Archive for the ‘reason can lead astray’ Category

False Predictions based on accurate knowledge

August 21, 2012

In 1960…a best-selling book said that the United States had only a 13-year supply of domestic petroleum at the existing rate of usage. At that time, the known petroleum reserves of the United States were not quite 32 billion barrels. At the end of the 13 years, the known petroleum reserves of the United States were more than 36 billion barrels. Yet the original statistics and the arithmetic based on them were both accurate. Why then did the United States not run out of oil by 1973? Was it just dumb luck that more oil was discovered—or were there more fundamental economic reasons?

Just as shortages and surpluses are not simply a matter of how much physical stuff there is, either absolutely or relative to the population, so known reserves of natural resources are not simply a matter of how much physical stuff there is underground. For natural resources as well, prices are crucial. So are present values.

Sowell, Thomas, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (Basic Books, 2004) p.205


Madame Sophistry, the clever whore

November 24, 2009

Madame Sophistry, the clever whore

Martin Luther

nothing good can be done if the will is wrong! Reason alone fails to justify itself

November 17, 2009

…nothing good can be done if the will is wrong! Reason alone fails to justify itself. Not without cause has the devil been called the prince of lawyers, and not by accident are Shakespeare’s villains good reasoners. If the disposition is wrong, reason increases maleficence; if it is right, reason orders and furthers the good.

Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences

Madame Sophistry, the clever whore

September 25, 2009

(reason is) Madame Sophistry, the clever whore

Martin Luther

Aquinas’ unbiblical view of human reason

September 19, 2009

…some of (the heathen), like the Mohammedans and pagans, do not agree with us as to the authority of any Scripture whereby they may be convinced, in the same way as we are able to dispute with the Jews by means of the Old Testament, and with heretics by means of the New : whereas the former accept neither. Wherefore it is necessary to have recourse to natural reason, to which all are compelled to assent. And yet this is deficient in the things of God.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, ch.2

Aquinas had too rosy a view of the reasoning of fallen man. He thought natural reason, whilst unable to prove the Trinity, could prove the existence of one God. He failed to appreciate that man is totally depraved (in that every aspect of his nature, including his reason) is affected by the Fall. The Muslim, the pagan and the atheist will not, by and large, accept Aquinas’ reasons since they do not accord with their beliefs.

Strange as it may seem, we proclaim Christ from the Scripture to the Muslim and show him the very words of Jesus from the pages of the New Testament. This has a most powerful effect – more so than our puny reasonings.

Ephesians 4

Hebrews 4.12

Human Wisdom is limited

August 4, 2009

The London Plague of 1665

The Black Death. In the year 1665 death came calling on the city of London. Death in the form of plague. People called it the Black Death, black for the colour of the tell-tale lumps that foretold its presence in a victim’s body, and death for the inevitable result.

By mid July over 1,000 deaths per week were reported in the city. It was rumored that dogs and cats spread the disease, so the Lord Mayor ordered all the dogs and cats destroyed. Author Daniel Defoe in his Journal of the Plague Years estimated that 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed. The real effect of this was that there were fewer natural enemies of the rats who carried the plague fleas, so the germs spread more rapidly.

Of course we know better now and there has been medical progress, but actions are always based on the (limited ) information at the time – then as now. After all, if this weren’t so we would hardly be in the economic crisis we are (2009).

Correlation does not imply causation

July 30, 2009

…correlation does not show causation. A serious example of this common misunderstanding occurred in Italy. In the early 1980s, there were unexplained deaths where high mortality correlated with consumption of olive oil. The government leapt to the conclusion that the oil was poisonous. Later research showed it was tomatoes contaminated by pesticides that casued the deaths…

Nigel C. Benson, Introducing Psychology, Icon Books, 1999, p.16