2006 February 10 Friday
Danimal On Islam, Bars, And A Fallacy Of Composition

I recently came across Sixteen Volts blogger Ilkka Kokkarinen because he linked to an old post of mine. Well he also linked to and apparently collects some of the better the Usenet postings of Danimal (and I have no idea who that is). Danimal says some interesting things about Islam among other topics. Kokkarinen copied a Danimal alt.romance post from September 2004 Danimal argues that just because bar patrons and religious believers could all in theory act in ways that do not cause problems for the rest us in reality certain problems are inevitable outcomes from having lots of bars or lots of Muslims.

But if all the customers only had one beer, the bar would not stay in business. So you've got a fallacy of composition there. The light drinkers are essentially freeloading on the heavy drinkers who keep the bar in business. If it wasn't for the heavy drinkers, there wouldn't be any bar for the light drinkers to enjoy.

Thus it's "quite possible" to enjoy a beer at the local without getting drunk and without being a drunk, but it's not possible for everyone to drink responsibly and have bars like the current ones to drink in.

It's also possible to be an honest lawyer, but the 97% of crooked lawyers give the honest 3% a bad name.

Similarly, it's possible to be a Muslim without being a terrorist, and a Catholic priest without being a pedophile.

But there are things about the structural reality of bars, the legal profession, Islam, and the Catholic priesthood which give rise repeatedly to those problematic behaviors, and which may, despite protestations to the contrary, be "essential" in the sense that if you made the changes necessary to completely stamp out the bad behaviors, the respective institutions would be so fundamentally altered as to have had their historic identity obliterated.

That is, if you found a way to make Islam unappealing to terrorists, the legal profession unappealing to lying crooks, the Catholic priesthood unappealing to gay pedophiles, and bars unappealing to drunks, you would basically have to destroy what each of those things is now.

I agree with this argument. Another analogy to religion fits a bit better: Infectious diseases. Take influenza for example. Some people who are exposed to a virulent strain of influenza do not get sick at all. Others get mildly sick. Some very very sick and some get deathly ill. Still others die from it. Imagine someone saying "Influenza isn't a killer because it does not kill everyone". Or "Smallpox isn't deadly because some people survive it". Some people survive bad ideas too. That doesn't make the ideas into good or neutral ideas. They are still bad.

Some other Danimal posts from Kokkarinen's archive of Danimal Usenet postings:

Even religious fanatics are able to compartmentalize. Consider the Muslim terrorists who believe after they blow up their suicide bombs, they will wake up in paradise with 72 beautiful virgin girls to enjoy deflowering. They can believe all that nonsense, to the point of killing themselves, and yet the same culture has no problem recognizing the AK-47 is a pretty good weapon. They don't reject the AK-47, even though it came from the atheist USSR.

Islam could not have gotten as large as it has if it required its followers to believe the traditional Islamic weapons of sword and spear are superior to automatic firearms. The successful religions have to be careful about how much nonsense with everyday practical impact they require their dupes to believe. The nonsense they promote has to be of a sort that isn't immediately falsifiable, which means they will be open to obvious technological improvements.

But there is a larger, indirect impact that comes from the general disrespect religion fosters for knowledge and free inquiry. The whole Islamic world is somewhat backward like Christian Europe was in the Middle Ages. It would be hard for someone like a young Bill Gates to succeed in, say, Iran, even if he did not directly challenge the religious orthodoxy. As soon as someone used Bill's invention to put up pictures of naked women, he'd be in trouble.

Danimal on the effects of Islam as the overwhelming majority religion:

When a religion gains a 99% majority in any given culture, it gets to demonstrate the true meaning of intolerance. For example, the Catholic Church of several hundred years ago burned scientists at the stake for the crime of observing the motion of planets.

In some of the Muslim nations, 99% religious majorities still exist so the climate for intolerance is especially vibrant there. Women get their fingers amputated for the sin of painting their nails and so on.

This is the natural consequence of elevating imagination to fact. Since imagination has no defense in logic it falls back to violence whenever it can get away with it.

A single Individual holding an illiberal belief has little political impact in a democracy. But make many such individuals into a majority of a country and suddenly the place isn't free any more. When some people say we should judge people solely as individuals they are making a mistake. Individuals also form groups and act as groups. We should ask what happens to a society when it lets in people from another culture or religion who will form groups with characteristics of the culture or religion that is part of their identity. We should not let in individuals who will form groups that will create problems for the existing majority culture.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 February 10 04:09 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

daveg said at February 10, 2006 8:34 PM:

This is the the fallacy of the "vast majority" argument.

When someone says "X group does Y bad act", the typical response is that "the vast majority of X does not do Y", which is probably true.

But the vast majority is setting the bar far to low.

Let us say that one group has an incidence rate of bad act Y that is 100, 000. This could be murder, drug use or some other unpleasant practice.

If another group commits act Y at a rate of one in 10,000 the overall rate of incidence increase by a factor of 10! The is a huge increase.

It is still very much true, however, that the "vast majority" of that group does not commit act Y. Regardless, group Y is still going to cause problems for society if act Y is harmful enough.

And the incidence rate need not be very high for a society to be affected significantly, as any complex system needs all the pieces to perform at a very reliability in order to function. For example, let say you bought a car and a part broke shortly thereafter. Would you accept it if the salesman said "Well, the vast majority of the parts are still working fine." Hardly!

The difference between a failure rate of 1/10,000 vs 1/100,000 is often the difference between a piece of junk and an operational vehicle. It may also be the difference between a working society and a failing one.

arch said at February 10, 2006 10:25 PM:

"The successful religions have to be careful about how much nonsense with everyday practical impact they require their dupes to believe. The nonsense they promote has to be of a sort that isn't immediately falsifiable, which means they will be open to obvious technological improvements."

This is true but to point in the case of Islam. Islam allows Muslims to appropriate technology from other cultures even if those cultures are unIslamic in origin. The reason for this is because these weapons are meant to be used against the infidels and Muslims must fight the infidels with anything at their disposal (including their very lives, e.g. suicide bombing). This does not mean that historically Muslims have been open to all inventions. The Ottomans were intially opposed to the printing press for example but they would never turn down a new weapon. It is interesting to note that most of these weapons come into the Muslims soceity through infidels or converts to Islam. For example, Sultan Mehmet II hired a Hungarian gunmaker to build him a cannon. They did not have this technology before. Adopting new technology is not restricted to weaponry though. It applies to medicine as well because it helps the ummah remain healthy, strong, it lowers the infant mortality rate (which was astronomical before colonialism), and it increases the overall population. The only technology that Islam would be against would be something that threatened the stability of society and would lead Muslims to disbelief (kufr). Everything else however, is fair game (especially if it is used against the infidels). Many modern Muslim states have adopted technology that could threaten the stability of their society such as the internet, but like Saudi Arabia, there are restrictions on the proper use of this technology. It is also worth noting that most Muslim states today would be considered apostate, with the current exception being Iran under Ahmadinejad, so they may not be considering the consquences of adopting new technology. The imams do but the rulers don't.

The structural argument is interesting. However, I think the comparisons are a little off. I think we need to look at whether the outcome is intended or not. The Catholic Church certainly does not want gay pedophiles to be priests but there is no safeguard for it yet. The result of pedophile priests is unintended but foreseeable. With Islam, the animosity towards infidels IS intended and only those blinded by mulitculturalism and political correctness cannot see it. The division of the world between infidel and Muslim is a prevalent theme through out the foundational texts of Islam and the history of Islam's treatment of minorities is evidence of how seriously this teaching was (and is) practiced by both the state and the individual.

I have a quibble with the comparison of Islam to Christendom during the Middle Ages. Were they both intolerant to free inquiry? Yes. But to the same degree? No. Christendom permitted secular learning but there were clear boudaries as to what was permissible and what was not. Islam also had boundaries and despite its largely mythical enlightenment in Spain and Baghdad, it has always viewed secular learning with suspicion. Astronomy was being taught to a small elite but it was very strongly discouraged due to its association with divination. The only thing worth learning to them was Islam, military techniques, and governance.

John S Bolton said at February 11, 2006 1:37 AM:

If the question is at what point do we have full justification to treat members of a group, as implicated in the crimes of their group; one indication of this is when they declare war on us. Another is when our government declares war on them. With the moslems there is no question of doubt here; they declare war anew on us every day. It is a mendacious, deceptive individualism which would say we have to treat a group that is at war with us, as individuals entitled to a presumption of innocence. The same is true for any group of foreign hostiles, or the entirety of them.

Rain said at February 11, 2006 3:54 AM:

I agree with the article in general because I came up with these arguments and ideas myself a long time ago.
One point I would like to make is that catholic priests are usually heterosexual or more rarely homosexual with little drive for sex. The pedophilia among them is probably not that much greater than that among the general population. I remember one statistic, I don't know how reliable, that showed that in the end catholic priest weren't more sexually deviant than ministers and rabbis. Actually less in one case.
I have heard of many more cases of priest eventually leaving their job after decades because thy fell in love with a woman. But that hardly gets media attention. I wonder why...
I don't really know, but the generalization that catholic priest are pedophiles sounds like mud slinging by other religious sects (protestants, jews etc.) that have an axe to grind.

Ilkka Kokkarinen said at February 11, 2006 4:20 AM:

Thanks for the links.

The Danimal is my all-time favourite writer and thinker, since the guy has incredible commonsense insight on so many things. He is never afraid to state the plain and obvious truth about anything, be it IQ, sociobiology, religion or whatever, slaying sacred cows of both left and right with equal ease. I hope that the quotes that I collected to Danimal Archive speak for themselves. Now, if there just was some way to move him from the dying and obscure Usenet to the blogosphere...

Bob Badour said at February 11, 2006 6:53 AM:


The problem with pedophilia among catholic priests is not a greater prevalence. The problem is the church's response to it over so many decades.

Instead of taking the sensible and prudent action of removing the abusers from access to children, for instance by transferring them to a monastery, the church had a nasty habit of simply transferring them to a new parish where they could prey on other children.

Further, the church pressured parents into betraying their children for the sake of the church.

Likewise, at this time, while only a small percentage of muslims pick up arms against us, the vast majority deny the nature of their religion and continue to demand submission. This is not acceptable.

T. J. Madison said at February 11, 2006 10:08 AM:

>>The difference between a failure rate of 1/10,000 vs 1/100,000 is often the difference between a piece of junk and an operational vehicle.

This is why racism makes so much sense biologically. Why would I want to associate with a person who is part of a statistically more dangerous or less capable group? Sure there might be many good people in that group, but there are plenty of good people in other groups too. It's just not worth the risk.

Pico said at February 11, 2006 2:52 PM:

The west's arrogance and claim to superiority is astonishing. The west believes reason is sacred. The freedom of speech arguments and in america putting the original constitution under guard and lock and key show what the westerner considers sacred. Every sacred tradition has a prophet and the prophet of reason is sacred tradition is Descartes. The muslim world believes revealed truth is sacred. There is no middle ground or room for compromise between the two views.

The neoconservatives who called for a war on iraq to impose western values are complaining muslims are imposing their views on the west. Well the west imposes its view of reason as sacred on the non western everyday with movies and writings that ridicule Jesus(a prophet to Muslims).

Randall Parker said at February 11, 2006 3:10 PM:


Far better on all those politically incorrect topics is Steve Sailer.

Rain said at February 11, 2006 4:54 PM:

by church you mean what? The local bishop? The is quite different from saying what the article implies, that the catholic priesthood facilitates pedophila. For example, If I remember correctly most violence to children occurs at the hand or relatives. Typically an uncle rapes the niece or nephew, often fathers cousins and, more rarely because older, grandfathers. Their wives do not say anything. Almost all domestic violence of this type is unreported.
Not to mention other forms of social organization inlcuding other sects.
The catholic church isn't really any special. I still think there are axes to grind.
The catholic church has other serious problems in my view, such as minding what is not always their business, but these are more typcal of organized religions.

Bob Badour said at February 11, 2006 5:27 PM:

By "church", I mean the organization known as the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I do not know the individual actors within the church who made various decisions or how the organization reinforced various policies. However, the alleged pattern of behaviour was geographically and temporally dispersed which suggests it was reinforced by the organization.

That does not necessarily mean the decision was made at a high level within the organization, because colleagues at lower levels within the church probably commiserate and consult with each other when it comes to delicate subjects. By the same token, urban legends and superstitions do not need to come from positions of authority but can garner widespread belief.

Ilkka Kokkarinen said at February 12, 2006 3:16 PM:

Well, of course I am aware of Steve Sailer's work. Who do you think inspired my blog and is my number two intellectual hero of all time?

Speaking of politically incorrect material, I guess you found the other quotes of Danimal by searching for the word "muslim" in my archives. Perhaps you might want similarly search for words "intelligence" and "IQ". The Danimal is not afraid to be politically incorrect and defend the ideas in "The Bell Curve".

Igor said at February 13, 2006 10:14 PM:

It is true that even small groups of individuals within a movement can influence the rest of society and achieve the goals often not openly stated by the majority. History of ethnic conflicts in ex-USSR is a very good illustration f that. Numerous ethnic cleansings against unwelcome, alien or too successful groups were carried out by very small groups of violent, often armed, organized, ideologically (nationalistically or religiously) driven young men. The majorities in those republics were either indifferent or even somewhat sympathetic. In any case they couldn't or won't do much to protect those minoroties. But when those "aliens" (often Russian or other Slavic Christians or non-Muslims) left, locals easily occupied their houses or apartments and took the jobs they left. It is hard not to see at least the immediate benefit to the "silent majority". But all the dirty work was done by "detractors", who "did not represent the real people".

Poisen Pen/Smartass said at February 14, 2006 12:15 PM:

FROM: Blog Entry on the Clash of Civilizations. "The Muslims have lower IQs on average than the white Europeans they live among. Therefore they do worse economically. However, they blame the Europeans rather than their own limits (which are just the product of natural selection) for their failures to compete with the Euros."

Wow. I can't help but wonder what Edward Said would have to say about all that! You assume that all individuals, regardless of class, background, gender and cultural history , have the exact same opportunities to learn and to achieve. The fact of the matter is that this world is not a meritocracy, and there are systems at work within it that enforce perpetual disadvantage for some groups. It's called "oppression," and you should look it up. As a Darwinist, I also object to your reference to "natural selection" as the reason why these "Muslims" cannot compete. Social Darwinism hasn't been in vogue in decades. Perspectives like yours are a large part of what is wrong with the world today: grand statements made with sweeping unquestioned authority with no evidence to back it up other than your own blatant racism. One final thought: "Muslims?" Do you mean Arabs? Persians? Chinese? Pakistani? Or do you, as I strongly suspect, just mean non-white and/or non Christian
lumpenfolk? You should be ashamed.

Bob Badour said at February 14, 2006 12:52 PM:

Hi Smartass,

Randall has plenty of links and information related to psychometric data that support his statement and that are not at all considered controversial among those who study intelligence. You really should explore his archives.

Randall Parker said at February 14, 2006 4:35 PM:


You should be ashamed of your ignorance of psychometric research.

You should also be angry that your college teachers loaded your mind with so much false propaganda.

As for oppression: So what, the CIA operates in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries to sabotage their institutions of higher learning? How do we prevent all those people from becoming scientists and engineers and factory managers?

How do you explain the failures of a couple dozen countries if not with genetics?

Natural selection operated with different selective pressures on the human race in different regions of the world.

Lots of research into IQ levels in different countries has been done. It is summarised nicely in this table. Also read about a book called IQ and the Wealth of Nations from which that table comes. Here is a review of the follow-up by by Richard Lynn.

If you wants to read empirical and unideological treatments of psychometric research into intelligence, IQ, and "g" then a good place to start is Linda Gottfredson's research papers. For example, see her paper Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life (PDF file).

If you care to read the hereditarian arguments on IQ and psychometric research I can offer a number of pointers: Start with The Bell Curve. Also read Intelligence,Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen by Jensen and Frank Miele and The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability by Arthur Jensen. If you want a free book on IQ then check out the free download of Chris Brand's IQ book g Factor (same title, different book). I haven't read Brand's book.

Here and here (both PDF format) are two recent papers by Jensen and Rushton on the IQ, heredity, and environment. You can also read Linda Gottfredson's paper (again PDF) reacting to the first of those two papers.

If someone wants to criticise my views about group average differences in intelligence but does not want to invest the work needed to study the evidence then you are choosing the beliefs that make you feel good about your ideological beliefs over the evidence.

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