Opposite day at the League!



Murali did his undergraduate degree in molecular biology with a minor in biophysics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He then changed direction and did his Masters in Philosophy also at NUS. Now, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

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63 Responses

  1. Avatar wardsmith says:

    5th of “november” next year? At least we’ll have plenty of time to psych up for it.Report

  2. Avatar James K says:

    I have an idea cooking around why separation of powers is a bad idea.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I can think of a few ideas.  This should be fun.  Great pick, Murali.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh, goodness. I’m in.Report

  5. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Humbug, Mr. Murali: a question well-posed, albeit a gimme. Thomas Jefferson, prob the most irreligious of the American Founders:

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    So until and unless the dominant culture puts in the X-mas or a Kwanzaa tax or breaks yr leg, let us chill.

    If I were to argue this in the abstract—which is mostly what we do around here—I’d say the proper response to anybody wishing you a Happy or Merry anything is “Thanks, you too.”  With a smile.

    Anything else is ungracious, and douchebaggery.

    “Oh, thanks, but I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

    Well, thanks for sharing.  TMI, douchebag.  That’s your problem, not mine.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      I think we’re supposed to wait till the 5th.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I don’t even think he meant that post to go here. Makes much more sense in here someplace.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

          Maybe he posted it here to be opposite?Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

          Thx for getting my back on this, Tod & Ward, O me bros.  I did indeed intend this comment for Mr. Murali, who lies outside the Abrahamic tradition, and indeed outside what we call Western Civilization except for how Singapore benefits from it.  [But that’s another discussion, Mr. M.]

          I do get impatient with the linear steps sometimes.  Basically, Christmas is irrelevant in the truth claim sense, who or what Jesus is or was, or even if he ever existed, let alone as the “Christ.”

          Judaism falls under the same dark cloud, of “revelation,” that God ever spoke directly to man, whether to Abraham or he prophets, and especially to Moses, as prophet as well as the putative author of the Pentateuch, the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible. [Which Jews hold as divine revelation, the rest not so much, if you study Judaism.]

          I’m gratified that Mr. Murali is broaching [mono?]theism here, as he strikes me as fascinated by it, as one who’s outside it should be fascinated.

          But even mentioning [Judeo-]Christianity lays down an unnecessary obstacle.  When Mr. Murali writes

          Perhaps some Jews can argue that
          Christianity is correct and vice versa.

          we have lost the thread completely, from the first.  If you can believe in a Burning Bush and G-d’s promise to David, a Jesus Who Died for Your Sins is only a difference in degree, not kind.

          If Mr. Murali is initiating a cannibalism among the Abrahamics—and it appears he is, if I’ve quoted him accurately above—then he’s a humbug.  If he doesn’t believe a goddam word of abrahamism in all its manifestations, than I think he’s just throwing chum into the shark tank, hoping they tear each other up in their feeding frenzy.

          Have I misread you, Mr. Murali, or would you like to clarify your intention with this post? Because so far, I think this stinks bigtime, trying to set Jews against Christians when you don’t give a good goddam about either set of beliefs.



          • Avatar Murali in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I think this stinks bigtime, trying to set Jews against Christians when you don’t give a good goddam about either set of beliefs.

            Errm, you’ve got me wrong big time. I was just quoting Jewish Atheist’s original blog post. Religion is just an example. heck, I didnt think that anyone over here was so concerned about religion that they would want to write a post on it. Of course, I’m not stopping you if you want to do your best to argue in favour of atheism that would be great. I was thinking that for opposite day your evil twin would be arguing for some kind of socially liberal position which you disagree (maybe pro abortion, against prayer in schools, pro gay marriage)

            I was going to do some pro democracy thing. This has nothing to do with western civ. (Unless you want to do something on western civ for opposite day)

            To repeat, I didnt mean whatever you thought I meant.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Murali says:

              I can’t tell whether he thinks you’re an ungrateful parasite trying to destroy western civilization, or whether that’s the opposite of what he thinks.

              But I do think taxes pick the pocket, so let’s not tax Christmas trees, okay?  (Really.  I’m not being opposite here.)Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Murali says:

              OK, Murali.  Get a liberal to state the other guy’s position fairly and you get a Nobel.  As you saw in the recent liberal vs. libertarian thing, it’s pritnear impossible.

              As for the Jews and Christians thing, it didn’t hit me as a particularly good example.  It’s a faith thing, for one: you either got it or you don’t. Theism vs. atheism works since it can be logic, not faith, but that one has little trouble starting up on its own.

              I do like your reservations about democracy that you allude to often; it’s a shocking thought to those who know no other way.Report

              • Get a liberal to state the other guy’s position fairly and you get a Nobel.

                Reverse the terms and the story doesn’t change.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                Yeah James, but the media and social scientists, along with the writers and commenters of this obviously leftist blog, in conjunction with the saucer people, would have you believe that liberals are better at stating their opponents’ positions than conservatives are! So it only needs to be pointed out that liberals suck at it.

                Nevermind that it’s a human universal. The bias. The bias.Report

              • Avatar South in reply to Chris says:

                Ah yes even more liberal groupthink from the echo chamber of the liberal lamestream media. This kind of lazy humor is why conservatives are the last best hope for reasoning in America today.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to James Hanley says:

                Since the libertarians here were forced to defend their own humanity, I’ll just leave it here.

                Of course it happens on both sides, but the right does often say they don’t question the left as persons, just their ideas.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Yeah people never questioned whether O was a real citizen or commie mole.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Get a liberal to state the other guy’s position fairly and you get a Nobel

                Mr Van Dyke, pick the liberal and the topic. That’s what this post is for: to sort out who is going to say what and if there are any objections.


                Any volunteers?Report

              • Avatar Plinko in reply to Murali says:

                If no one else will, I’ll take up TVD’s challenge, to make a passable case for a conservative policy position of his preference. I’m not an out and out liberal but moreso than a lot of the crowd.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Plinko says:

                Very sporting, Mr. Plinko: Liberals demonize and distort conservatives and their positions.  This was my original contention, so might as well start there.

                I’ll argue the from the left:

                1) No, we don’t.

                2) Conservatives say that because they’re tinfoil hat batshit fucking crazy.

                Then I tu quoque it all into oblivion and troll all the batshit crazies on the right for proof.

                But my heart isn’t really in this because I’ve seen this movie before. I’ve been happy enough that many pretend there is no conservative point of view, so I just watch the trainwrecks as the liberals go after the libertarians around here, the latter spending half their time defending themselves as human beings and the other half correcting the distortions of their position.

                That serves as a controlled experiment, leaving the conservatives and the tu quoque factor out completely.

                I’m also not terribly into Mr. Murali’s challenge here because I can’t help but be aware of the liberal position on anything and everything, since it’s constantly in my face even when I’m not looking for it. And aside from the demagoguery about how those who disagree are morally inferior beings, I get it: it comes down to one’s view of what government is even for, and one’s theory of rights.  Most of the rest flows from there.

                The conservative adds the question of culure, as Pat Moynihan putatively put it:

                “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

                Me, I’m not entirely sanguine about that last bit.  It works for race and civil rights, but after that, the evidence begins to thin.  So my core counterargument to the liberal position is on first principles and then a lack of faith in the power of government in the human equation.  Whether or not we knock the tax rate on the rich up a few ticks isn’t really on my radar.Report

              • Avatar Plinko in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                And yet how very unsporting of you to make your assertions and then decline to engage when one offers to take them up. If you’re so uninterested in the idea, why did you get in these exchanges in the first place?




              • Mr. Plinko, pls re-read this thread.  I held up my end despite my heart not being in it, for reasons given.

                The irony is that I’d mentally formulated my reply before seeing the exact same jerkishness from the left in a comment above this one. Like I said, I’ve seen this movie before, which is why i jumped to the end, in hopes someone would say something I haven’t heard so many times before.

                Basically, my position is that our differences come from our views on the purpose of government and the nature of rights.  The rest is noise, and bad manners.Report

              • Avatar Plinko in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I shall respectfully but completely disagree that you’ve done any such thing. It’s nice that you wish to stay in your bubble and make pronouncements, but I’d prefer the membrane flows both ways or none at all.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                TVD, this comment is an expression of genius.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                And riffing a little here, how bout this wrt who’s concerned about what:

                Conservatives – culture

                Liberals – society

                Libertarians – individuals.Report

              • Conservatives – culture

                Liberals – society

                Libertarians – individuals.

                As a rough cut, that’s probably pretty accurate.Report

              • Mr. Plinko, fairly stating the other guy’s position is the point of the exercise, yes?  See what you can do.

                I was skeptical from the first and didn’t volunteer for this: you drafted me, by name.  I was a good sport to come even this far with you.  Mr. Murali’s experiment not off to a good start: you have not done me justice.

                Mr. Stillwater is a gentleman of the left or center-left by my measure, and instead of hassling me, seems intrigued by the Moynihan thing, as am I.

                I’d prefer to talk with him if it’s OK.  If I came to the LoOG to fight, I would never want for takers.  If you can appreciate the distinction, there’s a difference between testing one’s ideas and merely defending them.  I come here for looking to be tested.  I can go anywhere to be attacked.  The internet, and our country as a whole, is lousy with it.


              • Mr. Stillwater, I agree with 1) and 3).  This conservative hopes to rehabilitate “liberal.” Most times I’m able to draw a distinction between liberal and “left.”  I try quite consciously.

                For 2), the left believes in government: in systems, in reason, in policy, in laws.

                Which is why I was disinclined to argue policy per the initial challenge: one has already conceded the larger argument by reducing the human equation to policy.

                To cleverness.  The most clever of lawmakers can never thwart the most clever of law-eluders.  Or at least their lawyers.  The recent financial meltdown was triggered by entirely legal actions.  And so will the next one be.  At best, laws are made by honest men, and only honored by honest men.

                After that, it gets squirrelly, bigtime.  Hence the “culture” thing.

                As for the “liberal” project, to help those in need, to defend the rights of the trod-upon, to ensure individual liberty and all the rest, I have seen none of us here gathered speak against it.  Our Mr. Kelly was getting at this recently, but it will not do to paper over the actual ends, let alone the means.

                Nobody wants to see a single American hungry or oppressed, and for starters I think that covers it.  But just starting to poke through those two words and concepts, our mileage begins to vary…Report

              • Avatar Plinko in reply to Plinko says:

                Baloney, Tom. You made the challenge, I merely tried to accept.

                 Get a liberal to state the other guy’s position fairly and you get a Nobel.  As you saw in the recent liberal vs. libertarian thing, it’s pritnear impossible.

                Now you’re dancing about how you already know what liberals think so the exercise is pointless. That’s nice for you to say but everything I’ve seen you write is what you think about liberals, which is quite obviously a completely different thing from what Murali’s challenge seemed to ask.

                If Mr. Stillwater is game and is more in your class, I’m more than willing to let it be so. I only stepped up because I liked the idea and no one else volunteered.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Plinko says:

                Go ahead and write it Plinko. Sned it in as a guest post to ErikReport

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Plinko says:

                It was a joke, Mr. Plinko, not a challenge, and you’ve already illustrated my point by not managing to interpret me fairly.  But by all means, pls do write up how liberals demonize and distort, if only as an exercise.  The research will do you some good.

                Here, I’ll get you started:  “You got their plan, which is, Let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, [and] less people with health insurance.”Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    “Well, thanks for sharing.  TMI, douchebag.  That’s your problem, not mine.”

    Umm yeah that doesn’t seem completely undouchbaggy itself.Report

  7. Avatar Will Truman says:

    My question is how off-base I am supposed to be. Can I use logic that appeals to me in other respects to advance an argument where I don’t believe that particular logic applies? Or does my logic, in addition to my conclusion, have to be wrong?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

      I dunno about anybody else, but I plan on making the best argument I possibly can… one that I think would do a good job of planting a seed of doubt in the mind of someone I imagine as being on the fence.

      Why kill a strawman?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        I want to advance a good argument and can’t imagine advancing anything else. I mean, I could argue against gay marriage from the standpoint of marital sanctity and the importance of social norms (two things I believe in), but I can’t do it on the basis of “the Bible says homosexuality is a sin.” I mean I could, but that’s the point at which I stop reading articles against gay marriage because that argument does not appeal to me.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Will Truman says:

          To nettle just a bit, it should be some cause for concern that the pro-SSM side thinks it always comes down to “the Bible says so,” and the anti-SSM side never actually has to make this argument.  That they sometimes do is irrelevant.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

      Can I use logic that appeals to me in other respects to advance an argument where I don’t believe that particular logic applies?

      Sure, as long as the position your evil twin ends up endorsing is distinctly something that you dontReport

    • Avatar James K in reply to Will Truman says:

      I was planning to make an argument I find legitimate, but not persuasive enough to make me change my mind.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

      … what says your conclusions need to be wrong? I’ve half a mind to post on some unpleasant truths, under the masquerade of opposite day.

      Just because people don’t like the truth doesn’t make it untrue. It may be unpleasant, socially corrosive, and just in general downright evil. But it’s still the truth.

      Am really, really hoping to see people grab up their jumping shoes,a nd not just cross the line from liberal to conservative or vice versa.Report

  8. Can I play? If we’re allowed less serious topics, opposite me would like to argue that science fiction is boring and lame and has nothing to say about our modern culture.Report

  9. Avatar J.L. Wall says:

    I think at this point, opposite day would involve my finding time in the day to write an actual post.  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll just keep posting vaguely Thanksgiving-themed songs for a few more months…Report

  10. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    I recall doing this once on my old blog and arguing for monarchism.  I’ll have to see if I can find it.Report

    • Avatar South in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I may play if I can find the time. Maybe I’ll try putting the arguement against the Monarchy through its paces.Report

      • Avatar Okkil Trub in reply to South says:

        An interesting exercise, Mr. South. Monarchy being both the most efficient, stable, and benevolent form of government yet devised, I predict you shall have an easy defense of the notion against these damnable republican types with all their whining about “the consent of the governed” and “popular sovereignty.”Report

        • Avatar South in reply to Okkil Trub says:

          Alas, Mr Trub, you misread me for I am one of those very “damnable republican types” though to be fair to my opponents the Monarchy against which I will be tilting is the consitutional Monarchy with its’ attendand Paliment system currently in force in the notable failed states of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Bermuda and the UK, rather than the more classic absolute Monarchies that preceeded them.Report

  11. Avatar David Ryan says:

    I do not understand my own position well enough to argue against it.Report

  12. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I could try to think of something. Frankly, I’m a bit over the whole blogging thing at this moment. I guess the opposite thing would be to post a lot for the hell of it.Report

  13. Avatar Wen GJ says:

    I think an overal defense of ludditism is in order here.  And video games cause brain cancer and moral decay.Report