothing to do with 'culture.'
   288. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4350277)
I assume, Snapper, that you agree with Mitt Romney that the reason Palestine is poorer than Israel is also culture.

No. That's just silly.

It might be poorer partially b/c of that, but we can't tell given all the constraints placed on the Palestinians.

But, I'd say the reason Saudi Arabia is poorer than Isreal is mostly culture.

   289. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4350278)
t's embedded in practically everything you and modern leftists write.


That's one way to be able to make your case. "I don't care that you never said it! You clearly meant it!" I mean, at least the argument against Snapper actually quotes what he's written.

here's nothing bigoted about the supposition that some cultures are better at forstering innovation and growth than others.


You never replied to my comment explaining why your statements are bigoted. I'm assuming that you're just going to ignore comment 271, because it's pretty much a perfect distillation of why you're painting with too broad a brush while at the same time being extraordinarily reductive in your analysis. EDIT: Well, clearly you just got to 271.
   290. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4350279)

Yes, Snapper, immigrating from poor areas to rich areas increases success. This has nothing to do with 'culture.'


The poor areas are poor for a reason.
   291. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4350280)
So you don't have any actual examples and are just throwing ######## at the wall. Thanks for admitting as much.

More engaging in the time-honored tradition of reading, analyzing, and synthesizing the work of another. You know, criticism.
   292. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4350281)
You never replied to my comment explaining why your statements are bigoted.

see [286] I can't type that fast.

Goodnight all.
   293. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4350283)
More engaging in the time-honored tradition of reading, analyzing, and synthesizing the work of another. You know, criticism.


If that's what you're attempting, I'd suggest you stick to ditch digging.
   294. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:38 PM (#4350285)
I don't disregard either.


I know you don't, and my statement was hasty and emotionally driven. I apologize for it.

The problems that I had with your responses were the following:

as the Christian barbarians stormed back into the Iberian peninsula during the Reconquista.


The Reconquista was a long process, but much or most of it took place after the period when the Europeans could be considered barbarians. Their culture probably wasn't as advanced scientifically as the Islamic culture by the 1100s through the 1300s, it's true, but it had certainly advanced beyond the barbarian stage. Your use of the term struck me as siding historically with the Islamic side and against the Christian side, and going out of your way to express that position..

The notable difference being that Aquinas was cribbing Aristotle via the Muslim translations.


This also struck me as elevating the Muslim accomplishment above the Christian accomplishment. ("Aquinas couldn't have read Aristotle without help from the Muslims.") It was rhetorically effective, but it read as an attack on Aquinas.

Have you done calculus recently? Astronomy?


This was in response to the question of whether Islamic culture had, during the period between 1750 and 2001, re-attained the heights to which it had risen in medieval times. The Islamic contribution to math and science occurred during the middle ages. While later developments wouldn't have been possible without it, it wasn't a new Islamic empire that made those developments, it was largely Westerners; the fact that humanity's understanding of the universe is built up over time doesn't mean that those who made earlier advances get credit for later ones.

In any case, my reaction was unfair, and I again apologize, but I thought I should explain what set me off.

I will also say that Snapper is not a bigot either, and that there is too much of a hair-trigger response of "bigotry!" when someone dares criticize a non-Western culture. The fact is that for all sorts of reasons, some circumstantial and fortuitous, and others almost certainly cultural--how could there have been no cultural reasons?--the West has dominated the past several centuries in terms of economics and political power. Those of us lucky enough to have been born in the West (which I don't like capitalizing, by the way, but I do to follow convention) shouldn't need to feel that we can't celebrate the accomplishments of our forebears. I myself consider all my human forebears to have been on potentially equal intellectual footing, as I'm sure Snapper also does (and as he has further shown in his posts since I wrote this one).
   295. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4350287)
The poor areas are poor for a reason.


And that reason is what, exactly? God didn't fill them with resources?
   296. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4350291)
Islam takes Mohammed as the perfection of man. He was the perfect human, and is the model for all law/culture. Therefore, everything is based on what he allegedly wrote (Koran) or said/did (Hadiths). This belief creates a backward looking mindset, and a deep suspicion of innovation and change. You can see the same problem among Christians who subscribe to Biblical literalism, and Sola Scriptura.


Nitpick: he didn't write the Quran, he allegedly recited what God told him and others wrote down what he said, which was later codified under Uthman.

But anyway, where's the evidence for your claim? Islamic society even one hundred years after Muhammad hardly resembled the society Muhammad lived in. As Muslim armies conquered, they adopted many of the customs of the defeated peoples, retained the administrative class in power, etc. That doesn't suggest a culture/religion inherently afraid of innovation or even change. As has already been pointed out, Islamic philosophers studied and expounded on Greek and Indian philosophy and mathematics.

Add to that the Muslim conception of God is the He is pure will. God is not bound by logic or rationality in the Muslim view. He acts as He wills when He will. This also imbues a lack of interest in developing thought using logic. There is no Muslim equivalent to the long history of Christian Theology developing new ways of understanding God and Scripture. Their theology centers on interpreting what Mohammed wrote, did and said.


Well Shi'i Muslims would place just as much importance on Ali and the subsequent Imams (of course depending on which branch they follow, and IIRC only Ismailis have an active Imam), but I'd also say many Sufi orders practice an Islam far different from what you're suggesting. Furthermore, influential Islamic scholars like al-Razi and al-Farabi (both lived in the 9th and 10th centuries) placed logic or reason above revelation, and influenced subsequent generations of Islamic scholars as well. Al-Biruni, is probably the most famous/important I can think of right now, and he certainly valued logic to find the truth.

What you're describing sounds more like Wahhabism to me, rather than being applicable to Islamic culture as a whole.
   297. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4350293)
My base proposition is simply that Islamic culture (on average) has been less favorable to innovation and growth than Western Culture (on average) in the last 600-800 years.


This is far less troublesome than your previous statements, but it still requires "culture" to do so much heavy lifting that you essentially have to make culture mean "the entire geographic, historic, and cultural background" of a region, whereas it usually means something else. And it really falls apart when you make the argument that during the Islamic Golden Age prior to the 14th century owed it's successes to things other than what you purport to be "Islamic culture" when by most definitions of culture the Arab Islamic culture at that time fostered a tremendous amount of innovation and art while it's neighbor in Europe muddled through several centuries where it was most certainly not doing a very good job of the same. And given your argument that Islamic culture has most always been a hindrance upon development, it reveals your argument as ignorant of the flourishings of other Muslim nations in later centuries that were as or more advanced than the contemporaneous European culture since at least somewhere before the Renaissance and as early as when the Crusades were still happening.
   298. Delorians Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4350294)
Assuming you don't want this site to just be a liberal circle jerk, I would think that you would want the conversation to include more snappers and less Kehoskies to improve the intellectual level of the discourse. The way you just treated snapper, I don't see why he (or anyone like him) sticks around.
   299. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4350296)
And my other comments about culture, such as the French v. English, or the Chinese, or Israeli v. Palestinian, are all aimed at pointing out how short the simple explanation of "culture" falls when actually figuring out how we got to today.
   300. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:54 PM (#4350302)
The Reconquista was a long process, but much or most of it took place after the period when the Europeans could be considered barbarians. Their culture probably wasn't as advanced scientifically as the Islamic culture by the 1100s through the 1300s, it's true, but it had certainly advanced beyond the barbarian stage. Your use of the term struck me as siding historically with the Islamic side and against the Christian side, and going out of your way to express that position..


That's fair, and for the sake of honesty, I *do* side with Grenada and the learning centers of al-Andalusa historically, against the reactionary forces of militant Catholicism which was driving the Reconquista in the Iberian peninsula. I do this for the same reasons I side with the Greens over the mullahs in Iran, and the secular rationalists over the Tea Party reactionaries in today's US political arena. I side with learning and culture over reactionary religious fundamentalism by default. In the example given, culture and learning were represented best by the waning Muslim caliphate and opposed by the religious zeal of "Christendom." I don't think it's an academic fallacy to side with rationality where at all possible.

This also struck me as elevating the Muslim accomplishment above the Christian accomplishment. ("Aquinas couldn't have read Aristotle without help from the Muslims.") It was rhetorically effective, but it read as an attack on Aquinas.


This comment was two-fold. First, it was a direct rebuttal of the "we can write off the entire Golden Age of Islam because they were just cheating off of previous work and had no original thinkers" line of argument Snapper was running with. My point in that regard was to remind him that the long slog of history is constant recycling and rebuilding of previous work, and that European "culture" was hardly built from scratch in that regard. In the second part of that fold, I intentionally called out Aquinas because 1) I think Aquinas is poorly cribbed notes on Aristotle and 2) it was a direct body blow to Snapper due to the Catholic connection.

This was in response to the question of whether Islamic culture had, during the period between 1750 and 2001, re-attained the heights to which it had risen in medieval times. The Islamic contribution to math and science occurred during the middle ages. While later developments wouldn't have been possible without it, it wasn't a new Islamic empire that made those developments, it was largely Westerners; the fact that humanity's understanding of the universe is built up over time doesn't mean that those who made earlier advances get credit for later ones.


That's fair, but again, I think if we're going to go with the "Islam is in decline and 1000s of years removed from it's pinnacle, and only loosely associated historically with modernity" then we must also apply that same critique to European Christendom. This conversation started with regard to the "Middle Ages." As such, my comments have been concerned with the comparison of the European history of that time, the Islamic history of that time, and tangentially the European awakening of the Renaissance. Of late, the conversation has turned to western civilization post-Christendom, and is claiming that there is something uniquely, culturally "European" or "Christian" or "Western" about modernity in the post-Enlightenment Age. I find that argument to be tenuous at best, and would argue that the advancements of the post-Enlightenment era have less to do with the fact that we're "culturally Christian" or whatever, and more to do that the German Enlightenment destroyed Christendom and Islam in a way that Islam has yet to accept.

In any case, my reaction was unfair, and I again apologize, but I thought I should explain what set me off.


No worries. The pits get bloody sometimes.
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