Pascal’s WTF?

I must first begin with this quote from Roland Barthes, which I may be bastardizing but nonetheless explains the following (and most of my) post(s):

[T]he ideal would be: neither a text of vanity, nor a text of lucidity, but a text with uncertain quotation marks, with floating parentheses (never to close the parenthesis is very specifically: to drift).

I cite the above because the discussion below (and in some future posts) must be considered as if written by a complete naive. Below, I will briefly discuss Pascal, but I have not read him or studied him and his writings to fully support my statements (this includes possible negation of my points in his writings as well).

I merely ask that you view what I write here with a large question mark at the end — a question mark, ellipsis, an unclosed parenthesis and an invitation for extension, response and correction. An openness and gregariousness that will, hopefully, be indulged/extended to my drifting, if you will, by readers.

First, I would like to draw your attention to this completely ridiculous (as I find it) video from CNN this weekend. Please note the wannabe Saved By the Bell: The College Years professor.

You seriously have to watch this video from CNN. (It’s short and gets right to the important (to this post) part.)

Can we all agree that this circular argument is, well, moronic?

I love the shit-eating grin on Will Cain’s (I believe that’s the douchebag’s name) smug mug when someone with actual knowledge of economics is so stunned he can barely react. He looks as if he’s won because he’s made such completely incomprehensible and indefensible argument that his opponent is shocked into momentary dumbness. And when the economist does regain his composure, he does an awful job of being as entertaining refuting as d-bag is driveling. I dislike that I’ve written the last sentences. That our discussions of policy should be so dumbed down and circular is saddening, offensive and worrisome. This includes my repeated use of name-calling.

To use Pascal’s Wager as an explanatory model? It doesn’t even work in its own creator’s defense of Christianity. Pascal assumes that “winning” comes after death: those who believe in god will go to Heaven. Thus, he argues, those who don’t believe — even if they’re right that there is no god — may as well hedge their bets and believe, too. Just in case. The problem: It is assumed that, if winning is in the (possible?) afterlife, then the sacrifices one makes in service to his or her religion during life are obviously practical. But if there is no god, those sacrifices are meaningless, and could cut one off from the fullest experience of life before breath and consciousness are snuffed out.

But, clearly, Will Cain isn’t familiar with the biblical aspects of his argument’s model. If he did, his belief that (and urging the public to vote for) Romney is a liar would be contrary to Christian tenets. To choose a liar as your leader? (Others can point to examples of his (and Romney’s) highly nuanced versions of the truth.)

I forgot to add when I first published this post that, historically, Romney has shown himself to be “austerity” guy. Look at his time with Bain: He didn’t pump money into (a stimulus package for) companies; he cut them to the bone (austerity) and sold them. It goes against his past experience to operate otherwise. If he’s only ever cut things, there is no reason that the idea of stimulus even penetrates his radar (except as a political “advantage”) as a serious policy proposition.

My wife, Misty, was far more brief and coherent in her critique of this segment: in this wager, it would be better to go with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

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