Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ignorance, Like Domesticity, Is Bliss

McTorture (her prose, not her job) is on vacation, woo hoo!

I will slowly assemble torture posts over the next few days but mostly I will bake cookies.  I will use a $400 Chambers stove made in the 1950s, a Kitchen-Aid mixer made in the 1990s, a whisk, two glass bowls, and a set of metal measuring utensils. I will probably overcook at least one sheet of cookies and nobody will mind that they are not perfect.

A preview: Here is McArdle, in the middle of discussing why she is very much against torture.

Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information, which I assume interrogators can in at least some circumstances. Nor is it obvious to me that the quality of information is likely to be lower than that obtained by other means: yes, people will say anything to avoid torture, but they'll also say anything to avoid imprisonment. Maybe the lies will be vivider or more voluble under torture, but it doesn't seem necessarily so that the ratio of lies to truth will increase.

She's a Big Thinker, you know.


Susan of Texas said...

I recently read some old posts she wrote on Krugman. She was so indignant, so certain that he was wrong because he was biased. She would find a study or something that reinforced her beliefs and make one of her ignorant refutations. She had to be right because she was on the right side.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

And she's never had to learn from her mistakes, because hey, she's still getting paid for a job a lot of people would love to have.

By the way, Meegan is a minor example of our horrible media compared to people like Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl.

Susan of Texas said...

True. There must be some way of undermining authority on a greater scale.

I need to retreat to my lair and plot.

mccamj said...

WTF? I think if Megan had to rob banks or murder people she would justify it with prose like this.
Torture is OK if it increases truth? A dicey proposition at best but it does deflect from discussing the morality of torture.
What does American exceptionalism mean to people like Megan if it means we act is such an uncivilized manner. Isn't America great or a shining city or whatever because we are in some way good?
Torture kinda takes the gleam off it for me.

Susan of Texas said...

No, McArdle emphasizes that she's against torture. Everyone looked at her funny when she shrugged it off so she learned to look very concerned. But she gives herself away with paragraphs like this one. If it keeps her safe the government can do whatever it wants. She says we can punish the torturers afterwards if we want.

Clever Pseudonym said...

I used to think the reason why William F. Buckley's horrible opinions were so dangerous was because they were packaged in an elegant, pauseful prose.

No worries there with Megan. I'm beginning to think her only fans are middle-aged lonely men whose blood flies south for her columns. Nobody with any sense of the finer points of language could possibly keep from vomiting reading her "work."

And I'm coming over for some of those cookies, Susan. Even the burnt ones. We can make a crap YouTube episode called "Cooking Without a Thermomix: How Do They Do It?" And show off our mad knowing-the-function-of-measuring-spoons skillz.

Anonymous said...


Susan of Texas said...


CP-Heh. I can cooksplain how I doubled the cookie recipe by adding 1.5 + 1.5 and stirred the flour with the whisk.

jp said...

Really, let us contemplate that final sentence in all of its grammatical awkwardness and convoluted meaning:

"Maybe the lies will be vivider or more voluble under torture, but it doesn't seem necessarily so that the ratio of lies to truth will increase."

...and then grapple with the fact that McArdle is PAID to write. Wingnut welfare, indeed.

Clever Pseudonym said...

Or that she actually has a degree in English from a reputable university. At one of my unis, we called them $C-minus Diplomas.

And Susan, I did not realize there would math, but as long as it's times two and I don't have to figure out how to half a teaspoon with long division and a special cooking magnet, I think the palate-free children will eat it.

Mr. Wonderful said...

"Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information..."

OMG. How? How long would that take? And does the torturer say, "Okay, got it. Wait here, while we verify"? And if it takes weeks to verify? And if subject X is no longer in location L (where the tortured subject said he'd be), then what?

So, to be clear: she's in favor of committing what even she would presumably concede is a monstrous act, in the service of "saving lives," when its utility is at best suspect. And she feels virtuous doing it.

I got nothin'.

cynic said...

People will say anything to avoid torture

Then how come Susan is reading all of McMegan's columns
Hunh? Hunh?

Susan of Texas said...

It's worse than you think--I read her tweets too. For instance:

Sean T at RCP @SeanTrende

This whole "let's make sure we triple check facts before drawing conclusions/avoid demonizing political opponents" thing? Let's run with it.

Retweeted by Megan McArdle

Maybe McArdle should start with Elizabeth Warren, She Who Must Not Be Named.

Anonymous said...

wow. she has no conscience. every time I come to that conclusion I am surprised. then I'm surprised I'm surprised.

Batocchio said...

The thing is, this isn't a thought experiment. It's established fact that the the U.S. abused, tortured and killed people in the Bush admin programs, that at least some of those people were innocent, and that inaccurate intelligence and false confessions were produced. As usual, McArdle (circa 2007) is being lazy yet has the conceit that it makes her open-minded, and being blithe about other people's suffering with the conceit that she's a bold thinker. Actually researching her subject before blathering would be beneath her. And like Glenn Reynolds, she's claiming to be against torture while parroting torture apologist crap.

"Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information." Other torture apologists have argued this as well, but it ignores the glaring reality that it's possible to verify statements obtained legally, too, and that they're much more likely to be accurate.

Even if we ignore torture's illegality and immorality, it's notoriously unreliable for producing accurate intelligence. (It is very good at inflicting pain, producing false confessions, and terrorizing a population.) Torture's unreliability might not be common knowledge, but it's well-known to professional interrogators. (It's even explicitly stated in the Army Field Manual on interrogations active at the start of the Iraq War.) Its unreliability was known to the ancient Romans as well. In the Bush admin's programs, bad intel and false confessions were produced, including a torture "confession" about a false link between Iraq and al-Qaeda that then was cited as reason to invade Iraq. In a shocking development, torture techniques used by the Nazis, the Japanese during WWII, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge to obtain false confessions also produced false confessions when used by Americans and their allies.

Sorry, given the stakes involved, I've got scant patience not only for torture apologists (who almost always argue in bad faith and/or are tough-guy wannabees) but the torture-curious "thought experiment" crowd who refuse to do any research before blithely considering inflicting pain on other people.

Susan of Texas said...

It's a fundamental aspect of her personality, upbringing and training and it affects all aspects of her life. She has no empathy and that affects everything. Her thought experiments are rationalizations. In a way she is not entirely to blame. She has no idea what she is doing, she is utterly lost in a world that values emotions she cannot comprehend, and she's not too bright. Her actions will inevitably hurt others. Which is why we must disarm these dangerous people.

fledermaus said...

In three sentences she manages to not actually make an argument:

"Torture seems to me . . "

"which I assume . . ."

"Nor is it obvious to me . . ."

"but it doesn't seem necessarily so . . ."

Susan of Texas said...

She doesn't seem to notice that she's not making herself look any better by doing that.