March 23, 2017

"What's the most pointless argument you've been passionately involved in?"

A Reddit discussion. The top-rated answer is:
My junior year of high school I got into a very heated debate with my friend over whether Cheetos were considered chips. After half an hour of yelling about this he finally called frito-lay headquarters to ask their opinion on the matter. I was right, they're not chips :)
Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
I remember an epic argument about whether Minnesota is "almost in Canada."
And:
A famous argument I remember having was whether or not the crust of the bread is indeed considered to be "bread" itself, or if it is in fact another, distinct product known as "crust."
I'm amused by that use of the word "famous."

Here are some things I've found myself arguing about far longer than sanity would advise:

1. Whether butterflies are insects. I found myself resorting to statements like: "If you don't think they're insects, what do you think they are? Birds?!!???"

2. At what age do you become "middle aged"? I was in my 20s and saying "middle age" must start by 40 or 45 because it's considered the longest period of one's life, and I was talking to a woman who was almost 60 and wouldn't even concede that she was middle aged. One of her arguments was that the President of the United States — Gerald Ford, in his early 60s — shouldn't be considered middle aged yet because he played golf.

3. Who was conceived in the "immaculate conception"? I was at a dinner party with Madison academics and their spouses in the 1980s and got hooted down by people who sure the answer was Jesus. I was hampered by: a. No iPhone and no Google to make the correct answer obvious, b. Not seeing any social benefit in arguing about religion at a dinner party with people who were ready to be so ignorant and assholian about religion, c. Thinking about how much money I could make taking bets and distracted by the static of the idea that it would not be religiously correct.

4. Whether it is possible to picture infinite planets. I was willing to concede that there could be an infinite number of planets, but stood firm on my own personal subjective inability to imagine such a thing. How can you argue with that? I was with someone whose point of view was: How can you NOT argue with that? I could not be left alone with my imaginative shortcoming. I said I understood the idea of infinite space and could imagine infinite space, but a whole planet.... I'm picturing each one with a number on it. You never run out of numbers. So how could there be any planet that could not have a number to go with it? I don't need you to agree with me, you can even pity me in my disability, but leave me alone with it. NO!!! It's as though my non-infinite-mindedness was contagious and he had to cure me so he didn't catch it. Or maybe he was so angry because he did catch it and it horrified him.

261 comments:

1 – 200 of 261   Newer›   Newest»
I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I love this post; I love that you were correct about #3; I LOVE your use of the word 'assholian.'

rehajm said...

The Tastes Great!/Less Filling! Conflagration of the 70s that 'spilled' over into the 80s.

rehajm said...

If life were only like this...

L Brash said...

It wasn't Jesus?

rhhardin said...

Are hot dogs sandwiches? Are Cheetos chips?

Every word has marginal cases, and if you know the word you'll know when it's a marginal case and when it's not.

No definition is fully spelled out. You apply elements that are unspoken that tell you how to use the word. There are doubtful cases. This isn't a mistake.

Classic elaboration, Cavell on chairs here.

J2 said...

#3 - I had to look it up and I can't wait to use it.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

And the most pointless argument in the world is whatever trivial crap my teenagers are bickering about at any given moment, each sure that she is correct.

Although I was amused to eavesdrop on them arguing about climate change last night, with more awareness of the science of the matter than I currently possess. The eldest was taking the 'humans are so puny and earth processes are so huge that we can't possibly affect them to the extent that the alarmists claim' tack while her sister was talking about - well I can't even remember but it sounded legit, regarding rates of carbon something something. They both agreed, however, that we can start acting worried when the people who tell us to be worried start acting worried themselves, which I assume would make Glenn Reynolds smile. I lobbed over that after their school makes them watch An Inconvenient Truth they should pass around their smartphones with a picture of Al Gore's house.

David Begley said...

Althouse was Google before Google was Google. I went to Catholic schools and I got number 3 wrong.

David Begley said...

And one of my uncles was a priest at Immaculate Conception church!

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

L Brash -- the Catholic church holds (extrabiblically, Protestants would claim) that the Holy Spirit caused Mary to be born without the stain of original sin and so was in a state of grace without needing baptism.

rehajm said...

Whats more important here: absurdity of the topic or the time and effort exerted during the argument?

J2 said...

My most ferocious argument, 1974. Was Patty Hearst a willing participant in the San Francisco bank robbery (me) or coerced to participate. I made the cab driver pull over and left my date in the cab.

TerriW said...

An argument with a college boyfriend about whether a particular video game was a video game or a "flying simulator."

He stormed out of the apartment on that one.

I still think I was right, but older now, I suppose I've learned to just nod and smile when I don't really care and they really, really do.

Ann Althouse said...

"Whats more important here: absurdity of the topic or the time and effort exerted during the argument?"

We could argue about that.

F said...

TerriW

"I don't really care and they really, really do."

I read that as "and those stupid men really, really do." Was I far off on that?

Darrell said...

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Immaculate Conception--born without Original Sin.

Ann Althouse said...

These arguments can all shift to the subject of why are we arguing about this... and then that can be a very substantial argument.

I think one of the Reddit answers is something like that: An argument that becomes an argument about how we argued, but I don't think such arguments are pointless, because you're analyzing the relationship and trying to develop a skill that will be useful in the future: how to avoid arguments.

BTW, want to argue about whether the phrase "useful in the future" is redundant? I say it is.

Birkel said...

Longbows versus crossbows.

Laslo Spatula said...

At a bar I frequent I once got a two-hour argument going by positing that a BLT was NOT a sandwich.

People got passionate that it was. What constitutes the True Nature of the Sandwich ensued.

The easy argument: anything between two slices of bread is a sandwich.

Counterpoint: why then is an 'open-face' sandwich still a sandwich, being that it is lacking the second piece of bread.

One piece of bread would make it closer to an open-face burrito.

What is inside determines the viability of sandwich. The BLT is not a sandwich: it is just condiments between bread.

We know what we mean when we say 'sandwich meats'. Bacon is NOT a sandwich meat. It is a topping.

If the bread was hamburger buns the BLT would be a bacon-cheeseburger with no cheese and no burger, and that is not a burger at all, i.e. Not A Sandwich.

A sandwich needs sandwich meats, peanut butter or cheese to be a sandwich. Add cheese to a BLT and grill it and now you have not a grilled BLT with cheese but a grilled-cheese sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Oh boy, it went on.

Just mentioning a BLT now causes people to tense up and shake their heads.

I am Laslo.



TerriW said...

It took me a very long time to figure out that some people actually enjoy this nit-picking arguing. (I do not. I enjoy idea exchange and learning and reading arguments, but not human-friction/emotional sport arguing, exactly. Stereotypical "books, not people" person.)

...and that it's purely optional. Especially so on the internet! Why is everything with some people an argument? Perhaps because they want it to be.

William said...

There used to be a lot of debate about the moral superiority of a vaginal versus clitoral orgasm. Women because of their obvious biases were not allowed to participate in these debates. It was the opinion of most theologians that if Mary ever had an orgasm, she would have a vaginal one, but she probably refrained from such activity. Jesus had some younger brothers. I wonder if they suffered from sibling rivalry. If your older brother was God would sibling rivalry be a form of blasphemy? There's nothing like religion to stimulate pointless arguments and even wars.

DanTheMan said...

>"Whats more important here: absurdity of the topic or the time and effort exerted during the argument?"

Isn't it the product of those two factors? We have four combinations:
1) Quick and absurd
2) Quick and not absurd
3) Prolonged, and not absurd
4) Prolonged, and absurd

Clearly, we are looking for examples of scenario 4: Long involved heated arguments over trivia.

And OF COURSE Zaxxon was a video game, and not a flying simulator. Sheesh... everybody know s that! :)

Ann Althouse said...

I think one of my interlocutors at the 1980s dinner table made the argument Are you Catholic? Like: If the answer's not yes, how could I know?

Apparently a lot of Catholics don't know.

I thought it was a pretty standard item of information, but it seems to be something that's highly susceptible to an incorrect assumption that people feel very sure is correct and then they carry it around so long they're sure they know.

That gives rise to another question, which I'll put in a separate post so I don't hijack this thread.

Virgil Hilts said...

If men should leave the toilet seat down when they are done and, if so, is it OK to urinate with the toilet seat down rather than up (I think the toilet seat should always be left up when not in use).

Bill said...

My two Wisconsin aunts got into an argument about cows in 1965 and didn't speak for years. Never learned the details of the argument.

Virgil Hilts said...

The immaculate conception is a great one that will routinely shock people in their 50s with multiple advanced degrees.

TerriW said...

F: Ha! That's funny, but no.

In many cases, it was the inversion of the trope. It wasn't until he stormed out that I had any idea that this was something you could even *be* emotional about. I had thought we were discussing semantics and definitions. I really didn't understand people at *all* back then.

(Still barely do.)

JHapp said...

But the Jesus egg was there before Mary was born.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

A related question: What's the most pointless argument you've been passionately involved in, in which you were wrong?

DanTheMan said...

>>My two Wisconsin aunts got into an argument about cows in 1965

Do you tip them to the right or left, perhaps?

Roughcoat said...

All good Catholics (and even a whole of half-assed ones) have memorized the "Divine Praises," in which we pray:

Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.

There's your answer.

As for the most pointless argument: every argument I have with me wife. Pointless, because no one ever wins.

Sebastian said...

"I was willing to concede that there could be an infinite number of planets, but stood firm on my own personal subjective inability to imagine such a thing. How can you argue with that? I was with someone whose point of view was: How can you NOT argue with that? I could not be left alone with my imaginative shortcoming. I said I understood the idea of infinite space and could imagine infinite space, but a whole planet.... I'm picturing each one with a number on it. You never run out of numbers."

An intuition about intuitionism: "Brouwer rejected the concept of actual infinity, but admitted the idea of potential infinity. "According to Weyl 1946, 'Brouwer made it clear, as I think beyond any doubt, that there is no evidence supporting the belief in the existential character of the totality of all natural numbers ... the sequence of numbers which grows beyond any stage already reached by passing to the next number, is a manifold of possibilities open towards infinity; it remains forever in the status of creation, but is not a closed realm of things existing in themselves. That we blindly converted one into the other is the true source of our difficulties, including the antinomies – a source of more fundamental nature than Russell's vicious circle principle indicated. Brouwer opened our eyes and made us see how far classical mathematics, nourished by a belief in the 'absolute' that transcends all human possibilities of realization, goes beyond such statements as can claim real meaning and truth founded on evidence." (Kleene (1952): Introduction to Metamathematics, p. 48-49)"

exhelodrvr1 said...

Jelly sandwiches, Laslo. Jelly sandwiches.

Original Mike said...

Wow, I'm not as big an asshole as I thought. (There are other, bigger assholes).

Henry said...

I don't remember, but it was with my brother.

Bob Boyd said...

Sounds like the Immaculate Conception was something worked out by Mary's lawyers after the fact.

Laslo Spatula said...

The odds of the last digit of Pi being one-in-ten.

Because it would need to be one of the single digits.

Or do you factor into the odds whether there IS a last digit to Pi? How then do you figure those odds?

Does Pi eventually come back on itself like a Möbius strip, and the last digit is the first digit?

Shades of Althouse's Infinite Planets, of course.

I am Laslo.

Henry said...

It wasn't Jesus?

It was Franco Harris.

Sebastian said...

Most absurd arguments I ever got into were with my friends Harry and Tony. Harry kept going on and on about how the Constitution says there's a right to abortion, and Tony outdid him by saying it required states to legalize same-sex marriage. Hard to believe, I know. Shoulda picked better friends. Both had a kinky taste for black polyester outfits.

Henry said...

Bob Boyd! You're making the same mistake!

Henry said...

Actually, Mary's lawyers did work it out in the 19th century.

Original Mike said...

I stopped believing that the universe could be spatially infinite when I learned that requires there be an infinite numbers of me (and the iPad I'm tying on, and the chair I'm sitting in, ...).

Ann Althouse said...

"Are hot dogs sandwiches?"

The answer is here.

Ann Althouse said...

"Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception."

Depends on what the meaning of "her" is. If you've got the Jesus answer lodged in your head, that phrase isn't necessarily going to knock it out.

Bob Boyd said...

@Henry
Same mistake?

Henry said...

@Bob -- I jumped the gun perhaps. I was thinking you should have said that it was Saint Anne that needed the lawyers, but in fact the theologians got to her by working backwards from Jesus.

JRoberts said...

This sounds like college dorm room bull sessions.

However, most of us grow up. The remainder become liberal Democrats.

Bob Boyd said...

A guy once told me Immaculate Conception meant they did it through a hole in a sheet.
I didn't get into that argument.

Freeman Hunt said...

I was 21 and ordering pizza. My brother wanted me to order a pizza without sauce for him. A passionate argument ensued.

Wilbur said...

As teens my friend and I used to endlessly argue over who was better: Billy Williams (me) or Carl Yasztremski (him). I will ruefully concede to him now that Yaz was a better all-around player.

He also argued that it was OK to fart in his own car because a man's car is his fart castle. His unknowing appeal to English common law failed to sway his friends.

Bob Boyd said...

@Henry
When you go public, everybody needs lawyers.

rhhardin said...

The trouble with hot dog sandwiches is that you don't eat them like you eat sandwiches.

There's an end that you have to start at.

Amuse your lunch companions by starting in the middle sometime.

Original Mike said...

...and infinite numbers of me misspelling "typing" (and infinite numbers of me not misspelling "typing")...

Laurent Canup said...

Mine was last year and it was about the word "decimate". I was arguing that it was sad that the word which basically means a 1/10th of something was being used now to mean the majority. I wasn't arguing the words don't/shouldn't "evolve" but that the word should continue to hold its meaning instead of now meaning something completely different.

Another argument used against me was that it was originally meant as tithing which didn't hold water as tithing is still a smaller percentage and not the majority of your earnings. I think the reason behind that argument was to counter my romanticism of the word as it was related to Roman punishment of their legions.

After awhile I had to let it go as I was getting way too impassioned over it all.

Freeman Hunt said...

"You ordered the pizza for the man the way he liked it, in the end."

Ha! Did you have siblings? If I had to guess based on this comment, I'd guess not.

Darrell said...

You ordered the pizza for the man the way he liked it, in the end.

Nah. She told her it's not a pizza without the sauce and to eat it or GTFO.

Owen said...

Laslo: you made a fundamental error there on BLT.

Bacon is not a topping. It is THE fundamental food, the big wide part at the base of the nutritional pyramid. This fact obviously affects your argument.

Perhaps unrelatedly I think "assholian" is the Word of the Year. Professor Althouse is precluded from winning the thread, but in a better world she would.

Roger Sweeny said...

We taught our kids (born 1983 and 1987, so slightly pre-Google) NEVER to argue about something if you could quickly find the answer by looking it up or asking someone.

Lucien said...

As a lawyer I have had repeated discussions with other lawyers (who else?) about whether it is more proper to say: "Attached as Exhibit A is a true and correct copy of . . .", or "Attached as Exhibit A is a duplicate of . . ."

dustbunny said...

For years my husband and I argued whether doing the right thing was easy or hard. He thought it was easy. it always devolved into arguments about the definition of 'the right thing'.

Fernandinande said...

1. Whether butterflies are insects.

Even when they have no legs or more than six legs?

2. "middle age" must start by 40 or 45

Correct. Half a typical life-span.

3. Who was conceived in the "immaculate conception"?

That would be Coyolxanuhqui; father was a knife.

4. Whether it is possible to picture infinite planets.

Nope. Most people can only picture around 8 to 12 things before they start arranging them into groups and patterns; 10 = two groups of five. Try imagining 10 or 20 dots arranged semi-randomly like stars.

Brando said...

I wasn't involved in this argument, but a friend of mine told me his dad and step-mom used to have a game when they were at restaurants trying to imagine what other random couples were talking about. Apparently they got into a big long fight over different theories about what another couple was talking about, and the fight lasted for days.

I imagine if another couple had seen them arguing, and couldn't overhear them, and tried to imagine what they were fighting about, they never could have imagined anything as stupid as the truth.

Bob Boyd said...

This Immaculate Conception thing is kind of like:

Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?

Um...Grant?

Nope. Grant's mother.

JAORE said...

The tern immaculate conception is linked to Mary. But how misnamed. IIRC she was conceived normally and THEN her soul was cleansed.

Fake news!

JAORE said...

"Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?

Um...Grant?

Nope. Grant's mother."

Nope squared.

Technically no one is "buried"in a tomb. Secondly it is Grant and his wife.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Is cheesecake a "cake" or a "pie"?

Pies have crusts. Cheese cakes have crust. Ergo it is a pie. Then why do we call it a cake? Why isn't it a cheese pie?

Argument was never resolved, but we ate the thing anyway.

Roger Sweeny said...

This makes me think of the George Carlin routine where he and his teenage friends would "take a whole week thinking up trick questions for Father Russell" and argue fine points of Catholic doctrine with him (beginning at 34:40):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78XRxIKE0MY

Karen of Texas said...

JAORE - Nope. IIRC Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin at all. Her conception was "clean" (immaculate). Her soul was placed in that tiny union of sperm and egg without Adam and Eve's misdeed hanging over her head.

Jake said...

Anyone interested in arguing about whether Althouse was stoned when conceiving this post?

Brando said...

"Pies have crusts. Cheese cakes have crust. Ergo it is a pie. Then why do we call it a cake? Why isn't it a cheese pie?"

I always thought of it as a pie. But then, how does one define a cake? Is it lack of crust that makes it a cake? Or a spongy baked flour-based filling?

The only way for me to find the answer to this is to eat a lot of both.

Brando said...

"Anyone interested in arguing about whether Althouse was stoned when conceiving this post?"

We'll know for sure if her next post is about what the color red should "sound like."

Mike Sylwester said...

In this blog, the most pointless argument is about the significance of Chuck saying he is a "life-long Republican".

As soon as I glimpse that phrase in a comment, I skip past the comment. That's an enormous number of comments.

JAORE said...

Karen of TX

Argue with Wiki

"The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was conceived by normal biological means in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne, but God acted upon her soul, keeping it "immaculate"."

Doesn't Wiki outweigh the Pope?

Amadeus 48 said...

There are no pointless arguments. The point of every argument is to show that I am right and you are wrong.

Rusty said...

A heated argument with my older brother on the relative merits of the Algonquin vs the Ojibwa style of canoe.
It did manage to eat up the hours on our way to the U P though.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There are no pointless arguments. The point of every argument is to show that I am right and you are wrong.

Damned straight!!! And if it takes all night and another bottle of wine I will do it!!!

:-D

MadisonMan said...

This is an entertaining thread.

It wasn't Jesus?

No. The son of God had to be born of a woman who lacked Original Sin, and therefore it was she who was produced by, if that's the right word, Immaculate Conception.

I think the most inane arguments I've participated in were preceded by some kind of imbibed alcohol.

I won't link to the Argument Clinic. Too obvious.

MadisonMan said...

Cheesecakes are cakes, by the way -- I say that because they contain eggs. Pies do not.

Original Mike said...

"Original sin" was a nudge (a pretty strong one) on my road to atheism.

Roy Lofquist said...

Sebastian nailed it. In the late 1800s Georg Cantor published his works on set theory and infinities. This resulted in furious disagreements amongst some of the smartest people in history - Poincare, Kronecker, Weyl, Wittgenstein, Hilbert ... The brouhaha was exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of 10 years old girls with IQs of 200.

JAORE said...

OK, Wiki was a (semi) jest. From the "Catholic Encyclopedia":

Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body.

Robert said...

Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception.

EDH said...

Who would win: Ali or Frasier.

Literally, groups of kids formed "kick-lines" on the elementary school playground during recess. The group would lock arms, walk the playground in unison and would kick anyone they would approach who wouldn't agree/join with that group. Just before the Ali-Frasier fight, these groups were hugest kick-lines I ever saw. No comparison before or after.

Not exactly an incubator of free thought. Reminds me of college campuses today.

AlbertAnonymous said...

The immaculate conception, even among many Catholics, is misunderstood. It makes perfect sense if you spend any time thinking about it.

I believe many Catholics are confused because the Gospel reading for the "feast of the Immaculate Conception" (Mary's conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne) is the same reading we hear on the "feast of the annunciation" (Gabriel announcing to Mary the upcoming conception of Jesus in Mary's womb). Luke 1:26 and following. It's read for different reasons, but I think adds to the confusion.

While many, even Catholics, have trouble understanding or believing the concept, fortunately we have the words of Mary herself, spoken to a young girl, Saint Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858 when Our Lady of Lourdes, in response to Bernadette's question "who are you" replied simply: "I am the Immaculate Conception."

JohnAnnArbor said...

One good example.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Madison Man

Cheesecakes are cakes, by the way -- I say that because they contain eggs. Pies do not.

Well, then.....how do you explain Pumpkin Pie!

Ha!

Owen said...

Learning so much on this thread, thanks! Some of it may even be true.

I like the discussion of infinities, whether astronomical, mathematical or theological.

And what ARE the respective merits of the Algonquin and Ojibwa canoes?

tcrosse said...

Cheesecakes are cakes, by the way -- I say that because they contain eggs. Pies do not.
So do urinal cakes contain eggs ? Or are they really pies ?
This sounds like an early Seinfeld riff.

Bob Boyd said...

"Pies do not"

What about Meringue pies?
I guess you've never eaten egg pie either.

Bob Boyd said...

Could you get into trouble if you refused to put in fresh urinal cakes for a gay wedding?

wwww said...



Is Wisconsin the north or the midwest?

Soda or Pop?

campy said...

Pies have crusts.

Boston Cream Pie doesn't.

Roughcoat said...

Depends on what the meaning of "her" is. If you've got the Jesus answer lodged in your head, that phrase isn't necessarily going to knock it out.

I had to think about that one for few moments. My parish priest once admitted to me that he got the answer wrong on his "priest test" or whatever they call it: he believed, erroneously of course, that it was Christ who had been conceived immaculately in Mary's womb.

I don't recall him saying whether he was punished by having a fierce ancient nun rap his knuckles with a ruler.

mockturtle said...

Not sure the argument is pointless but the most futile argument I've had---and it was a longstanding one--was which has priority, individual rights or the good of the whole. Debating with a close friend, I've always argued the former, she the latter. We both made good sense and there was probably more simple logic on her side. But I still believe I was right.

Andrew Pardue said...

AlbertAnonymous said
I believe many Catholics are confused because the Gospel reading for the "feast of the Immaculate Conception" (Mary's conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne) is the same reading we hear on the "feast of the annunciation" (Gabriel announcing to Mary the upcoming conception of Jesus in Mary's womb). Luke 1:26 and following. It's read for different reasons, but I think adds to the confusion.


That confusion could be fixed by shortening the Gospel reading 1:26 - 1:30 or just go right to the point and just hit 1:28 with the angel saying "Hail, full of grace" which wouldn't be true if sin had touched her. Of course that would make it about her and the whole point of every Marian dogma is that they are ultimately about her son and not her.

Amadeus 48 said...

So, what is zero divided by zero?
Three possible answers:
1. 0
2. 1
3. infinity

I say all three are correct. What say you?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Boston Cream Pie doesn't.

I know. So why is it called a pie and not a cake?? :-)

(Mmmmmm....I may have to make one of those tomorrow.)

If I fall out of this argument it isn't because I have given up!! Never give up, never surrender.

It is because I now have to drive for 4 hours and go pick up a 3HP pump and controller to go into a 400 ft well for an emergency job. Continue with the cake vs pie controversy. Save any good recipes!

Chuck said...

Mike Sylwester said...
In this blog, the most pointless argument is about the significance of Chuck saying he is a "life-long Republican".

As soon as I glimpse that phrase in a comment, I skip past the comment. That's an enormous number of comments.


You have no idea, how fervently I agree with you. I'd like to say that I never understood the point of the argument, except that I do; it is to somehow discredit me, and by extension, my criticism of Trump. But would it matter? Is a left-winger's criticism of Trump any less valid than a Republican's criticism of Trump. There are vast numbers of both; liberals (who basically ALL hate Trump) and Republicans/conservatives (many of whom hate Trump). It's not like I am so special. The only reason I can't give up on the fight, is because I don't want to be a liberal; I don't want to be associated with liberals. I'd be a liar if I allowed the presumption(s) to go unanswered.

What I don't get, is the persistence with which that line of argument is maintained. Who believes it? Some tiny sub-set of a handful of commenters is all that I can imagine. Because I have never once spoken up for a liberal cause on this blog. And every time I challenge someone to find a liberal-advocacy quote from me, they can't do it.

'Tis a pity, that I had to write all of that. In other circumstances, I'd have simply posted the link (below) to the fabulous Monty Python "Argument Clinic" sketch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

And everybody would have gotten to the fun part quicker.

Bob Boyd said...

Why was Lassie always whining?

1. Chronic pain
2. Emotional problems
3. A character flaw

Chuck said...

Amadeus 48 said...
There are no pointless arguments. The point of every argument is to show that I am right and you are wrong.


I was going to post, "No, you are wrong, that is not the point of every argument. /s/"

But why bother, when the Monty Python troupe wrote the book on that subject? (See link just above.)

David said...

Cheesecakes are cakes, by the way -- I say that because they contain eggs. Pies do not.

Consider the quiche. Then commence argument.

The books are full of eggless cake recipes,

Pianoman said...

Whether or not a deviled egg is considered "half an egg", because the original egg was cut in half to make it.

And then what happens if you cut that deviled egg in half? Do you now have "half an egg"? Or do you have twice as many "deviled eggs" as you had before?

David said...

Why was Lassie always whining?

1. Chronic pain
2. Emotional problems
3. A character flaw


4. Wanted better billing
5. Thought she was a character actress not an action hero
6. Female

mockturtle said...

Amadeus proposes: So, what is zero divided by zero?
Three possible answers:
1. 0
2. 1
3. infinity

I say all three are correct. What say you?


I agree and I would be interested to hear a dissenting argument.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

A sandwich needs sandwich meats, peanut butter or cheese to be a sandwich. Add cheese to a BLT and grill it and now you have not a grilled BLT with cheese but a grilled-cheese sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomato.

In the summer I often eat tomato sandwiches, which are thickly sliced homegrown tomatoes salted and peppered placed between two slices of bread that has had plenty of homemade mayo slathered on them. This could be called a BLT minus the bacon and lettuce.

mockturtle said...

Cheesecakes are cakes, by the way -- I say that because they contain eggs. Pies do not.

So wrong! Pumpkin pies contain eggs. So do most cream pies and custard pie.

Meade said...

Eggs or no eggs, trust me — once you've tried a ho-made pie, you'll never go back to pies made by anyone else.

exiledonmainstreet said...

6. Female

3/23/17, 10:39 AM

But the dogs who played Lassie were always male! So perhaps the whining was due to gender confusion, or the indignity of having a girl's name.

Earnest Prole said...

That Democrats and Republicans are like Coke and Pepsi.

MadisonMan said...

I say all three are correct. What say you?

You cannot have 3 different answers. 0 != 1, for example, ever.

Of course, I was wrong about eggs in pies too. Apparently. ;)

Freeman Hunt said...

My son and I have an ongoing argument that gets passionate at times about whether or not 1 should be considered a prime number. He stopped speaking to me for ten minutes once over it.

Meade said...

"But the dogs who played Lassie were always male! So perhaps the whining was due to gender confusion, or the indignity of having a girl's name."

1. Lassie was a sensitive male. 2. Timmy was in trouble and need help. 3. Lassie's whine, in dog language, meant,"Hey, you're the ones with prehensile hands, you stupid primates, YOU grab the rope to pull Timmy out of the well while I use my bare teeth to hold the bad guys until Sheriff Jones gets here."

Meade said...

1 is not only a prime number, it is the prime-iest of prime numbers. Ouch — ten minutes, in kid years, is like months.

Freeman Hunt said...

"1 is not only a prime number, it is the prime-iest of prime numbers."

My son would like you very much.

Amadeus 48 said...

The argument for 0/0=1 is that any number divided by itself is 1. Zero is a number, so 0/0=1. The argument for 0/0=0 is that nothing divided by nothing is nothing.
The argument for 0/0 = infinity is that anything divided by zero=infinity.
I think there is a plan for a three act play in there somewhere.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm going to argue that it's not a sandwich if the 2 parts of the bread are not completely separated. The trouble with a hot dog is that you have only one open end to a roll that is incompletely separated, so what should be on the side in a true sandwich is held so it's on top. It's just a split roll, filled.

Reminds me of the problem with the 2-part apple described at the Metafilter link.

Ann Althouse said...

"Also in college, we were allowed to take one item of food from the dining hall -- a piece of hand fruit, a mini-baguette, a pastry, something like that. My roommate once cut an apple in half and they refused to let her take both halves out of the dining hall because it was two items. We argued with the dining hall exit monitors for like ten minutes (and lost) ... and then I wrote a column for the newspaper continuing the argument, using arguments from most major areas of study at the university (1/2 apple plus 1/2 apple = 1 apple in the math department sort of thing). And then a bunch of people wrote letters in response, and response letters in response to the response letters."

Jim Gust said...

As to the infinite number of planets, there is more than one infinity. Although all infinities are boundless, some infinities are provably larger than other infinities.

I learned that at MIT. A course that was nicknamed "Math for Poets."

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Lassie was stating, in dog language, "That stupid kid Timmy has fallen down the well again. You really should put some kind of cover over that thing."

Meade said...

It's a sandwich if you can hold it in one hand and eat it while holding your poker cards in the other.

Meade said...

Sorry, Freeman, I can't hear you. I have my fingers in my ears and *blah blah blah*

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Tomato sandwiches cannot be eaten during the winter because those things they sell at grocery markets are inedible. Good tomatoes can be acquired from road side stands and farmers markets in season, but you should find a vendor you can rely on. Some of those road side stands are just selling the same tomatoes you could buy at a produce market, only at a jacked up price.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Speaking of talking dogs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfCCwEf_J5A

Henry said...

Chuck wrote: What I don't get, is the persistence with which that line of argument is maintained.

Chuck, sorry to say this, but I don't get the persistence which leads you to rubber-stamp the same comment onto every Trump thread. I loath Trump too, but it's time to come up with some new takes.

Bob Boyd said...

Some hot dogs dare to aspire to full sandwichhood.
It can be a beautiful thing when one finds the courage to let go and spread it's buns.

iowan2 said...

I think immaculate conception is when I learned to stop arguing about things I 'thought'. I knew about. I got schooled by a part time employee driving truck truck for me while waiting for a church appointment. When I hired him, he failed to mention he had finished seminary.
Imaculate conception was I phrase I threw out in an out of context conversation, and he asked me if I understood the term. He gave me the straight scoop.Being pre google it took some digging on my part to confirm I was ignorant.

Like TerriW, I too have learned to smile and nod, rather that attempt to set someone else's miss conceptions straight. I offer the correct fact once, thats it. Life is too short. Unless someone is going to lose a limb, I just smile and nod.

Livermoron said...

Liberal schoolteacher (biology) claimed that an odd animal call, we heard in the forest where we were camping was "Bigfoot". To me it sounded like two coyotes. But he was sure it was Bigfoot (as a biology teacher he claimed complete knowledge of all animal sounds[literally]). Now bear in mind that we were camping at Calaveras Big Trees - a very popular destination in Northern California - and that our campground was so close to the main highway that we had to position our tents so that the headlights wouldn't interrupt our sleep. Not exactly a prime location for finding the reclusive cryptozoic creature. The next morning I asked the local Park Ranger. She aid it sounded like owls. I later found similar sounds online...owl duets!
Because I never acknowledged that the sounds emanated from a mythical creature, he terminated our friendship of many years. His wife and children told me once that they didn't believe it was Bigfoot but can't say that to him. I've had mutual friends come to my house and plead with me to just humor him.
Nope.
I've run into him socially a few times. I gave him the info on the owls duets multiple times. Each time he pretends like he hadn't been told that before and promises to 'check it out'. I even caugt him starting to tell the story of his 'encounter' with Bigfoot. He opened the story with the date "June 10th 2001, there I was, asleep in my tent out camping..." I jumped in: "Oh yes! This story! I was there too." He stopped telling his story, said he forgot I had been there, and he gave up trying to tell his tale.
He serves me as a valuable heuristic on understanding liberal thought processes.

P.S. I reached out to him not long ago and invited him to go fishing with me. He arrives in his pickup truck covered with 'Corporations are people!" and "overturn Citizen's United" stickers. At least a dozen. While fishing I asked him to explain the CU ruling. He had no idea as to any of the facts of the case. Not the vaguest of clues.
He's really a worthless twat. I hope he isn't teaching any of your children.

Jim Gust said...

For example, if I recall correctly, the infinite number of points between zero and one on a number line is larger than the infinite number of whole numbers.

DavidD said...

I laughed myself silly at Laslo's BLT argument.

Wham you put it that way, I agree--a BLT is a proto-sandwich; or a potential sandwich; but not in itself a sandwich.

Livermoron said...

Cakes use flour in the filling. Pies do not. The original meaning of cake IIRC was to describe the crust of hard dough that had accumulated at on the floor of the baker's oven. Bread baking in Middle Age communities was done in public ovens. Not many people could afford to own or maintain their own oven...not to mention the danger from fire. Housewives would take their dough to the baker. One oven would cook many loaves of bread a day and the accumulation on the oven floor would have to be scraped off to facilitate better heat dispersion and create more room. This 'cake' (as in 'caked on) would be distributed to the needy. Some scholars maintain that this is the 'cake' Marie Antoinette alluded to in her famous statement.

MadisonMan said...

I use flour as a thickener in my cherry pie filling.

Livermoron said...

And yes, cheesecake has flour in the filling. In Germany, Kaesekuchen (cheesecake) is not nearly as cheesy as what we expect to find under that moniker here in the States, but both versions use flour in the filling/batter/dough.

SukieTawdry said...

You have to admit the Immaculate Conception is a tough one even for people who are brought up in a Christian faith. Because we moved around so much when I was a kid, I wasn't confirmed until age 16, much later than normal for an Episcopalian. It was in my confirmation classes that I finally learned the straight poop on that one. And it was much, much later that I learned the Virgin Mary, although Immaculate, did not actually remain a virgin all her life and that she and Joseph had children (James for one). My favorite misconception along these lines is the idea that sex was the Original Sin.

When does life begin is another good one. I always asked what is it you think happens at that moment of insemination and fertilization if not the creation of new life which is the very definition of conception (and which is why the means to prevent creating that new life is called contraception). But I think even the most ardent abortion rights advocates have had to concede the point and have moved on to yes, the fetus is new life, but it's life over which the woman has complete control while it remains in her womb and it's her right to end that life even at the point of viability. In my opinion, abortion advocates have a tough philosophical row to hoe and I think even they know it.

The human brain, at least as we know it, is not really equipped to grasp concepts like infinity and nothingness. If you leave God out of it, it's incomprehensible to me how first there was nothing and then there was something (how do you get something out of nothing??) and then that something expanded into a boundless universe with infinite numbers of planets, suns, moons etc. Where did the space for all that space come from?

There are lots of pointless arguments, especially these days. My sister-in-law is an Evangelical who interprets the Bible literally and does not accept evolution in any way, shape or form. I don't argue with her, just discuss, but I'm constantly amazed by her ability to ignore things like fossil records and carbon dating. It's almost as though she thinks God created those things to try to trick us into doubting His Creation.

Livermoron said...

MadMan: You could use any starch or pectin or even arrowroot for that. Not so for cakes. Try making an arrowroot cake.

The Boston Cream Pie has a cream filling surrounded by, essentially, a thick crust.
Pie.

I hereby declare myself the winner of this argument.

Livermoron said...

Sukie: Thank God (or Whomever) that we have Sunsong posting on Althouse. She knows for sure that life begins at delivery and that those who ponder and question this belief are evil idiots.

Meade said...

The latest thing around here isn't eggs in your cake batter. It's cricket flour.

mockturtle said...

I use flour as a thickener in my cherry pie filling.

Cornstarch works better. Less apt to lump.

Ron said...

I had an hour long argument about whether Danny Cater was a good first baseman or not.

Oy....

SukieTawdry said...

@Virgil Hilts:

No, it is not okay to urinate with the toilet seat down and it should always be left down when not in use.

Why is it called Boston Cream Pie when it's a cake??

ceowens said...

@ Virgil Hilts 8:08

Being now retired I am home quite a lot. I piss, what, 1200 times a year? Leave the seat up one fuck'in time!! Man oh man....

Mr. Majestyk said...

Sukie, in the absence of God, why does the universe need to spring into existence out of nothing? Why can't it be eternal?

ceowens said...

Why not "I put it up, you put it down"? Equal distribution of responsibility.

SukieTawdry said...

@ceowens: If you're a woman who's ever fallen into the toilet in the dark, you'll understand the "man oh man." Yeah, yeah, I know--why can't we feel around for the toilet seat first--but sometimes it's a matter of utmost urgency--much easier if you guys are just trained to lift it before each use and then return it to it's normal position (and down is the normal position). My husband and I don't share a bathroom which helps immeasurably.

SukieTawdry said...

Well, Mr. Majestyk, my brain has just much trouble with the concept of no beginning.

mockturtle said...

The toilet seat thing seems strange to me. Does not everyone leave the lid down when the toilet is not in use? And it's just as easy to raise and lower the lid and seat together as it is just to raise the seat.

SukieTawdry said...

I had an hour long argument about whether Danny Cater was a good first baseman or not.

So, was he?

tim in vermont said...

I thought that Euler proved mathematically that a steady state, infinite universe is incompatible with our observations.

It was a long time ago that I went through the proof, so I could be wrong.

Mr. Majestyk said...

Yes, I agree, Sukie, it is hard to contemplate no beginning. But still, how could it be otherwise? As you say, it makes no sense to say that the universe just sprung into existence out of nothing. On the other hand, I don't see how positing that God created the universe resolves the fundamental problem. If God created the universe, who created God? And if God doesn't need a creator because He is eternal, why couldn't the same be true of the universe?

Bruce said...

Some of these arguments are debatable, and some are not (I argue ;-) ).

"I'm going to argue that it's not a sandwich if the 2 parts of the bread are not completely separated."

This is arguable, but doesn't sound right to me. Is a hoagie/grinder/sub not a sandwich? If you put roast beef in a kaiser roll, does it's sandwich-ness really depend on how far through the kaiser roll is sliced? If it's sliced only most of the way through, but breaks into two as you eat it, does it suddenly become a sandwich mid-consumption?

"So, what is zero divided by zero?
Three possible answers:
1. 0
2. 1
3. infinity

I say all three are correct. What say you?"

I don't think this is arguable, as there is a firm definition of this mathematically: The expression is undefined. It is neither 0, 1, nor infinity - it is undefined. I mean, folks can argue what they think the answer should/would be if it were defined, but there is a firm mathematical answer to the question already.

"My son and I have an ongoing argument that gets passionate at times about whether or not 1 should be considered a prime number."

This is not arguable at all. A prime number is a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself. So it's right there in the basic definition.

Feel free to argue with me. :-)

Meade said...

But if the number 1 is neither prime nor composite, then just what the heck is it? I mean, I know it's the loneliest number that you'll ever do but that only helps me understand 1's psychology. It hardly helps me do the math.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

why does the universe need to spring into existence out of nothing? Why can't it be eternal?

We know the universe sprang into being out of nothing. This is a well established scientific fact that was initially resisted by many in the scientific community because the orthodoxy was that the universe was eternal and the theological implications of the discovery. However, observations concerning the universe prove that the universe is just under 14 billion years old.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_universe

Henry said...

It's nice that numbers and sandwiches come together in this thread.

What is a sandwich? It's the bread and meat you eat while you play cards for money.

jimbino said...

Why is 0! = 1? Defned as such.

Over the years, I've asked numerous Roman Catholics to explain the doctrine of the immaculate Conception. To a woman, they couldn't. Finally, met a woman who could and when I asked her how it was that she knew and they didn't, she responded that she was a recent convert from Presbyterianism, I think, even though it remains a fact that you can't find any reference to the doctrine in the Bible.

mockturtle said...

But if the number 1 is neither prime nor composite, then just what the heck is it? I mean, I know it's the loneliest number that you'll ever do but that only helps me understand 1's psychology. It hardly helps me do the math.

Meade, you crack me up! :-D

mockturtle said...

jimbino explains: Over the years, I've asked numerous Roman Catholics to explain the doctrine of the immaculate Conception. To a woman, they couldn't. Finally, met a woman who could and when I asked her how it was that she knew and they didn't, she responded that she was a recent convert from Presbyterianism, I think, even though it remains a fact that you can't find any reference to the doctrine in the Bible.

I think it's a lot of Papal Bull. ;-)

tcrosse said...

What is a sandwich? It's the bread and meat you eat while you play cards for money.
Or, it's a particular configuration of a threesome.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

In fact, a great deal of theoretical physics since the discovery that the universe had a beginning are attempts to explain just how the universe could have come into being, most of which are distinguished by the fact that they cannot be verified through observation. That is, no experiment can be done to falsify them.

Another conundrum is the happenstance that the laws governing energy and matter in the universe happen to be such that life can arise.

SukieTawdry said...

Good questions all, Mr. Majestyk, for which I have no answers. It's hubris to expect to know God. We hope for enlightenment as we progress through the stages of our eternal lives. It's my hope that all will become knowable and understandable.

Science, of course, is another matter. Science is supposed to explain things. I'm a pretty smart cookie, but often the offered explanations are just way beyond me. (I remember reading about a general going to the University of Chicago to ask Enrico Fermi which countries were likely developing the A bomb. He started by saying first you had to understand Einstein and that there were maybe 13 people at the time who understood Einstein. I didn't feel so bad after that.) We humans are fledglings in this game. Perhaps as time goes by and we learn how to access more of the brain, these concepts won't be so difficult to grasp.

Mr. Majestyk said...

Ron, the wikipedia article you cite defines the age of the universe as the time elapsed since the Big Bang. Have scientists really proven that nothing existed before the Big Bang? All the article says on this is: "The concept of entropy dictates that if the universe (or any other closed system) were infinitely old, then everything inside would be at the same temperature, and thus there would be no stars and no life." So we are left with two possibilities: (1) the law of entropy, as we know it, began with the Big Bang, or (2) the universe sprang into existence, without cause and out of nothing. Frankly, of the two, the first seems more plausible to me.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

So, since we know that the universe has a beginning, and logic states that nothing can cause itself, then something had to cause the universe to come into existence.

Thus, we can postulate a God, who is eternal, that is, has no beginning and no end, that exists outside of time (since time is an attribute of the universe and did not exist prior to its creation) is what caused the universe to come into being.

There is no point to arguing if God can be eternal, then why can't the universe, because we know that the universe is not eternal. You can speculate that something else created the universe, which is what a lot of theoretical physicists do all day. Try to figure out something else besides God that caused the universe.

SukieTawdry said...

Yes, Meade, but two can be as bad as one, the loneliest number since the number one.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

we are left with two possibilities: (1) the law of entropy, as we know it, began with the Big Bang, or (2) the universe sprang into existence, without cause and out of nothing. Frankly, of the two, the first seems more plausible to me.

Theoretical physicists are just a puzzled as you, since they also find it implausible that the universe sprang into existence out of nothing, but speculation about something existing before the universe that caused the universe runs into the exact same problem of the existence of God. What caused God to exist, and what caused what caused God, and so on. An infinite regression. Also, they have no way to prove the existence of anything before the Big Bang.

A lot of what physicists these days sounds suspiciously like theology.

Original Mike said...

"--much easier if you guys are just trained to lift it before each use and then return it to it's "normal" position ..."

Yeah, much easier... for you.

Original Mike said...

"However, observations concerning the universe prove that the universe is just under 14 billion years old."

They most certainly do not. The Big Bang occurred 14 Gya. That is not the same as saying the universe is 14 Gyo.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Here is a link to a very basic intro to some speculations concerning what, if anything, existed before the Big Bang.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/astronomy-terms/before-big-bang.htmaddy.com

But the problem remains, what was the initial cause? If our universe is the offspring of another, older universe, what caused it?

Original Mike said...

I love it. Toilet seats and the creation of the universe is one post.

Mr. Majestyk said...

There's so much we don't know about our own solar system--heck even much of our own planet (the oceans) is a mystery--it's not surprising we know so little about the history of the universe, like what (if anything) came before the Big Bang.

SukieTawdry said...

Agreed, Ron, grocery store tomatoes are inedible. There used to be hot house tomatoes grown in New Jersey that were fabulous, but they're no more, I think. I get the first ripe tomato from our crop and make a BLT (which I understand from Laslo is not a sandwich) with it. It's a long winter.

mockturtle said...

Yes, Meade, but two can be as bad as one, the loneliest number since the number one.

And, of course, 2=company; 3=a crowd.

Larvell said...

that is not a burger at all, i.e. Not A Sandwich.... Just mentioning a BLT now causes people to tense up and shake their heads.

No, what causes people to shake their heads is the idea that a hamburger is a sandwich. Which is, of course, absurd.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

They most certainly do not. The Big Bang occurred 14 Gya. That is not the same as saying the universe is 14 Gyo.

The universe you and I inhabit is 14 billion years old. And its the only one we are ever going to have observational evidence of.

mockturtle said...

God was not created but is self-existent. God created the universe ex nihilo or, more probably, from light energy.

SukieTawdry said...

Yeah, much easier... for you.

Exactly.

Original Mike said...

"The universe you and I inhabit is 14 billion years old."

You don't know that, and the more cosmological physics I read the more I have come to doubt it.

"And its the only one we are ever going to have observational evidence of."

You're on a bit firmer ground here, but this is also conjecture.

Original Mike said...

"If you're a woman who's ever fallen into the toilet in the dark, you'll understand the "man oh man." Yeah, yeah, I know--why can't we feel around for the toilet seat first--but sometimes it's a matter of utmost urgency"

If you're a man who's ever peed "into" a closed toilet in the dark, you'll understand the "dear oh dear.". Yeah, yeah, I know--why can't we feel around for the toilet lid first--but sometimes it's a matter of utmost urgency"

SukieTawdry said...

God created the universe ex nihilo or, more probably, from light energy.

It's a good thing, then, that He let there be light first.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

@Original Mike

So, the universe is eternal? Cyclic? Big crunch?

Original Mike said...

I don't know Ron. My bias is "eternal" but I certainly don't know that. Nobody does.

jdniner said...

A great layperson's introduction to the math of infinity is the book "The Mystery of the Aleph" by Dr. Azcel.

Apparently all the great mathematicians would go insane trying to think about the infinity of numbers. The only ones that survived well were those grounded in non mathematical passions.

SukieTawdry said...

If you're a man who's ever peed "into" a closed toilet in the dark, you'll understand the "dear oh dear.". Yeah, yeah, I know--why can't we feel around for the toilet lid first--but sometimes it's a matter of utmost urgency."

A bad habit I'm sure, but in my house the lid is seldom down so that's not an issue. Do you have one of those fuzzy toilet lid covers that will absorb the pee? Easier clean up that way.

Karen of Texas said...

Sukie said, "...the Virgin Mary, although Immaculate, did not actually remain a virgin all her life and that she and Joseph had children (James for one)..."

Just going to throw out the Catholic belief of "ever virgin" coupled with something I vaguely remember that apparently in ancient times "son" was used for cousin or other close relatives because there was no word for that relationship.

Original Mike said...

I leave the toilet seat up. My wife leaves it down but doesn't close the lid. There is harmony.

Karen of Texas said...

Found it. Wasn't about using "son".

"The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with the biblical references to Christ’s brethren through a proper understanding of the meaning of the term "brethren." The understanding that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus’ stepbrothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome (fourth century). It was Jerome who introduced the possibility that Christ’s brethren were actually his cousins, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as "brethren." The Catholic Church allows the faithful to hold either view, since both are compatible with the reality of Mary’s perpetual virginity."

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I don't know Ron. My bias is "eternal" but I certainly don't know that. Nobody does.

Well, yeah. If the universe doesn't have a "cause" then it has to be eternal. I'm asking about the mechanism that incorporates the Big Bang with an eternal universe. The only one that made sense to me was the Big Crunch. Everything else proposed all ran into the infinite regression issue. Or maybe it just that I read about the Big Crunch when I was pre-teen. It was used to explain Galactus' origin. He was from the universe prior to this one and was able to make it through the Big Bang.

Original Mike said...

There's a popular misconception that the "The Big Bang" equals the singularity you meet if you run universal expansion backwards all the way to "the beginning". But there's no compelling reason to do that. Just one possibility: the unverse (more precisely, the region of space that would become our observable universe) hung around not expanding for an indeterminent period of time.

mockturtle said...

I thought the Big Bang theory had been exploded.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

(more precisely, the region of space that would become our observable universe) hung around not expanding for an indeterminent period of time.

My understanding is that prior to the Big Bang, absent a prior universe, there would have been neither space or time.

The human brain really isn't well equipped to deal with these concepts since we occupy both space and time. Trying to describe a condition where neither is present is not something that comes to us naturally.

Original Mike said...

Why is there something instead of nothing?

The potential "answer" I find most intriguing is that the universe IS nothing. Specifically, if you add all the positive energy in the universe to the potential energy (i.e. negative energy) in the universal gravitational field they cancel. You can create a "universe" without violating conservation of energy.

Original Mike said...

"My understanding is that prior to the Big Bang, absent a prior universe, there would have been neither space or time."

That's just conjecture, and as you say, hard to accept. And it's not the case that it's accepted physics. Nobody knows, and everybody working on this problem knows they don't know (that's why they're working on it!).

SukieTawdry said...

Thanks, Karen, I was somewhat familiar with the Catholic belief of the "ever virgin."
Why is it important to Catholics that Mary remain virginal? Marital sex is not a sin and in any event, Mary was without sin.

Original Mike said...

"I thought the Big Bang theory had been exploded."

Not sure what you're referring to (is it a big bang joke?).

SukieTawdry said...

The human brain really isn't well equipped to deal with these concepts since we occupy both space and time. Trying to describe a condition where neither is present is not something that comes to us naturally.

Exactly, Ron. Do you think our brains have the potential for such understanding? I find the idiot savant syndrome most interesting. Something gets unlocked in those brains that remains locked for the rest of us. And why is some kind of developmental disability the necessary key?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Do you think our brains have the potential for such understanding?

I don't know, I don't even know how we could verify that our understanding was correct.

If you aren't already aware of it, you might find this interesting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

My most pointless argument happened in the days before the Web, on a listserv called rec.music.classical. It was with a guy who claimed that Mozart had written thousands of works (I forget exactly how many now). It turns out that he was counting every movement and every aria as a separate work, and he wouldn't be dissuaded from this view, but I and one other person kept at it long after there was obviously no point.

There were a few more like that. On rec.music.early, another listserv, I got into quite a quarrel with a woman who hated the Quatuor Mosaiques, and loved the Kuijken Quartet. (I disagreed with her on both counts.) And there was an abortion listserv, too. I ought to have steered well away from that one, but I didn't. Mostly it was two guys shouting at each other, and whenever I poked my nose in, it got clobbered. I did, though, strike up an acquaintance with a very intelligent Orthodox Christian woman, who told me about NFP and thermometers and mucus and the like. More interesting than you'd think, and even more fun than you'd imagine from reading David Lodge.

SukieTawdry said...

Why was Lassie always whining?

1. Chronic pain
2. Emotional problems
3. A character flaw


Because people kept calling him "Lassie" and saying things like "what's the matter, girl" and "come here, girl." Lassie, after all, didn't feel like he had been born in the wrong body.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...

My understanding is that prior to the Big Bang, absent a prior universe, there would have been neither space or time.

The human brain really isn't well equipped to deal with these concepts since we occupy both space and time. Trying to describe a condition where neither is present is not something that comes to us naturally.


I think this is the real cause confusion. If time is a phenomenon of the universe, then it is possible for the universe to have existed only for a limited amount of time, and also for it to have always existed. ( if by always you mean there was never a time when it did not exist. ) If this is the case, then it makes no sense to ask what caused the universe, since cause-and-effect is a time-dependent phenomenon.

( Of course, you can ask any such question, but science's inability to answer is not a failing of science. Just as it would not be a failing of theology if a religion could not explain what caused God to someone unwilling to except that God needed no cause. )

Also note, I'm not claiming science has answered all such questions, nor that it has proven that all the questions it has answered are correct. My point is mostly that reasoning from common sense and basic logic break down when dealing with circumstances that are very different from our day-to-day experiences. In those cases you must be very clear about your terminology, and exactly what assumptions you are making.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

jimbino,

The Immaculate Conception is in the Bible. "Ave Maria, gratia plena." She can hardly be "full of grace" if she is a sinner, so the implication is that she is without sin. And as every man and woman since Adam has sinned, she must have been different from birth -- or, rather, before birth.

It's Mary's Assumption that seems to be post-Biblical.

Karen of Texas said...

Sukie, this was my reference for prior info. Interesting read re: your why.

urbane legend said...

jimbino said...
Over the years, I've asked numerous Roman Catholics to explain the doctrine of the immaculate Conception. . . . even though it remains a fact that you can't find any reference to the doctrine in the Bible.


Which is why Baptists don't believe it, especially Baptist historians.

Arguments: Is Eric Clapton the best blues-rock guitarist alive?

Fred Drinkwater said...

Lucian argues about
"Attached as Exhibit A is a true and correct copy of . . .", or "Attached as Exhibit A is a duplicate of . . ."
when the appropriate word is usually "facsimile".
So there!

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