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June 30, 2010

Andrew Sullivan Is Not Merely Insane, But No Longer Lucid

Let me distinguish between what we might call emotional insanity -- from which he clearly suffers -- and a derangement of the intellect, which produces non-lucid thinking.

I'm drawing a distinction between those who are emotionally disturbed but keep the basic integrity of their intellectual-level reason, and those who lose the latter, too.


Suppose I wish to prove Sarah Palin is a liar, and I seize upon her claim of once having owned a green Volkswagon Beetle. Suppose I believe there is no such thing possible as a green VW Beetle, and I think that because I haven't seen one (but then, I also don't really look at many Beetles).

But if my belief is true, she must be a liar.

Now first of all let us note the proposition is hard to establish -- absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as they say. But let us say that if I hear enough anecdotal evidence from my readers -- say, 5,000 of them -- all affirming that they too have never, ever seen a green VW Beetle, then I would gain some confidence in my belief that there are no green VW Beetles. 5000 testimonies wouldn't truly prove the issue, but at least I would think that there's a good chance I was on the right track.

Now let's say that readers write to me about my belief, and I get a couple of emails like this:

You're spot-on, Ace! Now that I think about it, I've never seen a green VW Beetle, either. She must be the liar you say she is!

and:

I have long also believed there were no green VW Beetles. God keep you safe for your integrity and bravery in daring to bring up this issue!

Okay, well, that sort of helps my case, kinda, but it's only a couple of people. I made up 5000 people as the bare minimum of correspondents agreeing with my observation that would give me some confidence in it, and we're not anywhere near that, but we do have two. Two's a start, I guess.

But let's say I then get three other emails:

Ace, what the hell are you talking about? I see pale green Beetles on the highway every week.

and:

I gotta tell you, you're way off base with this "no green Beetles" idea that's stuck in your head. A guy down the street from me happens to own one. No argument it's green. You're just wrong.

and:

Dude? Idiot? Lunatic? I own a factory-original-paint hunter green Beetle. I can send you a picture if you like. Better yet, just look on VW's website where they advertise the color.

Now, if I had those three emails, should I just kind of throw up my hands and say "Well, some agree, some disagree, so I guess it's an open question; the controversy remains alive" ?

Of course not. Because each of those last three emails proved the case conclusively that my theory was provably, 100% wrong.

The "supportive" emails barely supported me, in that to really prove it I would need to ask every person on the face of the earth if he'd ever seen a green Beetle, and only if everyone said "No" would I be 99% sure I was right about there being no green Beetles. (Even then-- I could still be wrong!)

On the other hand, each of the undermining emails blew my theory completely out of the water and rubbished it. Each one of them proved my case utterly false. Because my theory, after all, was that green Beetles were impossible, and a single spotting of a green one proves they are possible.

My only escape hatch, at this point, if I want to keep my "theory" alive, is to call my readers liars. But if I assume they're on the level, then my theory is proved false, absolutely.

Sorry for the preamble, but I just want to make the point that Andrew Sullivan has now completely had his senses depart from him (and I'm sure they called out "Good riddance!" as they left).

Here's his last post on "Why Trig Matters." Two readers tell him, Hey, sure, I agree with you, it's impossible to experience a pregnancy the way Sarah Palin said she did.

But then three more say "Um, that was my exact experience with pregnancy, too, so I don't know why you're saying it's 'impossible' or even especially difficult to believe."

And he just sort of throws his hands up and calls this a "he-said, she-said" dispute in which there is no clear winning side.

The post, thanks to Slublog:

A reader writes:
Just to add to the chorus of mothers not believing the birth story: when I was pregnant, I remember my obstetrician telling me she might have to duck out of my scheduled appointment at any time because one of her patients who was pregnant with her third child was in labor, and that third babies “just sort of fall out.” Labor with each child is progressively shorter, statistically. Especially after the water breaks. I can only imagine how fast the labor is for fifth babies and that Palin must have been warned of this. In a high risk pregnancy, there’s simply no way a logical person would get on an airplane to fly cross-country under those circumstances.

Another writes:

When my amniotic fluid starting leaking prematurely in my first pregnancy, there was no ambiguity from my doctor - I was to get the hospital immediately if not sooner.

Another:

Let go of the Trig Palin issue; it makes you look like a loon. I have two children. When I was pregnant with my first, I gained almost no weight until the end of the 7th month. I went to a conference in Arizona at the end of my 6th month and people didn't know I was pregnant until I told them.

My doctor was unconcerned by my lack of weight gain, and attributed it to the fact that I was running 5 miles a day up. He told me to continue running. I was eating plenty of calories and the baby grew normally. Palin is a runner and that can account for her low weight gain. I gained a little more weight with the second one, but I quit running sooner -- at the end of the 6th month, rather than at the end of the 7th.

I had a 14-15 year old friend in high school who hid a pregnancy by gaining only 14 pounds and wearing big sweatshirts. Her mother was an RN and didn't know my friend was pregnant until she went into labor. (Boy, was her mom embarrassed!) The baby weighed almost 8 pounds and was full term. My friend managed this entirely through exercise.

I had very little pain with either delivery, and labored through both without medication or epidural. My first labor took 28 hours. My second labor took 26 hours. At the beginning of both labors, I could feel contractions, which included mild discomfort. I suppose you could describe them as "labor pains," even if they weren't very painful. At no point in either of my labors did I feel the need to scream or shout or cross my legs. In fact, I sat quietly and played cards and read until I ws more than 12 hours in labor the first time and more than 20 hours into labor the second time. Again, I think I had a good handle on my pain and enduring it without a lot of fuss because I was a distance runner. If you can run, you labor without too much fuss. I think flying back to Alaska was reckless, but it wasn't impossible.
This issue is a non-issue. Her lack of weight gain isn't that abnormal. Her lack of pain isn't that abnormal. Her long labor isn't that abnormal. They're all within the scope of my personal experience with pregnancy.

But this was her fifth child and in previous pregnancies, she was huge. She is not a large woman, and her previous pregnancies showed. She had also had two previous miscarriages, which would, one imagines, make one a little sensitive to winging it with pregnancies and labor. Another:

I've enjoyed your Palin coverage from the beginning. However, I feel I have to come forward and tell you that, if she's telling the truth, her birth experience is not that unusual. I'm the mother of four grown children. In two of those pregnancies the amniotic fluid began leaking well in advance of the start of active labor. Before my first child was born, I leaked for over a month - the docs felt it was best to let the pregnancy continue, and put me on bed rest. In the second case, the amniotic fluid leaked for a day and a half with no labor, until the doctor decided to induce labor. So it's perfectly possible to leak amniotic fluid for quite a while without going into labor, and judging by what my doctors told me, it's not particularly unusual.

I enjoy how his equally-deranged readers will call her "reckless," wish to concede a point to Sullivan, even as they inform him he's insane.

Um, what manner was she to use to get back home? Is it suggested she ought to have rented a car and fucking drove from Texas to Alaska? For, what? Four days on the road and four nights in strange hotels along the way?

That, I guess, would have been less reckless? Less reckless than a seven hour flight?

What the fuck is this, 1908? Is air travel still a strange adventure to many of us? Shall we begin calling them "aeroplanes" once more? Do we fear we might accidentally fly into a stream of luminiferous aether? What?

At any rate: Here are three readers chiming in that not only do green Beetles exist, but they happen to be owners of such a vehicle, but for Andrew Sullivan, The Mystery of the Misplaced Placenta continues to baffle.

These letters do not "balance" each other out, leaving the question open.

Three prove the case conclusively. End of story.

Fin.

But he is deranged, and no longer merely on an emotional level, but instead no longer even able to properly think.


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posted by Ace at 04:35 PM

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