Monday, June 6, 2016

Does Free Will Exist?

The title intrigues. In it Steven Cave announces that there is no such thing as free will. Apparently, neuroscience has looked into the workings of the brain and has not seen anything that looks like free will. That is, scientists do not see a mental action preceding the brain function that directs a physical action.

Then again, other scientists have discovered, and as we have reported here, that when people are told that there is no free will they tend to misbehave far more frequently than they do when they are told that they have free will. Disbelieving in free will appears to be a license for amoral behavior.

Of course, this all assumes that free will is a thing at all, or that anyone has ever thought it was. Not to be too persnickety, but have you ever seen, heard, tasted, touched or smelled an idea? You have not. Yet, we all assume that ideas exist. We assume that certain laws direct the actions of the planets and the plants. And we have never seen these laws. We do not know where they are. But we know that they exist. Or so we say.

The concept of free will predates neuroscience by millennia. One might even say that it is the foundation of Western civilization. Since the neuroscientists do not seem to understand it, allow me to explain: free will means that you are responsible for your actions, regardless of how you were or were not tempted. Whatever irrational forces were pushing and pulling you in one direction or another, you are still responsible for what you did.

Free will determines moral responsibility; it does not refer to a mental state preceding a physical action.

Free will means that when you did X, you could have done otherwise. It suggests that your actions were not strictly determined and that therefore you were exercising a choice. And it says that, as a moral being, you should be treated as though you were making a free choice.

Clearly, this is not true in all cases. Our judicial system recognizes situations where an individual can be exculpated because he could not have done otherwise. It might have been because he had a brain disease or defect, but, whatever the reason, we accept what is called the insanity defense in courtrooms. This has been determined by millennia of jurisprudence.

The neuroscientists, for their part, do not believe in free will and believe that it has been a scourge—because it has made people judgmental. Thus, they believe that everyone should be allowed to plead insanity, because all actions are as determined as were those of the man who has a brain tumor. Are you beginning to suspect that this is all a con visited on up by the criminal defense attorney bar?

In place of prison, people who commit crimes would be locked up in psychiatric hospitals… to receive brain-altering treatment. Now, where have we heard that before?

It is also fair to note that while the determinists are obsessed with question of criminal responsibility, there is a lot more to human behavior than not committing crimes. What would they say about taking responsibility for failing at a task: for losing at chess or for leading your nation into an economic decline. Which genes can we identify that caused you to lose or to fail? Does neuroscience pretend that it will make failure and bad manners obsolete?

If you eliminate free will from the equation, you arrive at strict determinism. Some say that this comes from Darwin. This may or may not be a correct understanding of the theory of evolution, but it does suggest that human beings do not have choices over what they do and do not do.

Cave summarizes the argument:

The sciences have grown steadily bolder in their claim that all human behavior can be explained through the clockwork laws of cause and effect…. If we have evolved, then mental faculties like intelligence must be hereditary. But we use those faculties—which some people have to a greater degree than others—to make decisions. So our ability to choose our fate is not free, but depends on our biological inheritance.

Beyond the fact that the thought is muddled, determinists are saying that there is no significant difference between human beings and ants and bees. There is no real difference between bee hives and human communities. If ants do not have free will and if bees do not choose freely what to do, then human beings do not either.

In Cave’s words:

It describes the brain as a physical system like any other, and suggests that we no more will it to operate in a particular way than we will our heart to beat. The contemporary scientific image of human behavior is one of neurons firing, causing other neurons to fire, causing our thoughts and deeds, in an unbroken chain that stretches back to our birth and beyond. In principle, we are therefore completely predictable. If we could understand any individual’s brain architecture and chemistry well enough, we could, in theory, predict that individual’s response to any given stimulus with 100 percent accuracy.

It’s nice in theory, but do you really believe that you can predict anyone’s behavior with 100% accuracy? Can you predict the moves a chess player will make by studying brain waves? Do you believe that he has no real choices, thus that his play of the game is predetermined? Can you predict who will or will not commit a crime or mismanage his company according to brain chemistry?

There is something profoundly dehumanizing in this silliness. Do you really believe that all human societies are organized in precisely the same way and that we can predict the course of history by studying brain waves?

As it happens, free will has a track record. It has given us liberal democracy and free enterprise, among other things. What has scientific determinism and anti-free willism given us?

One understands that the neuroscientists will reject this association, but the most extravagant and ambitious attempt to produce a culture based on scientific determinism has been Communism. It might not have been what the neuroscientists and the new atheists had it mind. But what they had in mind does not really count when faced with outcomes produced when these ideas were put into practice.

If they are really doing empirical research they should accept that it is possible for the outcomes produced when their ideas are put into practice might not affirm their hypotheses. If they do not, they are polemicists, not scientists.

Are the neuroscientists responsible for these outcomes? Since they do not believe in responsibility, they would naturally reject all responsibility.

Communists did not believe in free will. They did not believe in private property. They did not believe that you should decide how to conduct your life or what to do with your property. They did not believe in allowing you a choice of what you would or would not do. The Party decided that you should be sent to the countryside to care for pig sties. If you disagreed they would either kill you or send you to a psychiatric facility for treatment. You could disagree with the choices that the Party made. If you did you were mentally ill or suffering from a brain defect. Tens of millions of people starved to death; tens of millions of people were killed... for this dumb idea.

One should add, as more than a few people have mentioned, who is going to decide what is good and bad, right or wrong for you or for your family? A neuroscientist in a laboratory.

A hack like Sam Harris proclaims that neuroscience is going to make you the best version of yourself. But, who is going to decide what is best for you? And what if your best is not the best for the community? Someone is going to have to decide between good and bad. Do you want to entrust your future to Sam Harris? If you do, you need treatment.

Even the lighter application must give us pause. Haven’t certain members of the psychiatric community sold us on the virtues of the latest and greatest medication on the grounds, not that it was going to make you feel better but that it was going to make you into another person, or even a better version of yourself?

Beware of scientists who want to run (or ruin) your life.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I am so glad you brought up this topic, because we are at a critical point in this scientism vs. humanity. This is where we have the rationalists (the self-described "brights") making significant gains because their positions are alluring to the cognitive elite who seek to control our lives because we cannot control ourselves, or we are not living as efficiently as they might like us to. And Malcolm Gladwell makes all this complex neuroscience accessible for us all!

Let me illustrate with just a few quotes from your post:

"The neuroscientists, for their part, do not believe in free will and believe that it has been a scourge—because it has made people judgmental."
People are judgmental! Every one of us! This is the crown symptom of the idiocy of the modern age, where people have arrived at this self-congratulatory idea that we should not be "judgmental" (which, of course, means exercising an incorrect judgment). Human beings are judgment machines. We judge all the time. This is the key component of political correctness: that certain judgments are correct based on political stance, and people with specific stances on issues/matters are allowed to share their ideas, while others are forbidden because their ideas are wrong. All humans are certainly able to share their ideas, but then -- should they be wrong -- they are punished, and consequently must be socially isolated. Socially isolating people requires judgment about what they think. It's self-referentially nonsensical.

"Beyond the fact that the thought is muddled, determinists are saying that there is no significant difference between human beings and ants and bees."
That's the idea: human beings are not unique or special. We are bumbling sacks of protoplasm, and just like any other animal. Neuroscientific experiments, data and evidence are shaped and constructed to deliver this judgment, because it is a rationalistic determination of what is correct and incorrect outcome. Thus, the conclusions are based on human judgment. These judgments are black and white, and their standards or evaluation have no qualifications or elasticity. One outcome/result is bad, one is good. Which is quite humorous, since that's what the scientists and rationalists say being "judgmental" is what's bad about humanity.

"There is something profoundly dehumanizing in this silliness."
Of course. It says humanity is bad, and our "errant" judgments represent a disease. Being that we all have judgments, we are all diseased. The world would be best if we weren't around.

"It’s nice in theory, but do you really believe that you can predict anyone’s behavior with 100% accuracy?"
No. If you could, you would be able to make a fortune doing all kinds of things based on economic trading. By predicting how people would act with 100% accuracy, you would effectively destroy all economic "games" and corner markets everywhere. It would effectively arrest economic exchange, because of a breakdown in trust. This would also require an assumption that all things have equal economic value, or at least a standard of economic value based on an astoundingly complex evaluation of an individual's values and behaviors around cause and effect, multiplied by billions of people interacting daily. This is impossible. Were it possible, we would constantly need to assess our brain chemistry before we took any kind of action, lest it be incorrect or economically inefficient. We would be controlled by people making those decisions, which would be judgments, and therefore "judgmental."

Continued below...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

... Continued from above:

"Communists did not believe in free will."
And they still don't! This is why Leftism is so dangerous. At its core, the Left believes human beings are depraved, wretched, and need to be controlled according to Leftist values of equality, which are a human impossibility. Hence, the yearning for freedom which must be eliminated. The intelligent, rational, scientific Leftist will show us how. This is how you get command-and-control, central planning, regulatory socialism, etc. There are other human beings who know better than all the other human beings. Their called experts, specialists. That's why some people are more equal than others. That's why you get corruption of language -- because the truth has to be shaped to exclude the inevitable errors that Leftist experts and specialists foist upon humanity, and then the inevitable negative effects must be denied in favor of more planning by these same experts. "The great and powerful Oz has spoken!"

"Beware of scientists who want to run (or ruin) your life."
Scientific activists, first among them, who get the facts so they can distort them later. Kind of like anthropomorphic global climate change. It's perfect! Take a global inevitability (changing climate, sans dinosaurs) and use the data to show that human beings are an epidemic pall on the future of planet Earth's ecosystem. We must change an infinitely complex system (global climate) through human agency... using a simple solution: limit emissions of carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring molecule that plant life requires to photosynthesize, yet the EPA has recently turned into a bona fide pollutant. And guess who is going to do all this for us? That's right (read the above answers I've offered to Stuart's points). Experts! Specialists! Policy makers! Using SCIENCE! Yay!!! Scientism has all the answers, and they expect you to adhere to their (judgmental) decrees... at the barrel of a gun. Comply or die, human scum!

This is all self-evident poppycock, and misanthropic... the stuff of re-education camps everywhere.

David Foster said...

"The neuroscientists, for their part, do not believe in free will and believe that it has been a scourge—because it has made people judgmental."

If there is no free will, they didn't have any choice but to be judgmental!

More broadly, the assertion that 'you should do X because there is no free will' is self-contradictory. This should be obvious.

Ares Olympus said...

To be fair Cave's article subtitle is "But we’re better off believing in it anyway."

But yes, it seems senseless. I thought quantum mechanics was sufficient to dispel determinism.

And even without quantum effects, chaos theory says even the simplest deterministic recursive systems are too complex to be predictable. That is, even if the universe was deterministic, you'd have to recreate the entire universe in simulation in order to predict any outcome beyond some chaotic limit of a given subsystem of interest. Like planetary motion is deterministic by the laws of gravity but tiny changes in initial conditions can leave planets in completely different outcomes after 10 million years. Feedback loops can amplify tiny uncertainties.

To defend free will, I have no better sources that E.F. Schumacher:
Schumacher points out that there are a number of progressions that take place between the levels. The most striking he believes is the movement from passivity to activity, there is a change in the origination of movement between each level:
* Cause (Mineral kingdom)
* Stimulus (Plant kingdom)
* Motive (Animal kingdom)
* Will (Humanity)

One consequence of this progression is that each level of being becomes increasingly unpredictable, and it is in this sense that humans can be said to have free will.

And "Human beings are highly predictable as physico-chemical systems, less predictable as living bodies, much less so as conscious beings and hardly at all as self aware persons."

I thought his willingness to exclude "Free will" on lower animals might be premature, but I fully accept humans exist in a higher level of awareness than other animals and accept Schumacher calling this "self awareness", which might start in something like being able to recognize yourself in a mirror image which some primates can do.

On personal responsibility, I accept there is something called "moral agency" where you can put yourself in a reflective (rather than reactive state) where you can choose to act or not act, and once you make that choice, you're no longer acting like an animal. And religion expresses this in the myth of the Garden of Eden, eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Once you can imagine the consequences of your actions, then you hold some responsibility for outcomes. But probabilities still cause problems.

Like IAC mentions "anthropomorphic global climate change". If we were Gods and we perfectly knew all consequences to our actions, then we would be 100% responsible for outcomes, but prediction is an imperfect art, even with science on our side. Complex systems have positive and negative feedback loops, and positive feedback expands our effects and negative feedback diminishes them.

Ideally science should be completely dispassionate, and just observe the destruction of the life on earth as if it doesn't matter, as if nothing anyone does matters. That would be "pure" and we could trust they have no bias for our harm or our survival.

Scientific activists that IAC hates believe we have collective free will to change course, while IAC thinks we don't have enough information to predict the future, therefore we should not consider setting limits on human behavior that might not cause any long term harm.

And it is surely true that human culture has such a great momentum that it is almost impossible to believe we can change its course by prudence. So the determinists win by default - and "It's too hard" is an easier rationalization than "But we’re better off believing in [free will] anyway."

Schumacher also talked about this in his "Tasks for humanity" which sees individual humans as being the source of change, not new laws limiting individual action. So we each can vote, within our means, by our own informed conscience.

priss rules said...

Free Will is a philosophical idea, and it can exist in the realm of ethics.

But free will can be challenged by religion and science.

Some religions might say that God preordained everything. Predestination.

Some scientists will say that everything is happening as it should like how billiard balls would act on a pool table. So, we think we are free, but all the neurons in our brains are acting according to a certain cosmic logic and trajectory that's been in play for eons.

So, I don't know and don't much care about free will.

But I think we can agree that 'free choice' is important.

If someone wants to have strawberry ice cream than vanilla ice cream, that should be his or her choice.

Now, some religious people might say "God knew you were going to choice that flavor of ice cream a millions yrs ago."
And some scientists might say, "the physical forces at work a billion yrs ago preordained this moment where you exist and want to have strawberry ice cream."

Be that as it may, but I still think the person should have strawberry ice cream.

So, I'm for free choice.

Free Will? I don't know. I think it's a good idea in the sense that it makes us responsible for what we do. It gives us a sense of agency.

Also, it's a way of saying humans are different from animals in that we can understand things and even act against nature and instinct out of a sense of right and wrong. Free Will empowers us against the raw force of natural instinct.

priss rules said...

The rise of homomania makes me skeptical about human reason.

First, the most educated and intelligent people came up with ideas like 'gay marriage'. Decadence and deviance used to be something to tolerate. Now, it is the foundation of new morality and spirituality.

And then, just because TV ads and celebrities in music and fashion pushed that nonsense on the public, the great majority of young people are for stuff like 'gay marriage' too. And then, we are told Bruce Jenner is a woman because he feels like it and goes around in a dress. Are people really this easy to dupe?

Liberal elites used to be more rational and skeptical in the past as the forces of conservatism were religion and tribalism. Reason was useful against those mindsets.

But now that the Liberal elites hog all the power, they find reason and skepticism to be problematic because rational conservatives find so many holes in PC and other such nonsense. So, Liberalism is now all about turning young kids into mindless drones from young age with heavy does of PC and Pop Culture.

PC plants land mines in the brain. The mind has to think cautiously lest it step on the mines of 'racism', 'sexism', 'homophobia', 'Islamophobia', and etc.

Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker are right about the decline of true liberal culture in American life.

Instead of clearing the mines for free thought, PC plants mines all over to hinder free thought.


Margaret Ball said...

But of course "liberal" thought today requires neither thought, nor consistency, nor acting consonant with the beliefs they proclaim. We've been here before; it's an extreme version of salvation by faith alone. See antinomianism

As for the denial of free will - we've been here before, too. See predestination. Or read James Hogg's "Memoirs of a justified sinner."

Leftism isn't a political stance; it's a religion.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Margaret Ball @June 6, 2016 at 1:07 PM:

Precisely. Antinomianism, indeed. We're back to intellectualizing God's judgment of predestination for salvation or damnation from the start... sometimes theologically known as "double predestination." Never been a fan, nor does it make sense to believe that God damns or saves people from the beginning, which makes life is this cruel test to find out which eternity we enjoy at the end... of which the Salem Witch Trials are one such consequential farce. The Reformation was about a lot more than popes selling indulgences. Indulgences are pointless if the fix is already in. Or, as Stuart has put it, determinism. In this case, religious determinism. Such a God isn't love. So we take a God of the "repressive" Catholic Church and replace it with a monster of our imagination.

Yet humans have to act on faith in order to live, and in the macro sense construct their faith as a philosophy. So institutional religion is replaced with secular religion. The French Revolution was a lovely example... the logical consequence of Rousseau's fantasies divorced from the human condition. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. We know Leftism is a religion, complete with its own dogmas, while condemning others' dogmas. Yet they hold themselves as "tolerant" and "open-minded," yet simultaneously carry on as sanctimonious snobs who would make Napoleon blush. Leftism is, at its core, an assault on standards, because standards require judgments, yet they -- the Anointed -- have discovered that judgments are bad. Even though they have a rich bounty of judgments about other people who disagree with their standards, making Leftism a hypocritical mockery and the intellectual circus we see playing out today on American college campuses.

Secular determinism is no less vacant or cruel than religious determinism. If traditional standards are wicked and religion a relic of absurdity, then I guess I'm a "conservative" who cannot possibly counter these omniscient voices of reason that surround me. If my God is a childish fantasy, then certainly I can persevere knowing I have a Oxford or Cambridge neuroscientist as a fitting replacement. How comforting.

A fitting comment.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Margaret Ball @June 6, 2016 at 1:07 PM:

"But of course 'liberal' thought today requires neither thought, nor consistency, nor acting consonant with the beliefs they proclaim."

Actually, I suspect they are unwittingly and intentionally are acting consonant with their beliefs. A paradox, yes, but reflective of the confusion that passes for wisdom in our educational institutions today. This helter-skelter potpourri is the source of intellectual morass we find ourselves in...

So the neuroscientist doesn't cut it for deification or transfiguration? How could he?

Our college humanities departments are bereft of standards, and simultaneously charging so much to attend. If the admissions process isn't sufficiently a game of chance, the price of said education is the real kicker. That's what's at the heart of this mess.

It would seem some Yale students do not like Shakespeare, complaining the Bard is a dead white male (and, consequently, a bigot). Therefore, the student ought to be free to read whatever they want to read. But the students ARE able to read whatever they want to read, just not for Shakespeare class. This is a conundrum for the student activist. It means what he likes to read should be the required text for the newly-reconstituted English class, which is now (barely) limited to authors who write in English. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the author's message is courageous, truthful or a thoughtful reflection on the human condition, which is the point of studying the humanities... the reason Shakespeare is usually selected.

That's why Shakespeare class is bad and must be eradicated. That's the heart of the real story: this student doesn't like Shakespeare. It's hard to read. Shakespeare doesn't look like him, write like him or think like him. Hence, Shakespeare is a problem. Smart people get into Yale. Smart people aren't stupid. Therefore, Shakespeare is stupid. Shakespeare has to go.

Yale could choose an author who is a lesbian, unionized vegan who happens to be Native American. She may be deemed superior to the old Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon. But let's be honest with ourselves... it takes a big honkin' judgment to get to that conclusion. Why is she a superior author for study? Because of her politics? Because she is powerless? Okay, great. That's a standard. That's political correctness. That's the powerful telling the less powerful what they ought read. One cannot escape the inane, circular logic.

Why don't Leftists just come out and say they don't have standards for study other than reading and reflecting on the musings of people they deem "downtrodden?" It provides the opportunity to get a humanities degree in "downtroddenness." That's a standard. Just don't tell me standards are not important. These people don't want to be held to standards of any value, and that's why the value of a university humanities degree is falling, because the evaluation standards are becoming silly.

That's what Yale students pay $45,800 per year in tuition and fees for. That's the value Yale says a Yale "education" is worth. And the students are upset when they can't find applicable employment for their expertise in understanding or being downtrodden. If I were the students, I'd be pretty pissed, too. But no, the students want MORE of this idiocy so their degree is worth LESS.

And Yale will tell you it's not about the money (which means it is about the money). Yale gave back a $20 million grant for an intensive Western Civilization curriculum. Why did it break down? Because the donor, Mr. Bass, wanted the right to approve the program's professors. And why wouldn't he, given the way college education is going?

That's what deconstruction and postmodernism get you. If anything goes, then nothing has value. We're all equally miserable. That's the point of Leftism, right?

Ares Olympus said...

AIC, wow, that's a long way off topic. I wonder how free will becomes a Left/Right debate while I don't think either side collectively accepts a singular answer.

I am curious what "religious determinism" is. Is that where we're all descended from Adam and Eve, and therefore carry original sin? Or did Jesus' death and resurrection lift that curse for us Christians?

Anyway, for some reason I'm not offended by Mr. Cave's philosophical thoughts. Since we don't even know precisely what we mean by free will, it perhaps may or may not exist as we define it. But in any case, it looks useful to consider believing in free will, or that our conscience can lead us to better choices, is a good thing, even if it doesn't exist.

And perhaps Schumacher is right - animals don't have free will, and people are also animals even if also more than animals, so we have a choice whether to develop our greater sides that stop us from being reactive fools looking for a scapegoat to explain our feeling bad about ourselves.

Of course giving sacrifices, however unfair to the victim, may be uniquely human, and yet the first step towards our humanity, where we diverge from the rest of nature. But it's a crude step, as Jesus perhaps noted.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @June 6, 2016 at 5:35 PM:

It's IAC, not AIC. Write clearly.

"I am curious what 'religious determinism' is."

Okay, well you're the Wikipedia king... look it up. I'm not going to spell it out for you.

"I wonder how free will becomes a becomes a Left/Right debate..."

Ares, I've wondered for some time how your thinking works and what half of what you write has to do with the topic at hand, so cut me some slack. As for HOW it becomes a Left/Right issue, take a look at the substance of Margaret Ball's comments at 1:07 PM and their direct reference to ideology. That's who I was responding to. I dealt with her comments in the comment afterward, and ranged beyond it in the one thereafter. A pity you weren't able to keep up.

As for humanity and "giving sacrifices," there is no worship without sacrifice. Gandhi said that.

AesopFan said...

On the subject of Free Will and Responsibility
(lifted from a commenter on another blog):

As Glenn Reynolds so wisely notes today on twitter

“Everything everyone else does is Trump’s fault.”

Dennis said...


Your responses to Ares are worth the time and enjoyment of reading them.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Dennis @June 7, 2016 at 5:28 AM:

Thank you for letting me know of this. I shall endeavor to write more in this regard, lest I receive pleading from Sam L. or Stuart that I not. I don't want to be a boor, but must confess a light saber (or laser plume) duel with Ares Olympus can be quite fun sometimes. A guilty pleasure, I confess. He can be so silly...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

AesopFan @June 6, 2016 at 9:10 PM:

Yes, indeed. This summer will be forever remembered as "2016: The Summer of Trump the Antichrist!" Trump will replace George W. Bush as the receptacle (and responsible party) for all of life's problems.

You know, at first I thought Trump's comments about Judge Curiel's ability to evaluate his case impartially was (yet another) one of Trump's unforced errors. Cringe-worthy, really. At least I cringed. And all the news outlets piled on. And I cringed some more. After all, why on earth does the Republican presidential nominee have to be spouting off about the bona fides and impartiality of a federal district judge? And does Trump really have to be defending his Trump University business when he's now running for the highest political office in the land? Even his talking about how great his golf courses are seems a bit silly at this point in the process.

I thought Trump was off his rocker. Perhaps he was. But maybe he wasn't.

I noticed something very interesting on the weekend news programs and commentary about Trump's terrible slur. I noticed the media was back to being universally apoplectic at how evil, intemperate and rotten Trump is. Unfit, unfit! Out, damn spot! Out, I say! All kinds of Republican politicians were "distancing" themselves from Mr. Trump's comments. The commentators were falling all over themselves to demonstrate how they thought this was so awful, awful, awful. And more awful. Just horrible. Wicked. Disgusting. In fact, they were using so many superlatives to demonstrate how bad this was that they ran out of words. In fact, with all the superlatives, bloviating and losing their breath to go on and on about the sheer awfulness of all this, they sounded like... Trump. Curious. Isn't Trump's hyperbolic delivery what they make fun of him for?

But the other part that caught my attention was that the line of attack went something like this (said in a snide fashion, of course, as though it's SO obvious): "Judge Curiel is a respected jurist who happens to be of Mexican descent, and -- my God! -- the man is from Indiana! Ha-ha-ha! (chuckle, smirk) He could hardly a liberal firebrand. Donald Trump is a fool." Or something to that effect. Which is quite interesting. Let me get this straight... Donald Trump is a moron for equating someone of Mexican descent as not being capable of impartiality, yet in the same breath this wise journalist is making it seem more silly by... invoking Curiel's "state of origin"? What does Indiana have to do with anything? Is Indiana some kind of monolithic place? Are persons of Mexican descent magically made "more American" -- and, er, possibly more Republican, conservative or judicially wise/blind/impartial -- because they are from INDIANA??? My goodness, did Mr. Curiel also grow up playing basketball and farming corn? Does he identify as a Hoosier, Boilermaker or Fighting Irish fan? Can he identify as "Fighting Irish" if he is in fact of Mexican heritage? So let me see, Trump is a fool and a hater for bringing up whether this Curiel can be impartial, but of course it is silly to do so because Curiel is from Indiana. Wow. My God, Curiel went to Indiana for undergrad and law school during the golden years of the Bobby Knight basketball era, and Bobby Knight endorsed... TRUMP! Madness! Maybe Curiel is secretly a Trump supporter because he (Curiel) secretly worships Bobby Knight! He should be pulled from the case! He can't be impartial! Stop the madness!

See how insane this can all be? We have journalists frothing at the mouth about prejudice, later saying that this person's childhood was spent in a state where he couldn't possibly be infected with partisan stereotypes. Based on where he grew up. Honest to God. These Lefty journalists can't open their mouths without betraying their own biases, while castigating other people for having bias.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

AesopFan @June 6, 2016 at 9:10 PM:

Since you seem to enjoy Glenn Reynolds, I thought you might enjoy and article (and another supporting Reynolds' reference in said article) that I think captures what this entire Trump campaign/phenomenon is all about:

Glenn Reynolds:

Gelertner’s column referenced is here:

You can only call people names (read: BIGOT) for so long before they say "Enough." I suspect this transgender issue is the breaking point.